January 1st, I set out to do a challenge called the Whole 30. If you've never heard of this before, it's a 30 day clean eating diet in which you cut out all dairy, grain, sugar, alcohol, legumes, and seed oils. (Paleo to the extreme). I wasn't doing it for weight loss, in fact, I was making sure to snack on lots of avocado, nuts and olives to make sure I got enough calories each day. I was doing it for two main reasons: one, I really wanted to do something extreme to try and kick my sugar habit, and two, my health hasn't been great in over a year, mostly digestive stuff, and this diet cuts out everything potentially problematic and helps you figure out what your personal 'trigger foods' are, as you slowly incorporate them back into your diet after the 30 days.
So I made it 13 days before completely throwing in the towel (although on day five I accidentally ate a piece of specialty chocolate cake from a local bakery at a birthday party). Why? I am weak and have no self control. Well, okay that might be part of the reason, but in all actuality, I don't have a gallbladder and this diet was giving me tummy troubles! It wasn't worth it. (It is a great jump start to 'cleaning up' your diet, kicking some bad habits, picking up some great habits, and potentially alleviating some chronic conditions, and I highly recommend trying it if you're interested! I wish I could have followed through with all 30 days).
But what's cool about the 13 days that I did do is that God used some empty space in my life to show me some things. You see, when I'm bored or have a free minute, I automatically walk to the kitchen for a little snack...usually something sugary. Or I check facebook, which I happened to be taking a sabbatical from during the Whole 13 (one had nothing to do with the other). With no snacks and no facebook, there was that empty space and I believe that although I had no intention of the Whole 30 being any kind of spiritual fast, that's sort of what it ended up being. Where there is space, God will move.
It's humbling, what I'm about to write. It's not easy, because I've been so sure of myself for so long, regarding food. And it's not that my beliefs on food in general have changed all that much...rather, I realize that I've been incredibly self-righteous and judgmental towards others who don't share my views. I love nutrition, and love researching it. I would even call it a nerdy hobby of mine. It truly interests me, the science of how what we eat works in our bodies. However, just because someone completely disagrees with me on what constitutes a healthy diet does not make me better/smarter than them! There are much bigger, more important things to consider in relationships and in the world in general than food. Like the fact that a huge percentage of the world won't eat today. That someone will die of starvation as I write this sentence. Thinking about that and praying for those people and looking for small ways I can help, helps me put my food idolatry in perspective.
Yes, I said food idolatry. That would be where a person thinks about food more than God. Spends more time reading about health, nutrition, recipes, etc., than in the Word. Idolatry by definition, is anything that a believer places a higher priority on than God. We are all idolaters. My idol is food, and here is why. I obsess over everything that goes into mine, my husbands, and my kids' mouths. Does it have high fructose corn syrup/MSG/nitrates/nitrites/dyes/hydrogenated oils/preservatives I can't pronounce? I think it's good to be aware of these things and the hazards they pose to our health, as they are, quite positively, downright dangerous to consume on a regular basis. And it's so sad to me that it's difficult to eat whole, natural, non-genetically-modified foods with out chemical additives without paying a pretty penny and spending tons of time on proper food preparation. But, I have become so concerned with this, that I've undoubtedly hurt feelings and offended people by not eating something graciously offered to me. It's just not worth offending or even coming across as judgmental (even if my heart truly isn't as such). I've thought a lot about my actions and prayed about the issue of to what lengths I should go in feeding myself and my family the foods in which I believe we should be eating. And the Lord used my 13 days on the Whole 30 'fast' to give me clarity. Eating the way I want/believe in is simply not possible to do 100%. We would have to take out a small loan to afford it, and we would offend a lot of people, plus, it wouldn't be fun! Eating is such a big part of life...we eat to celebrate, to fellowship, and to simply enjoy! There are even emotional aspects to eating. I started thinking about the things I/we would miss out on if we continue on in how anal (for lack of a better word!) we are in this area. And so, I have reached a new place mentally, on where I'm at with food. And this new place includes thinking about it a lot less in general! It's kind of an 80/20 realm I want to loosely live in.
I want us to eat as healthy as we can and as we can afford on a regular basis. Meaning while we are at home, and the majority of that time. But I want food to be fun; I want to splurge and order pizza sometimes; to go on a date at the old fashioned drive in and not worry about what kind of fat they use for frying; to take the girls out for ice cream on a hot summer night and indulge right along with them. Life is too short and there is too much else to focus on besides food. While I believe God never intended for us to eat processed, dyed, enhanced, modified, chemically engineered food, that is simply much of what is available to us today, and I don't know that He necessarily wants me spending all my time trying to force 'bringing back the old days' in my kitchen...because to do that, healthy as it may be, would truly take ALL MY TIME. So I will prioritize and still spend a bit of extra time on certain things in the kitchen I feel are worth the extra time. We will still spend a bit extra on a few things that I think are vitally important to buy organic or grass fed or raw or whatever; but I will not play God. He holds each of us in His hands, and I believe that He is more concerned with us keeping his commands to love our neighbors, serve the least of these, seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him...much more than He is with whether or not I ate processed meat today.