A case for eating

Several of you raised the issue of allergies. Thank you. I too have numerous family members and close friends with intolerances, and it is my joy to cook for them what they can eat. Though subject to the same rules of love, this body intolerance is not the same issue as the soul intolerance I’m addressing.

Oh dear. If you thought that one was inflammable, this one’s really over the top.


Premise 2: All food is toxic.

If you eat it, you will die. And if you do not eat it, you will die.

Huh? you object. It’s not the food that kills you. Perhaps not. There’s a fascinating study out that oxygen, in the end, is what destroys our bodies. Who knows? It may be oxygen. Or sleeping. (Everyone who sleeps dies.) Or taking baths. Or drinking.

Very well then, it is not the food that kills you. It’s the being human and needing to eat. Either way, if you eat, you will die. Mortality rates are 100%.

Premise 2: All food is toxic.

Premise 2: No amount of healthy eating can save you from sickness and death.

Have you come to terms with this?

Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. By all means, serve yourself, your family and your guests what is good. But remember that He cares more that His temple is filled with love and grace than that it is filled with the purest ingredients. Especially when you eat at their house.

Premise 3: I doubt that Jesus the Fearless, the one who ate with publicans and sinners, the one who sent his messengers out with strict instructions to eat and drink whatever was served them (read it here), sneaked covert glances at their ingredient labels in the back kitchen before the meal. I cannot imagine Paul the Brave, the one who said Eat what’s set before you without raising questions of conscience, asking his host whether or not the butter contained trans fat.

I cannot imagine either of them bringing anything to the table but a hungry body, a cheerful spirit, and a thankful heart—better recipes for health than any amount of picky eating.

Jesus, of course, you say; but isn’t He a little different? His body is immortal.

So is yours.

Or rather, your body is destined for the same thing His was: unavoidable illness, death by mortality, and renewal into incorruptible radiance. You are mortal. Nothing you eat can save you. You are immortal. Nothing you eat can hurt you.

Premise 4: Jesus sent His disciples into the world to live fearlessly. He told them they could walk through deep waters and not be overwhelmed. He told them they could pass through fire and not be burned. He told them they could walk on snakes and scorpions and not be poisoned. (He really said this. Read it here. He said, and I quote, Nothing will harm you.) But don’t forget to watch out for the high fructose corn syrup, He whispered. Against that, your body doesn’t stand a chance.

Can you imagine anything so ludicrous? In His power, we are freed from fear and mortality. There is nothing out there to get us anymore. The One who rose from the dead defeated all the bad guys.

Your times are in His hands. You will die when your work is done.

Until then, go skydiving. Ride whooping down rivers of raging rapids. Drink deeply of uncooked eggnog, if that’s what they serve–uncooked eggnog and joy.

Live without fear.

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10 years ago

Well said.

Joanna Yoder
10 years ago


10 years ago

Thank you! You are addressing an issue that I have pondered over many times.
Btw love that side note on the high fructose corn syrup, I really did lol!

LaDonna Nice
10 years ago


10 years ago

Well-written and gracefully puts it all in perspective!

10 years ago

Shari- I enjoyed reading over your latest series here this morning. It was a pleasure to be allowed to be part of the conversation(s) without having anything to say in addition to what’s already been said.
I appreciate and respect your perspective!

10 years ago

I’m back. 🙂

I agree with you on allergies, but would like to point out that there are many other medical conditions that might call for more dietary changes than just allergies (gastrointestinal, hormonal, etc.). I am gluten free (okay, I try!) for gastrointestinal and hormonal issues. I was tested for gluten allergy and my test results did not come back clarifying this, however… I know how I feel when I am on gluten and when I am off… and I have made the hard choice to go gluten-free as much as possible. Sticking with this consistently at home allows me to enjoy gluten food in other people’s homes without the nasty side effects in my body. I just wanted to say that body intolerance of food is not limited to food allergies.

“No amount of healthy eating can save you from sickness and death.”

I agree. I came to terms with this one in a personal way. The year my body felt so run-down and sick and “things” just weren’t working right in more than one area and there weren’t answers for what I was feeling and experiencing…well. I sheepishly confess that I did become quite the hypochondriac for awhile!

