Sometimes what we hope to accomplish meets reality. You had high hopes for serving delicious, nourishing hot meals three times a day to your family (all nicely fitting into your food budget of course). Then your menu plan falls apart, the kids are all sick, you are running around like crazy and you serve frozen burritos five days in a row. A sense of hopeless disappointment comes. You have failed your own expectations.
Or, you are new to this type of cooking. Each change feels major. While you are excited about change one, you haven’t made the next five changes. Your other “Nourishing Tradition” friends won’t eat with you, because they know that you aren’t quite “up to par”. Your excitement cools right along with the friendship
I have one word for you: grace.
A simple explanation of grace includes a“disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency”.
Grace for Self
First, be kind to self. Extend grace to yourself. Do I believe that nourishing food is important? Yes. But I have had numerous times in my life when circumstances made it very hard to eat as well as I desired. The biggest example was a few years ago. I got very sick with infections after Elena was born for about three months straight. I needed nourishing food the most during this time period.
If ever I could have benefited from a nourishing diet, it was then. But you know, I couldn’t do it. I was in survival mode and literally barely cooked a single meal for weeks. My body felt terrible not only because I was fighting off infections and lack of sleep but also because of the take out we were consuming night after night. I do think that if I was somehow able to get more nourishing food during that time, I would have recovered more quickly. Yet even knowing that, I don’t judge myself because I know I really truly was doing my best.
Do your best, and leave it at that.
Grace for Others
But also extend grace and kindness to others. If you are the queen of healthy cooking, it could be easy to make others less skilled than you feel judged. Those very experienced in nourishing cooking need to accept that some people are still in a journey towards better eating habits. Some people think that eating healthy food is a joke. That’s okay, you can still be friends as most friendships don’t center on what you eat.
“They don’t even want me to bring something for dinner!”
The other situation that needs a lot of grace, kindness and patience is when working with a family who has higher standards of eating than you. This often comes out when trying to plan a meal together with another family.
Let me share where I am at right now. When I have people over, I often tell them not to worry about bringing anything, not because I look down upon their food (that really truly isn’t the case at all). I just don’t want to put them under the pressure of having to make a dairy and sugar free dish, which is quite difficult for many people. I don’t mind doing the cooking, and don’t want to put any burdens on a guest.
I have been at the place where even a dab of dairy left me with terrible cramps (this was when I was in the healing process). If I ended up curled up on the couch in pain from their food, I would hardly feel the gracious hostess! I have had people bring food before only to realize that it did have sugar in it (which also causes reactions for me). I have often, as a hostess, felt very awkward trying not to hurt any feelings. Sometimes I have eaten it. I was raised to be polite and that’s the polite thing to do. And I did pay for it. Other times I have quietly not eaten it and hoped nobody noticed.
But even though that’s where I am right now, I really wish that I didn’ t have to be so strict. I have always felt that it’s very impolite not to eat what is served or shared with you. Nourishing food or not, refusing to eat at another’s table historically is a grave insult. While we may not feel like that is true now, it’s still can feel very insulting to refuse another’s cooking.
All to say, I need grace and kindness extended to me, and I know that I will have to extend grace and kindness to others as well. Food is a wonderful way to show love for each other (in bringing meals, sharing dinner together etc), but we can still be friends with those who don’t eat just like us!
I think that it is so important we all act kindly towards each other, even as we encourage each other towards better eating. Life is not perfect, we are not perfect and other people aren’t perfect. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, unless we learn to show kindness and grace to others.
Now I open the floor to you all! What struggles have you experienced in this area? What has helped you? How have you dealt with sticky situations with friends in the food area? What advice do you have?
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What a beautiful post and one i can relate to. I appreciate your heart of grace and i love your blog, checking it almost daily. Thank you for all the hard work you put into it.
What an amazing post and just what I needed to hear right now. Thanks for writing all of that. I love your site.
