Friday, August 03, 2012

Food, fads, and the Bible

To be honest, I have not historically thought much about food. It's not a vice of mine, nor is it a passion of mine. It's simply food. We need it, I like it fine, and it helps us thrive. Sometimes I like cooking, sometimes I don't. Sometimes we eat healthy, sometimes we don't.

I've seen the ways in which some people idolize food, whether excess becomes a god, or self-denial. Eating a whole package of Oreos is the same as obsessing over NOT EVER EATING A SINGLE OREO because you think they're of the devil. Both of those perspectives move God off of His throne in a person's life.

So I'm sure you can guess that I've never subscribed to a fad diet, or read any of the bandwagon food books. I'm not saying I'm against either of those things. I'm saying I have simply never cared that much. But a few years ago, one of my wisest friends told me about two books she read on food that were based on what God's Word had to say. Now there was a perspective on food in which I was interested and about which I knew I could learn more.

So I bought them. I first read Holy Cow: Does God Care About What We Eat, written by a Messianic Jewish woman and a Rabbi. Totally fascinating (and convicting: in her testimony, one reason the author says she hesitates to believe in the God of the New Testament is because the Christians she knows seem to dismiss the God of the Old Testament). It made me consider caring more about what we ate; if God cared, then shouldn't I? Then, I read What the Bible Says About Healthy Living which covers overall health, not just food).

Again, since I am not one to buy into a whole new program, I picked and chose from these two books what I felt were simple, healthy adaptations to mine and my kids' current diets based on some very convincing arguments in terms of what the Bible says is best for us. (On a side note, I was shocked at the number of relevant, instructive passages of Scripture that deal with food that I'd never really valued in the past. Is it just poetry that God describes the "promised land" as rich with milk and honey? Or are milk and honey perhaps so beneficial that they were a prized part of His blessings for the Israelites when they got there? In retrospect, I guess I'd never used the Bible as a tool for understanding my physical needs, only my spiritual and emotional ones. Interesting, isn't it?)

Here's an example of a change we made. Technically, we don't eat pork. I don't buy it, and I don't choose to order it. But if my son's breakfast sandwich has a piece of bacon on it, I don't make him throw it away. And if we are guests in a friend's home who makes a delicious pork stew, we all give thanks for it and dig in (love you, Erin :). And if my husband thinks the pork stew is the greatest meal ever, because I love him more than I love a guideline, I cook it for Father's Day. That way, God is still on His throne in my heart because I believe He'd place relationship, love, and friendship above a guideline. In Matthew chapter 23, Jesus comes down hard on the religious leaders for focusing so much on rules and regulations that they missed the basic matters of the heart. That chapter contains some of the harshest language we ever see Jesus use in the Bible.

I read these two books about five years ago, and since then, I've maintained our adaptations, but stopped continuing to think about food. 

Well, I'm thinking about it now. A lot. This time, I'm ruminating on my family's over dependence on protein, specifically animal protein. I'm not going to buy into a whole new program (mainly because my interpretation of Scripture includes allowance for meat in our diets, and perhaps because I have an undying love for cheese). But the fact is that my family could eat more veggies. We could try new grains. I'm saying a proactive "yes" just to those two simple statements right now, because I could become more educated and practiced at preparing these foods.

Yesterday I bought a bag of pearled barley. I have zero idea what to do with it, but I like a good creative challenge. Also in my cart was our second carton of almond milk. What a shocker, it's actually really good. So I'm experimenting, and trying really hard to expand my horizons in the area of healthier food, for myself and my family. 

If you have any ideas for me, I'm open, but go easy on me.

That special place in my heart for a Sonic Cherry Limeade is not getting taken over by quinoa anytime soon.



  1. I don't have any special ideas about it but I wanted to tell you that I liked your approach to this. It isn't selling out to something the second you hear about it but letting it seep into your soul and you desire to hear from the Lord. I like that. And those are the changes that we all should make.

    Cheers to you and this new journey!

  2. here's a great article about meal planning principles.

  3. I'm with you on finding healthier alternatives. I just switched to almond milk about a month ago! Love it! So glad I switched. I don't have any ideas of for pearled barley. Maybe I should try that myself. But, here is one idea for a healthy alternative to pasta that we just tried. We typically eat low carb. No white sugar or refined cards, but we eat lots of veggies, fruits, whole grains, and of course protein. Just no refined carbs. I've been missing my pasta so my husband made lasagna using thin slices of white squash from our garden in place of the lasagna noodles. The best lasagna I have ever eaten! Didn't even miss having the pasta in it. Thanks for this article. Very thought provoking!

  4. Those books sound very interesting, I might have to check those out. For us healthy eating means eating clean-no preservatives, eating food only in it's natural, unprocessed state. Basically, we eat real food and very limited sugar. I also use coconut milk for baking, and coconut oil in place of butter (soooo yummy on popcorn!)

    I don't have any barley suggestions, but I love quinoa as a salad with tomatoes, roasted vegetables, herbs, oil, and vinegar. It's great on a hot summer day!

  5. Oh Leslie!! I have to tell you that I have stuggled with this subject pretty much all my life. I used to be a nutrition counselor and so I have quite the head knowledge on food. But for 10 years I had been quite sick. And after seeing doctor after doctor...there were no answers. I was tested for bone cancer and all the autoimmune disorders. Finally on my own, I started eliminating foods. And then got tested. Come to find out that I have a hefty load of food allergies to inclue wheat, corn ,soy, milk, eggs, gluten amongst other things. And now am facing how to navigate through this with this big hefty grocery bill we have. Its either shop clean and organic and whole...or be sick. If anything,I used to see food as punishment. Because everytime I ate I felt sick. But now I see it as a burden. I simply cant just eat pasta or ramen when times are tough. I cant go on trips without packing my own food. Its a burden that I stuggle heavy with. I have looked for books on biblical eating and then never found the answer to why I would be allergic to all of it! I am writing all of this here maybe to ask for prayer of some enlightenment on the subject. I am definitly looking into those books! And if you ever need help making some amaranth or some buckwheat...or making muffins from oats..I am your girl! And quinoa, its so great once you cook it in broth! But theres the chicken again! haha!

    here is my post on my food allergies.

  6. I guess the reason I shared all that is because just the other day I was talking to a lady about it...and she was surprised at how one thing could be so different for two people. And thats what I thought of when I read this. You dont give a thought to food at all...its not on your mind. But its always on my mind...where to get it, how to buy to make one meal for the whole family with all our different feeling guilt for having to spend so much money on food because we have to eat never stops. If I leave the house and go to a play date I have to remember to bring my own food. Its just always on my mind. And not on yours. We move every 2 -3 years so whenever we are in transition, I always get sick because its so hard to prepare meals on the road and out of hotels. I have no wisdom on this subject. haha. thanks for letting me share!

  7. You can use pearled barley in soups in place of rice.