Tag Archives: food

How Much Is a Portion?

I don’t remember where we got the phrase, but our family often asks when serving food, “Do you want a sliver, a slice or a slab?”  That relates to pound cake or just about anything.  And it doesn’t escape my attention that we do actually have such a choice.

We’re a slab country, with slab people.  There are sliver countries with sliver people (who didn’t choose this).  And there are sliver people in America.

Why don’t we all takes slices?  Would that spread the pound cake around a little better?


“Fatso,” by The Story

It’s a frequent theme on my blogs that I love it when artists use their platform and power to say something that matters.  Maybe everyone thinks they’re saying something that matters, and actually music can be great even when it’s not overtly telling a story, teaching a lesson, or doing something dramatic and overt.  When my children were little, we used to listen to classical music and talk about what mood it evoked (“Is this scary or happy?”).  Everyone of my age (50, give or take 37 days) who grew up in America probably learned this lesson via “Peter and the Wolf” (or was that only at E. Rivers Elementary in Atlanta?).

ANYWAY, I do love music that’s just about having fun (thanks Kool & the Gang for “Celebrate good times!  Come on!”).

But today I draw your attention to a song called “Fatso” by The Story.

Here’s a stab at the lyrics:

This is the last time, this time I will win
It took a long time to gain this weight,
It will take a long time to lose it again
I will have only water for a week, then maybe carrots,
and celery, and if I lose then Sunday I'll have brown rice
Because someone will adore me when my ribs show clearly
and I'm thin even when I sit down
Someone will admire my gorgeous arms and legs
when I'm only one hundred pounds
I bought a doctor's scale on sale today
It takes up half the bathroom, and it's really ugly,
but I know it's going to help me reach my goal
I get so dizzy when I stand up fast, and I don't feel like
dancing but I know I'm gonna do it this time, for sure
Now I walk past the fatsos eating doughnuts,
with cream filling, icing, jimmies, and I am so glad I am not
like them
Because someone will adore me when my ribs show clearly
and I'm thin even when I sit down
Someone will admire my gorgeous arms and legs
when I'm only one hundred pounds
Last night I dreamed I ate a chocolate cake, and when I
woke up I was sure it was true so I weighed myself just to
make sure and drank a diet coke
I want to be skinny (Oh I am so hungry)

I find this song hysterically funny.  And ridiculously sad.  Funny because I have lived it, and it's a joke.  And sad because I have lived it, and it's a joke.  

What's with a lifestyle that can have us needing to obsess like this?  The Story captures something important.

Gluttony and Theology

Meat and three (plus a few)

I’m reading a very interesting book, called “Food and God, A Theological Approach to Eating, Diet and Weight Control.” Joel Soza wrote it, and it has nothing to do with another currently popular book with a similar title.  I’ve really enjoyed thinking through the themes of the role of food and eating in creation, in temptation, in Israel’s law code, in Old Testament case studies (Esau, Eglon and Eli), in the life and teaching of Jesus, and in the New Testament church.  It’s convicting, but then again I rather expected that since I know I have a problem in this area (being a typical American with a weight problem, knowing I live in a world where much of the population doesn’t have enough to eat), and I want to grow beyond that problem and act on convictions that are only somewhat recent.  So bring on the conviction!  Which Soza has done for me.

I’ll be doing a lot of posts on this, I think, as the use of food is definitely a jubilee principle (How much is right for me? Who and what do I owe for its production? How can I share?).

I want to start with a conversation around Gregory the Great, pope from 590-604 AD, who talked about the “seven deadly sins” which included gluttony.  Quoting Francine Prose’s “Gluttony,” Soza writes that “According to him (Gregory), gluttony could reveal itself in one of five ways: “too soon, too delicately, too expensively, too greedily, and too much.”  What do you think of those?  Have you commonly thought of gluttony that way if you think of it at all?

I’ll continue with some of Soza’s reflections: “By ‘too soon’ Gregory meant that one eats before there is real need to eat; by ‘too delicate’ he meant that one is too fussy or too dainty about one’s food choice and preparation; by ‘too expensive’ he meant indulgence in costly foods, by ‘too greedily’ he meant self-centered eating without regard for others; and by ‘too much’ he meant, well, exceeding the obvious measure of refreshment or need.”

I am guilty on all counts.  Good stuff to think about and — God, help me — to change.

Everything Has an Impact; I am what I Eat

This is a vulnerable post to write.  And I’m not a big fan of super-intimate, public confession.  Yet for the sake of accountability, which is a big part of what my Jubilee Year project is about, I need to talk about this.

It’s really not right to say that my consumption is a private matter.  I’m talking about food.  I’ve certainly been paying more attention lately to what I eat, where it comes from, the cost of producing it, the cost of transporting it, the ethical side of the purveyors thereof.  I’m making some small changes as a result.

