Archive for the ‘food’ Category

We happened on a haberdashery while walking home, just after stopping for hand-made chocolate truffles on Columbia Street.

It was an upscale hat shop in North Beach, and we stood amid a crowd of fashionistas, trying on high-quality head ware.

I looked good in the fedora, my daughter Laurel in the brown felt cloche with the light brown polkadot band.

I bought it for her for $70 — for Christmas. How could I not? She looked all 1920’s and 30’s in it — coy and gorgeous.

I could not have been more smitten.

It was that kind of day.

It began with a cafe latte, purchased by walking just down the street from our Genoa Place apartment to Cafe Trieste — and a bear claw found just around that corner at Stella’s.

Later my wife and daughters and I walked across the Golden Gate bridge, that huge orange-over-blue suspension of belief and rode the bus back to the waterfront.

For lunch I ate killer clam chowder and sour dough bread with my daughter Rosalind at the wharf. Later the family had ice creams. We walked home from there.

That night I had a slice of world class pizza taken from Tony’s, purchased two blocks for our apartment, a Firestone IPA from Trader Joes just down the hill, and some chocolate covered popcorn from a neighborhood shop.

I ate my dinner sitting in the bay window of our apartment, over looking Union Street, the city lights glowing in the big buildings, a crescent moon overhead, traffic down below.

What heals?

Love, pizza, bridges, chocolates, lattes, a wife, walking together, bread, daughters, hats and beauty — all collected within walking distance of where you sleep.

What heals me is San Francisco with the women I adore.

I can turn it on
Be a good machine
I can hold the weight of worlds
If that’s what you need
Be your everything

But I’m only human …

Christina Perri

We aren’t machines; we can’t hold the weight of the world. We’re human, we feel and cry and care — it’s good!

The old Gnostic heresy that bodies are evil was wrong. Bodies are good. Bodies are a gift.

Psalm 139, “We are marvelously made by God.”

Human? Good; human emotion, good; human reason, good; eating, very good.

Mark Twain once quipped something like, “Success is eating what you like and letting the food fight it out inside you.”

I particularly like the fight inside between vanilla bean ice cream and Hersey dark chocolate sauce. The chocolate jumps on the vanilla.

I love food. I love to think about food. I love to thing about God and food. He made it.

Where do we find food in the Bible? Where don’t we?

Food came with the creation of plants, and Genesis records that God “saw that it was good.” Food is proof that God loves us!

God fed his people in the wilderness. In the OT, God gave the Jews, dietary laws, for discipline, in some cases perhaps for health, certainly to teach them to set themselves apart as a special, holy people. Food was given great value, when commanded as sacrifices and offerings.p

In the NT, Jesus turned water to wine. He fed his followers fish and bread when they were hungry. He declared the bread and wine to be sacraments. He defined himself as the bread of life.

Later Peter’s vision for a diverse church declared all foods clean.

The consistent narrative of the Bible is that food is love. Food is good. Food is a gift.

Food isn’t evil. Food is fun.

Of course of us at times have struggled with food. Some of us have developed unhealthy relationships with food and it is to us an area of weakness and even shame.

We’ve eaten too much, or too little, or unhealthily, and felt shame and guilt about eating. We’ve had other people force food on us, or perhaps criticize us for eating.

For some of us food has at times become an addiction, or a weapon to punish ourselves with, or a substitute for relationships, or even a form of protection.

Food issues are very deep and complicated. Eating disorders are very serious and people need help to recover from them. Professional help is needed.

I am certainly not perfect in this area of food choices.

Last Monday for snacks I had the following: Pinkberry yogurt, two bowls of cold cereal, three popsicles, some blueberries, two premium fudge bars and some double dipped chocolate peanuts. They are recorded on MyFitnessPal app on my phone

It’s a confession. Forgive me Father for I have sinned …

I have over indulged in the edible creation, the confectionary creation, the delectable, mouthable, tooth-worthy creation!

We can all identify. We all have our healthy and unhealthy choices.

We all have our healthy and unhealthy choices; we all have our bacon and our kale. I usually eat mostly fish, chicken, veggies and fruit. But I have my moments of food food too. I let the cheese and sausage fight it out.

But remember, food was given to us by God, in love, and eating it was meant to be act of freedom.

1 Corinthians 10:25, “Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”

Frappuccinos are the Lords, and everything in them.

All of us eat at times unhealthy food or in unhealthy ways to relieve stress, to sooth our emotions, as a response to being traumatized.

But the salient, significant, interesting question arises:

What is a proper relationship with food? How does this effect spirituality?

We find a good model in Daniel.

Daniel was among the Israelites taken captive from Jerusalem when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon besieged it.

In the book of Daniel, chapter one, verse 11 we find his story:

“Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” 14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.

15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.”

Daniel and the other men didn’t starve themselves. They didn’t stop eating. They simply made better, healthier choices. There is something important here to comment on.

They stopped eating somethings and choose better things. They had four things: a strong internal motivation, a higher calling, a purpose and a strategy.

They didn’t wait until they had health issues to discipline themselves. It is hard to learn healthy eating from a heart attack

And note that the text doesn’t say they never, ever ate meat again. We don’t know their food habits through the rest of life. But we do see from observation of people that monk, the flagellant, the extreme dieter, often just can’t keep it up.

Too many rules in any area of our Christianity, too much strickness, extreme asceticism, extreme self-denial … it tends to backfire!

Wisdom does not lie in food absolutes (I can never eat pizza again) but in a calling to a high purpose, in strategy, in self control, in moderation.

