That was then, when rebellious youth snuck food into church. Nowadays, I’ve heard from many different people of many different faiths that eating in church is not unusual. I've even seen muffins, donuts, pastries, coffee, tea and juice set up outside of the sanctuary so churchgoers can help themselves (or buy for a nominal price). My brother told me that the church he attends has free popcorn machines, and cup holders at every seat. Good Lord! Church has become an eating occasion!
Food is creeping in everywhere, and it always seems to be junky, unhealthy processed stuff. Go to a kids’ baseball or soccer game and you’ll find multiple ice cream trucks lined up along the nearest curb, even if the game starts at 9:00 in the morning. School districts are posting back-to-school necessities lists that include bags of fun-size candy bars so that the teachers have an ample supply to use as rewards for their students throughout the year. I walked in a half marathon a few days ago, and was stunned by the junk that was being offered to the participants along the way – Krispy Kreme donut holes at the first mile marker, brownies at the second, jelly beans, Twizzlers, Starbursts, Swedish Fish, Red Bull, and even beer (yes, beer!) at mile markers along the route. It was insane! Thousands and thousands of people sign up to do something healthy, to run or walk 13.1 miles at a charity event, and volunteers were hawking junk at every turn. And now, food is creeping into my beloved hiking club.
I joined this hiking club when I first moved back to this area, so I could learn where the good parks and trails were here. Physical activity was my main goal, and I considered socializing with fellow hikers an added bonus. It’s been a great addition to my workout regimen; I love being out in nature while challenging myself physically. And then hikes started being posted with casual references to anyone interested going to lunch afterwards. That’s how food started creeping in. It was easy to not participate in those lunches. I had no desire to let food creep into my hikes. I’ve even told several hikers that when explaining why I wasn’t joining them -- I’m not unfriendly; I just don’t want my hiking outings to become eating occasions. But like a nasty oil spill, the food creep has continued. Now, it’s becoming more commonplace to see “Hike & Potluck” posted on the group’s schedule. Hike and potluck. One of the organizers assured me that there would be some fruit amongst the brownies, cheese and crackers. For me, though, it’s not about what the food is; it was why the food was creeping in in the first place. (Warning: I’m climbing up onto my soapbox!)
AS IF I NEED ANOTHER EATING OCCASION!! As if the vast majority of people need another eating occasion! As if we need another generation of kids growing up assuming that games, movies, church, doctor’s offices, grocery shopping, field trips, and car rides are eating occasions! And you know what? The only reason food is creeping in everywhere is because people are eating it everywhere. Here in the USA, we act as if we can’t drive 20 minutes without packing car snacks or stopping at a drive-thru. People seem hell-bent on food and eating being a part of every waking minute, every outing, every gathering, every celebration, every activity on a calendar, however mundane, however healthy. Think about it... Where is it not okay to eat or drink something?
We’ve gotten so very far from hunger as a motivation for eating, and this makes it SO VERY HARD for people like me who want and need to watch what they eat, and make good food choices. I don’t need more eating occasions. I’ve worked hard to get my eating in check, to focus on eating to fuel my body, to extract food from situations and environments in my life where it didn’t belong, and to refrain from eating just because the food was there. Sometimes, though, it’s as if I’m fighting a losing battle with the food culture in the USA. I am extremely grateful for my strength, my perspective and my commitment to living a healthy lifestyle. And I really feel for those who are struggling to make good food choices, because so many forces are working against us, and the food creep is one of them. (Okay, stepping off the soapbox now, and yes, I do feel better after that rant!)
I made a friend in the hiking club who has told me on several occasions, “I have friends who’ll call to see if I want to go out to dinner. I have friends who’ll call to see if I want to come over and share a bottle of wine. You’re the only person I know who’ll call me to see if I want to go work out.” YAY! That’s a huge compliment. I’m happy to be that person!