Published September 10, 2009
If the old saying “You are what you eat” holds a grain of truth, the next question might be “What’s eating you?”
It’s not a pleasant thought but your lifestyle might be contributing to the onset of a chronic disease such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, or a host of other illness than can eat away at you from the inside out.
Doctors know that individuals living in the highly-developed Western world have diseases unknown in less-developed nations. And when those somewhat isolated societies embrace our lifestyle – a diet high in meat, fat, and refined carbohydrates, very low in consumption of fruits and vegetables and virtually non-existent exercise – those other societies soon develop the same diseases.
This special two-part health issue of The Index is not about bad news but good news – the good news that the chronic diseases from which so many Georgia Baptists suffer today are largely avoidable by making simple lifestyle changes. You do not need to feel that a bypass or heart attack is in your future. While genetics does play a role, it plays a far smaller role than most are willing to accept.
Struggling to overcome a weight problem, whether it is 15 pounds or 50 pounds, is as much of a spiritual battle as working to overcome any other vice. Southern Baptists don’t give as much promotion to the idea that gluttony is as big a sin as drinking or any of the sexual sins such as adultery or fornication, but the Bible teaches that God does not rate one sin above another.
If we truly believe the Bible as we say we do, why do we not embrace the teaching that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit? Just because my neighbor in the next pew is content to live in a house with delayed maintenance, sagging gutters, and an unkept yard does not give me the justification to do the same.
There are many Georgia Baptists who have seen the light on any of a variety of chronic diseases for which they have been diagnosed. We applaud them for taking corrective measures.
John Autry of Bostwick is one such individual. Autry, pastor of Gibbs Memorial Baptist Church near Rutledge, found that illusive Fountain of Youth just four years ago at age 60. Today he weighs 60 pounds less and has more energy than he could have imagined. You can read his story on page 11.
I am another such individual who has come to grips with his mortality. Eleven years ago at age 47, and with no family history, I was diagnosed as a Type 2 diabetic. It was not until I attended a Weimar lifestyle intervention program at Ridgecrest a few years later, like the one that is being held this coming November, that I was given the tools needed to make the necessary changes.
I decided to modify my lifestyle by eating a low fat, high complex carbohydrate diet and walking daily. The result? My weight dropped 60 pounds from 205 to 145 and I was never hungry. I also attended the 18-day extended NEWSTART program at their California campus and brought my blood sugars under even better control.
Throughout the process my cholesterol also dropped from 247 to 115, all due to eating a plant-based diet, avoiding all meat, and continuing the daily walking regime. It was not a quick-fix solution and requires an ongoing commitment, and it takes personal responsibility. But I can say that I am in far better health today because of it.
You’re going to read some somber facts on the next few pages, but you will also be inspired to turn the page on bad lifestyle decisions. God clearly wants His people to be healthy and to live long, productive lives in His service. Each of us can substantially extend our ministry years if we just take better care of ourselves and say “Get thee behind me, fried chicken” at the next church supper.
As they say, knowledge is power. How each of us use that knowledge will determine our long-term health and the quality of our ministry.
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