I was reading Hearth’s Unified Field Theory: Food this morning and it was s reminder to me of why moderation -in moderation- is best. She is about to embark on one of my favorite dietary resets (the Whole30) and so writes a bit about her philosophy of food and health.
I don’t think that the ideal involves us making food an idol, either. And I’m not even saying everything in moderation – I think differently. I think we should have feasts, and special times to enjoy the most wonderful flavors and sensory experiences that we can conjure up. But I believe that we should SHARE those experiences so that we enjoy them for a moment, and then that moment is over.
Bad food is like wearing weights. You don’t want to burden yourself with the bad stuff on the regular, you don’t want to eat party food on the daily. On the day to day, you want to eat good food that makes you feel incredible, that makes you feel strong and smart and clear and light.
Whatever that prescription is for you, that’s what you should eat. And you should drink lots of clean water, avoid other chemicals as you can, put clean things on your skin and hair – do as much good for yourself as you can.
I like this approach, as it mirrors my own approach to health and fitness. The older I get, the more I recognize the inherent problem with conflating what works for me into a bedrock principle which everyone else must follow. I’m referring to practical matters here, rather than issues of morality and faith.
There are actually lots of Biblical examples to confirm my understanding of this idea, and I have resolved to one day compile them all since this seems to be such a terribly difficult thing for most Christians to process and internalize. It won’t be today though, as I am thinking more about the practical application of the snippet I posted from hearth’s post.
She is right that there are times when moderation in “all things” needs to be set aside, although these times are to be the exception rather than the rule. Daily feasts necessarily diminish the significance of a feast in the first place. I suspect this is why we see so much dissatisfaction, snark, and general disdain surrounding times and seasons that once were universally considered times of great joy.
When the Elder Brother’s* father killed the fatted calf for his reclaimed son, it was noteworthy because it was not something they did every day, even though the father with his wealth, certainly might have been able to enjoy a fated calf more than once in a great while. This is one of the ways we approach certain foods in our house.
Because the craving for a sweet, fatty treat is pretty easily sated in our culture (we have 4 Publix supermarkets within 10 minutes of our home), we have resolved that unless we want it enough to get in the kitchen and prepare it ourselves from scratch, we don’t really want it. With a few exceptions, this easily limits cookies, cakes or pies to a weekend treat, usually Sundays.
This is easily transferred to just about anything, not just sweets. Fried chicken, french fries (which need to be cut, then soaked in ice water, and deep fried twice to get the fast food effect), or any number of foods that would require a fair amount of time and effort to prepare at home.
Imagine if everyone had this limitation (like many of our grandparents did!). We’ve taken this approach with a lot of foods over the years and it dramatically increases the propensity to just grab a banana when we get hungry. And then, when we get around to baking a treat, we enjoy it all the more.
Moderation in most things -in moderation- is a good rule of thumb.
*This parable has been forever transformed in my mind to the Story of the Elder Brother, rather than the parable of the Prodigal Son, and this is why.