All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me,but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.
1 Corinthians 10:32 (NKJV)
It was our first science fair project. My 5th grader, being definitely my child, decided to do his science project on ice cream. We tested four different brands of ice cream to determine which would melt the quickest at room temperature. Once we figured out which brand melted the quickest, we started looking at the ingredients of each.
Most of the ingredients were pretty basic: milk, sugar, maybe some xanthan gum. However, the one ice cream that remained stable the longest was the only one containing calcium sulfate. Sounds fine. It’s a calcium something-or-other, right? So we Googled.
Calcium sulfate is known by a few other names. Like, plaster of paris. And gypsum. Yeah. Gypsum. The stuff that drywall and chalk are made of. And it’s in food. A LOT of food. It’s used as a thickening agent and preservative.
Oh, there are food grade varieties of gypsum. I don’t know what that means. Some is good for eating, some is good for sticking between large sheets of paper and nailing to studs?
I did some more Googling, and couldn’t find anything showing that there are any negative effects associated with eating calcium sulfate. Apparently it’s not good to breathe the stuff, but eating it? No problem. Which is good, because I have a thing for ice cream.
The experience gave me pause to look a little closer at food labels. There are a lot of things put into food that a) aren’t food, and b) my body doesn’t need. While calcium sulfate may be innocuous, many of the other stuff added to processed foods are not.
Know What You’re Eating
My kids know how to check labels when we’re at the store, and they know there’s no point asking if we can buy something containing artificial colors, or high fructose corn syrup. Cereal has to contain no more than 9 grams of sugar per serving. There are very few cereals that meet this criteria, but still some “fun” cereals that fall within the allowed range, so they’re not totally deprived. We are, admittedly, not the healthiest when it comes to food. As a single, working mom, I don’t have time to bake homemade whole wheat bread, let alone pack lunches. Still, those few basic rules keep a lot of junk out of our shopping cart.
Is it enough? We gloss over the labels to see if one of the forbidden items is in there among the uber-long words that no one can pronounce. What are all those other things that I haven’t bothered to Google?
This is where I again feel the conviction that I need to do more to lessen our exposure to processed foods. My kids are very healthy. We don’t have food allergies or medical conditions that require a restricted diet. (Although chocolate makes Demolition Man very gassy, so I try to limit his intake of that. Of course, chocolate is his all-time favorite food.) So there’s no urgent need to modify our diet. But I do know that when my kids get an unhealthy dose of sugar (soda is a huge problem), they go haywire.
Food as Fuel
I equate it to putting soda in the gas tank of a car. Soda and gas are both liquids. But car manufacturers made cars to run on gasoline, not on soda or milk or orange juice. We’re no different. The God who created these bodies of ours, also created the fuel we need. He didn’t create soda, or high fructose corn syrup or Red #40. He did create water and juicy fruits to replenish our bodies with the water we need. Limiting foods that aren’t good for them, that don’t provide the kind of fuel their bodies need, is not being a good steward of the bodies the Lord has gifted to us. As a mom, I have a responsibility to teach my children that they need to respect their bodies enough to fuel them with the foods that God provided. An occasional fun treat is okay, in moderation.
Digesting it All
Store shelves are filled with foods that are convenient. As a busy mom, I know how hard it is to get a hot meal on the table after a trying day. And I’m familiar with the guilt that comes from hearing my stay-at-home mom friends discuss how they spend a day baking Ezekiel Bread from scratch when the most I could do was pull together meat and cheese sandwiches for dinner. You many be more like me, slowly working your way in the direction of a really healthy family diet by slowly taking out things that your and your family’s bodies don’t need. It can be a years-long process that begins as our has, with baby steps, reading labels, and deciding what NOT to allow. But it’s a journey worth taking.
Cheering for You!
Jenna at NotSoFitGirl.com