Bread. It used to be such an innocent thing. Such a non-issue. I probably ate it every day as a child, in some form or another.
What a versatile food! Breakfast, lunch, dinner–the possibilities were endless. Toast, pancakes, French toast, sandwiches, hoagies, pasta, dinner rolls. Bagels, baguettes, biscuits, muffins, popovers, crackers, buns. White, Rye, Wheat, Multi-grain, Herbed, Cheesy, Flat.
Now we know that most breads contain gluten, which has been linked to all sorts of health complications. At our house, we avoid gluten because of my autoimmune issues (thyroid disease) and Mr. Native Texan’s gluten sensitivity.
Side note: My health conditions were what started us down the path to major dietary changes. Interestingly enough, Mr. Native Texan decided to consult my holistic MD just for kicks and in the process discovered he has a noticeable sensitivity to gluten. I avoid gluten because I know it’s best for me in the long run, but Mr. Native Texan can actually feel when he’s consumed the stuff. All his life he thought he had lactose intolerance, but it turns out that he tolerates (raw) milk just fine while gluten messes with his system. Interesting, right?
Here’s the thing, though: the farther you get down the Real Food path, the more controversies you encounter. The more you know. And once you know, you can’t un-know. I can’t un-read the many books, articles, studies and blog posts which reveal the insidious perils of ingredients to which I once gave no thought.
Corn is now controversial–the next gluten. Even if you’re not allergic to it, most of it’s got GMO’s. And grains in general are problematic–just go paleo. And almonds–have you heard about the jet fuel!? Peanuts, even organic, carry mold. Hemp seeds are high in protein but might cause you to fail a drug test. Sweeteners, of course, are a whole topic unto themselves. And the list goes on.
On top of all that, I had to remove eggs and dairy products from my diet for two years. (!)
It’s enough to make you throw your hands up in despair! What’s a person to eat?
I tend to be an all-or-nothing type of gal. Is corn bad? Then I will eat not one speck of it. Almonds are contaminated? Well, no more almond flour or almond butter. And so on.
Here’s the conclusion I’ve come to: Do the best you can.
Yes, for a specified period of time we had to follow strict dietary guidelines: absolutely no gluten, sugar, eggs or milk. That was tough. But when I got to the end of it, I reasoned “If I could do it for six months, I can continue doing it indefinitely.” And so I did.
And then I realized that religiously avoiding those ingredients was actually contributing stress to my life. Do you know that stress has a huge impact on our health? So which is worse: eating occasional junk or feeling super-stressed?
I’m still not sure which is worse, but I think the best answer is to do the best you can and not stress too much over the rest.
That’s the approach I’ve finally landed on–I’m constantly striving to keep our diet as clean as possible, without losing sleep over the processed, gluten-free hamburger bun consumed by my children at a restaurant or the grocery store meat served to my family by loving friends or the yummy, gluten-free corn bread we like to eat with certain soups.
Because here’s the thing: one day, I will die. One day, this body will be exchanged for a much better version–one that won’t be affected by gluten or corn or sugar or stress.
Yes, it’s important to be healthy and do all we can to avoid chronic disease–I firmly believe that. And believe me, I know what it’s like to feel sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.
While I learned dependence on God’s strength; endurance; and a special awareness of His love and provision during that time of poor health, good health now allows me to serve Him and others (like my family!) with greater zeal and vigor.
But these days I’m trying to remember that Jesus is the Bread of Life. Nothing on this fallen earth will ever satisfy or bring perfect health to these imperfect bodies we inhabit. In the desert, He fed the Israelites with manna–bread from heaven. Later, He Himself came down and gave his life for us–bread from heaven.
This is the only Bread that satisfies, my friends.
And so we press on, doing the best we can with the knowledge we have, all the time with an awareness that this is not our home. These bodies will not last forever–thank goodness! So let’s keep this whole “bread thing” in perspective and ask God for the wisdom to do so.
A few verses to contemplate…
Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you…For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world…I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst…Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (John 6)
“Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.
Kathleen Henderson is the yankee behind the homestead. Follow along as we grow real food and three boys while renovating a 20-acre farm in northern Virginia. Do you love homegrown food, Paleo-ish recipes, and natural living? You’re in good company! Let’s grow together…