The Lord worked in my heart over this one – my days are already numbered by the King of the universe and indeed, “No amount of healthy eating (or exercise, or Vitamin D, or etc) can save me from sickness and death.”

In the meantime, however, I think we have liberty to GRACIOUSLY nourish our physical bodies with the best of the best ~ as we know how and are able. There should be lots of liberty here for style of cooking, choice of ingredients, flavor, personal taste preference…

“But remember that He cares more that His temple is filled with love and grace than that it is filled with the purest ingredients. Especially when you eat at their house.”

I agree 100%. Especially that last sentence.

This is so interesting, too, because as I pondered that paragraph last night, my mind was really working. 🙂 There is more than one way to be a food snob. Sometimes it feels to me (and yes, I am probably biased!) like the “health food eaters” are closely scrutinized – their every conversation analyzed for a speck of snobbery, but the foodies who only serve the delectable fifteen-step desserts, the best-looking works of art….well, they just like food. Case closed. There’s nothing more to that.

I think that people who make five star desserts should be praised and applauded. They are my culinary heroes. I feel the same way for people who devote themselves to eating well – as much as they can, to their budget, capability, and ability. I can say that I have been intimidated by both.

Lots of people are obsessed with food. Maybe the best way to share grace in the culinary scheme of things is to have a gracious spirit and heart to learn on both sides. I know I want to learn from them both.

“Nothing you can eat can hurt you.”

Then by all means, eat poison. I agree that we should live wildly courageous and bold. But not rash. Radical but not irresponsible. I have heard people use your line of argument to never go to the doctor…or take medicine…or seek healing… (Not to open a can of worms, but on this line of reasoning…you might want to think again about vaccinations.)

When I read these posts I do hear your call for the health nuts to nourish a gracious spirit. I’m not missing that. I care about that too. I pray that my dietary choices would never get in the way of pure fellowship with others. I believe that there isn’t just one way to eat or cook food or eat well. We do what we can in my house, and I am sure you do the same in yours.
But I am tempted to wonder something. Is this subject so controversial because the radical health nuts are really so obsessed, the “non health nuts” insecure, or could it be a combination? Could the health nuts be snobbish because THEY only eat the BEST? Could the “non health nuts” (what do you call them?!) be snobbish because THEY have more faith to not be forced to such a restrictive diet? Could there be pride on both ends of the spectrum? Could there be attempts, on both sides, to spiritualize personal decisions regarding food?
What would you practically like to see? What exactly are you calling for? I am still interested in hearing what has prompted the current foodie processing on your blog. 🙂

Grace and peace,

10 years ago
Reply to  Renee

In answer to your questions, I guess I address many controversial issues on my blog—Halloween, health, and homosexuality. And I usually regret it at some point…

I write on issues I care about. I don’t have a “reason” beyond that.

The most practical thing I am appealing for is grace and love–which I hear you also appealing for. It should go both ways. Ironically, it seems most of us feel a little lonely on this issue, fighting to carve out space for personal choice–no matter on what side of the issue we stand. Again, thanks for the input.

Ryan H
10 years ago


I appreciate this; It has been a burden of mine. God said “take, eat, call nothing unclean, it is sanctified with prayer, made to be received with thanksgiving, etc.”

I feel we have made food a god, gluten the devil, and eating healthy an all consuming life-goal. I have friends that spent 4-6 hours a day juicing the vegetables for supper….

Thanks for your courage and honesty.

10 years ago

“Captain, iceberg ahead!”

I enjoyed reading your appeal for gracious eating. My evaluation–You react to those who treat food preferences as if they were allergies rather than choices and who ungraciously critique the food that is or was set before them. You take joy in preparing food that is compatible with those friends and family with food allergies. The challenge is a gracious response to those who turn up their noses with “Does this butter contain trans fat?” as others in a bygone era may have asked, “Was this meat offered to idols?” There, you’re right on.

