Thoughts about food…

Eating is one of my life’s greatest pleasures. It makes my heart happy to think about food, try new recipes, and feed other people who gather around my table. Whilst many of my food memories involve other people, I genuinely enjoy cooking just for myself. Eating enjoyable food that I have personally prepared is an act of nurturing love that can be traced back to infancy. After all, one of the few ways my mother could express love to me, an entirely dependent human being, was for her to feed me. I consider feeding myself with care and intention an act of self-love. How about you?

selective focus photography of woman feeding baby

If your honest answer was not a resounding “YES,” I encourage you to consider why. Do you disagree that feeding yourself nourishing, enjoyable food is an act of self-love? Or is it something else? “Can’t be bothered.” “Too much effort.” “Not enough time…” are some of the reasons I’ve heard over the years. Let’s think about what this means. If you accept the premise that feeding yourself is an act of self-love, and yet you raised your hand in agreement with one of the excuses above, you are saying that you can’t be bothered to love and care for yourself. Sit with that for a minute without arguing or justifying. What exactly is going on here? If your lunch is a hotdog from a gas station that you eat while you’re driving, what might that be saying about how you view yourself and your worth? And by the way, this reasoning also applies to my health-conscious readers as well. Do you feel loved and nurtured when your body cries out for toast, but you forbid yourself to eat carbs? Just sayin’….

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?” (Matt 7:9)

brown bread on white table

The two greatest commands that God gave us are grounded in love: Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:37-40). Notice that our ability to love others well is directly related to how well we love ourselves. And here’s my main point today: How we feed our bodies is the fruit (pun intended) of our love for ourselves.

variety of sliced fruits

So, how’s your eating? Is your “how” restrictive, punitive, or mean? Is it mindless, thoughtless, or rushed? Does the way you eat nurture your body AND your soul? Do you feel cared for and loved by the way that you eat? These questions are meant for you to sit with and reflect on. If you notice that you are feeling defensive and want to justify why these ideas don’t apply to you…”Do you know how busy I am???”…I invite you just to be curious about what’s coming up without judgment. Your feelings and reactions are clues to hidden gems of revelation and truth that will invite you into breakthroughs and healing if you let them. If you’ve never paid that much attention to how you eat—maybe you’re the one eating that hotdog at the convenience store—I invite you to spend the next week just noticing your habits around food. Don’t judge yourself; just notice. Open your refrigerator and cabinets. What’s in there? How do you feel about what’s in there? Be curious and ask God to show you what your habits and cabinets may reveal about how well you love yourself. Remember, your commitment to love and nurture yourself is directly related to your capacity to love and care for others. How’s that going for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts below!

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17 Comments

  1. Avatar

    I used to balk at the cost of shopping at the farmers market when I could buy the cheap produce at the grocery store but now I look at it through the lens of how it nurtures my body (and soul!) and think the farmers market is a great deal!!

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      Jeanie Hosken, RD, M.Ed. M.Div

      Oh I love this Mike! I couldn’t agree more. You are SO blessed to have a farmer’s market nearby.

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    For starters my cabinets tell me to go to Home Depot for an upgrade..lol The insides reveal lots of different types of food that appeal to different people in the house. Never thought about what I eat about an act of “self love” but a means to an end….you gotta eat. Sometimes we make good choices and sometimes “bad”. All about your circumstances. I know I don’t feel well when consuming carbs so avoiding as best as possible works for me, might not for others. I think we have to respect people’s food choices whether it’s the hot dog from 7-11, or a home cooked meal. Best we can do for ourselves is plan – have healthy foods you like available to you whether home, working or on the road.

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      Jeanie Hosken, RD, M.Ed. M.Div

      Thanks so sharing your thoughts Barbie and for highlighting that it’s important to respect where people are in their journey and how they make food choices. I couldn’t agree more! I hope this blog will give everyone a different perspective on food and how food habits might reflect how they feel about themselves without causing them to feel judged.
      I love how you summed up the post by saying that the best we can do for ourselves is to plan to have healthy foods YOU LIKE (key point) available to eat whenever and wherever. That is a perfect picture of self-care and love.
      P.S. I you are up for a bit of homework (no pressure), I suggest you keep a food journal for a week to track how you feel after eating different kinds of carbs. I’d be curious to know if you don’t feel well after eating ANY kind of carb in any amount. Sometimes we lump them all together, concluding that “all carbs make me feel bad” (when that truly isn’t the case.) Knowing how different types of carbs feel in your body is important data for you moving forward. For example, you may learn that you can have a piece of whole-grain toast with an egg and have no ill effects.
      P.S.S. The cabinets asking for an upgrade made me LOL!

  3. Avatar

    Sooooooo interesting!!! And here I didn’t think it was for me! Whoa- I might need to go back into therapy for this one! 😜 thoughts-
    1) mom pushed us out of the kitchen. She taught me nothing about cooking or following a recipe. Cooking was stressful. It was the only way way mom knew how to express love but it wasn’t a joy for her or us. She often cooked things she didn’t try/eat & she overcooked everything for fear of salmonella etc. we were not adventurous eaters but often ate the same thing bc she cooked so much of 1 dish. We really ate a slight variation of the same thing. my fam grew up eating for survival. My mom created more work for herself (even now) by cooking separate food for us & my dad who liked spicy food. She also insisted the meal be eaten warm so like a slave she cooked made to order things and turned on the tV for my sister & I to eat in front of. I don’t remember family meals.
    2) Pete’s fam was the opposite in every way. Eating food was fun. We tell the kids we go on food adventures.
    3) there was a season of life in London & after when i really I enjoyed cooking, eating, & feeding people.
    4) the last 10 years I basically have lost my appetite. Feeding/buying food for Pete for his crazy fitness goals/diets, miles was picky as hell, Ava eats like a bird & takes forever. We just hired a sport’s nutritionist for her bc she is eating enough to live but not to fuel her growth spurts or activity. By the time I’ve shopped for the varying diets, reading food labels, putting it all away, cooking/heating food to hear how someone doesn’t like it or Ava hides food, I am at the point where by the time it is time to sit & eat, I don’t want to do i wait to eat everyone’s rejected food bc I hate seeing it go to waste & im tired of arguing. If it keeps me out of the grocery store another day, it’s a win in my book. I can see there are SO many layers that can be uncovered here. Also Food is so time consuming- planning, shopping, prepping, cooking, serving, eating. I’ve even taken out the chaos of kids so I’m at the point now where dinner needs to be done/prepped before getting the kids at 3 otherwise we eat out. But take me out to dinner or wash & serve me fresh berries outside the house & I’ll enjoy it & eat up. (I don’t touch the berries in my own home bc it could be used by someone else & it keeps me out of the store another day. There! Most of my dirty laundry! 😉

    • Avatar
      Jeanie Hosken, RD, M.Ed. M.Div

      Thank you for sharing all of this, Bindu. It’s fascinating that your mom’s stress and angst around food and cooking appear to have followed you. I agree that there are many layers to your situation, and while I’m sorry that this is the case, I’m really glad you took the time to process what’s going on in this space. I encourage you to keep being open to noticing what you are feeling and how that is playing out in your life and your family’s life. The roots go back to your family of origin, but that doesn’t mean that a new paradigm can’t be built now.

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    Erika Gomez

    LOVVVVEEE THISSS!)
    And how timely Jeanie!
    One of the ways I’ve connected with The Lord in a deponer level in the past two years and where I’ve found true healing has been alone in the kitchen with worship in the background !
    Just an apron and raw fresh ingredients I grew myself for the very first time thanks to His wisdom and guidance
    Learning to makes different things from scratch for my family and doing it with the Joy of The Lord in my heart. Learning to cook let alone things from scratch seemed impossible but I didn’t think I was smart enough to do it but in pushing me to learn I broke off that lie. I learned it’s ok to fail and try again because a mistake doesn’t make me a failure
    I’ve joked but there’s truth in it that food is the six love language
    You can heal and soothe with a good homemade meal
    How it brings my family together after a long day
    The Lord truly met me in the kitchen and how important it is to feed the men of God He’s trusted me to care for with the upmost respect, very detail and ingredient matters!
    Thanks Jeanie I’ve truly have felt a little crazy that I’ve had such a deep radical transformation with Jesus in the kitchen growing cooking and baking our food!

    • Avatar
      Jeanie Hosken, RD, M.Ed. M.Div

      I love this SO much Erika. You are experiencing what many don’t quite understand: food and fellowship bring healing. Jesus often ministered around the table in profound ways (the last supper!) and fed them (the 5,000, for example). It makes me happy to think about you learning to cook and feed your family AND with joy. You GO girl!

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    Stefanny Raines

    As someone who has had to learn what healthy food and a good relationship with food is. I no longer have those views. However I do admit that I am still a work in progress because some days I revert back to one of those old habits.But the journey of learning new recipes has been exciting and flavorful. Even with my allergies I’ve been able to learn new tricks and tips or what to substitute. It is definitely a journey and I’ve learned it can be a fun one.

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      Jeanie Hosken, RD, M.Ed. M.Div

      I love that you have discovered that the journey can be fun, Stefanny! I want to encourage you–we ALL are a work in progress. Building habits take time…it took me over a year to make drinking water a habit🤷🏻‍♀️. Sometimes, our habits can be a result of learned coping mechanisms (like using food to comfort or stuff down feelings.) When that is the case, it’s important to stay curious and ask God to show you what is going on. Keep running your race girl! I’m proud of you!

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    Kenia Aracelis

    Thank you Jeannie….I am officially exposed! Just call me Ms. Thoughtless Rushed with excuses for decades to come.These are the words that I needed to read (I can’t unsee it now lol). I was aware, deep down, that there were times when I indulged in mindless eating for no apparent reason. Or these excuses examples: disappointment, fear, regret, confusion, and sometimes just boredom. Whenever this happens, it usually means that I am not paying attention to what I am putting into my body. And that’s it right there: loving myself in spite of the situation. I guess that I’m going to have to challenge myself to get to the bottom of my careless eating, and in the meantime, I should try to improve my food choices. “ME TIME”

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      Jeanie Hosken, RD, M.Ed. M.Div

      Oh this is good Kenia! I’m thrilled you had this revelation. Many of us struggle to cope with hard feelings–disappointment, fear, regret, confusion–and instead of processing what is going on, we turn to food (or a different distraction) to help us get through. The problem, of course, is that the feeling is not dealt with (so it’s still lurking inside of us), AND our bodies take a hit from the mindless eating. I encourage you to pause the next time you notice the urge to eat mindlessly and be curious about what else may be happening with you. Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t judge. Just notice…

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    This post is so good! We are all so busy sometimes we fail to even realize we ate a meal, reading through emails or watching programs while we eat. But I remember that you always set a nice table, and have the electronics put away when sitting at the table. This is something I strive to do(not always 💯 but close!)
    Feeding our bodies with healthy foods is definitely an act of love. Thank you for reminding me of this! 💓

    • Avatar
      Jeanie Hosken, RD, M.Ed. M.Div

      You’re welcome Mo! I appreciate your reflections. We all need to be reminded of this. There is such a pull for all of us to multitask and think of eating as just a chore that needs to be done. This causes us to miss out on the joy that comes with intentional self-care and love.

  8. Avatar

    Food is such a big deal! Everything in our culture revolves around it. That aside, yes, I am ‘usually’ pretty intentional about what I feed my body, but I do have times where I don’t care so much. During those times it is an uhealthy behvior where I tell myself I am going to enjoy life (consume to much & the wrong kinds of sugar) when life is to hard for too long. The upside is I don’t do as often anymore and am fairly quick to right my wrongs.

    Great post Jeanie!

    • Avatar
      Jeanie Hosken, RD, M.Ed. M.Div

      Thanks for your comments Toby! Food is a big deal for sure! I’m glad you’re part of this community.

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