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. )