Eating

Although eating and food are obviously related, they are not the same thing. Food is what we consume. Eating is how we consume it.

In an ideal world, our bodies would send us signals to let us know when we are hungry and when we didn’t need to eat anymore. In an ideal world, we would listen to those signals, know what and when to eat, and all live happily ever after.

This is not an ideal world.

Early on, we learn to associate food with comfort. Babies cry and moms nurse them. Toddlers fall down, and a favorite treat can distract them from their tears and get them back on their way.

And there are rules. Veggies before dessert. Clean your plate. Green is good and sugar is bad. You have to eat breakfast. One year eggs are good, the next they are bad. Artificial sweeteners are life-savers and then they’re death in a little pink, yellow, or blue packet.

I wonder who spends more on advertising: the food industry or the diet industry?

No wonder we’re all confused.

I used to feel really deficient because food and eating were my weaknesses. I mean it’s just food. It isn’t alcohol or drugs or anything else that gave a discernible high. In fact, eating too much can be downright painful. Why would that be appealing? Then, about the millionth time I read Genesis, I realized something. Food was the very first temptation. To Eve, food was, “good … and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable.” Wow.

I want part of my journey to help me sort through the whys and wherefores of my own eating habits. Why do I think sugar will get rid of a headache? (It’s not blood sugar related; mine is fine every time I check.) How come I still feel the need to eat everything on my plate even though I’m 42 years old? Why do I sit down to eat meals when I’m not even hungry and why do I feel that I have to eat at social gatherings if food is served? Why can’t I just eat when I’m hungry, stop at enough, make healthier choices, and say, “No, thank you” when I’m not hungry? It’s not from a lack of knowledge. There’s something else going on.

Here’s my real goal: “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”

What about you? Are food and eating struggles for you? If so, how? Is it the meal planning end of things or the eating part? Do you want to replace your cravings with food with cravings for God? How can we do that? Seriously — I want to know.

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Food, Part 2: Books for the Battle


So we’ve established that I have lifelong issues with food. Planning ahead, making good choices, dealing with the responsibility of feeding my family, and eating for some not-so-good reasons. We also established that the time and place to deal with it now. So what’s next? First, I’ll tell you what doesn’t work for me.

  1. Guilt. If guilt were going to motivate me to change, I would’ve done it a LONG time ago.
  2. My own appearance. I’m not blind. I can see the pictures. I can look in a mirror. I know what I look like and I know that it’s nowhere close to what I could be.
  3. My own health. Sad, isn’t it? When my blood pressure started creeping up, it was a good short-term motivation but that didn’t stick around.
  4. Eating plans. Trust me. I’ve done them all. Points, Atkins, South Beach, Weigh Down. . . they all work for a while, but I’ve followed the typical pattern of returning to old habits and then some.

In most areas of my life, other people are my motivation. Caleb’s diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes is what made me get serious about getting organized with supper and family meals, but I also want to work on the bigger picture. Face it: I’m an American and I eat too much and I eat too much of some not-so-good stuff.

Since other people are better motivators for me, I’m taking a global and spiritual approach to this. Here are some books I’ve just started reading that I hope will provide the spark to take the next step.

Rich Christians In An Age Of Hunger is written for our times, when every day more than 34,000 children die of starvation and preventable diseases, and 1. 3 billion human beings live in relentless, unrelieved poverty worldwide. Why is there still so much poverty in the world? Conservatives blame sinful individual choices and laziness. Liberals condemn economic and social structures. Who is right? Who is wrong? Both, according to Ronald Sider in this newly revised, expanded and updated edition of Rich Christians In An Age Of Hunger. Sider explains that poverty is the result of complex causes, and then he presents practical, workable proposes for change, proposals that should be taken up by every man and every woman who seeks to deserve the title “Christian” and to apply and to follow the teaches of Jesus of Nazareth in the modern world. — Midwest Book Review

