24 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out.
25 And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished.
26 Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.
– Luke 11:26 from the Bible (KJV)
I know my last post really railed on the American tradition of celebrating the holidays by assaulting our health with unhealthy, even toxic foods. However, it was not my intent to leave anyone hanging. I never answered the question which probably arose in the minds of anyone who stopped to sincerely consider my words or contemplate taking them seriously: So if I can’t have this and this and this… what CAN I have? If I know I shouldn’t be partying by eating foods that are bad for me, how is it possible to make a celebration special and still healthy? I face this same struggle, too. In “casting out” the “evil spirit” of a cake mix or a quart of ice cream, what do I do when the birthday arrives? Having deprived myself of cake and ice cream for months, the temptation is to just give up and go whole hog. That little argument in my confection-starved mind always runs something like this, “After all, I’ve been good, haven’t I? So buying frosting, sprinkles, cake mix, layer filling, ice cream and milk to wash it all down wouldn’t hurt anything, right? Of course right!” <<< NOT! >>>
Going cold turkey may work for some, but for me, it is much easier to replace a bad habit with a good habit. My focus then turns from what I can no longer do or can’t have anymore, to what I can do now and what I could have in the future if I’m diligent in my pursuit. It’s that faith coupled with diligence that’s the key here, and I’ll explain why:
The scriptural phrase swept and garnished means put in order… which is lovely at first sight. But there’s a danger to that cleaned-out void. Now that I have a nice scrubbed and straightened-out refrigerator; now that my cupboards have all been reformed and reorganized, they look GREAT! Yet when the hunger pangs return, that very emptiness can turn from ally to enemy. How tempting it is to turn around, drive to the grocery store, and buy more of what I just threw out. My cravings must instead return to a mind have changed. There must simply be no room for them in the place they once occupied. The new tenant – my new habit – should be so busily altering the place with it’s own activities and furnishings that it’s unrecognizable to any craving which knocks to ask, “May I come in?” In fact, the change should be so great that my cravings are repelled.
- It helps to have 2 grocery ingredient lists: one for the items I need and can have and another listing what is forbidden for me.
- It helps to have a personalized recipe book, especially in a family setting, where other people are involved in food preparation.
- It helps to have a rotating menu
These foundational points go in order. I’m still struggling with point 3 because I’m still working on point 2. (Meanwhile, time waits for no man!) I’m discovering that it’s the most important action because it’s foundational to the rest. I don’t know about you, but a lot of books and magazines that have “healthy recipes” often list ingredients I just can’t find or can’t afford. In addition, sometimes the ingredients are fine for others but I can’t have them because of an allergy, a prohibition, or something I know that the author doesn’t know. I might buy a book with great hopes, only to find a handful of recipes that are practical, affordable and worth the time they take to fix. I’m working on compiling my own recipe book from the many cookbooks I’ve collected and taste-tested on my family.
There are a handful of cookbooks which I consider to be absolute gems. These have much more in them which I CAN prepare and eat, than can’t. One of these is Traci’s Transformational Kitchen Recipe Collection. I like it for a couple of reasons. First, I’m presently studying to become a Family Herbalist in the School of Natural Healing (SNH). Traci is married to Kal Sellers, a Master Herbalist who trained at my school. SNH advocates what’s variously called the Mucusless Diet and the Transformation Diet. All of Traci’s recipes are in keeping with this diet, which takes 99% of the headache away for me. Second, her recipes are actually practical for families with little children and small budgets. They are also whole-food friendly and food-storage friendly: I can use what I already have in the root cellar or from my stores of grain. Third, her recipes are incredibly delicious. For example, my children’s palates have had to struggle, at times, to get used to life without food favorites, like ranch dressing. I can make Traci’s recipe for almondaise, which is a healthy replacement for mayonnaise, and most everyone is still happy. If I go further and make her creamy honey mustard dressing out of the almondaise, my kids do cartwheels over the delicious fireworks in their mouths… and the whining for ranch dressing disappears. Fourth, she has some really hard to find high-demand recipes. I thought it was worth buying the book just for her sprouted wheat bread recipe. It is something I searched for years to find! Fifth and finally, she remembers her readers at holiday time. Fabulous! There’s a birthday cake recipe, made from sprouted grain, complete with frosting… and other healthier-made sweets such as fudge, cookies, toffee and popcorn.
As far as it is translated correctly, I take the Bible at it’s word. As a descendant of Adam and Eve, the loving God and Father who placed them here is also my Father and my God. I am sure that in the beginning, he must have given them dietary guidelines for their good. I seek the clues, like little white path-markers, which lead back to that true knowledge. Throughout holy writ, God repeats himself for our benefit – laying down one white stone after another. The dietary restrictions in Levitical law contain great wisdom. The accounts of what the patriarchs ate – what Abraham served angels, Isaac’s savory goat meat, Joseph’s grain – the foodstuffs mentioned in the Old Testament are all clues to me. What foods were praised? What foods did what righteous Hebrews refuse and request, such as in the courts of Babylon? There are even little sunbeams of confirming witness, such as the story of Nebuchadnezzar who recovered his sanity by consuming grass (perhaps wheatgrass?) When I reading the accounts of what Jesus ate as a mortal and again as a resurrected being, I know that my Examplar was mindful of me when he ate obeyed Levitical law and consumed good foods like unleavened bread, fish, honey, honeycomb, grape juice and roasted lamb. His example always shows the way. There are further books of scripture in my faith, including what is called the Doctrine and Covenants. For me, the guidelines of the Word of Wisdom continue to lay down the way to follow in my search to find my way back home.
It will be a new day, when my holiday cravings return to find that there’s no trace of their gingerbread house left on site. Instead, there’s some odd-looking hand-fashioned home that looks something like Bag’s End from the Hobbit or Badger’s home in the Wind in the Willows. I’s safe, sturdy and secure. It appears to be made from whole and natural materials. It isn’t colorfully gaudy or showy with sweets, so while it’s not able to tempt and lure like a gingerbread house does, it is willing and able to welcome in friends and the sincerely seeking… especially at holiday time.