comments 5



We talk about variety, the good and the bad, the healthy and the less healthy. We talk about why fresh is better than processed, about what makes the soft light-as-air slices of packaged bread different from the denser loaves with sharper crusts and chewy insides woven with seeds and grains.

We talk about food as fuel, about eating mindfully.

And yet, it always comes down to that one three letter word, usually followed by a question mark. Does X make you fat?

And we’re back to the conversation about moderation, how nothing makes you fat in and of itself and that it’s not about size or body shape, but being healthy.

Of course, all this is coming from the same woman who serves her children one healthy, well rounded meal, then turns around and makes something even lighter and lower calorie for herself.

From the same woman who has a very real, very ingrained in her from childhood, fear of that three letter word herself. A woman who, 50 pounds and more than a dozen years ago, finally found some sort of peace with her food-to-body relationship.

Or, so she thought.

Sure, I’m at peace with my body, so long as it fits in size four, without muffin tops.

Sure, I’m at peace with food, so long as it has enough nutrition to keep me alive and packs enough fiber to run right through me without leaving a pound.

Sure. I’m at peace, right up until my kids ask why I’m not eating the same pate chinois (made with 99% fat free turkey, mind you – but butter in the potatoes – BUTTER, like, from a full fat cow!) as they are.

Does it make you fat?

Oh, Hi there, recycling the same old food-body issues down to my children.

Didn’t see you sneaking up on me, as I was high and mighty and laughing off my years of watching my own parents go through “no cheese” diets, “lots-of-fish” diets, “stir-fry everything” diets, South Beach, and so on.

Guess I missed you showing up at the door as I was looking back at pictures of chubby Melanie and remembering how evil dollops of sour cream on tiny baked potatoes are and don’t even get me started on full fat brownies.

And so, it has started to occur to me, as I scour the internet for fun new recipes and ways to make things ever healthier and ever more delicious, and as I snap odd pictures of the bright greens of a salad or the earthy yellows and browns of a chicken and quinoa dish – just what on earth am I attempting to do here? 


With these recipes, am I trying to just do something small and healthy for my family, or am I attempting to have absolute control over a part of my life that I ought to not place quite so much emphasis on?

So this morning, I am reminding myself to remember the very things that I want for my children to know. For those of us just striving to be healthy, those who don’t suffer from allergies, I want to try to remember that food isn’t the enemy. Gluten, sugar, butter, chocolate cream pies, Oreos dunked in cold milk, an occasional glass of soda – these are not the devil and they shouldn’t have control of any of us.

You know what is the devil? The devil. (And he doesn’t have control over us either.)

But food? Food isn’t spiritual, it’s physical.

Food is a necessity for the body, but it can’t fill anything more than our stomachs. So why do we (I) place so much emphasis on it? Why do I spend more time during the day planning meals, tweaking recipes or feeding myself and others, rather than doing other, more meaningful things?

It’s plain as day for me to know that I should be more focused on my children’s emotional and spiritual growth than their consumption of too much Easter candy or a full-fat cookie.

Why then is it so hard to remember that maybe, just maybe, I ought to be more focused on my own as well.

So, that’s something to work on, committing to being fully healthy and putting food in it’s proper place.

(Which will still mean I’ll be taking pictures of it, of course, because for me, most things are in their proper place when in front of my camera. )

Black Bean Brownies


  1. Kathy Bailey

    Melanie, this is interesting and something I’ve been thinking about most of my life, having had several friends on “fad” diets and “diet” food that had enough chemicals to kill you. Ask your mom if she remembers something called “Metri-Cola.” I like living in this century because there’s less of an emphasis on “diets” and more on “healthy lifestyles.” Healthy meals should be a goal as long as we don’t obsess about them. (I’ve had a couple of recent health scares that pushed me into eating better, so I know whereof…) What’s always fascinated me is that guys do not obsess about this stuff. Pretty much ever. A guy — even a young, cool, evolved guy — would not have written that column. Guys don’t feel guilty about what they eat. I brought this up at a women’s retreat one time when we were all talking about how “bad” we were for eating (the chocolate cake? The buttered popcorn? A second roll? You fill in the blanks.) Men do not categorize food and their eating as “bad” or “good.” They just eat. Or not. And if they’re diabetic or something and they cheat, they just move on. An interesting facet of human nature, Mars/Venus edition. Oh, wait, I have known one man who obsessed about weight — other people’s. My father was always on my case about being “fat” when I was young, and on my mother’s case if she gained five pounds. He wouldn’t even watch “Lost” because he couldn’t stand looking at Hugo.

  2. Kathy Bailey

    The other thing is we have to remember we’re living on earth and stuff on earth needs care. If we don’t take care of our bodies, we’ll get sick and be no good to God. If we don’t take care of our houses (I have known women who are so busy doing the Lord’s work that they can’t be bothered cleaning), anyway, if we don’t take care of our houses then someone can be hurt. Like your child slips on a banana peel or falls through a porch step, and whatever you were going to do for the Lord that day is replaced by a trip to the ER. It’s simple stewardship. Dave and I have had many lively conversations on this topic — I think he would be happy as a hermit living in a cave in the woods and not maintaining a house, as long as he had basic cable. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels.” It’s a balancing act to take care of all of it and yet not get attached to it.

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