Food is the one thing that Americans hate to love and, as it turns out, love to hate. What we want to eat has been ousted by the notion of what we should eat, and it’s at this nexus of hunger and hang-up that Michael Pollan poses his most salient question: where is the food in our food? What follows in In Defense of Food is a series of wonderfully clear and thoughtful answers that help us omnivores navigate the nutritional minefield that’s come to typify our food culture. Many processed foods vie for a spot in our grocery baskets, claiming to lower cholesterol, weight, glucose levels, you name it. Yet Pollan shows that these convenient “healthy” alternatives to whole foods are appallingly inconvenient: our health has a nation has only deteriorated since we started exiling carbs, fats–even fruits–from our daily meals. His razor-sharp analysis of the American diet (as well as its architects and its detractors) offers an inspiring glimpse of what it would be like if we could (a la Humpty Dumpty) put our food back together again and reconsider what it means to eat well. In a season filled with rallying cries to lose weight and be healthy, Pollan’s call to action—”Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”–is a program I actually want to follow. –Anne Bartholomew


Most of us are at a great distance from our food. I don’t mean that we live “twelve miles from a lemon,” as English wit Sydney Smith said about a home in Yorkshire. I mean that our food bears little resemblance to its natural substance. Hamburger never mooed; spaghetti grows on the pasta tree; baby carrots come from a pink and blue nursery. Still, we worry about our meals — from calories to carbs, from heart-healthy to brain food. And we prefer our food to be “natural,” as long as natural doesn’t involve real.

In The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan writes about how our food is grown — what it is, in fact, that we are eating. The book is really three in one: The first section discusses industrial farming; the second, organic food, both as big business and on a relatively small farm; and the third, what it is like to hunt and gather food for oneself. And each section culminates in a meal — a cheeseburger and fries from McDonald’s; roast chicken, vegetables and a salad from Whole Foods; and grilled chicken, corn and a chocolate soufflé (made with fresh eggs) from a sustainable farm; and, finally, mushrooms and pork, foraged from the wild.– The Washington Post

So . . . hopefully they will each provide pieces of the puzzle that I can use to rewire my brain and retrain my responses. Stay tuned for the next steps.

Food

There it is. Food. Something I have struggled with all my life. My eating patterns were highly scrutinized and I admit to using food as my rebellion at different times in life. Oh yes, I will eat a brownie. Oh yes, I will put a whole bag of chocolate chips in the cookies when I make them. There were lots of food rules and I probably broke them all.

I could talk about how food is tied up in the whole body image/weight issue too, but I really just want to talk about food. I’ve always had to think about it, either because of my own food issues or because of trying to meal plan for my family. Have to admit: I love feeding people. I don’t like the planning and shopping part, but I do get a lot of satisfaction from having people over and feeding the. I’m a pretty good cook when I have the time to do it.

Working full time has put a serious dent in my limited ability to plan, shop for, and prepare food. We started eating out too much, and I started buying quick-to-fix food for when we did eat at home. We ate in front of the tv pretty often because the table was usually covered with papers and homework and incomplete projects.

Food was out of control.

Last August, I knew it had to change when Caleb was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Read carefully: what someone eats does not cause Type 1, but it is vitally important in managing it well. One of the hardest things about re-entering life after his hospitalization and diagnosis was the very well-meaning people who would give me information about how we could cure Caleb’s diagnosis through diet.

Type 1 has no cure and isn’t caused by what you eat. Please remember that.

Anyway, Caleb’s nutrition needs plus my own feeling of being out-of-control has led me to reevaluate the role of food in our life. I’ve already mentioned E-mealz.com and how helpful it has been. Another resource that I would encourage all of you to check out is an upcoming television series, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. You can watch a preview episode at Hulu or catch the 2-hour premiere Friday night on ABC. The preview episode focused on school cafeteria food, and so does Fed Up With Lunch: The School Lunch Project. I know that not all of you have children who eat school lunches, but mine do. That was one of the first things I wanted to change when Caleb was diagnosed, but he desperately wanted to continue eating in the cafeteria because it was a normalizer. When your whole world changes, you need something to make you feel normal. I couldn’t take that away from him.


Tomorrow will be Food, Part 2: Books for the Battle.

Let the geekiness commence

Remember this?

Well, get ready for this:

Yep. Jeff Bridges and everything. Tron always reminded me of Kamazotz from Madeleine L’Engle’s beautiful work A Wrinkle in Time. Well, Kamazotz in a blue and black computer generated way.

(Sorry the viewing proportions are off, but my true geek friends will love this anyway.)

