A while back, I talked about the way that we eat. After some conversations, emails, and questions with others, I realized that I had kind of missed the mark and I felt bad about that. My intention was to share some food for thought (haha) and perhaps I did for some but for others, it left them overwhelmed with information and feeling that they didn't measure up or at least that I thought they didn't. That wasn't my intention and so I had started a couple of posts to further explain myself, or to dig myself a deeper hole, but then my computer died, taking with it all documents, recipes and pictures from the last six months as my hard drive hadn't been backing up properly. And so a couple of months later, I am going to make an attempt at it again.
In case you missed the first post, I will summarize it by saying that I believe that a whole food diet that involves meat, vegetables, fruit, and healthy fats (yes, saturated fats are healthy.). I think limiting grains and cutting out refined sugar, additives, and highly processed ingredients is important. We eat gluten free because that is what Aneliese, and perhaps the other girls, requires, but we still don't eat many packaged gluten free choices.
So now that I have the basic premise out there, I want to talk about a slightly different aspect of my food philosophy. See, I believe that food nourishes our bodies and not just physically. It is an agreed fact that we need healthy (which is a broad term depending on who you ask) food to provide the nutrients that our bodies and minds need to thrive. But, I have also seen that my diet has a huge impact on my emotions and my spiritual well-being. I know from experience that when I eat well, I do better over all. I also know that it is important for the well-being of my children.
Interestingly, the past couple of months have been challenging for me in the food department. Financially, we have needed to make some changes in where we get our meat and such. I've needed to make some changes in how much time I spend preparing food. And frankly, I've been a little tired of doing everything the harder way. I enjoy good food and coming up with my own recipes, but it has seemed like I was spending so much time preparing food and thinking about preparing food. And eating eggs, oh, I think I need to write a book called 800 Not So Creative Ways to Eat Eggs. But amazingly enough, I really don't think that life is all about what I/we eat.
Far more important to me is my relationship with others and having community with those that we are around. Food is a way of nurturing relationships with others. Inviting someone into your home for a meal indicates that you wish to spend time with them. A picnic with friends is a fun way to relax. Dinner and candlelight is a romantic date. Coffee and dessert is one of my favorite ways to catch up with an old friend. Potlucks are a way of bringing a bit of everyone's unique love all together. Even in places where people have little, food speaks volumes of ones care for another, whether it is the chicken's foot offered from the soup pot or the choice piece of yak fat in Tibet.
If food shared can be such a vital way of sharing love and community, it can also be a way of tearing it down. In my case, especially when it comes to "healthy" eating (I use quotations because I realize that many wouldn't not consider what we eat healthy) it is so easy to cause people to feel judged or that we are so "healthy" that we wouldn't want to eat their food. I've realized that this is especially true of those who read my blog but don't spend much time with us in person. I was really enlightened to this during our visit to PEI when my dear friend wanted to get some food for us before we arrived but didn't think she could because we would need organic, etc, etc. I was so glad that she asked and her gift meant so much and it made me even more aware of what some perceive of my food choices and opinions. So I would like to clear a few things up and offer a few challenges if I may.
1. Aneliese has a serious food allergy, which means that if we are not extremely careful, she will become ill. When sharing meals with others, we are happy to provide food for her and Cecily if it is too daunting to prepare food which we completely understand. However, we always try to include something even if it is juice from the meal provided so that our girls understand that our food is not "better" or that the other food is 'bad".
2. We eat and enjoy whatever is offered to us. Really. If it is something like a potluck, yes there are some things that I might not select but we all have preferences, right? I don't talk about the nutritional value of anything there or offer food opinions. I think I have done this unthinkingly in the past and I try to be more sensitive now.
3. I don't share a meal at your house and then talk down your food choices, however differing from mine they may be, with others. If I do, I have a much greater problem, called gossip and/or judging.
4. I won't offer you unasked advice on how you should eat or foods that you could add to your diet. Unless you read my blog, but I consider that you asking!
5. I like organic, I think it is great in principle. I currently eat little that is organic.
6. Especially keeping number one in mind, I feel incredibly loved by any effort made to make a meal or treat that is gluten free. Even if you attempt and make a mistake, please know that your effort is well appreciated.
7. We limit our kids' sugar intake. However, I appreciate the kindness in the gesture and will generally give them a small amount. In turn, I ask that you don't feel hurt or offended if after that small amount I put the rest away.
8. I read labels all the time. I have to if Aneliese is going to eat something out of a package. I won't talk about the ingredients that I don't like and then eat it.
9. I'm human and I'm learning. If you feel that I am out of line, you can tell me. If I hurt your feelings, tell me. If there is something that you think I could benefit from, please share.
10. I like food. I like people. I like people and their food. I LOVE the community of eating with people. I don't ever want food to become a barrier in friendship because of my actions.
And I think that is it for now. I know that I could and am tempted to give all kinds of explanations and disclaimers of how and why and what, I had planned on a few simple suggestions to starting a better way of eating, and I could tell you plenty about the challenges. I probably could add a lot more but I probably should stop.
Do you have anything that you would like to add or suggest? Is food a way that you connect with others? Do you ever feel that it keeps you from community with others? I'd like to hear whatever you have to share.