food for thought

Food for Thought: Calories

I’ve mentioned before that this semester, I’m in a class called Food and the Sacred. In it we discuss the significance of food in various religions and cultures. I always really enjoy the readings for this class, because not only do I have a passion for food but I love learning about different cultures and religions. The readings are interesting and I always learn something new – one time I learned that breakfast cereal was invented by the Seventh Day Adventist church to encourages Christians to stay away from the beans, pork, and pie breakfast staple because it was thought that “hot” and “moist” foods increased sexual desire, while “cold” and “dry” foods didn’t (David Grumett in “Religion, Food, and Eating in North America”).

This week’s unit is “Fasting, Health, and Dieting: ‘Be Slim for Him,'” which is about why Christians go on certain diets or fast for God. One of our readings was “The Supper of the Lamb” by Robert Farrar Capon and something he said in it really resonated with me:

A calorie is not a thing; it is a measurement. In itself, it does not exist. It is simply a way of specifying a particular property of things, namely, how much heat they give off when burned. Only things, you see, are capable of being eaten or burned, loved or loathed; no one ever yet got his teeth into a calorie…. How sad, then, to see real beings – Harry and all his fellow calorie counters – living their lives in abject terror of things that do not even go bump in the night. What a crime, not against hospitality, but against being to hear him turn down homemade noodles in favor of idols and abstractions – to watch him prefer nothing to something…. His body may or may not lose weight; his soul, however, is sure to wither.

I think people too often overthink what they eat, and I know I can be guilty of this too at times. It’s important to remember that calories are not tangible and will not harm you. I’m not saying it isn’t important to watch how you eat because it’s good to be healthy, but there is no need to stress over calories. Sometimes the foods that have the most calories are actually healthy for you. A handful of almonds has a high calorie and fat content, but they’re healthy calories and fat. You’re much better having that handful of almonds than having a Coca Cola Zero, which may not have any calories but is full of chemicals.

Don’t stress out over what you eat. Having an unhealthy meal every now and then will not kill you. You should indulge occasionally because it’s good for your soul and one should never turn down good food. Just remember to work out, eat plenty to fuel your body and give it the nutrients it needs, eat healthy foods, and treat yourself because you deserve it.

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