I had no idea there was a name for what I had been going through for most of my life until I read this POST by my friend, Sally.
I will not bore you with the details, especially since talking about such things can be triggers for those persons struggling with the same, or similar issue. Suffice it to say I have had a life long, skewed relationship with food.
I am not sure if becoming Orthodox has made this better, or worse. At first, I struggled with the fast requirements of Orthodoxy. I think they are ridiculously arbitrary and, well… stupid. Veganism is one of the most unhealthy things you can do to your body. We all need healthy animal fats in order for our bodies to function properly, especially our brains. Children especially need these fats for good development. There is no food that has been excluded for Christians by God… none. These are man made restrictions.
I struggled for a long time trying to do the fasts. The heart burn and constipation were agony. Fiber helping you to poop is a marketing breakthrough and not at all based in science. If you’re into scientific accuracy you will be hard pressed to find any in what is reported about nutrition.
So what to do when one is, Orthorexia but trying to just live life the best they can? Let go. Modify. Do your best. I had begun to alter my way of thinking about food for the last couple of months. When I read Sally’s article it helped the last few pieces of the puzzle fall into place.
Also, I had watched the movie, Haute Cuisine.
I recommend it whether or not you have food issues. The main character is a skilled chef. The movie flips back and forth from her life in the Presidential Palace in Paris, France to her time in the Antarctic as chef to the scientific and research teams.
I love this movie. It is based on a true story. The main character loves to cook. She has a passion for creating good food for people.
Between this movie, and watching copious amounts of travel/cooking shows during lockdown I have learned that there is no mystery or magic to French food, or Italian, or Any other food we think is just so tasty. The real secret, which is not a secret but is a difficult concept for many Americans to grasp is; the ingredients or good. These fabulous cooks do not use processed foods. They use the freshest ingredients they can find even if that means they grow them at home OR have their mothers grow them for their restaurants.
Have you watched the Pixar film, Ratatouille? The female chef explains the importance of fresh ingredients to the novice chef.
Americans are caught up in the mill of; over-eating processed foods, dieting, illness, and yet… within it all- some end up developing Orthorexia.
What if instead of obsessing about how to eat; vegan, carnivore, keto, paleo, etc. we cooked for love? We cooked for the love of creating something wonderful out of the freshest ingredients we could find? What if we cooked for the love a creating? What if we cooked out of love for our spouses and children?
Is that not what is at the heart of homemaking? Making a home that is comfortable, warm, loving, and inviting for those we love?
All too often we homemakers have a tendency to focus on de-cluttering, cleaning, organizing, maintenance, etc. Yes we cook but what is supposed to be an act of love is often categorized as a meaningless chore. Yes, cooking AND eating can become tedious at times. Trying to come up with yet another recipe to make chicken (served for the 3rd time in a week) seem interesting can be a bit daunting.
Have you put away your cookbooks and recipe boxes in an attempt to eat ‘healthy’? Perhaps all that is needed to improve our health is a daily walk? It may seem overly simplistic but let’s look at these other, healthier cultures. Less motorized transit. The communities are small enough to walk just about everywhere you wish to go. Instead of driving to the market, buying a week’s worth (or two) of food and cramming it all in the back of the sub or minivan- food is bought as needed, and carried home in reusable shopping bags.
It is three miles to the nearest grocery store from my home… one way. There is a convenience store closer but as we discussed the emphasis for such places are foods that last. It’s not a cute, French or Greek market with fresh produce and meat readily available. Oh how I wish!
Therefore, I drive to the grocery store. I’m not quite up for making a 6 mile journey round trip on foot to buy my groceries.
Instead, I am considering reaching out to neighbors to see who has what and if we can do a neighborhood ‘farmer’s’ market. I would love to be able to walk to a neighbor’s house and buy fresh eggs from her chickens.
I have herbs to sell and can see myself contributing in that way every spring/summer.
For now, I’m taking out my cookbooks and my recipe boxes. I’m cooking for variety, for love, for creativity.
If you are inspired to cook this week, let me know in comments what you came up with.