Posted on 10 Comments

Junk food in youth group

At youth ministry conferences we make jokes about pizza and hotdogs and Mountain Dew and all the rest of the junk food we feed our students. My children go to Awana and memorize Bible verses in exchange for candy.

Even the staples of youth ministry, games, are often exploiting unhealthy eating in exchange for victory. (Though one would argue that the banana through pantyhose game isn’t that bad, it’s just a banana!)

That has me wondering… are we supposed to minister to the whole person or just their heart and mind? Because what we teach by what we serve likely doesn’t reflect a healthy lifestyle.

What do you think?

Posted on 10 Comments

10 thoughts on “Junk food in youth group

  1. Amen! You are speaking my language!! Thank you for recognizing that our physical bodies are a huge part of our spiritual lives and practices. And what an impact we can make on a person’s life if we teach him at a young age that taking care of his body and making healthy choices is a way he can honor God. Keep preaching this message!

    1. Interestingly, most youth workers don’t look at their role holistically. This is really just a small slice of a much more interesting problem!

      1. I’m a numbskull. I stopped eating at youth events because I realized long ago it wasn’t honoring to God to eat most of the food we serve. My appetite changed and I stopped liking all that processed stuff.

        Yet I failed to relay that little bit of knowledge just one small step further. I have much to think about.

  2. […] Junk food in youth group At youth ministry conferences we make jokes about pizza and hotdogs and Mountain Dew and all the rest of the junk food we feed our students. My children go to Awana and memorize Bible verses in exchange for candy. Source: […]

  3. Great post! I’ve gained 40 pounds in 4 years thanks to Youth Ministry. Always on the road, at a retreat, on the run, etc. Thank you for making me rethink “rewards” and my lifestyle.

  4. So, what are some other options that youth workers are using in place of junk food. I agree with the holistic concept. But I’d love to see some discussion on alternatives.

    1. A good, simple first step would be to stop serving soda altogether at your events. I’ve found students are just as happy with water/juice as they are with soda… and it’s about the same price.

      Next steps. On a road trip? Don’t just stop at McDonald’s or order pizza. It sounds silly but a trip to Subway or something that offers actual healthier options will do just fine and while not quite as abundant you can find cheap food options.

      Serve snacks? Cut out the donuts and chips and replace them with fruit and popcorn.

      I probably sound very wacky about this. But it’s not that hard to make some easy changes.

      Even thinking about the games that we play. Are we teaching people to gorge on food? Isn’t there something else we can do that doesn’t involve binge eating?

  5. Was just talking about this the other day with a friend. Kids get candy/junk food EVERYWHERE, we should offer it, but in limitation and teach them what healthy looks like. You can still have healthy sweets and healthy snacks, just not necessarily all mountain dew. Youth group can be a great place to discover a new ‘healthy’ snack disguised as simply a snack. Parents would appreciate it!! The other factor, of course, though is that healthy does not equal cheap….

  6. I have quit serving junk food to my youth group. I give them lots of fruit and vegetables. I always have milk available. The biggest problem I have seen is that they have no ideas about what is out there! They’re so programmed to eat the “usuals ” (pizza, tacos, etc.) that they don’t even have ideas about what they could be eating. That is where it is up to us as leaders to introduce them to things they can substitute that are healthy. I have one girl who had NEVER eaten a strawberry! Something I have found to be helpful is to have them help prepare the food. They take ownership and pride in what they have made and are more likely to bring the idea home with them if they know that they can make it all by themselves for their families. I have introduced them to hummus and vegetables (or pita bread), one of my boys just asked me recently if he could make an entire supper himself (of course, he meant with my help) so we are going to sit down and plan out an entire meal! What an opportunity! And if you do this, don’t you DARE set the table yourself! Use it as a teaching time to have your youth group learn how to properly set a table, and even throw in some teaching on what good table manners look like! Most kids today don’t have a clue!

  7. I look for ways to make food fun and good, but I sneak in things. Lots of chopped or minced veggies in Manwich, pizza, lasagna. Diced apples, shredded carrots, mashed bananas in little muffins. Raw sugar, olive oil, low fat cheese. The “usuals” can be made better with more wholesome ingredients. Shredded chicken for burritoes with diced tomatoes, black olives, lettuce, home made salsa. Some of their favorites can look and taste the same … but be better for them and US ! Saute onions, mushrooms, black beans, corn. Spoon on a tortilla, sprinkle with cheese, wrap it up. Play with all the fruits and veggies. Stay away from sodas and french fries. Yes, french fries are also very bad for our diabetic nation. So are sodas and white bread. Three of the main staples of the American Diet.

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