After our grandson, Carson, learned to crawl, there was no stopping him. He could crawl faster than a speeding bullet, I’m sure, because we’d see him in one spot, turn our backs, and the next instant (it seemed) hear him playing with a noisy toy in another room. He also had fat cheeks. They could hold at least half a banana all at once, and he made good use of them, storing bites of food for later. The problem was, he didn’t always choose food to put in his mouth.
Once, while his parents were painting the kitchen, he got into the paint can. Before his daddy could get to him, he sampled a bit of the nice green color. Panicked, they called the poison control center, but apparently he hadn’t ingested enough to harm him. They never were sure he actually got it in his mouth.
Another time, he bit a piece off of a foam football. We were pretty sure he swallowed it because we never could find it, and he was in his high chair when he ate it. Those toddler “elastic arms” swiped the football from a point we thought was out of reach.
Carson’s potentially life-threatening failure was distinguishing between food and non-food. All babies go through the process of learning what is appropriate to eat and what is not. But as adults, we forget. No, we don’t go around eating paint or foam footballs, but we do eat some very artificial items.
These are called processed foods. They come in boxes, bags, jars, cans and envelopes. Did you ever read the list of ingredients for a Twinkie? While it may be obvious that a Twinkie is not healthy to eat, some things we assume are good for us are not. Last week I said good writers are good readers. We need to become good at reading labels. That low-fat salad dressing can have some pretty strange ingredients. It’s a safe bet that if it doesn’t sound like a food, it probably isn’t.
Real food also looks like food. If something on the grocery store shelf would not have looked like food to someone walking around in a robe and sandals 2,000 years ago, it probably isn’t food for us now, either. Apples look like apples, not apple butter, applesauce, or apple Fruit Loops. Our bodies need the fiber and nutrition found only in whole foods. We also need protein found in meat, poultry, eggs, and fish.
If we eliminate, for the most part, sugar and bread, and focus on eating fresh – but not necessarily raw – whole vegetables, tree nuts, some fruits, and animal protein, a lot of things will take care of themselves. Our minds will clear, many allergies will ease, and inflammation-related conditions will improve. Then we’ll be able to focus on the writing God has called us to do.
This week’s challenge: read all the labels in your refrigerator and pantry. How many items can you keep based on the “real food” criteria?