Shortly after we moved into our new home, our hot water went out. Not once, but three times. For a girl who runs her dishwasher every single night and prefers to shower every single morning, this was a major challenge.
As we dealt with the inconveniences of cold showers and washing dishes by hand for nearly a week, I realized what we still had: clean, running water. We had something much of the world longs to have. We didn’t have to suffer from thirst or dehydration. We were inconvenienced, but we were fine.
So it is, often, I think with food. We western women have oh-so-complicated relationships with a commodity much of the world craves. We have enough, but it never feels like enough.
At least, it didn’t feel like enough to me, until recently. It was all too easy to fret over what I put in my body: was it healthy enough, was it low-calorie enough, was it green enough? Should I feel good or guilty about letting each bite pass my lips?
I read, and analyzed, and I read some more.
And then I realized I hadn’t really paused to consider what God might have to say about all this. And I was struck by this exhortation to gratitude and acceptance:
“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,” 1 Timothy 4:4
And, lest I wonder if this verse was really about food, there it is in the preceding verse: condemnation of those who “require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth…”
So it seems that twenty-first century families confronted with choices as diverse as high-fructose-infused Teddy Grahams and organic bananas at the grocery store are not the first to stress over food. We’re not the first to feel condemned or congratulated for what we eat. We’re not the first to feel pressure to swear off certain foods in order to be “better.”
But I’ve realized I know far more about food than I often think I do. In the words of Michael Pollan: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” It’s not that we should throw all nutritional wisdom to the window and embark on a donut eating bonanza. After all we are called to, eat to the glory of God.
But perhaps doing so can and should involve a little less stress and a lot more thankfulness.
As a family, we participate in the old tradition of giving thanks to God before our meals. But now, what was once a short routine prayer has evolved into something more. It’s become something liberating and sincere.
When I realize that the food I’m about to eat is going to give me strength for the coming hours, I am truly grateful. I am aware that so many women and kids around the world don’t get to sit down to a life-giving lunch ever single day like my daughter and I do. I realize we have enough.
And when I do, I’m also freed from much of the anxiety and guilt over not having a perfect diet. Yes, can always learn more. Yes, I can always eat “better.”
But I’m learning that making peace with food begins with the heart. It begins with gratitude.