As Pastor Steve Davis prepares to give the children’s sermon at First Baptist Church of Carrollton on Sunday, he reaches into a reusable tote, then pulls out a bag of tortilla chips and a jar of salsa.
“Do you like to eat at Mexican restaurants?” Davis asked the children gathered at the front of the church, who nodded in agreement.
“I do too,” Davis said. “I go the Mexican restaurant, and they bring a bowl of chips, then I just eat one … then two … then 26 … then 31.”
Laughter filled the historic sanctuary. Everyone occupying the pews understood the struggle of trying to eat just one tortilla chip.
“It’s hard to stop eating them — they’re so good,” Davis said with a smile before explaining the day’s lesson. “Today, we’re going to talk about moderation. We just need to eat 10 or so chips because more than that may not be good for us.”
Some may not understand how portion control ties into spiritual wellness. But for Davis, it makes perfect sense.
“The apostle Paul says that the fruit of the spirit is restraint,” he told the congregation. “Discipline, restraint or self-control is the key to a happy, productive life. Set aside some time every day to read a little bit. Set aside some time every day to pray a little bit. Set aside some time every day to take care of your body.”
Davis’ message of moderation, restraint, self-control and discipline is one of many health-and-wellness messages that will be shared with congregants over the next year. First Baptist Church of Carrollton is one of 14 churches partnering with Tanner Health System’s Get Healthy, Live Well to help improve the mental, physical and spiritual health of its congregants.
The churches involved in Get Healthy, Live Well’s Faith in Health committee include A Place of Refuge; Agape of God Ministry, Inc.; Antioch Missionary Baptist Church; Church Without Walls; Covenant Word Ministry; First Baptist Church of Bowdon; First Baptist Church of Carrollton; First Baptist Church of Villa Rica; Friendship Baptist Church; Overcomers Christian Center; Piney Grove Missionary Baptist Church; Southern Hills Christian Church; Tabernacle Baptist Church; and Word of Truth.
Recognizing that churches can be valuable resources for educating people on how to thrive mentally, physically and spiritually, Get Healthy, Live Well has shared important resources on a wide-range of topics that impact the church community, including diabetes prevention, healthy eating and risks from tobacco use. First Baptist in Carrollton is the latest church to join the committee, hosting its first Get Healthy, Live Well event earlier this fall.
The blood pressure screening event, which included a demonstration highlighting the benefits of low-sodium cooking, was held immediately after that Sunday’s service. Many church members turned out for the event and demonstration.
“Get Healthy, Live Well is thrilled to have First Baptist Church of Carrollton join the Faith in Health committee,” said Phyllis Head, community outreach coordinator at Get Healthy, Live Well. “They have only been members for a short amount of time, but they are already making a huge impact on improving the community’s health.”
In addition to hosting health events, First Baptist Church of Carrollton has launched a “Get Healthy” campaign, featuring a new theme each month that will be covered in each Sunday’s sermon. This month’s theme is “Get Healthy, Live Generously.”
“Generosity helps your overall health,” Davis said. “If you’re a generous person, you just feel better about life.”
Next month’s theme is “Get Healthy, Live Thankfully.” At this past Sunday’s service, the church bulletin included a handout with information on Get Healthy, Live Well’s free smartphone app, Menu It. The app provides nutritional information and Get Healthy, Live Well-approved dishes at local restaurants and national chains.
With many west Georgians living with chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer, it’s important residents know that most risks for these diseases are linked to behaviors that can be changed to prevent the onset and reduce the severity of illness.
One health issue Davis says affects his church at an alarming rate is diabetes. Having been diagnosed with diabetes himself about six years ago, he understands the challenges that come with managing the disease.
“I’ve made a few changes in my eating over the years,” Davis said. “When I became a diabetic, I cut out sweet drinks totally. I don’t drink Cokes. I don’t drink any canned drinks anymore. I went to unsweet tea, water and coffee.”
Following his doctor’s advice, he cut down on eating the white versions or certain foods like bread, potatoes and rice.
He also eats more salads and makes an effort to be physically active every day.
“I love golf and I exercise,” Davis said. “I walk about three miles every night on the [Carrollton] GreenBelt.”
When it comes to educating his congregation on the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle, he sees extra value in teaching those lessons to children.
“I think we’re doing a great service to them if we can train them on the need to eat healthy and get more physical activity,” Davis said. “The healthy behaviors they learn can have a positive impact on their families because the older generation wasn’t trained on this. They just ate what they wanted to eat — and most of it wasn’t good for them.”
By the end of next the year, he would like to see a significant number of people adopt a healthier lifestyle.
“I would like to see us alter our menu at the church,” Davis said. “I would love to see more use of the GreenBelt by our members. We talked about getting a bike rack here at the church to encourage people to bike to church.”
In addition to activities within the church, First Baptist Church of Carrollton will partner with the other churches in the Faith in Health committee to host quarterly events. The next event will be the Get Healthy, Live Well Tailgate Cook-Off on Nov. 11. The event is being hosted in partnership with the University of West Georgia.
Davis is excited about the church’s partnership with Get Healthy, Live Well.
“I feel like we’re a part of something much bigger than us and that’s exciting to see — the cooperation among all the different organizations working together,” Davis said. “You don’t find that in very many places.”
For more information about Get Healthy, Live Well and the Faith in Health initiative, visit GetHealthyLiveWell.org.
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