Thursday, 17 September 2015

The body as a temple?

As I sit here recovering from having my gallbladder removed, I'm reminded of the duty I have to myself and my family to keep the body I was blessed with in the best condition I can. Which isn't easy because:

1) my parents were steeped in post-war dietary habits when I was young including bread and beef dripping, fried bacon with white bread smeared in lard from the frying pan, deep fried chipped potatoes and egg cooked in the same pan (did I mention had to have my gallbladder out?!)

Pure beef fat! Once used to fill hungry tummies as a last resort.

2) I like chocolate. And cheese. Especially cheese. Exploring a low fat diet over the past decade has not been simple. I lack willpower even when I know foods are harmful.

3) I am limited by the exercise I can do. I would love to go on long hikes but I don't have time, I can no longer swim comfortably due to pelvic problems, it's a hassle to get to the early morning aerobic class I can attend (see note above on willpower)

4) I'm human!

Nevertheless, I feel I owe it to my family, the congregation I minister to, the hospital I volunteer in and most of all myself to do my best on this one, keep moving as much as possible and eat (and drink!) healthily so that nothing is in the way of me doing my work here on this earth. A lot of it is about honouring God but I feel I owe it to myself too, to be kind to my body, to expose it to good nutrients (as well as a small amount of indulgence because I want to fully experience life). And luckily there are other people around to help me do that.

Although I don't need to be gluten or dairy free I'm inspired by people like Amelia Freer and Deliciously Ella who help me pack protein, vitamins and minerals in my body and make it tasty too - breakfast pots with chia seeds, oats, yogurt and fruit are like a dessert in taste and so brilliant. Jamie Oliver's new book is on my Christmas list too; he is currently on a crusade for us to consume less refined sugar, which I find helps with not only my energy levels and my temperament!

Grab your copy of Everyday Super Food
Inspiring stuff

I have always found that feeding other people feeds me; I love the creative process of entertaining, in particular. Being able to see others enjoy wonderful food is a special gift. Hospitality is crucial for creating a space where people can comfortably develop relationships, learn new things and feel that they have had a blessing bestowed on them. Attending a church course where we were fed bread and soup illustrated mission in action so simply and effectively to me. Reading about the Thistle Stop Cafe in the Church Times this week reminded me how I important I think this type of behaviour is. There is plenty of other writing on this - I think in particular of my copy of Shauna Niequist's "Bread and Wine".

To go off on a tangent, it strikes me in the 21st century that although some people simply need a generic type of physical - as well as spiritual - sustenance, because they are hungry, we might need to practice food inclusivity for coeliacs, vegans, vegetarians, diabetics and others who need specific types of feeding. I remember reading that we may pat ourselves on the back for using fruit as a prop in children's ministry rather than candy, but this does not help if we have a diabetic kid in our midst. It's about meeting people where they are, in a way, showing them we care, and teaches us patience when it can seem difficult or that certain diets are awkward. St John's Church in Carrington, Nottingham has introduced gluten-free Holy Communion where it is necessary. I hope to bake a gluten-free apple or rhubarb crumble for our Harvest Supper - just in case! Ooh, how about a maple syrup and oat crumble - getting excited now! I miss being able to plan and make beautiful, tasty food which is also healthful:

Chia pots topped with peach, honey and vanilla
compote and sprinkled with seeds.
It's not long since my general anaesthetic and subsequent morphine haze so this post is all over the place, but I think my message is this - serving food feeds the stomach, the mind, and the soul. I strive to do this and hope I can encourage others to do so, whether they are culinary whizzes or not. And if cooking for large numbers in a home or faith setting feels intimidating, you only need something like Sarah Stancliffe's 'The Christian Aid Book of Simple Feasts: Cooking for a Crowd Through the Christian Year.'

Harvest Supper, here I come :-)

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