I used to wonder why so much emphasis was placed on feasting during the winter holidays, but now I’m older and wiser, and I know. People are enjoying bountiful meals and delectable snacks to prepare their bodies for what occurs very soon after the holiday dining festivities are over—January. That’s when everybody makes resolutions to become fitter by losing weight and exercising.
Several days before January begins, the grocery shelves reveal a miraculous change. Where one day there were sumptuous mince and pumpkin pies and mile-high coconut cakes and creamy fudge cakes, the next there is a pyramid of cans of black eyed peas near a huge bin of collard greens. Packages of hog jowls now fill the spots where before there were plump turkeys and succulent hams. These changes do not portend a month of happy mealtimes.
January has a distinctive vocabulary. Words like “healthful,” “nutritious,” fat-free,” and “low calorie” are everywhere. The decadent foods which were so popular just last month are suddenly out of vogue. Various media jump on the bandwagon in support of nutritious foods. Articles in newspapers and magazines not only depict which foods to eat, but they also tell how to prepare them so that they will be even more healthful. On the morning TV programs, chefs prepare low fat, low calorie desserts for the hosts to try, and despite their protestations to the contrary, I know the desserts must be low taste.
Feeling compelled on one January day to, at least, try a more healthful dessert than the gooey pecan pie at home in the refrigerator, I buy some low fat cookies. I think that if they taste as good as they look on the package’s picture of light chocolate cookies with a dark fudge stripe, I might even like them. When I go home, I open the package and bite into the delicious looking cookie. The package would be just as tasty! “Maybe,” I think, “I could roll the cookie in sugar or spread cream cheese on it.”
Not only is January a drab month for meals, it’s also a month which promotes exercise as an important part of one’s fitness lifestyle. Again a big assist comes from the media. We are encouraged to walk and jog and work-out in ways which really tire the body and make for sore muscles. Though all this activity is promoted as fun, it’s not nearly as pleasurable as curling up in an easy chair with a good book and some homemade fudge within reach.
I do, however, make good intentions as I stroll longingly past the alluring display of Valentine candy. The months go by quickly, as do most of my good intentions, and before I know it, it’s time again to begin thinking about the days of good meals ahead. But wait; before I go back to the rich foods, an article in September’s Reader’s Digest catches my eye: “Tasty Foods That Help You Lose Weight.” I think to myself, “It couldn’t hurt to take a look. I might get some good ideas for holiday menus.”
First on the list is bananas. Yes, of course, banana cream pie is always welcome.
Further on the list is pears. Immediately, my mind zooms to a picture of a hot flaky biscuit full of melted butter and pear preserves.
Next on the list is strawberries. Now, there’s a dilemma. Should it be strawberry shortcake with whipped cream or fresh strawberry pie with whipped cream? Really, it doesn’t matter because whipped cream is also on the list. Cross my heart! It’s right there, along with beef jerky and skinless chicken. (Surely if chicken skin has value for the chicken, it must have some value for me.)
As for fortune cookies, also approved, I believe you could eat the whole cookie and fortune inside and never tell the difference.
I have decided just to give up on being in step with the rest of the world on nutritional values. While many may extol the virtues of a fat free diet, I’m still waiting for the word that chocolate pie will cure the woes of the world.
While my words were “in jest, “ I must keep in mind the words in I Corinthians 6:19-20: Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (NIV)
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