Nov 10, 2010

Nutrition...Ideal or Idol? Part 2

In my last post (which you can read here), I recounted the beginning of my health journey.

...After five years of chasing health and nutritious eating but often not feeling whole, I chucked the whole thing. For 2 years, we ate quite a bit of boxed food and my kids have had their share of chicken nuggets. I just couldn't handle the pressure anymore of working so hard to make everything healthy that I cooked and brought into our household (on a strict budget to boot) on top of juggling two very small children. It was just too much.

And I DELIGHTED in our Mac N Cheese and chicken nuggets. Ahhh...freedom.

And you know what I realize now? Rightly so. No woman should feel that pressure, even the ones who are concerned about health and nutrition. Now, I am certainly not saying we should feed our kids sugary cereal for breakfast and McDonald's twice a day. I certainly don't want my kids included in the majority of American children who name "french fries" as their favorite veggie.

I'm just saying that health MUST NOT be an absolute. I realized after throwing in the "health food" towel that I had gone too far...that I should try to do as time and money allowed...that I should do it out of love for myself, my hubby, and the kids.

20 or 30 years ago, organic and health food was totally on the fringe. Many kids then grew up on a diet of homecooked food, but also on Twinkies, due to lack of education and maybe from a touch of neglect.

Today, we contrast "junk" food with healthy food or "nutritious" food. For some families/communities, it has nearly become a moral standard for judgment! We need to be careful though, that we don't elevate health so high that we expect it to keep us from the kind of health problems our parents' generation suffered because...

It won't save us! A favorite speaker/writer of mine calls this kind of idealizing one area of our life having a "functional savior."...thinking achieving perfection in one particular area will, in some sense, pretty much save us.

The real reason we idolize ideal nutrition is because we want health. I don't mean gastrointestinal, friends.

I mean inner health.

Internal health.

Wholeness. Peace. Rest. The absence of sickness and tiredness and obesity and disease.

Strangely, health-foodies have the same motivation as the depressed woman in her pj's, who eats chocolate ice cream out of the carton! The ice cream lady goes to the freezer for a dose of seratonin, the body's "feel-good" chemical. She wants peace and happiness. And she gets it when she eats Ben and Jerry's, at least for a few minutes.

The only problem is that no amount of ice cream can give me the happiness and peace I want. And neither can health food give me the healing and wholeness I want, even if I do manage to get my body in top shape. We all need a spiritual soul salve.

Next up, finding that spiritual health we all long for, and topping it off with reasonable physical health goals, too!

In my next post, I'm also going to tell you what's currently in my pantry and how I picked it out.


  1. Hi Natalie,
    I love your posts. Thank you for sharing your story. Just offering a blogging tip though. You might want to put the next in the series at the end of each post. I have to go back to the beginning to find the next Part. Also you might want to change your commenting section to include Name/URL for those that don't have one of the other accounts. You will probably get more comments that way :o)

    Thanks again for sharing!

  2. Mona,
    Thanks a bunch for the great tips. Still learning the blogging ropes!