“I’ve been eating this way my entire life.”
“It tastes better this way.”
“This is how we’ve always done it.”
Statements like these are how many support their less-than-healthy eating habits. However, in these days of bleak health statistics about obesity, diabetes, and lowered life expectancies, improving our habits is becoming essential rather than optional.
How can churches turn the tide against the deep-fried, sugar-coated, and salt-laden foods that are a common part of a Southern diet? In a recent New York Times article, Reverend Michael Minor of Oak Hill Baptist Church in Mississippi discusses the strides his and surrounding churches have made towards promoting healthier lifestyles for their congregants and the entire community.
The article mentions several actions the churches have taken, including:
- banning fried foods from church events;
- providing water instead of sweet tea and other sugary beverages at meals;
- offering fresh fruit instead of artificially sweetened snacks;
- hosting a Taste Test Sunday to showcase delicious, healthy food;
- planting a community garden; and
- building a walking path around the church and holding organized walks.
These churches show how change can, and often does, come from within. We play a powerful role in promoting these important changes to our communities by putting a focus on what we eat, how active we are, and the significance of a healthy lifestyle.
For more information on how to improve the health of your church and community, visit us at: www.healthandwholeness.org.
– Leslie Forrest, NC State School of Social Work intern, NC Council of Churches