12 November 2011

nonsense I used to believe about food. and other musings.

Once upon a time, in a land far far away . . . I couldn't care less about cooking.

Because I am at the opposite end of the spectrum now (hee) it's really hard for me to recall how I thought about food back then. But until 10th grade I had no interest in where it came from, let alone how it affected my body. I just wanted to eat it.

Then I had your typical female teenager crisis: So fat. Must lose weight. Now. Food, and how it was made, suddenly became more interesting. I had a revelation one day. If I knew what went into the meal, I knew how many calories I was consuming and I could gain more control over my weight. Aha!

Well, I went pretty crazy over the calorie question. That's another story for another day, but it involved many freakouts, frantic bouts on the treadmill, and detailed lists of everything from single apple slices to spoonfuls of rice. Suffice it to say that I am never counting a calorie again. Yet the positive outcome of the whole mess was that, by the end of it, I had a much greater knowledge of how food worked, what it contained, and how I could make stuff taste great.

{2003 . . . ahaha . . . Mark is such a wee whippersnapper. 
Don't you love my completely unstyled hair? NO DON'T ANSWER THAT.}

 {2008 . . . the year of feeding many boys. Quite enjoyable. I ruled the Whitley kitchen, yo.}

 {2011 . . . in which I only feed one boy and enjoy it even more. 
Also my hair has improved over the course of time.}

I've still got a keen interest in health and nutrition, but it no longer crowds out my enjoyment of food. Thank God. (I do not say that flippantly.) Since 10th grade, I have learned a lot about taking pleasure in God's gifts and caring more about health than about weight. I have learned a lot about what to do in the kitchen-- how to make high golden loaves of bread, how to whisk up the creamiest scrambled eggs, how to turn a tough old chuck roast into tender beefy goodness. And I have learned a lot about health, what my body really needs.Along the way I realized that I'd made some wrong assumptions about what was and wasn't healthy. To wit:

"Brown sugar is healthier than white sugar." Perhaps I tend to assume that colored food is better than white food. How racist of me. Anyway, do you know what typical brown sugar contains? I finally read the label. Good old white sugar . . . plus molasses and caramel coloring. Oh.

"Honey has health benefits." Sort of. But it's only raw honey that has the benefits. Really, once honey has been pasteurized, it's not much better than any other form of sugar!

"Labels with green leaves and quaint red barns denote healthy food. Store brands are inferior." Haha. I am such a sucker. Now I read labels and give cheaper brands a shot. I try to judge by the product inside rather than the picture on the front. (Note "try." I still love me some Siggi's.)

"Fat will kill us, especially dairy fat." Then I learned about Weston A. Price. These days our butter consumption probably blows the national average out of the water.

"If the package says natural it must be good for us." Oh wait, poison ivy is natural.

"If the package says organic it must be good for us." Oh wait, soybean oil and white flour can be organic.

"Fresh is always better than frozen." Actually, many frozen items were put on ice very soon after being harvested (or caught in the case of fish) and are in a better state than the supposedly "fresh" items that were picked in California two weeks ago!


I'm still reexamining my assumptions. I learn new things all the time, and though sometimes it's confusing and even threatens to be consuming, I am working to keep this interest in its proper place-- as just that, an interest. Not an idol to rule my life.

What have you learned about food over the years?


  1. My biggest misconception, I think, about food was that it would be relatively easy to stick to a budget, make simple, good food, and enjoy cooking. While this can be true, I think I've found it an unexpected challenge to keep it up over the long haul. It is well worth the effort, though. :) We're healthier than we've been in a long time and are enjoying the challenge.
    Also, I've given up trying not to use butter. We love butter.

  2. I really can't imagine you counting every calorie and puffing it out constantly on a treadmill. It sounds awful!