Things I get excited about

Yesterday, Caleb had a check up with the Endocrinology team at Children’s. I’m always nervous before these. Have we kept good enough records? Are we eating too many carbs? What about the days we didn’t remind Caleb to check his blood sugar first thing in the morning or before he went to bed or . . . ?

You get the picture.

Anyway, yesterday’s appointment went really, really well! Even though his daily numbers can be all over the place, his averages were good. The primary measurement (called A1C) was 6.7, which is in the non-diabetic range. No, this doesn’t mean that he’s “getting over it” or that his body is recovering its ability to make insulin, but it does mean that he is healthy and that makes me excited.

One of the things they really liked was the e-mealz.com low-carb supper plans that we’ve been using. I put a link over on the left-hand side bar so you can go see their site. We learned about e-mealz when we took a Dave Ramsey course last summer. I enjoy cooking, but meal planning and grocery shopping have always been big struggles for me. E-mealz is only $15.00 for a 3-month subscription and I get a low-carb meal plan every week that includes main dishes, sides, and an item-by-item grocery list. It’s a no-fail way to make sure you have a plan and the needed groceries every day. Get this: you can even tell them which grocery store you tend to use and they’ll send you the plan for that store. Yeah. It’s that cool.


AND last but not least, I get very excited about The Chronicles of Narnia. You already knew that, didn’t you? Here’s a fan-made trailer for the upcoming Voyage of the Dawn Treader movie. Rumor has it that it will be in theaters December of 2010. I can’t wait. Yes, I know that I will have to and that means that I can wait, but still. . . . I can’t wait!

1

The Lost Practice of Resting One Day Each Week

Originally posted at Zen Habits, this article is giving me a new desire to “remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.” I wonder why we overlook that basic command so often? And why do we even praise a lifestyle that doesn’t slow down when Creator has encouraged us to take a break every now and then?

THE SABBATH REST by Samuel Hirszenberg (1866-1908). Oil on canvas 1894.


He that can take rest is greater than he that can take cities. – Benjamin Franklin

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist.

Ask any physician and they will tell you that rest is essential for physical health. When the body is deprived of sleep, it is unable to rebuild and recharge itself adequately. Your body requires rest.

Ask any athlete and they will tell you that rest is essential for healthy physical training. Rest is needed for physical muscles to repair themselves and prevent injury. This is true whether you run marathons, pitch baseballs, or climb rocks. Your muscles require rest.

Ask many of yesterday’s philosophers and they will tell you that rest is essential for the mind. Leonardo da Vinci said, “Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer.” And Ovid, the Roman poet, said, “Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” Your mind requires rest.

Ask most religious leaders and they will tell you that rest is essential for the soul. Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Baha’i, and Wiccan (among others) teach the importance of setting aside a period of time for rest. Your soul requires rest.

Ask many corporate leaders and they will tell you that rest is essential for productivity. Forbes magazine recently wrote, “You can only work so hard and do so much in a day. Everybody needs to rest and recharge.” Your productivity requires rest.

Physicians, athletes, philosophers, poets, religious leaders, and corporate leaders all tell us the same thing: take time to rest. It is absolutely essential for a balanced, healthy life.

Yet, when you ask most people in today’s frenzied culture if they consistetly set aside time for rest, they will tell you that they are just too busy to rest. Even fewer would say that they set aside any concentrated time (12-24 hours) for rest. There are just too many things to get done, too many demands, too many responsibilities, too many bills, and too much urgency. Nobody can afford to waste time resting in today’s results-oriented culture.

Unfortunately, this hectic pace is causing damage to our quality of life. We are destroying every sense of our being (body, mind, and soul). There is a reason we run faster and work harder, but only fall farther behind. Our lives have become too full and too out of balance. Somewhere along the way, we lost the essential practice of concentrated rest. We would be wise to reclaim the ancient, lost practice of resting one day each week.

To get back into balance, just consider the countless benefits of concentrated rest for your body, mind, and soul:

§ Healthier body – We each get one life and one body to live it in. Therefore, we eat healthy, we exercise, and we watch our bad habits. But then we allow our schedules to fill up from morning to evening. Rest is as essential to our physical health as the water we drink and the air we breathe.

