Thursday, October 15, 2015

Honoring God with our Eating: Sugar, Heart Disease, and Church Potlucks

Do you know what the leading cause of death is in the United States?  Could it be murder?  Or drug addiction or alcoholism?  Perhaps it might be car accidents, or cancer?  If you said any of these items, you would be incorrect.

The leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control is heart disease (2013)(source).  According to Mayo Clinic, heart disease is caused primarily by poor diet, being overweight, and smoking (source).

Cancer, which came in second in the CDC data (2013) may also be related to low physical activity, poor diet, and being overweight.  7th on the CDC list was diabetes, which is also related to eating problems and poor diet.  

This is something that is really seen as a non-issue in Christian communities.  It amounts as little more than a joke.  People joke about it.  People laugh about their poor eating habits.  And it causes a lot of health problems.  Considering the incredible negative effects of over-eating one would think this would be a prime issue in Christian theology and preaching.  But it isn't.  In fact I could probably comfortably say that 90% of those reading this post have never heard a word preached on healthy eating.

Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.  -Proverb 23:20-21 ESV

Have you ever noticed that sugar is in almost everything we eat?  Have ever noticed how children are started on sugar from a very young age?  Did you know that sugar is addictive?  Did you know it's more addictive than many street drugs?

It's amazing that heart disease kills so many, yet healthy diet is never discussed.  We need to have a discussion as the body of Christ on this issue of eating healthy.  And I believe we need to set a good example by adjusting our own eating personally.

It's very typical to see an area of lavish deserts at any almost any church gathering.  But most of these deserts are quite damaging to our bodies.  They clog our arteries and cause weight gain.

It's time we have a conversation on healthy eating.  Given how many die of it yearly in the United States, it should be much higher on the list.  And as church congregations age, which is taking place now, the issue of physical health will become more and more crucial.  Heart disease is an epidemic, cancer is a growing epidemic, and so is diabetes.  And these killers are preventable by healthy eating. 

Let's talk food, exercise, and healthy eating.  What do you think?  What would this discussion look like?  What is the correct approach?  

Education is a very simple first step.  Many people, especially young people simply don't understand the importance of healthy eating.  I think it's important for church leaders to set the example in what they serve.  I think it's important to encourage people to cut back on deserts.  I think it's also very important to stop constantly feeding children sugar.  It's no wonder so many are being diagnosed with issues like ADHD and ADD.  They're overdosed on sugar.  

Should the church of Christ be encouraging organic-only eating?  Should the church of Christ be exposing the issue of genetically modified foods(GMOs)?  Should Christians be researching the health impact of asparatame and other chemicals commonly found in everyday foods?  And what about fast food, like McDonalds, Burger King, and other chains that serve such deadly food?  What should the Christian church do and say in response to these issues?

How can the body of Christ encourage good stewardship of our bodies?  How can churches set the example by serving healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables?  Let's talk more about healthy eating. 

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, 10 but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your[a] food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”
11 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” 14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead. Daniel 1:8-16 (NIV)