However, I suspect you have oversimplified the matter to make a point. Food choices do matter, both to individuals and a society. What I eat as a guest and what I eat as a habit are totally different matters. No, high fructose corn syrup cannot kill you (unless you drown in it), but type II diabetes can and will, if you do not heed the warning signs.

The poor man’s steak yesterday was delicious. (The beef was likely not grass-fed.) And the (non-organic) salad. And the dressing (with its 7g of fat). And the bread (which I think contained gluten). On the other hand, to the best of your knowledge the food was compatible with the preferences and allergies of the guests.

Picky eating is trendy. You are not. Praise God.

Shall we have music as we sink?

10 years ago

I hear ya, Shari and mostly agree. But I also probably feel a little of what Renee said too. I think it goes both ways. After all, why is it okay to eat whatever you want, no matter how unhealthy it might be but not okay to try to eat healthfully and take care of your body? I know many have gone gung-ho on the healthy eating thing but at the same time, sometimes I feel frustrated that people care so little about what they are putting into their body and would rather believe that ignorance is bliss. And I too get a bit weary of the eye rolling and un-gracious whispering about those who have chosen to eat organic or gluten free or avoid HFCS or use only raw sugar etc. Your call for grace is important for both sides…and I think you’d agree.

Thanks for daring to wade into controversial topics. You do it with grace.

10 years ago

Love what you say, Shari!

And also what some of the commentors have had to say about the other side of the coin. I have seen unloving attitudes on both sides, those who eat healthy, and those who choose not to.

And I’m still not sure I have it figured out where I stand! But most of all, I want to stand with the Word of God, which is why I appreciated you bringing up what the Scripture says about the topic of eating. You and I have been mulling over some of the same verses.

Thanks for being brave enough to take on this topic. You’ve given me the courage I needed to hit “publish” on my own post this morning.

10 years ago

Very interesting thoughts. I know you commented on the allergy issue but I just thought I’d share my perspective on it. I have an egg allergy. The effects it has on my body when consumed are atrocious. I’ll spare you the details. There are times I wonder if I’m also intolerant to gluten…? Olive oil does strange things to my GI system. And the list goes on. In addition to all of this I have an autoimmune disease: Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. In short my body has been attacking my thyroid (an essential gland for normal body-functioning) to the extent that I now must be on artificial thyroid hormone replacement for the rest of my life. For those with low-thyroid function, regardless of the cause, there is a LONG list of foods they should not eat. They’re called goitogenic foods. A few are: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, strawberries and peaches. Google it to find the rest. Cooking MAY inactivate the goitrogens, however there’s no guarantee. I choose to seriously limit my intake of cooked or uncooked goitrogenic foods. Even if I like them. Consider for a moment how difficult fellowship meal, or supper at the in-laws, or in a restaurant is. Do you know how hard it is to always be asking what the ingredients in a given dish are? Does this have mayo or miracle whip in it? How about this salad dressing (not even traditional Italian is 100% guarantee there’s no egg in it [experience speaking]). And those goitrogenic foods? Certainly I can make exceptions (and i do far more with these than egg since the effects aren’t quite so crippling)… but guess what? I’m a food-label reader. And it’s not because I’m trying to figure out how many grams of trans fats are in this dressing, or whether or not your ketchup has high fructose corn syrup in it. It’s because if I don’t I might end up in your bathroom for a VERY long time and that would not be good. Sometimes I wish I could just eat like other “normal” people. Instead I read the labels, ask the questions, and get along as best as I can. Hoping I don’t offend.

10 years ago

btw – one more comment i can’t resist – High fructose corn syrup, GMO foods, non-organic veggies and fruits, artificial flavorings and colorings didn’t even exist in Paul’s day. All these “foods” are man-made inventions or man-made versions of what God originally gave us and instructed us to receive with thanksgiving. . . . I can’t imagine that offering food to idols changed the physical nature or nutrient content of that food. Having said that I do not mean to imply that one should not receive all offered food with gratitude, including Pringles and Soda.

I really do appreciate Shari your boldness in blogging on controversial topics and the gracious way you write from the way you see it. Your openness and honesty is soooo refreshing, I love your blog – even when we don’t agree. perhaps i love it even more . . .

