Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Of Food and Foundations

Because I have been feeling much more hungry than usual for the last four months as a result of my training, I have given much thought to food--mainly to how I feed my family, and how I want to be fed.

My little sister sent me a text this morning that said, "My weight rarely changes; it's like my [body] shape decided itself a long time ago." My reply was, "If you think about it, our bodies DO somewhat choose their shape early on. We were blessed to be raised in a home where sound nutrition was the norm, which set us off in the right direction." (Do I sound smug? My grandma says I'm smug. But she always says it with a smile, so I don't know if she's serious.)

I grew up in a home where we were nourished well--both in quantity and quality. My mom stayed at home with us seven children, and had several hearty, healthy dinners that she kept in regular rotation. We didn't stay away from any one food group, but we didn't indulge in any one food group much, either.

Moderation was the goal.

We were taught not to tie our emotions with food in an unhealthy way--i.e., do not pacify with food. But we did use food as a communication tool ("Rae, let's make some cookies while you tell me about your latest crush.") and learning tool (chocolate chip math, anyone? Family Home Evening lesson about taking care of our bodies?), and we bonded around the dinner table.

This is where that line between emotion and food is blurred for me--some of my sweetest memories are marked by a family meal. Thanksgiving, of course, but also dinners here and there where we were simply together and happy around the table. On Sunday evenings, when Monday-dread was looming and church-tiredness started to set in, my four sisters and I would make chocolate chip cookies. Always we ended up laughing or confiding, feeding each other's souls.

So I do believe that it is natural to have some emotional ties to food, and even healthy. So long as food is not the only way by which we work through emotion.

I was talking to my grandma once about the wonderful meals she served when I was little and we stayed at her house in the summers. She still makes amazing meals, when her aging spine lets her. I said, "Grandma, I miss real food. You know. The food you make. Food that just is what it is....real butter. Real mashed potatoes. Corn on the cob from your garden out back. Don't you think there's something to be said for the way we used to eat?" She gave an emphatic "Yes," but then laughed and said, "Except for the lard. And the fact that we were laborers back then."

I'm grateful to have been given a foundation in my childhood of good nourishment and an active lifestyle. I feel like it has definitely shaped how I eat now, and how I am teaching my children to eat. I am learning that extremity in any direction isn't healthy....if I want a cookie, I will eat a cookie. But I most certainly don't need 12 cookies. :) (Sometimes I do eat 12 cookies. No exaggeration there.) I do think that if I eat plenty of produce during the day, it is alright for me to have some hefty "real" mashed potatoes for dinner. And I also believe that now and then, it's alright to have a day when we simply eat what we want, because we want to. Even that isn't bad--in moderation.*

Everything in moderation.**

*I would like to state that I am in no way an expert. These are simply my opinions, and you can feel free to take what I've said and throw it out the window! :D
**I would also like to state that in our family we are free of any allergies, which makes it quite easy to eat a variety of foods.
***Thirdly (is that a word?), in general, I eat at about Great to Medium on the spectrum of healthful food choices. I'm not a health nut, but I do try to stay away from McD's and such.


MAG of Marie Photographie said...

Yeah, it is all about moderation, I totally agree. I love that you have such good memories attached with food. It's interesting to me what an impact (for good or bad) food can have on family life.

Kelly said...

I find this post highly offensive.

Just kidding. You're spot on, of course!
I lo-o-o-o-ove "real" food. And I also love that my family is allergy free, especially gluten-free free. Those kids who need gluten-free food have an expensive diet!
Rae, let's be runners for the rest of our lives so that we can eat our 12 cookies!

Lara said...

That's what I'm talking about!

I feel the same way about family dinnertime. And food.

I recently bought a vinyl saying for my kitchen that says "The fondest memories are made while gathered around the table."

I put it up and Joel thought it looked pretty but he said, "Is that really true, though?"


The Taylors said...

love you, go back and read may 9, Reasons Why...

carajean said...

I am making mashed potatoes and fried chicken this week. With real chicken, grease, and butter. MMMMMM.