There’s just something about food that makes me happy. The smell of bread baking or pasta sauce simmering on the stove, the texture of a chocolate—chip cookie still warm from the oven, the refreshment of ice-cold lemonade on a summer day…food is a comfort and a joy and a celebration.
In an age when everyone is worried about their cholesterol levels and their blood pressure and their body-mass index, food has almost become an enemy—something to be viewed with suspicion and distrust—a kind of necessary evil.
But is this really how God intended us to interract with food-as if it’s nothing more than a temptation to be resisted? A pitfall to be on our guard against, except on rare “special” occasions when we’re allowed to indulge in the pleasure of trans-fats and real sugar?
In God’s system, food has always been something good, something to enjoy. It has always been a part of the important celebrations of life. Think of the unleavened bread and the roasted lamb at Passover. Or the wine at the wedding in Cana. The fattened calf at the Prodigal Son’s feast. So why is it so hard for us, in our modern culture, to put food in its proper place?
I have to think that our obsession with healthful eating is really only a cover-up for a darker obsession, an imbalance in our collective view of what’s really important in life. There is a pressure upon us to be “perfect” in every way possible—we have to look perfect, have the perfect job, drive the best-looking car, hang out with the right crowd. Everywhere we turn, there’s pressure to have it all together, to present a pristine appearance to the people and the culture around us.
And so, we obsess over what we eat, making sure that our co-worker can find no fault in our lunch choices, that our latte has no more calories than the girl in the cubicle next to us. We even obsess over our children’s food, fearful that we’ll be the only parent at the playground without whole-grain crackers and organic juice boxes.
But are we really accomplishing anything? Have we really managed to attain perfection in this area of our lives? And if so, are we any happier—any more fulfilled—for all our efforts? Do we ever really even enjoy the food on our plates anymore? Questions to ponder…meantime, I’m off to eat a donut.