Saturday, April 2, 2011

church involvement makes you fat

So says the study.

Not surprising, really.
1. At church, food is always around. There's great homemade goodies at every event. To not eat cake and bikkies takes heaps of self control.
2. Eating together is such a social thing. To sip your water while everyone is having a lamington feels wrong.
3. At church we try not to judge each other by how we look, so the pressure to be supermodel thin is off a little.
4. We believe that this life and this body isn't all there is. So we relax more about our health now.
5. Obesity tends to be a community thing. The fatter our friends are, the fatter we let ourselves get. In a group like a church, obesity can spread.

What to do about it?
1. If you're rostered on for church or bible study morning tea or supper, leave out 70% of the junk you usually bring. Carrot and cucumber sticks instead.
2. Decide before a church event how much you need to eat and pace yourself.
3. Sometimes I kid myself that baking is a virtuous activity. Really, it's just an excuse to nibble on choc chips and lick the beaters.

But who cares anyway? On average, we still live longer!

Other thoughts?


  1. I'm not surprised either. I don't eat a lot at church morning tea because by the time I finish playing music or saying hello to people, most of the food is already gone. So even though I bake at home (and nibble choc chips and lick beaters at the same time!) at church I would very rarely get to eat any of the results. Sometimes I prefer to take fruit, it's much quicker to prepare.

    Fortunately our Bible study group now meets in a cafe function room where we are not allowed to bring our own food unless we buy it from the cafe, so I try not to buy food and only get myself a hot drink every few weeks. This works for me pretty well. Others find the cakes in the cake containers too hard to resist when they order their coffees though.

    I have also heard and occasionally notice this too, that people can become a little....competitive?....about what they bring along to church functions. Fruit or the shop bought cake doesn't seem as good as the little home baked cupcakes decorated with beautiful motifs, so then people think the standard has been raised and they need to bake something even better next time. Even though the fruit probably costs more.... This is something I need to watch myself on, I'm a basic rather than a great cook, so I often feel like the scones I bring are a bit boring in comparison to others' more exotic plates of stuff....

  2. Surely if you are eating healthy stuff at home a couple lamingtons at church isn't going to matter.

  3. So why aren't we using this as a foolproof evangelistic technique in the third world, I wonder?

  4. Hi Narelle. I think that the issue is habit. I can easily be at 3 church related morning teas a week which sets the habit for wanting lots of junk at that time of the day. And if I only had one lamington at each it wouldn't be a problem. But the chocolate slice is also so good as are those chips...

    Karen - I don't think it's competitive so much as that we want to serve well. We want to make mt nice for people so we bake nice stuff. Mmmm. Scones! Do they come with cream?

    Anthony - I reckon you should move to Africa and give it a go. I'll provide you with my standard - choc chip biscuit slice. It's nice (and has about 10000 calories per serve.)

  5. Usually I'm just cheap and serve them with jam. Whipping the cream is a bit too much effort....

  6. I do find the endless morning teas a bit hard to take when the conversation then turns to how many weight watchers points each item is worth. Always makes me chuckle (inside of course!).

  7. Yep, church is a hazardous workplace.

  8. I have a theory that goes hand-in-hand with this too. I've noticed that there are some seriously good cooks in the churches we've been at. So my theory is that Christians are good cooks because they get more practice than your average person because of church lunches, suppers, meals for sick people, being hospitable etc.


  9. Your points 1 & 2 are no problem when you have diet restrictions to which no-one else caters. Unfortunately this means being less social and less likely to feel connected to, wanted by and therefore part of the group. I've been in several churches where this disconnectedness has meant that I have had no qualms or particularly sad thoughts at leaving when we have moved - and that's the truly sad part.

    Something as simple as having soy milk as readily available as cow for those who can't have dairy can go a long way to making us feel loved. Vege sticks and hommus are also a good idea for helping the gluten-free people feel wanted. Or you could just buy a pack of the dairy and gluten free pseudo-Tim Tams from the health food section of the supermarket.

    Seriously, church MT is no problem for my thigh line - we just disappear pretty much straight after church due to the reasons noted above. Work MTs are a different matter though - hot chips and bread are a regular feature - mmmm, hot chip sandwich, mmmm. Even when there's nothing for me to eat I'll still chat to my colleagues while I drink my tea and that sadly means that leaving my workplace would be harder than leaving my church if I had to do so right now.

  10. Laetitia - I have baked dairy free for church MT but as I felt silly labelling it it meant that I was the only one to benefit from it. I am off the dairy free diet at the moment (to allow testing soon) and has meant I could eat more than carrot at MT recently. Yum

  11. Sorry to hear about your experience with this, Laetitia. Food really is such an important part of fellowship? Have you had any success trying to introduce alternatives? We've tried bringing along our own contribution - say carrot sticks - when we are trying to stay off the fatty, sugary stuff. And we've raised issues about morning tea at the leadership level- specifically to do with using fair trade products - when we thought it was appropriate. We found people are usually quite receptive, especially if you lead the change, but I guess it depends on the church!

  12. I have to say, though, I have my doubts about this study. It's America rather than Australia, so not sure how comparable the two countries ate. But you'd also have to look at other factors - such as social class - which may correlate to both church attendance and obesity.

  13. Sorry, there wasn't meant to be a question mark after 'fellowship' - I was agreeing with Laetitia!