Men’s Health Magazine ranks Houston the ninth fattest city in the nation. In fact, Texas definitely pulls its weight holding 5 of the top 10 seats: Corpus Christi (#1), El Paso (#3), Dallas (#4), San Antonio (#7), and Houston (#9). Austin, with its plethora of available outdoor activities, is our token representative amongst the 10 leanest, despite leading the pack in frequenting fast food joints. Now there’s something to consider. All 5 of the 10 leanest cities that exceed Houston in its intake of fast food are in hilly or mountainous regions. Should we be tailoring our eating habits to the environment in which we live? Maybe in hot, flat, humid Houston where outdoor recreation is not the way of life, a fast food fetish is simply not an option.
Houston likes to eat out. Following hurricane Ike in 2008 and the nation’s economic slump, the Houston Chronicle reported that business was tight for local middle tier restaurants while fast food business held steady. But Texas was quick on the rebound. By 2010, the Houston Business Journal reported that Texas was one of only two states that were expected to exceed the national rate of increase in restaurant profits. The greater Houston area alone was predicted to generate $8 billion of the $34.8 billion in proceeds across the state. What prompts Houston to eat out so much, placing it in the top third of the nation for fast food visits, when its lifestyle does not include much physical recreation?
Hiking, skiing and rock climbing not being an option, when you want to hang out you gather somewhere inside and eat. Dine out or order in. And what do you order in? Pizza. Chinese. Subway. You get the picture. Even though the weather tends to drive Houstonians inside, social eating does not need to be the recreation of choice. Let’s see if the Bible can spark some new ideas to help us get out of this rut.
The early Christians devoted themselves to the teachings of the apostles, to sharing their new faith in fellowship and meals, and to prayer. Food was not the primary focus. Paul wrote that the food and stomach are made for each other but will pass away, and the body and God are made for each other. So it is more important when we come together – even if we do eat, to devote our time to preparing our bodies for Christ since this has eternal rewards.
We prepare our bodies by not giving in to fleshly desires. Carefully tend to the welfare of your body; it is the temple of the Holy Spirit. And don’t engage in “improper” conduct, i.e. anything that opposes the nature of God; we are to prove God’s Will by demonstrating what is right. Choose activities that are healthy for both the body and the soul! Your physical and spiritual health are linked. Do not neglect group fellowship, but come together to encourage and motivate each other.
So instead of just putting time in shooting the breeze with friends over a meal, make the time meaningful. Maybe collaborate to prepare a healthy meal together. As you are all creating your culinary masterpiece, share whatever is on your hearts and encourage each other with God’s Word and prayer. You can even arrange to make extra food to give to the homeless or your local food pantry. The possibilities are endless. It’s time to think outside the lunchbox!