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A Spoiled, Whiny, Obese Nation


I was raised to eat what was served and I was served a many variety of things.  I’m thankful for that.

Having my mom visit this week reminded me of how one can really appreciate plenty when you’ve experienced real poverty.  My family has experienced true poverty having grown and lived in a “third world country”.

As I grew up, my family slowly drifted into noticeable dysfunction and ultimately broken apart.  There was a time when we were as one unit, one family- father, mother, kids…  Oh, and aunt, cousin later added.  At that time, we had enough to eat, and we ate well.  But then that “normal” slowly began to deteriorate.  My parents split.  My aunt and cousin moved in.  It was our new normal.  My mom, aunt and cousin were now a tag team parent head with my mom hardly ever around.  My cousin, who was about 10 years older or so, was our major caretaker.  We grew up early and fast.  Long story short, in my late middle school/early high school years, my mom unseen, my aunt worked all the time until late, my cousin having married off; we were now left mostly on our own.  My aunt stopped buying food for the house we lived in b/c she usually ate at work and then my cousin’s house.  So, my older brother’s, who were high school kids at the time, provided for us the best they can, working multiple jobs doing the job of my parents, who were a distant memory.  For a little while, we (me and my sister) lived on ‘mama’ noodles (if there were any) and cereal with water (because we were lactose intolerant anyway).  I remember many times opening the fridge to reveal an empty can, opening that door, looking multiple times even though I knew it would be empty.  That probably sounds really sad.  And it is.  But something like that really makes one grateful and careful about wasting food.  Some people (friends) may think I’m a little overboard in my scraping, but I say we are a spoiled America.  We don’t really appreciate and value the resources, the crazy accessibility we have to whatever it is we want, or don’t want, need or don’t need.  There’s so much product out there, how do we decipher through them all every day is sometimes mind-blowing to me when I really think about it.  And most times, I ashamedly admit, it’s too much to think about, so we fill our minds and lives with superficial fillers that allow us to forget the deeper issues in life.

For the most part, I make my kids eat what’s on their plate.  If your kids waste food, think whether you are setting a good example.  Picky-eater parents will likely produce picky-eater children because how can you make your kids eat something they don’t like when you yourself are finicky. Then you think you are “empathizing” with them, right?  If you snicker and sneer at most things and never go outside your comfort zone of eating, then you likely will not expose your children to new foods either.  It’s hypocritical to feed your kids what you yourself will not eat, right?  The more you allow your kids to constantly complain, throw fits, have to coax or “hide” what’s in the food so that they will eat it, you will be sending mix messages to your kids, mainly the message that you are manipulative (even if they may not know that word yet) and hence this cycle will likely continue with future generations within your family.

We live in a land of buffets where we eat when we want it and throw away whatever we “can’t” finish.  We love buffets.  A variety of foods cooked and ready to eat and to eat as much as you want!!  What!?  Even then, we have always reinforced to our children that they eat what they get.  So, get a little each time.  You can always go back for more.  You ever seen signs in Asian restaurants (mainly the  ‘all you can eat kind’) either on the menu or at the buffet itself where it says “take what you like, eat what you take”, or you will be charged for any extra food that was wasted.  Some might call them cheap, but old school Asians get it.  Sure it hurts their profits but it’s so wasteful.  They come from poverty.  They know how to conserve. Seriously, I know it’s cliché but it’s really true; THERE ARE PEOPLE STARVING AROUND THE WORLD, and we like to put it out of our mind as to not inconvenience our comfortable lives.  America is so spoiled and they hardly would ever admit it or want to do anything about it in their own lives.  And if they do admit it, they are doing while throwing away food daily.  Disconnect? I’d say.

Teach children to be responsible.  Not only how to eat well for health reasons, but to truly be thankful for what they have; especially what they have to eat.  I have ingrained in my children the grace of God in providing the plethora of foods we have in our pantry, freezer, fridge and cabinets.  It’s ridiculous, really, how much we have, praise the Lord!  If we’re not going to eat it, I find someone else to give it too.  I’m not talking about leftovers necessarily, but I that works too.  I cringe with regret and sadness when something in my fridge has gone bad enough not to be eaten because I know that firstly, my husband worked hard for the money that God has graciously provided and second, it was irresponsible.  I have been guilty of this too many times.  When I cook, I tend to cook large.  And you better believe I save leftovers.  We eat them making the most of it and preach thankfulness the whole time.  If I don’t think we’ll get to eat it, I try to freeze it if I can. It helps later for a quick meal.  Win, win.

I think our tendency to be complacent on this issue is 1) pride. We “have the right” to choose. Who’s to tell us what and how much we should eat. 2) self centeredness.  It’s “our” body.  We do what we like whenever and however, as long as it’s not hurting others or blatantly “sinful”.  3) ignorance  4) careless thankfulness.  We are surrounded by plenty that the “little” things become lost and insignificant.  But those little things add up.

Some last notes:

  • Expand your palate.  I’m not saying go out and eat everything you think is disgusting to make a point.  Your heart attitude matters.  Pray about it, that the Lord would stretch your mind and heart in this issue; if there be any way in you to be changed and challenged, and for the strength to fulfill the challenge.
  • Take what you will eat but eat what you take.  Serve appropriate portion sizes at meal times whether you’re eating at home, restaurant or someone else’s home.  This goes for the children as well.  It takes more of your time and effort (that’s what parenting is) to monitor your kids, but guide them in gentle love teaching them about portion size, being considerate of others, being responsible and thankful for God’s provision.  Don’t take food for granted, even (especially) if you didn’t pay for it.  Eat what you’re served.
  • Be mindful.  Just think ahead.  It’s intentional consideration.
  • Be respectful.  Appreciate what you have and honor God in appreciating others.
  • Be considerate.  Teach it to yourself, and your family.  It’s loving to do so.
  • Be thankful.  Truly.  Pretend as if it was your last meal, and give thanks to God when it’s not.  Jehovah Jireh.  Hallelujah.
  • Whether you eat or drink, whatever you do, do to the glory of God.  (1Cor10:31)
  • What’s your attitude about food?
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