10 years ago

So I feel compelled to also comment– although I can already tell that I’m going to ramble.

First, I have a friend that triumphed over a 6 month death-sentence of cancer by following the Hallelujah Diet. I have an uncle that lives prednisone-free with Crohn’s Disease by following the Maker’s Diet. I followed my own form of diet when I had Lyme Disease. We all must discover ways of fighting our own battles. I felt better when I ate healthier, but mostly I won my war with disease.

When my 3 year old began asking me if things had “hydrogenated fat” in them, I realized I obsessed about it too much. I’d rather be ignorant of these things, but I know some people MUST know all about HFCS and … well, other big words.

Jacob’s teacher has had her share of health concerns, and she wins her fight by eating healthier– I think it’s by mostly eating whole foods. She is a testimony to giving grace to others regarding their eating, as well as trying to raise awareness to what is helpful to her. She has encouraged me in boosting Jake’s overall health, because of his difficulty to concentrate and some ADHD behavior. I’m okay with that– I’d rather try to improve his ability to handle his own problems internally, than have to ONLY punish his behavior. So, it’s more meat and eggs, less sugar, protein for breakfast, and Vitamins: Magnesium, Fish Oil, and Primrose Oil. Do I feel like a health psycho following this regimen? Around some people, yes. Around other people, I probably should be doing more. Daryl and I are comfortable with what we’ve chosen to do.

There is pride surrounding this issue. I’ve felt it emanating from some health nuts I hang out with. I’ve felt it in my own heart when I knew all the big words and right recipes to use. I’ve also felt it from the person who brags that they cook cheap. Or from the person who bakes the 20 ingredient recipes. Or in myself when I refuse to admit that someone else’s recipe is better than mine.

But, I’ve also sensed grace from others who shared recipes when I needed them for health reasons. I’ve seen grace from Jake’s teacher, when she joyfully accepted a month of school hot lunches (not too healthy, btw) as a Christmas present. I’ve watched relatives serve food they cannot eat themselves. We have friends that gladly accepted an invitation for dinner, told me not to cook any different, then discreetly brought a small portion of “gluten-free” food for the allergy sufferer. Grace.

As I write, I eat Amish Friendship Bread and coffee with powdered creamer (that has an ingredient list a mile long). Wow, doesn’t that stir up the responses from friends?
“Why do people call that ‘bread‘? It should be called ‘cake‘.
“Is the bread cheaper to make because of the starter? Or do you actually just like the taste of it?”
“Definitely not a healthy bread.”
But I pass around the starter because of the “friendship” in the name. Until my friends get sick of lugging gallon ziploc bags around.

10 years ago
Reply to  Renita

I don’t know who you are, but I like you. 🙂

10 years ago
Reply to  Renita

I do know her, and I like her, too. May I introduce my beautiful sister? And would you join me in trying to convince her to start blogging as well?

10 years ago
Reply to  Not the Boss

Now, come on!! I don’t need to feel this pressure, from my little brother! Besides, I don’t have time to even think right now, much less blog. That’s why you get comments like mine… thoughtless rambling. 🙂 For now, I’ll enjoy the beautiful blog of my sister-in-law.

10 years ago

You know, I really appreciate your emphasis on love in this area, Shari! I think that’s super important. May I throw another possum into the mix? When I think of eating, I think of the people who raise the food, the methods they (may be forced to ) use, and the effect that has on them and lots of other people. Maybe you think of fair trade right away, but I was thinking closer to home. For instance, Dr. Paul Winchester has done some fascinating research on babies. Did you know that babies conceived in the summer, when pesticide levels are measurably higher in ground water, are more likely to have a whole host of disorders and defects ranging from cleft palate to spina bifida?(this is a gross oversimplification, so please google it to get more info. ) So that makes me think of what I eat. If I insist on the cheapest, most blemish free apples, thereby forcing farmers to spray pesticides to get a more uniform product with less money, am I loving my un-born neighbor? In other words, do my day to day food decisions support a system that hurts people?

Maybe this sounds a bit far-fetched, but then again, I’m talking to someone who doesn’t shop at Wal-Mart. . .

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