Open Letter To My Daughter (6)

by Judy Bowles

Dear Daughter,

You know, I was just thinking as I was loading the dishwasher, with the washing machine spinning in the background and the bread maker whirring away ... .. I like labour-saving devices! In this modern world, I guess they're our "slaves" -- and I don't have a problem with that ... . But it's not all progress is it? As a wife and mother, with a growing family to feed, life has become far more complicated these days, even with technology supposedly to help.

In the "good ol' days", when you kids were tiny, all I really had to concern myself with, when thinking of what to feed the family, was "is this clean or unclean?". But now ... .oh, boy, when you stand in front of the food counters in the stores, it's a minefield of free-range versus battery, organic versus chemically grown, GM versus irradiated, wholemeal versus wheatmeal versus enriched versus plain white bread ... etc etc ... .and soon, in front of the meat counter, it will be a question of "is this cloned or not?". Progress, eh?

And there again, - we're bombarded in the media with "new nutritional discoveries" -- "new super foods", new "diet fads" e.g...Is it right to eat protein with carbohydrate? Should we be vegetarian? Is animal fat a no-no? Is it worth buying organic? Should we cook any of our vegetables or eat them all raw? Are microwaves and pressure cookers a boon in the kitchen? Enough to make you throw up your hands in despair, pour yourself a strong drink, pick up the phone and order a bunch of Take Aways!

But don't despair - I've found it really is much easier than it first looks, and by going back to basics, you can cut right through to the heart and core of what is good nutrition and what isn't. You see, much of it comes back to the current brainwashing of the evolutionary theory that "man can improve on Mother Nature" ... .Yeah, right!

Let me give you an example, - some years back, when the "Food Combining" diet was at its peak of popularity, there was a lady in the church who was really enamoured with this idea and suggested to Dad that this was the way we should always eat. -- i.e. keeping proteins and starches separate. Well, he pointed out to her that Christ certainly didn't ... by checking in the gospels we have the instance of Him eating bread and fish at the same meal. Case dismissed.

It helped me to realise that, with a few basic biblical principles firmly in mind, I could judge whether a new nutritional "fad" is sound or not ... .let alone wonder for more than a tenth of second whether I should give the GM tomatoes a try.

Seems to me that from the Garden of Eden, we were designed to live an agrarian life, growing our own vegetables and having a certain amount of livestock around ... ... to say nothing of our own vine, producing our own grapes! Yes!!!! When I checked out second tithe, there sure seemed to be no problem there with alcohol and beefsteaks. Goodbye vegetarianism and prohibition. Many scientists-cum-nutritionists today would have you eat margarine in place of butter and artificial sweeteners in place of honey ... trying to "improve" on what God made in the first place ... obviously a non-starter.

But it's not all negative ... .the "Mediterranean Diet" that has been hailed as one of the best ways to eat certainly makes sense ... .lots of olive oil, fruit, nuts, fish, salads and red wine. Sounds straight out of the Old Testament!

Again, from my hard-won personal experience, life is far more rewarding when taken at a much slower pace, with us mums in the home taking time to produce a good meal ... .no wonder they are discovering that microwaves and excessive heat destroys the nutrients in food. So much for appliances designed to speed up the cooking process. If only they would realise that we didn't evolve ... .we were created to a specific design, to live and eat a certain way ... .and man can't improve on it!

As far as chemicals, colourings and preservatives go ... .your Granddad always used to say: "At my age, I need all the preservatives I can get!" ... but he was kidding!!!! A good adage to keep in mind is "eat food that will rot and eat it before it does". The more refined it is, the less goodness there is in it.

So cutting right through the confusion of current thinking is fairly easy ... but what about specific nutritional needs on a day-to-day basis ... .hard work?? Need a college degree?

Nope ... it's kid stuff ... If you can divide by four, and aren't colour blind, that's more or less all it takes.

OK, Here is how it works ... .

First of all, what about the amount of protein to vegetables ... .more? Less? The same? This is where the fractions come in ... .and even the kids can work this one out. Just divide your plate into quarters, and one quarter should be the protein element, (meat, fish, cheese, nuts) another quarter for the starch (potato, rice, pasta, bread) and pile veggies into the remaining half.

When you were little and Dad and I kept the smallholding, we could eat steaks, whole milk, cream, butter ... .all those wonderful things, and plenty of them, without putting on an extra ounce in weight. Before the milk arrived in the morning, it was a case of "first find your cow" ... in a 20-acre field! And then the milk and cream had to be separated before I could take you kids to school. But now ... .oh boy! We are just not burning up the calories with the effort to produce the food, so we have had to adjust our diets accordingly.

It's an awful lot easier to pick up the meat at the supermarket, as opposed to rearing it ourselves, on our own land ... ... ..but we tend to overlook that uncomfortable fact of life, and eating too much of a good thing becomes obvious to all as the waistbands become tighter!

And don't worry unduly about providing meat on a daily basis ... .this can be a great strain on the budget, and thinking back to OT times, it seems highly unlikely that the folks back then ate red meat every day ... .far more likely to be fish, chicken, cheese or even nuts and legumes.

Interesting that oily fish has been getting a real good press these last few years -- with its benefits ranging from minimising heart disease to calming down hyperactive children! And on the flip side ... .too much red meat is being implicated in all sorts of "Western" diseases, from arthritis through to breast cancer. Makes you think.

I used to worry that you were getting the right nutrients for your growing bodies ... .but again this is so very simple ... ... .just go for colour. And this applies to fruits also. A colourful plate is a well-balanced plate, and that's more or less all you need to know. Bring in the greens, red, purple, oranges ... think variety and you have a great mix of nutrients.

It's not rocket science! I think you can see that it boils down to basic common sense ... as long as the Bible is used as the guide. One other thing though ... .as vital as a healthy diet is, especially with young ones, as it's building their bodies on a daily basis, so much of that good can be undone if there are emotional problems and upsets around the table. "Better a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith" is very, very true. Don't get bent out of shape about making sure every "box is ticked" with the nutritional needs of the family -- my Dad once remarked that you see some of the sickest people in Health Food shops! Just do your best within your means, remembering we have the incredible privilege of being able to ask God to bless our food, and then go on to enjoy life, enjoy one another, remembering that "a merry heart does good like a medicine"!

Love, Mum