“I was a great parent before I became one,” my friend Erin said while we discussed the list of things that our children do, that we never dreamed we'd allow.
“I can't believe I let my kids get up and down from the table.... take a bite, leave, come back, take a bite,” I said.
Erin laughed with a huge smile, “Add it to the list, girl.”
She is a good friend, this Erin. Like me, she was and is full of ideals and ideas about her life and her kids. We can talk about the death of some of those ideals and ideas, while still hoping that a few of them will become normal ways of living. Food is one of those ideas that we have ideals about and we talk about it sometimes.
We both are interested in gardening and buying some food products that are organic. We talk sometimes about where the line is between wanting good things for our family and becoming food-righteous. Or for me, food-anxious.
I used to have lots of rules about things I ate, mostly rules surrounding meat and other animal products. This food-anxiety caused me to spend a lot of time on my meal planning, shopping, and cooking. During that time in my life, I began to dread the hour-plus preparations that my prep-heavy recipes called for. I felt guilty when I wanted to eat a simple grilled cheese sandwich or even worse, a hamburger. And I felt awful when I actually ate it. Like a failure. Or a person who was going to become sick with cancer because of all the meat products I ate. How could I make such poor meal choices, like a hamburger, for me and my family? What is wrong with me?
I felt God moving me away from such vigilance with my food when I was pregnant with my second son. It was a relief. I almost audibly heard God telling me to look to him instead of food as my source of contentment or righteousness. It took a lot of time to undo all the anxiety and attentiveness to recipes and ingredients.
Even still, though, I sometimes feel my anxiety levels rising when I read or hear too much about healthy eating. I get the sense that I have to stay away from those types of topics much of the time. It's funny...because I don't talk about it much, it could be that people assume I have a terrible diet. But that's not true, either. I choose a lot of healthy things for my family to eat... whole wheat bread, natural peanut butter, low-meat recipes, mixed nuts and fruit for snacks, drinking only water (well, coffee, too... and a coke now and then).
I do love dessert, though. I mean, I have my standards. I almost always make dessert from scratch because it tastes better, and because I know there aren't any extra ingredients in them. Until recently, though, I only made brownies from a box because I adore boxed-brownie batter. I discovered a recipe for brownies that I actually like better, so those are made from scratch now, too.
That isn't to say I would turn down the store-bought pizza that my friend Sarah is bringing over to my house tonight. I would never turn down a meal from or with a friend, no matter what it is. And, actually, I buy frozen pizzas all the time. And my delivery pizza of choice is always Dominoes, thin crust, cheese only, thank you. I could eat a whole pie alone.
I don't know if some people will understand why I can't contribute much to healthy eating conversations. It's probably best, for my own anxiety levels and for my own peace in Christ, if I smile, nod, and wait for the next topic of conversation to come up. That is, unless I'm talking to someone like Erin. Who I can dead-pan that I picked up an “organic Sonic burger” on my way over. And she will get it and she will laugh.