Food: Controversy, Choices and Contentment

It’s been one of those perfectly enticing spring-is-almost-here days. The weather is mild, the sun is shining warmly and a cool breeze wafts through the trees.

The kids and I have been soaking in the Vitamin D and fresh air… and I’ve been thinking about health.

Joshua and I watched two food documentaries this week, I’m reading Food: Your Miracle Medicine, a dear friend emailed me a thought-provoking article on phytic acid’s health benefitsand Joshua and I have been on a let’s-talk-about-food-and-health streak.

The topic is practically endless, thanks to the countless contradictory theories of what defines “healthy” food.

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Our family seeks to eat [mostly] healthily: home cooked meals, little processed food, homemade whole wheat bread, lots of fresh fruit and veggies, as much fish as we can afford and healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil, and real butter.

Yet reading about the “new” health discoveries and the foods that we should avoid or the grass-fed, free-range organic meat we should exclusively eat, can leave well-intentioned moms discouraged and stressed.

What is the best food to serve our families? Does any food stand unchallenged? Can we really afford all the greatest organic products out there? What does “eating healthy” even mean? Will my kids spend their lives riddled with disease that I could have prevented by feeding them better?

The more I thought about these questions, the more frustrated and guilty I felt. But putting the questions in a global, historical perspective changed my outlook.

Flipping through the pages of history or glancing at the newspaper, there are countless stories of famines and food riots, of mothers unable to put even a crust of bread on the table for their children.

The fact that I am even faced with questions like “which of the 347,891 readily available options should I feed my family?” is a tremendous blessing many do not have.

On a less dramatic note, the “science of health foods” is, to put it mildly, not perfect.

  • New studies often claim that yesterday’s health food craze should be completely avoided.
  • Years ago it was the free range chickens that weren’t good–just think what those stupid chickens may have gotten into!
  • Trying to follow the latest recommendations for feeding your infant is mind boggling. For example, “last year, we advised against feeding meat to your 9 month old, but new studies now find it helpful. Besides that’s what the nomadic tribes fed their children…”

Now of course, I’m not advocating tossing the salad and going on a diet of Doritos. A bad diet leads to countless health problems and nourishing foods help heal the body and keep it strong. We should wisely seek to feed our families. [I love Heavenly Homemaker’s post on this!]

But the mere fact that we can put food on the table (and make an educated decision about what food it should be) is a blessing.

As the queen of my home, my goal is to make meals that both nourish and please my family, while sticking to our grocery budget. To balance taste, nutrition and budget.

As I’m able, I want to make the little, seemingly imperceptible, changes towards better health.

More importantly, I want keep in mind the principle from Proverbs: “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.” [For vegetarians I suppose it’d be switched, “better a fattened ox where love is…” ;)]

Food is important, but food cannot save us and the healthiest meal cannot take the place of a peaceful home, filled with love.

Healthy 2Day Wednesdays, GratituesdayFrugal Days, Sustainable WaysNatural Living Link Up & Simple Lives Thursday

(Modified version of a post I originally published on my personal blog in 2008.)

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Comments

  1. Kasey says

    It really can make your head spin trying to determine what is best! So much so that we find ourselves off balance and missing the big picture! This is such a good reminder that , while it’s important, it isn’t the MOST important!

    • anna says

      Glad I’m not the only one whose head spins trying to figure it out. 🙂 As you said, what we eat is important, but NOT most important.

  2. says

    I believe the most important thing you said is ‘balance’. It’s so easy to get on the latest health kick or whatever, not realizing that one can get out of balance, even with that. I believe that one should look at both sides of the findings, say for instance, phytic acid , or lacto-fermenting, as it is referred to. Is too much phytic acid really good for you? How much is too much? Some consume as much as three rimes a day! Balance is the key! Blessings from Bama!

    • anna says

      I agree! Balance is so important… but not always easy to maintain. 🙂 I’m grateful for a wise husband that reminds me (often) to seek balance.

  3. says

    I know what you mean! I struggle with wanting to do all the “healthiest” things for my family and it would be easy for me to become obsessive with it. I do my best to eliminate ingredients that are the worst and buy what we can afford – I simply cannot afford most organic. And I dream of the day when my hubby and I can grow most of our own food. 🙂

    • anna says

      Yay for home grown food! I doubt we’ll ever grow most of our food, but I do long for a nice big garden and plenty of excuses to play in the dirt. 🙂

  4. says

    Great post, Anna. Kind-of goes back to that “anything can become an idol” idea, doesn’t it? We’ve been reevaluating what we’re eating and thinking about the day that we can have a huge garden out in the country somewhere so we don’t have to try to afford organic food 🙂

    • anna says

      Yep. It’s so easy to let *anything* become an idol!

      I’m dreaming of a house out in the country with a nice garden too. Maybe someday! 🙂

  5. says

    I’m gonna copy and paste my comment on another blog because i think it’s relevant here and i can’t say it any better than i already did:

    “healthy” is a crock. the food pyramid that defines healthy is put together by the same large corporations that are trying to convince us to eat their products on grocer’s shelves.

    I think eat what makes you happy – full fat steam ahead! I regularly eat cream, eggs, bacon, bread, meat, etc… in it’s whole form. The reason for this is that if something is non-fat or low-fat, etc…, it means they’ve had to go in, remove the fat and replace it with something. WHAT did they replace it with? Gross. Instead, eat what feels good, move your body more than you watch television, and laugh.

    Healthy is different for different people.

    That being said, for me, healthy means consuming foods that do the least amount of damage to the planet, myself, and each other as possible. Usually that = minimal grocery store. I get 96% of my food from the CSA we’re enrolled in, farmer’s markets, pocket markets, my front yard, and/or the local, small-scale, organic, free-range, pastured butcher in the village.

    do it in small steps, and eventually, eating what’s right for you will just come naturally. 🙂

    • anna says

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts Kristy! I agree that much of what’s pushed as health food in the grocery store is a far cry from what we should be eating. We try to eat as much whole, locally grown food as possible, but we still have a long way to go.

      While incorporating small steps, I have to remind myself that the mere fact that my kids are full, clothed and have a roof over their heads is so much more than most people have. While some moms are wondering if their kids are going to eat, I get to decide what. It’s a blessing that I don’t want to take lightly!

  6. says

    Thank you for this post! I have just about driven myself (and my husband!) crazy trying to feed our family the healthiest stuff even thought we can’t always afford grass fed this and organic that. Thank you for putting it all in perspective. Hopped over from Heavenly Homemakers.

    • anna says

      Thanks so much for stopping by Dottie!

      Yes, I can so relate! While it’s good to want to feed our family healthily, keeping food in perspective helps me not get totally overwhelmed.

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