Every night we make five lunches at my house. And I’m not talking simple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. My teenage daughter likes exotic foods like Quinoa salad and edamame with Japanese rice, or hummus and pita chips. My teenage son loves his turkey sandwich with spinach on sourdough. And he has to have his big green apple.
It’s not always easy to motivate my kids to make lunches when the French quiz or AP History paper is looming . . . unless I mention “the school cafeteria” option.
When my youngest son avoids making his lunch, he invariably comes home from school never wanting to “buy” again. Peanut butter fluff (is that even a food??), overly-cheesy pizza, and other non-green fare are the usual cafeteria options.
Many point to lack of exercise and poor nutritional foods in our schools as major contributors to childhood obesity in the U.S. A recent Cornell University study suggests that nearly 21 percent of U.S. health care costs are attributed to obesity. It’s been declared a public health crisis.
I’m all in favor of balanced eating habits and fresh food. But from a spiritual perspective, I also think there’s an answer that’s much bigger than food. Something else I teach my kids to put on their plate every day is their spiritual intake. I know this will help them with all the choices they make in their lives–yes, even food–as well as the perception they hold of themselves. Because I believe that when you feel full spiritually, you don’t look to other things to fill you up.
Food can never give you the love, comfort, wholeness you seek. These have to come from a divine source that never runs out–where God pours you out a blessing so there’s not even room enough to receive it. (Malachi, Ch.3)
I encourage my family to contemplate this line from Jesus’ prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread.” In other words, “I’m listening every day for pure, divine ideas that fill me up, satisfy desires, and provide creative solutions to problems.”
There’s no shortage of people looking for ways to address this problem of obesity–and creative solutions are surfacing. Like the “Farm to School” lunch program that connects schools with local farms to bring fresh foods to their nutrition programs, now operating in 19 states and several hundred school districts. And after a quick visit to our school district’s website I learned that next year marks the launch of an organic, student-run garden at my son’s high school, which will provide fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs for the district’s school cafeterias–as well as local farmer’s markets. Hmmm, maybe we’ll get a few days off from lunch-making after all!
The trailer for a new film called “The Apple Pushers” showed up on my Twitter feed this week. Somehow New York City–the Big Apple itself–hardly had an apple in sight on most street corners. That is until a group of NYC immigrants conceived of “green carts,” offering fresh fruits and vegetables on neighborhood corners that before were dominated by golden arches and convenience store packaged snacks.
I believe the real solution to the individual and broader problem of obesity will come through spiritual seeking, as one woman’s story alludes to on Oprah.com (“One Food Addict’s Spiritual Care“). She found that:
“At every turn, need is confused with love. Need replaces love, obscures it, and manipulates it. And, as the wisdom traditions tell us—in one way or another—Love is God.”
I agree that Love is God and that Love is filling us full every day. With this conviction, it’s possible to feel satisfied before you eat–and after.
For further reading on the topic: