Reading our menu plans, you might see things that seem contradictory:
Gluten-free pancakes for one meal and pizza with plenty of gluten for another.
Dairy-free meals beside other meals with plenty of dairy.
We’re not 100%
We aren’t 100% dairy-free or gluten-free or sugar-free. We are not 100% healthy.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t even know what 100% healthy is. Some people say it’s 100% organic. Some say 100% organic AND vegetarian. Others say 100% organic AND vegetarian AND all raw. Or fermented. . . I can’t even keep up with it all. The opinions range quite a bit.
What I do know, is that we do see improvements in our health with limited dairy, gluten and sugar. (Read more about the discovery of the effect dairy had on our health here.)
Though I can see some validity in many different dietary regimens, I try to test everything from a Biblical standpoint and from a personal evaluation. I don’t see 100% vegetarianism in the Bible. (When God sent food to Elijah, it was bread and meat.) However, there were no chemicals, drugs or added hormones around back then like there are now, so I can see a benefit to eating as much organically grown food as possible.
High Standards at Home, Freedom Abroad
I try to keep to high standards and good balance in our home. (That is, high standards as I presently understand them, with an understanding that my understanding will likely change or at least alter in the near future based on new findings.) Then when we eat out, or go to Care Group, or a Family Night at church, we indulge without severe health repercussions. For example:
- We try to eat only whole, unprocessed grains (whole oats, brown rice, etc) at home. But we still like eating Moe’s fantastic burritos – white tortillas stuffed with white rice, beans, guacamole, and more.
- To some degree, we’ve been trying to avoid wheat at home since we suspect it is at least a mild allergen to some of us. And the more I read about the subtle and pervasive trouble gluten can cause in a lot of people, the more I think we should move away from such a strong dependence on it. I’ve found some great gluten free recipes that use almond flour and coconut flour, which allow me to make terrific breads, desserts, and pancakes. But we won’t hesitate to munch down a wheat sub or pasta on occasion.
- We try to avoid large amounts of dairy at home, but we still enjoy cheesy pizza and dollops of sour cream on our Mexican food.
- We try to avoid sugar at home, but we still indulge in an ice cream treat or a doughnut (my weakness!) from time to time.
How I Shop for Food
When at the grocery store where I have greater control over what I buy, I avoid anything with:
- High fructose corn syrup
- Partially or fully hydrogenated oil
- Artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
And I avoid buying meats that have been given:
- Growth hormones
Whenever possible, I try to buy:
- Organic foods because of the greater health benefits to us and the higher standards of stewardship the farmers have to adhere to which benefit the rest of God’s creation.
- Things processed as little as possible. In general, the more man messes with things God has made, the worse for us it becomes. A fresh apple will have tons more nutrients and benefit to our bodies than applesauce that has been heated (which can kill a lot of the vitamins and minerals), then infused with a chemical concoction of high fructose corn syrup (to make it sweet enough to please our taste buds conditioned to need ultra-sweetness) and partially hydrogenated oils (to extend its shelf life to a million years).
For more good nutrition guidelines, read this excellent post on a new favorite blog of mine, Keeper of the Home. It’s called Good Nutrition in a Nutshell. I agree wholehartedly with the information here. It’s terrific and general and comes from a Biblical perspective.
Why health matters
Why do we care so much about food? Do we worship health? Or do we think self-denial brings us closer to God? No! We limit these items in order to:
1) Prevent sickness and to stay strong for God’s glory. It’s hard to do all God has called us to do when we’re out of commission. Sickness limits our fellowship and service. We see our health as a gift to be stewarded for God’s glory and our good.
2) To be good stewards of the Earth God has given us dominion over.
For more on this, check out this more detailed post about the spiritual reasons to steward our health by my great friend, Kelly. I couldn’t improve on it!