Kimi… have to say I’ve been blog-stalking you since your brother-in-law linked your blog, and have been passing it along to friends and family alike. I am really liking the recipes and ideas. I had never heard of NT before, but I have it on hold at the library and am reading all I can on it in the meantime. So as a very new newbie, this is for sure a need of mine! Especially when I don’t feel like I can simply clear out the pantry and start fresh (for the sake of myself, my family and our budget). So as we eat things that I’m reading we should steer clear of, but making gentle changes elsewhere… my type A, all-or-nothing personality definitely has to exercise grace. Thanks for a great blog! Thought I’d go ahead and let you know I’m here. 🙂
Thank-you. Thank-you. Thank-you for addressing this topic. I have experienced trouble in this area and feel that it is one that should and needs to be talked about. I have had the unfortunate experience of trying to be a friend to a strict organic/vegetarian family, (all while not being one myself), only to be made to feel less than intelligent because I did not agree with them, only to find out second hand that they dropped their vegetarian ways 5 years later. I hear and understand food allegeries and sensitivities, but this was not the case here. I always ask about food concerns when people visit. I still feel very sad about the whole situation and I know that this issue can be so trying. Thank you for addressing it with such grace and sensitivity.
Dealing with food allergies myself, I know how difficult it is to eat anywhere outside of my house! And, I used to be one of those people who couldn’t understand how anyone could be that particular to certain foods. The tables have turned! Handling situations like these with grace is a good reminder, especially for us to remember the whole reason why we’re getting together in the first place!
I am still at the beginning of my journey, so I haven’t yet faced the problems you describe regarding reactions to certain foods, etc. However, I have had people have negative reactions when I say I am not eating dairy, I believe they don’t understand and they make fun of my decision saying things like “then what do you eat??”. I find it amusing that people don’t realise how much food there is out there that I do eat, it’s just dairy that I avoid. I also laugh because I see myself in them. I was like them about a year ago and that helps me to be more understanding and to have more grace towards them.
The main difficulty I do have is saying no to a food that is offered to me at someone’s house. I don’t want to disappoint or hurt them by turning down the food. I am learning to be truer to myself and only eating what makes me feel good because I have felt bad many times after agreeing to foods that are not good for me.
Thanks for sharing your struggles!
I’ve been very lucky that my group of friends is very respectful of each others eating habits. I’m the only one who really practices a nourishing style of cooking, but I don’t want my friends to ever think I feel that I am above eating their food. They may not eat things as healthy as I would like, but I figure one meal isn’t going to kill me. I also don’t try to force my way of eating on others. There are times when I will cook something with more nourishing ingredients, as long as I think it is something that won’t taste much different than the conventional version (I have found that this works best with desserts, subbing white flour for wheat and white sugar for natural sweeteners). I know that sometimes they think I am weird, and that is okay. The way we eat is not the basis of our friendship, so we can agree to disagree about what is healthy and what is not.
Darla and Kali-Thanks! I am so glad that it was helpful. 😉
It was so sweet of him to link to me. 🙂 Welcome to my site! I think that you will find Nourishing Traditions very helpful as long as the hugeness of the topic doesn’t cause you becoming overwhelmed. That’s how many of us felt at first. But at the same time, I think that it also was freeing to know that eating “real food” was healthy after all! I know how you feel. I an all or nothing type of person myself. I just have to remind myself that something is better than nothing!
Thanks for the comment, I appreciate it. 🙂
That’s so hard! I hope that’s what we can avoid doing to other people. There can be a lot of tension of this issue, a tension I have felt myself with many people. It’s hard!
Being on both sides of the issue at one time or another does give you perspective, doesn’t it!
LOL. My dad says that all the time to me. He is constantly teasing me about not being able to eat anything, but really we eat very well, we just have to avoid certain things. Oh well!
I love your thought here: “I know that sometimes they think I am weird, and that is okay. The way we eat is not the basis of our friendship, so we can agree to disagree about what is healthy and what is not.” So true!
Thank you! What a great post. I love your site and I am learning so much from it. I really appreciate the effort you put into it.
Thanks for this post! We started with NT 3 1/2 years ago, originally in a context where lots of our friends were eating this way as well and we had a co-op through which we could get nourishing ingredients for reasonable prices. We followed the diet pretty closely, although we always made an exception if someone invited us over for dinner. But 1 1/2 years ago, we moved back to Canada and since then have had trouble finding good quality food at prices we can afford. Raw milk is illegal and organic meats and veggies are really expensive. Add to that the fact that our income dropped significantly after the move, and we’ve had a really hard time eating as well as we used to! I still cook our food from scratch, but we can no longer afford organics or lots of good animal products (we are broth, brown bread and beans people now!). And we are the only ones in our church community who eat anything close to an NT diet. So when I found your website a month or so ago (the same time my husband lost his job and our diet became even more primitive!), I started actually feeling discouraged about how much we’re NOT doing these days!
