Eat to Live or Live to Eat: Enjoying Food without Worrying about Food
Over the past three and a half years, my family has completely changed the way we see food. I absolutely love to cook and bake, so we have always eaten a lot of homemade things, but after having our fourth child we began to really look at the things we were eating and why we were eating them. My husband and I LOVE food. Like, REALLY love it. From appetizers to desserts (and all things in between), we really love eating food! Neither of us have any medical issues or allergies to foods, so we have always been able to eat whatever, whenever.
After our fourth child came along, we saw a few documentaries about ingredients in foods and how much things have changed in the last 50 years in the USA's food industry. It was a little disturbing to hear how some of the foods are made and what ingredients are in them, especially the ingredients that are banned in other countries because they are known to be unsafe.
I don't want to start a food argument, but I do want you to understand where we are coming from.
We learned a lot in the year after our fourth child was born, and my husband and I set out to be more intentional about checking the foods we ate and seeing if there was a way to cut out the processed foods and make more of our own and completely avoid the questionable ingredients altogether.
We did great for a couple years, but I noticed I was becoming more concerned with every little bite we took instead of really enjoying the foods and the process of making them. It became overwhelming when we would go somewhere – checking to see what was in the foods, obsessing over whether or not they were homemade, did they have organic ingredients, etc.
I would say it was becoming an idol, as I constantly thought more about what we were eating instead of whether or not I had my quiet time in the morning or if I was treating my family with respect or if I was doing what God was wanting me to do. I was spending so much time in the kitchen and online: researching, planning, budgeting, cooking, and baking. It was wearing me down.
Then, I realized that maybe I had made food an idol.
I had put it ahead of God, my husband, my children, and other priorities. I was mentally beating myself up over every grocery list I had to make, every grocery budget I had to set, and I was freaking out over every single meal I had to cook. I was exhausted!
Now, I continue to watch what we eat, but I have learned to be a little more lenient in certain areas. I have learned not every single bite is a life and death matter (unless there is an allergy, of course). I have learned to look to God to keep me on track and balance out my concerns about food and the rest of my life.
These 3 things have helped me keep a good, healthy balance in my views about food:
1. Food is NOT my number one priority.
Nope, it isn't. Even if I obsess over my grocery list, I can't let food become my number one priority. I have God, my husband, my family, my church, my friends, and so many other things that should be a bigger priority. Food matters, but not as much as my faith. Letting food get ahead of God is silly... and dangerous.
2. Food is essential but not all foods are beneficial.
Yes, God put all these foods here. But, He also instilled some common sense in us to know which foods are more important. I could never justify picking up fast food every week for my kids. I just can't. I also cannot justify buying a ton of processed foods. Sure, my lifestyle and schedule are different than other's, but the results in my kids' health is way more important to me than convenience.
Yep, it takes more time to go home and make a meal after being out all day, but even just one meal of fast food does a number on our tummies. We pay for it. I would rather go home and make the foods, because I know my family will sleep better, they will feel better afterward, and the kids will behave better (yes, certain foods affect my kids' behavior!). I make no apologies for believing meals should be homemade. But, I will also not condemn anyone that picks up fast food.... to each their own. I just know what is best for us!
3. I enjoy food, especially foods that fuel!
My husband is a marathon runner, so we are very aware of the foods his body needs for those loooong runs. I love cooking and baking for him to get him through his training and races. I love knowing that what I am making helps our bodies by giving energy (and not just a sugar rush!), vitamins and minerals, and that TASTE GOOD!!
I am all for fueling our bodies, but for me the foods must absolutely be tasty! I am a FOOD LOVER for sure! :)
And after saying all that, I must add that I make A LOT of desserts. I love fueling our bodies, making things from scratch instead of settling for convenience, but I also love all things chocolate! So, while I am careful about what we eat (without obsessing), I do enjoy some Double Chocolate Brownies often--with white sugar and white flour. Yep, totally refined crap, but still the most delicious dessert!
I hope I don't make it seem like I have the whole “eating well” thing down pat. I don't! I still struggle with my grocery lists and recipes. When I am tired and crabby, I still fall for convenience in my recipes. I love cooking, but some days things just fall apart and we whip out a box of mac and cheese. And you know what? We're still alive! We will live to see another day.
Food is important, and the more food we can make ourselves the better! I just don't want to obsess like I used to because I enjoy food so much more when I don't! :)