§ Less stress – Stress is basically the perception that the situations we are facing are greater than the resources we have to deal with them – resources such as time, energy, ability, and help from others. We have two choices, either reduce the demands or increase our resources. Concentrated rest confronts stress in both ways. First, it reduces the demands of the situation. We have no demands on us as long as we have the ability to mentally let go of unfinished tasks. Secondly, rest reduces stress by increasing our resources, particularly energy.

§ Deeper relationships – A day set aside each week for rest allows relationships with people to deepen and be strengthened. When we aren’t rushing off to work or soccer practice, we are able to enjoy each other’s company and a healthy conversation. And long talks prove to be far more effective in building community than short ones on the ride to the mall.

§ Opportunity for reflection Sometimes it is hard to see the forest through the trees. It is even more difficult to see the forest when we are running through the trees. Concentrated rest allows us to take a step back, to evaluate our lives, to identify our values, and determine if our life is being lived for them.

§ Balance – Taking one day of your week and dedicating it to rest will force you to have an identity outside of your occupation. It will foster relationships outside of your fellow employees. It will foster activities and hobbies outside our work. It will give you life and identity outside of your Monday-Friday occupation. Rather than defining your life by what you do, you can begin to define it by who you are.

§ Increased production – Just like resting physical muscles allows them opportunity to rejuvenate which leads to greater physical success, providing our minds with rest provides it opportunity to refocus and rejuvenate. More work is not better work. Smarter work is better work.

§ Reserve for life’s emergencies – Crisis hits everyone. Nobody who is alive is immune from the trials of life. By starting the discipline today of concentrated rest, you will build up reserves for when the unexpected emergencies of life strike… and rest is no longer an option.

Properly developing a discipline of concentrated rest requires both inward and outward changes. Consider these steps to reclaiming the lost practice of weekly rest in your life:

1. Find contentment in your current life. – Much of the reason we are unable to find adequate rest is because we are under the constant impression that our lives can and should be better than they are today. This constant drive to improve our standing in life through the acquisition of money, power, or skills robs us of contentment and joy. Ultimately, rest is an extension of our contentment and security. Without them, simplicity and rest is difficult, if not impossible. Stop focusing on what you don’t have and start enjoying the things that you do.

2. Plan your rest. Rest will come only from intentional planning and planning rest will come only if it is truly desired. Schedule it on your calendar. Learn to say no to any tasks that attempt to take precedent. Plan out your day of rest by choosing creative activities that are refreshing and encourage relationships. Understand that true rest is different than just not working. As the Cat in the Hat wisely said, “It is fun to have fun but you have to know how.” Avoid housework. Plan meals in advance to help alleviate cooking responsibilities. And by all means, turn off your television, e-mail, and blackberry.

3. Take responsibility for your life. You are not a victim of your time demands. You are the creator and acceptor of them. Refuse to complain or make excuses and start changing your habits. Remember, you are only as busy as you choose to be. Leave “if only” excuses to the kids. If needed, alert your employer about your desire for rest and tell them you will be unavailable on that particular day.

4. Embrace simplicity. Embrace a lifestyle that focuses on your values, not your possessions. It is difficult to find rest when the housework is never finished, the yard needs to be mowed, or the garage needs to be organized.

5. Include your family. It is much easier to practice the discipline of concentrated rest if your family is practicing it too. The fact that this gets more difficult as your kids get older should motivate you to start as soon as possible.

6. Live within your income. A debtor is a slave to his creditor. It is difficult to find rest for your mind when you are deep in debt. The constant distress of your responsibility to another may preclude you from truly enjoying a day off. It is possible; it’s just more difficult. Don’t overspend your income, live within it.

7. Realize the shallow nature of a results-oriented culture. If you live in a results-oriented culture where productivity alone is championed on every corner, rest is counter-cultural. And thus, the saying goes, “If you rest, you rust.” Rest may even be seen as a sign of weakness by others. Unfortunately, that view of humanity’s role in this world is shallow. It is true that many of the benefits from concentrated rest are not tangible; but then again, only a fool believes that all good things can be counted.

Rabbi Elijah of Vilna once said, “What we create becomes meaningful to us only once we stop creating it and start to think about why we did so.” The implication is clear. We could live lives that produce countless widgets, but we won’t start living until we stop producing and start enjoying. Capture again the lost practice of resting one day each week and start truly living.

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