Daniel and his men ate out of of positive, not a negative motive, out of love for themselves, for their potential. The motivation wasn’t shame. It wasn’t guilt. It wasn’t from someone else telling them what to do.

It doesn’t work well to correct and criticize others about food choices. “Do you really want to eat that?” The answer is “Yes!” They do

Success comes when we eat with a purpose; to make ourselves the best we can be — useful to God and the king.

This matters. If you take inspiration from these ideas it could save your life! Jesus saves, but he may not save you from a heart attack if you consume too much fat and lethargy.

The desire to make good food choices is best to come from within, not comparisons, but from God, because we are excited about a higher purpose, being the best in the court, being men and women of wisdom and knowledge.

God honored Daniel’s discipline. Daniel 1:17 reports, “To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning.

When the king examined them, he found them ten times wiser than his own magicians and “… they entered the kings service.”

We can do the same. We can make healthy choices. We can eat to present ourselves to the one true king, as ones healthy and ready to be of use to him. We can enter our bodies into the kings service.

I’ve sometimes felt I couldn’t control. But I was wrong. I do have the power. I am not helpless.

We can eat to keep ourselves alive, to makes us happy, out of thankfulness of the gift from God, and to fuel our ability to love, to worship and to serve.

1 Corinthians 6:12 Some of you say, “We can do anything we want to. But I tell you that not everything is good for us. So I refuse to let anything have power over me.”

God loves you? Food is not evil. Your desire for food is not evil..

It’s okay to feel okay about you.

It takes time, but the goal is to get to a positive place with yourself and to be okay with your food choices — and to have them be mostly healthy.

This is a very positive place, “God, I am eating well, out of love for myself and so that I might be as much use to you as possible.”

Eat, drink and be useful! For this is the will of God in Christ concerning you.

I’m addicted.

It is slowly killing me and my family.

Food, food, food – I love it! Fat, salt and sugar – I love them – and, I don’t!

Recently, I read the end of overeating by David Kessler, MD.

Dr. Kessler is a killjoy. He got to me because he got it right. Food, my fellow addicts, is a very powerful stimulant, and the American food industry is madly working to addict me and you to food’s most unhealthy forms.  

Dr. Kessler explains. Activity in the brain is stimulated by food and by food cues (ads, smells, pictures on restaurant windows) in our environment. These food cues   engage us, causing us to want to eat, and the wanting sometimes drives us to overeat  unhealthy foods.

Cue induced eating is triggered by the sight of a donut, the clink of ice cubes, the smell of pizza.  So the food industry puts the pictures and the posters and their food outlets everywhere. On the TV, on the internet, on the billboard, at the movies, on the corner, everywhere on the corners where we pass and stop. America, still a place where millions of people don’t have enough food, is saturated with food.

Starbucks, McDonalds, Mister Donut — positive emotions have become embedded in our minds by certain logos, name brands, advertizing cues and the foods they represent. And so we warm to them, and they call to us, and then we pig on “addictive” foods.

I confess. I have. I had a food incident recently.  I pigged the chips. The salt and the oil  and the sugar, delicately balanced by the makers, they pulled me in. 

But more is happening than what goes on in our mouths. As a result of eating foods layered with salt, fat and sugar, chemicals like dopamine and opioids are released in our brains, rewarding us with good feelings, and making us want to eat more of these foods.  If not careful, we become controlled by an unhealthy, industry-designed food culture, created by businesses only interested in profit, not our health.

It’s worth asking, what food cues are influencing your eating behavior or your family’s eating behavior in negative ways? For me, one eating cue is theTV. Watching TV, and not just watching the food channel, makes me want to eat. The glowing screen makes my mouth water. Watch a show, get a snack, it’s automatic.

But what I get for a snack, now there is the rub. I’m tempted by the hyperpalatable foods, overly processed, unhealthy foods.

Dr. Kessler explains how the food industry carefully designs hyperpalatable foods like chips, hamburgers, soft drinks, French fries, cookies, coffee drinks and candy bars to addict us. These profitable, superpalatable foods are often carefully layered with sugar, fat and salt; they are made highly mouthable with just the right crunch or softness; they are given high visual appeal with artificial colors; they are jazzed up with flavor enhancing chemicals, they are designed with multisensory qualities that optimized variables like sugar, fat and salt. These foods actually rewire our brains, creating an additive eating of unhealthy food.  

Interesting, wild, true!

It makes me think, and want to change. It makes me want my family to change.

I gained a few pounds this year. I’m not sure how, but those bowls of ice cream, those stops at Costco for a delicious hot dog, those evenings with too many trips back to the kitchen for a few more chips – those choices must have had something to do with it.  

Truthfully,  now that I think about it, now that Dr. K has educated me better,  I’m sick of buying and eating foods layered with salt, fat and sugar. It makes me want to cut up a tomato, eat a baked salmon and steam some asparagus.

I’ve been doing that lately, and I’m losing weight and feeling better. I’ve thought of Daniel, the Jewish wiseman, who when in excile in Babylon chose to eat only vegegetables, avoiding the king’s rich foods. Daniel and his men ended up healthier than their indulgent commrades, and through discipline and excellent physical condition they excelled.

It matters, to me, to my family and to God that I take care of myself.

I need to own this.

It’s my health.

It’s my productivity.

But what I do or don’t do is going to effect a lot of other people.

It’s about how I want to live, and I want to live healthy, happy and unaddicted to food, a wonderful, pleasurable but dangerous gift.