It’s so good to remember that exactly how often we prepare the perfectly healthy meal as we do our best to serve our family and church, has no ultimate bearing on our standing before God! If I can better serve my family by staying within our limited budget, and better serve our church by not refusing fellowship around food with other members, in the end I think the eternal impact will be greater. So I’ll keep trying to do the best I can to feed my family well, and trust God’s grace for all the gaps I leave!
I just started a blog attempting to offer baby steps to cooking nutritiously AND being environmentally sound and budget-friendly at the same time. I am not quite as NT as you, Kimi, but I’m working on it, one baby step at a time, and I’d like to share my wisdom and kitchen tips for making it possible with others. The site is kitchenstewardship.wordpress.com. I’ll also be hosting a Meatless Meals Carnival next Monday — love to see recipes from this group. Thanks for checking me out!
I am very interested in learning more about how you cope without, what i assume is cow’s milk? I am allergic to it as well as wheat and gluten, however have had a very hard time staying off of either. Any suggestions? Recipes? As i do not have access to good, inexpensive, goat’s milk, and i am unsure of how much coconut milk will work as a substitution!??! I am in definite need of help. Thanks and God bless.
Well written thoughtful post, Kimi! thanks! I need it right now.
Thank you Kim for posting this and bringing to the table what is most important. It is a great reminder and one as Christians we can forget in all avenues of our life-not just with food. ~Trinity
Thanks for the wonderful post. I really needed to hear that right now. I get so frustrated when I take my kids to places almost daily where they are served “junk food”. I bite my lip because I know that if I try to “educate” everyone I will just be feeding my own ego as well as alienating myself. Truthfully, it makes me want to give up and just avoid those situations. I need to remember Grace.
What a timely post. With our local traditional foods gatherings one of the things I think has been missing most is grace – grace towards others who may make different food/farmer choices than we may think is best ourselves and an unwillingness to speak nicely about those choices. An unwillingness to acknowledge that there are some gray areas as we each decide amongst a number of values and priorities and instead insisting that everything must be black and white. A farmer who feels his “market” is threatened in the group and instead of speaking positively about what he does (the whys and whatnots) instead disparages another farmer while others simply sit by and say nothing. *sigh* Grace…
I really enjoy your site. What a good topic to discuss. I have finally found something I can bring to my friend’s house! Their family eats more organically than we do and there are some allergies to contend with. I decided that I would bring a tub of organic greens when I come. They are hypoallergenic, organic, and who doesn’t need more greens? (this is a family of 6 so they go through them). Thanks for the great post!
This is a great topic. I too often ask people not to bring anything because my little ones are gluten intolerant and when we have a house full of people it is very difficult to keep track of every thing they might put into their mouths. Plus I like for our home to be a “safe place” for them to eat. Last Christmas my inlaws brought a whole plate of Christmas cookies after I asked them not to bring anything, and when they left they dumped the leftover ones onto the same plate as my gluten free cookies! Arghhh. They know some of the kids can’t have gluten, but I never told them why I didn’t want them to bring anything, nor did I explain that we really try not to bring gluten into the house if we can help it. They have no concept of cross contamination, because they just don’t know. So I suppose it’s my fault, but it is hard to anticipate every situation. And it stinks when I have to deal with the aftermath when my son gets into gluten.
I recently had to deal with just such a situation. I had my third child 2 months ago, and our church always has people bring in food for the new mother. It is a great help, except that we eat very differently from others in our church. Yet, I could not really refuse, because than I feel that I am refusing the oppurtunity for someone else to reach out. I have been really working on allowing people to help me over the past couple of years, because I tend to like to do it all myself, and then I get really burned out. It is an area of spiritual growth and struggle for me.
However, we all really noticed the difference in our health. We are new to NT, but I have always looked for organic and preparing my own food and looking for locally raised meat. (Thankfully, we do not have any food allergies to deal with.) It finally got to the point where we just had to put the food in other containers and freeze it. If we only eat one such a meal once a month or so, it will not have such a drastic effect as if we are eating it every day. It is a hard balance. I have decided that if we have any other children while we are here, I am just going to have to request vegetarian meals, at least then I will have one less thing to worry about.
We are new to Nourishing Traditions and to your website as well. I received the book as a “cast-off” gift from someone who purchased it and decided that they just couldn’t change their entire way of eating & cooking. I was delighted to receive the book and equally delighted to discover your site!
We’ve begun slowly by making simple changes in our fats, sweeteners, and grains where we can.
Thank you for your insight and helpful hints and for providing a forum for people at all stages of the journey to share their thoughts!
Wow – what a lovely article. Really well said. Thank you.