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.
I love reading your blog. I never feel judged by reading it but rather inspired to eat better. I have a really hard time with this on a day to day bases and I find it amazing that you work so hard to provided healthy food for your family. Keep sharing your thoughts and ideas. I love reading about your adventures, your new house and all your beautiful daughters.Miss you guys. Wish we could have got to know you better when you lived closer!
Thanks, Michelle for your sweet words! I hope that we will get to see you this summer when we are in AB, July 9-15. Are you around? We are going to mostly be in 3H but are hoping to also get together with Mike and Kate.
Loved this. I have always admired your gusto for food choices. Lola’s as well. Some are gifted in this area and while slightly envious:) I don’t hold it against them in the slightest. I do have a problem when people push this on me…which you have not. However, with the whole trend of global organics and such and it everywhere and people promoting it all- I get feisty to fight the system… Not you, not Lola- not those who I know do it out of love, learning or growing…but at generalities, societal judgements as a whole and the slight numbers that are unfortunately growing around me that proclaim “you are what you eat.” Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I know people who eat like crap who have thus far lived long and enjoyed life…and vice versa. It is a factor but not THE factor….I think that is also what you were saying…So if you ever get the impression that I have judged that I apologize. I can sound it, but I take consideration into situational cases…and if I don’t I hope I apologize…it is always situational:)
As for food bringing me together with people…no. It is often not the case. Amongst allergies, and food intolerances and pickiness on my part I just don’t love it. I realized as you speak that I rarely eat with friends…we simply chat and chat and chat. I don’t connect over a meal. I want to sprawl out on a couch, sip wine or water and have no distractions to talk and listen and talk…popcorn in a movie or tea at a discussion is about the extent of it. I get distracted when there is food. I feel the sensory textures and hate it or love it…I think about the food or my burping ( a constant problem) or getting food on my face, or how others chew…I guess again it comes down to sensory overload. But see I am the exception. I am not a “normal” person…most people can connect on food because they have a pretty good balance of sensory perceptions and the “balanced” wiring going to their brain and making them the perfect balance of just content or happily stimulated by taste but not enough to distract. I rarely ever get that….
Even though you did not know why you were justifying…I would say this is more of an explanation…and every now and then we need those. I am constantly explaining sensory overload and aspie traits and autism because people need the explanations to understand, or to have more sympathy for others, because I have a voice for it, and because if not I can make an array of people dislike me easily. Explanations help clear the air and are necessary for understanding and caring. I really appreciate that you took the time even though most of your points are simply you, your passions and your being. I know people should not make judgements but people do deserve to hear the why sometimes if we put our opinions out there…At least in my case. Not all the time but sometimes it’s an additional act of kindness. You strike me as very kind. This was kind.
Thanks for thinking I am kind, I hope that I am or at least I am learning. I pretty much fight anything that is a trend without understanding (as one comment mentioned with free range). For some like me, I like to understand and as Lola mentioned food and our bodies is science that I have always been intrigued by. I just have to remind myself that such is not the case with everyone. I agree with you that there are some that have eaten poorly and have full lives, other who have eaten well with poor lives…the reverse of those is also true. I do see tonnes of effects that the diet of North Americans in the past fifty years and I don’t like what I see. However, I know that there were other issues before that which is why right now I am trying to find the balance between healthy and living well…I haven’t found it yet!
i read this right after eating at Pearl’s last night. For all those not from here… you don’t even want to know how bad that place is 🙂 I agree with everything. Blogging can be such a strange way to share information. Even back in TH’s I used to run into people at the grocery store who looked like they were trying to hide their cart from me. I never understood why until I read some of my posts like I wasn’t me.
Food, in part, is science to me and I love understanding our bodies and how what we eat effects us but the enjoyment of food I refuse to give up. Thankfully, the food I enjoy has shifted over time from a bag of Doritos to homemade sweet potato fries. The incredible fact that we have such an abundance of food is a blessing that I never want to forget in my search for good health. I love to eat with others and a lot of my fondest memories with friends have been around their table or ours. We rarely eat “organic” here but we do eat local most of the time which I think is better anyway and we can’t afford packaged or boxed food which makes our choices all “whole”.
