Wednesday, June 29, 2011

You Are What You Eat

A little over a year or so ago (right around the time we found we had to start eating carefully because of my strange allergies), my husband and I began to feel really convicted about what we were eating.  We are both by nature OK eaters.  Neither of us have ever been overweight (those of you who know us are giggling- I am the one all my girlfriends snark at for being "the skinny one", but that's another blog post for another day), no eating disorders lurk in the shadows of our pasts.  So why the conviction about what we were eating?  We didn't know.  We just really felt like we needed to start being more conscious about our food.  We started a food exploration journey of sorts.

There are more aspects to what you eat than the simple nutritional value and calorie count. There are financial/stewardship questions.  There are ethical obligations like where did it come from, what is the environmental impact of eating certain ways and who is being supported by those choices.  What chemicals were used to create or preserve the food?  All of this is before taking into consideration that some of the most common foods our culture defaults to (and about 70% of all recipes out there) would send me to the ER unless carefully altered.

This morning, I began reading Mudhouse Sabbath.  It's a great little book written by a Jewish woman who converted to Christianity.  In each chapter, she addresses a discipline of Judaism that she misses and how that discipline can be incorporated into Christian discipline.  Sometimes, we are so relieved that Grace erases the need to act perfectly to get into heaven that we forget our actions should still be thoughtful and disciplined. In the second chapter of this book, the author (Lauren F. Winner) writes about eating habits/ being kosher.  A lightbulb on.

God really does care about how we eat.

It's not that eating a certain way will get us into heaven or not, but it sure does change us and the world around us when we're conscious about it.  And of course, we don't have to be kosher to exhibit our faith through our culinary choices.

We try to eat inexpensively. This actually teams up with my recent read on Amish financial habits.  You don't have to spend a fortune at Whole Foods every week (for which you'll get a gallon of milk and a slice of cheese if you hit the sales just right) to eat well.  There are ways to cut grocery expenses and still eat well.

We try to eat compassionately. We were (mostly) vegetarian for a while because of this one and I totally get why people want to eat vegetarian or vegan for ethical reasons.  That cow (chicken/pig/goat/deer/etc) gave up its life for you.  Let's not take it lightly.  Yes, God did, in fact, create humans as omnivores.  We need plants and animals in our diet.  He did, however, also create us with a conscience, a soul and the ability to show kindness.  The least that animal deserves is to be treated with dignity and respect.

We try to eat resourcefully and responsibly. Those out of season fruits and veggies shipped in from the ends of the earth?  Total waste of resources.  Waste of your resources and a waste of the world's resources.  That steak shipped in from some farm across the country?  How much oil was wasted and carbon released into the air to get it to you when you could have gotten it cheaper locally? Who's getting the profit from what you're buying?  Some soulless corporation or a farmer who you can call up and actually talk to or chat with face to face at a local market?

We try to eat healthily. Americans eat crap.  Seriously.  The grocery stores are packed with high-calorie, high-chemical, over-preserved "convenience" food that will ultimately make you feel like garbage and will take off the end of your life any time you may have saved by nuking that frozen lasagna instead of making your own.  And as we are very active and frequently do things like cycle for miles on end or run marathons, we have to be very aware of the nutrition we are taking in.

We try not to go overboard. We're not insane about our food.  We are open and encouraging with people who are interested in some of our sources and habits, but we aren't trying to convert everyone to our way of eating.  We don't buy into fad diets (OK, my husband has been trying for a few years to get me on the "caveman" diet, but my food restrictions are insane enough- he can jump on that one alone if he wants).  We eat out sometimes and don't worry about these things when we eat at friend's houses.  That would just drive us all nuts.

There are the "hows" to how we accomplish (or try to accomplish) these goals, as well.  I'll post next week about those.  For now, I'll leave you with a question to ponder:

What does how you eat say about you and your chosen lifestyle?

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