Yet I also need to think more about how much I eat.  Today I am looking over our family budget, paying some attention to where we spend excessively (probably almost everywhere, truth be told), where we downright throw money away (usually because I’ve used my time poorly and use money to get out of a mess I’ve created   (“Oops, no time to make dinner; grab takeout” being the most common version of this tendency).

And as I look at the budget I see two things.  First, I spend more money than anyone else in my family on clothes.  And this is convicting in that I consider myself really “low maintenance” and often brag (to my family’s consternation) over my thrift store finds.  I have a bit (okay a lot) of (apparently falsely placed) pride over being low maintenance, not falling prey to trends, not needing to waste a bunch of money on excessive clothing.  Only I’m the one spending the money on clothes. And the only reason for that is that my weight fluctuates a lot, and I therefore regularly buy clothes — inexpensive ones, mind you, but frequent purchases that add up.

I struggle with maintaining a healthy weight, and yet the extra money spent on my clothes is a pretty big chunk.  And that’s money that could be spent on something better, on someone else, on some of the problems of the world that I regularly bemoan.

And the second thing I discovered is that I spend a lot of money on restaurants.  I knew that.  But I didn’t know quite how much, and you’re not going to find out either (someone would have to lock me up or lecture me).  But the bottom line is that as fun as it is to eat out, as much of a bonding experience as it is to meet a friend or go out with my family, the bonding could happen just as easily at a cheap joint or at a coffee shop or on a hiking trail even (imagine an outing without food!). And yet I spend money in restaurants, even as I try each day to adhere to a limited calorie diet.  I’m shooting myself in the foot — or in the gut.

Ah inconsistency.  You are my constant companion.

Weight problem + restaurant meals = excessive consumption (food and money) that is then exacerbated by the need to spend more money on doctors + medicine + new clothes.

I am what I eat.  I am a product of where I eat it and how much it costs and of the chain reaction set off by the choices I make.  My choices have an impact on others and on the world.  More resources for me = less resources for someone else.

I’m not a math whiz but I do see some opportunities for “new math” (< for me = > for someone else; < less directed to my girth = > for my brain and heart to direct elsewhere).

Accountability is hard.

Is This the Most Loving Way to Do Life?

Wouldn’t it be interesting to live every day wondering, “Is this the most loving way to do life?”

Obviously that would encompass how we relate to God and it would include how we love our neighbors.  And that’s everything.

But what realms would it apply in given that it should apply in all realms?

  • What do I drive?
  • What do I eat? Where did it come from?
  • Where do I live? Who shares my space?  Who does not?
  • What do I waste? Why?
  • Who do I spend my time with?
  • What do I do when I am hurt?
  • How do I treat enemies?
  • What do I think about? read about? dream about?
  • What do I watch?
  • How much do I consume, and where does it come from?
  • Am I stepping on others?  What’s so important to climb up to?
  • Where do I shop and what do I buy?
  • What do I do all day?
  • Do I love myself well?
  • How do I use my influence?
  • Do I claim God or deny him?
  • Am I willing to be part of the answer to the things I pray about?

I hope it all starts with the questions for I don’t have beautiful answers to these questions in my own life.  Lord have mercy.

What Have I Got Really?

I often think of riches or possessions as my currency.  But it’s only one of them, and probably one of the least significant.  

If I think of what I have and how it can be used beyond my selfish needs, one thing stands out — connections.  We all have ’em.  Especially if we’re extroverted. Especially if we’ve moved.  Especially if we’ve breathed.

I’m thinking about an orphanage I care about in Namibia. I actually got the rare opportunity to host an orphan whom I’ve supported financially, when medical issues brought her to the U.S.  We spent a day together eating ice cream and paddle-boating.  She was a blast, and an inspiring blast.  And it was a rare privilege to have a flesh-and-blood encounter with someone who — before that — as an abstract “need” from another world.  

Yet the orphanage is now in need of a major financial overhaul and cash influx.  Now.  Before kids don’t have food and resources.  

And one thing I have is connections.  And as I pray about how to get involved, I feel stingy even taking the time to consider it.  Cause my connections are going wasted if I don’t get the networking going and point out the need.  Cause I know lots of people, as we all do — and they are generous people, quick-to-act people, people who would hate not knowing that they could have helped.

Redistribution… did you ever think of it as it relates to passing on your impulses or the opportunities to help that you hear about?

George Will on Prudes at Dinner, Gluttons in Bed

Read this article from The Washington Post this week: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/25/AR2009022503123.html?sub=AR

I found it fascinating.  Beyond agreeing with him on many points, I still think that food choices and politics matter… and are not merely a focus for our former restraints in the realm of sexual expression.  Not that it’s black and white.