I’ve enjoyed our shared meals even though you make things with dairy so good that I can never refuse 🙂 I’m looking forward to my shower on Sunday because Angie is the queen of incredible party food.
hmm, I have never heard of Pearls. Our abundance of food truly is such a blessing, I think of that often these days.I also love sharing meals with your family, helps make this place home. I do like making desserts:).
As with everything I’m a middle ground type of person. I love food. I love eating it, I love growing it and I love making it. If I want McDonald’s (aka the devil), I’m going to eat McDonald’s and I’m not going to stress over it. No I’m not going to eat it every day of the week, but I will eat it every now and then.
Although I personally think that everyone can benefit from a more unprocessed, less chemical laden diet, I don’t believe that every fad diet is for everyone. I like Michael Pollan’s rules but I’m not strict about following them.
-Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
-Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce.
-Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store. Real food tends to be on the outer edge of the store near the loading docks, where it can be replaced with fresh foods when it goes bad.
-Don’t eat anything that won’t eventually rot. “There are exceptions — honey.
-“Always leave the table a little hungry,”
-Enjoy meals with the people you love.
-Don’t buy food where you buy your gasoline. In the U.S., 20% of food is eaten in the car.
-Eat mostly plants.
I dislike the term organic because if you’re buying from the grocery store it often doesn’t mean what you think it means. Same with free range. Local is usually better because you can see for yourself how your farmer does things.
Our plan is to grow the majority of our produce and raise all our own meat. We came really close last year.
Occasionally, I get a fast food craving…unfortunately it always tastes way better in my imagination. I am so with you on fad diets, I find that many are not sustainable. I personally am still trying to find the sustainable place for our family where I feel that we are eating what we need without going crazy trying to do it.I also dislike the term organic as well, I really would rather grow or purchase from some one whose practices I know and respect. I still will choose the organic greens for example but it still ticks me off to see it right next to the non-organic by the same company which means they don’t actually care about it.
Thank you for this post Missy. I think it shows a lot of your heart and your character. You’re right in that this platform in which you’ve chosen to voice your thoughts can be very misinterpreted. We each have our own lens through which we read someone elses convictions. Know what I mean?
I know for us I only wish I had half the knowledge you had regarding food. I also know that if I took up even more of my time with spending countless hours on rabbit trials via the internet or books I would therefor be taking time away from actually nurturing and caring for my family. Not to say that it’s this way for everyone and maybe if I had looked into this when I didn’t have my 4 littles and a business. I don’t want to give any more of their precious time away. And I can either feel like a better mother for feeding them ‘healthier’ or I can feel like a better mom for sitting on the floor with them and playing duck, duck, goose for 2 hours straight because that’s what they love. And, I’m not saying either one is better than the other either (I hope it doesn’t sound like that…just for me, I feel like I’m choosing their time over my time spent researching). But as it stands now our thoughts on food are: I will make it.
We don’t buy prepackaged. I make most things from scratch except my bread which I buy from a friend who makes it. We don’t have any allergies and I am a lover of rich tasting food and LOVE to come up with gourmet meals (from a recipe because I, again, don’t have time to figure certain things out). Though I have been known to veer a little from a cookbook from time to time and thoroughly enjoy laughing at myself when I do. We don’t limit grains or dairy. I love a good cinnamon bun made with white flour. Eep!
Anyways, thanks again. You are inspiring although sometimes I do feel like my life doesn’t add up to the expectations of certain people I read. I don’t feel like you’re one of them. You’ve always been very gracious in giving a caveat before stepping on a soapbox. I like that. I like that you know what you want and know where you stand. That’s more than I can say a lot of the time.
Thanks for commenting, I totally get what you mean. I have to really work at taking and evaluating the thoughts and convictions of others without feeling like they are directed at making me feel less.I also agree with you that it is easy to spend far too much time researching and taking away from the actual time spent. I try to be conscious of that. When it comes to the actual process of food (growing or making), I try to include the girls and already those are things that we enjoy doing together. Although again, I need to take time for their play during the day.
I’m glad that you don’t feel that I am putting expectations on you, that is really not what I want for any one. I’m always glad if something that I share is of use to someone but I guess I see myself so clearly with my weakness and shortcomings as well as my strengths that I’ve no desire to put my expectations on others.