Let's talk about food.
Writing this post is a little intimidating. A little scary. A little personal. Something that may leave me feeling vulnerable. I want to be clear from the get-go: I've learned through my own experience that each of our food and lifestyle choices are a very personal decision. Each of us are on individual journeys. We learn and we grow and we do the best that we know how with the understanding that's been given to us. In most instances, dietary and lifestyle changes take a lot of time, support, knowledge, and discipline. We need to allow patience, gentleness, and time as we learn, adapt, implement, and change.
In sharing my thoughts on food and diet, it is my hope not to be judged just as I would never want to judge or dictate to another person what or how they should eat or what they can't eat. I don't want to come across with a "holier than thou" attitude. I respect where others are at in their beliefs and eating habits.
As I proceed, you might be thinking, "Emily's 'getting weird'." (It wouldn't surprise me if my kids think that about their mom and her "notions".) As we were all in the van last night, driving to the Indian restaurant, one of the kids said something like, "Yeah, and green smoothies are the cure for the world's problems, according to Mom." I knew it was all in jest.
My response: (In jest. But not really.)
"Don't mock me."
Okay, so now that we've made that clear, I'd like to express, in a spirit of love and understanding, my personal food manifesto.
Its foundation is based on my religious dietary laws that I willingly choose to follow.
I do not (or have never):
~use illicit or illegal, habit forming and addicting drugs.
~smoke or use tobacco.
~drink alcohol in any form.
~drink coffee, black tea, or caffeinated beverages. (Although I did go through a Mountain Dew phase in high school. I've never liked the taste of cola drinks.)
~I will choose
~to eat meat sparingly, only "in times of winter, or cold, or famine."
~fast monthly or as needed, with earnest prayer to accompany.
Habits Formed, Beliefs, and Everyday Strivings:
~believe my body is a gift from God. A sacred temple to house my spirit. I am the ultimate steward over its care and condition. I will honor it though proper nutrition, rest, exercise, and stress management.
~eat real, whole, nutrient dense, living foods. I will avoid processed, refined, and convenience foods. I will achieve this through shopping the perimeters of the markets I shop in, growing the biggest garden I can manage, and cooking from scratch. This often involves prioritizing time, work, effort, and sacrifice. (There are not so apparent blessings in this lifestyle.)
~eat in thanksgiving. Either as a family when we sit down together at each and every meal time, or through silent, personal prayers, I will show mindfulness and express gratitude in the offering of this gift and sustenance from God, the Earth, the animals, the farmers and others who brought it to my table, and to those hands that lovingly prepared it. I will acknowledge this provision for my use by a loving God. This means that I will not waste food or the earth's precious resources, and that I will remember the sacrifices given for my benefit.
~I will choose to eat what is lovingly prepared and offered me; specifically in hospitality in other's homes. (As long as it does not break my religious dietary laws.) I would rather eat joyfully with love and gratitude, sacrificing if needed, something I normally don't eat day to day in my own home, rather than poison relationships and offend others. To me, that's more detrimental than eating those occasional food offerings.
~understand that as a mother, I am "The Lioness at the Gate". I am the guard of what comes into my home. As I purchase and prepare foods, my main goal is to nourish my children, not just fill their bellies. I have an obligation to provide them the best diet possible. My job is to not only make sure the food and meals are nutritious, but also delicious and enticing to them. My children's job is to eat the food I lovingly prepare. I might not always be popular or the cool Mom. They eat it or go hungry. They will not starve. Their tastes will adapt (and they have). I will not become a short order cook. I will respect individual tastes and true aversions. I am not a fanatic. Family celebrations are times we like to let our guard down; times to look forward to with joyful anticipation and expectation. (a note: With Gary's birthday yesterday, I bought an angel food cake at the grocery store for convenience sake, practically only one of the few times in the year that I will ever purchase a store bought cake. I gave him the traditional box of sweetened cereal; something the children look forward to all year long. For dinner last night, I prepared his birthday request of a beef roast and mashed potatoes. It was the first time we've eaten beef or a roast all winter long. I really don't remember the last time. I didn't have the desire to eat any. The family ate it truly with thanksgiving and appreciation.)
~strive to focus most of my diet (while not forcing or compelling my family members or others) to be mostly plant-based by limiting animal proteins to 5%-10% of my intake. If animal products are eaten, I will strive to consume those where the animals are raised in a way God and nature intended: pasture roamed and fed, happy and whole.
*A final note, I've tried to inform myself as regards to diet and health the best way I possibly can. I've spent countless hours in study and research, read stacks and stacks of books and articles, participated in lectures, workshops, and classes. The research done by the Oxford/Cornell China Study has been foundational in my understanding, with everything I've studied backing up this research, the largest human nutrition study ever conducted.
I've had a few wake up calls in regards to health and disease. I feel compelled and excited as I'm learning. I want a future that's bright. I want to live a healthy life. I want to live to an old age free from the plagues of our modern age and the standard American diet (SAD). I want to do all that's in my power to make that happen. Yes, I'm eating, and more important, absorbing all the calcium and protein I need to thrive. I love to eat. I listen intuitively and respect my body's nutritional needs. I feel so good. So satisfied, clean, energized, spiritually pure, light, focused, and strong.
To your health and happiness on whatever personal food or dietary journey you may take,
(Thanks for reading and sticking with this long post.)