The refreshment table

Recently I attended a couple of church events where they served refreshments. It sounds odd but it was obvious how they had been impacted by the world outside the church.

What the health nuts (and some doctors) say about food

Ever listened to the health promotion advice that is circulating these days? Here is some of what I have heard. I suspect you will have heard most of this as well.

  • Processed meats like ham and bacon and those meat products that bear little resemblance to real meat are bad for us. Some have gone so far as to equate the health risks of them with the health risks of smoking.
  • Man made fats with their trans fatty acids should be avoided. If  you must eat fat then it should be organic butter or coconut oil.
  • Sugar is another candidate for public health enemy number one. These days it is often portrayed as a drug. Some people say that we should be avoiding a wide range of foods, including some fruits and vegetables, to reduce our sugar consumption.
  • Gluten is a major concern for other people. They say that it is very difficult to digest and that some people have effectively worn out part of their digestive system from eating wheat based products like bread and pasta. There are people who cannot tolerate even a crumb of bread. On the basis of this, some doctors suggest that anyone who wants to improve their health should seriously consider going gluten free.
  • Caffeine is another substance that is seen as a drug. Yet many people consume it liberally in tea and coffee. Then there are those high caffeine sugary drinks that are supposed to reinvigorate you.

What was offered on the refreshment table

Oops there was definitely room for improvement. Here are some examples of what I mean.

  • Ham sandwiches made with white bread. Ham of course is a processed meat. White bread well that contains both gluten and the highly refined white flour that is not supposed to be  good for us.
  • Shop bought bakewell tarts with a pastry base and icing on top. These were also full of things we are supposed to be avoiding. Pastry is so full of fat that some people who are sensitive to fat cannot eat it. Then what sort of fat is it. Probably the cheapest and easiest for the manufacturer to use so they probably not use one of the healthy kinds of fat. Then there was all that sugar in the icing.
  • Tea and coffee some of it so strong that you could stand a spoon up in it.

From the point of view of health promotion it was a nightmare. It was sheer indulgence in all that is supposed to be bad for us.

How did we manage to reach this point?

Of course this is nothing new and I know that I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to this kind of situation. However, I am learning that there are few different mechanisms at work here that we need to be aware of. Things that work on this small scale but that also impact other aspects of our lives.

  1. We have trained others to give us what we want even if it is bad for us. This works on a number of levels.
    • Those shops that sell food are looking for products that people want to buy. If we are willing to buy the fatty sugary foods that we bad for us then they are quite happy to sell them to us. It suits them as they make more money selling what we say we want.
    • Those preparing refreshments are looking for things that people are willing to eat. So if they find that plain biscuits get left on the plate then they will serve chocolate ones instead.
  2. There is the hedonistic pleasure seeker in all of us. Food and drink containing sugar or caffeine give us a sort of high. Ever heard of a sugar rush? Or the pick me up effect of a cup of coffee? It makes us feel good in the moment but afterwards there is the effect of coming down which we don’t like, so we take in more of our drug of choice.
  3. Ever noticed who takes greatest care of what they eat? It is those who have had some kind of wake up call. They may have experienced some kind of physical pain from eating certain foods. Or they may have had some kind of more general wake up call like a heart attack. Then there are those who have realised that they need to take batter care of themselves if they are going to live into old age and be and do all that they can.
  4. What about the herd mentality i.e. they do it so why should we do things any differently? After all changing the way we do things is hard and it takes time and effort so why not just go with the flow and do things in the same way as everyone else.
  5. There is the ongoing battle between good and evil. Wouldn’t an enemy who wants to kill steal and destroy go after our health?  Wouldn’t he want to encourage us to eat foods that harm us? Wouldn’t he encourage people to produce such foods by enticing them with the profit motive?

Now what

Anyone who knows me knows that it would be very easy for them to say that this is the pot calling the kettle black. You knew you were not supposed to have that cake or that biscuit but you still did. And like us you took the consequences of your actions. That is how I know about the herd mentality. However, I also know about the wake up call as indulging in things like bakewell tarts does have consequences in terms of back ache the following day.

It is one thing being aware of what is happening but it is another actually doing something about it. That is where the rubber hits the road so to speak. If God’s people are going to be fit and strong enough to do what they are called to do then they need to eat the right food.

A few years ago I read a diet book and its message has stuck with me, even though I have not always followed its advice. In its simplest form it was stop chasing after what you want and start chasing after what God wants for you. Of course, to do this you need to know what God wants for you which takes communication and possibly His guidance about which “experts” to take notice of. Then you need to trust that you have heard Him correctly, in other words know that you have taken on board the right ideas. Finally you need to do as you are told.

Simple really, or is it? I would love to know your views on this subject.

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