A year or two ago I was having a conversation with a guy about nutrition, food and over-eating. He was in his early fifties, very overweight, with a host of chronic problems. He actually died of a stroke since then. Actually, as I write this, I realize this was the last conversation I had with him.
We were discussing WHY he was the way he was. We were discussing why he consistently over ate. Why he couldn’t seem to change even though it was killing him.
He had decided that the reason he was the way he was, was become his mom had hammered into him that wasting food was some kind of unforgivable sin. Maybe you have had a similar idea put into your mind as well.
Now upon initial assessment I thought to myself, “This guy is going to die because of this one belief that wasting food is a horrible sin.”
But that was not the whole problem.
In 2005, I lived in a small town called Fallujah in Iraq. It was a quaint village, densely populated by criminals and adorned with topless palm trees, bomb cratered streets, open sewerage, and chickens.
The locals were generally of a set of religious convictions mostly unfamiliar to us. One of these convictions was what most of us would view as an almost inordinate respect for food. In America, it is—or was, at least—customary to pray a prayer of thanks prior to eating. These people had a similar tradition but a different set of practices.
One day squatting around a fire eating some homemade pita bread, I decided I had enough and tossed the remaining half of the portion I had been nibbling to the ground.
All hell broke loose.
Three guys jumped out of their squat, essentially diving toward the discarded half eaten sandwich, knocking me over in the process. As one of the guys stood up, he looked around like he had just recovered what would have been the game-losing fumble, walked over to the half wall a few feet from us, and placed the bread on top of it.
It was after that occurrence that I was informed of the meaning of the event.
Like the man in our first example, these guys were also of the opinion that food was invaluable, and that wasting it was an egregious sin. They also had been taught this at some point by their mothers. But they dealt with it differently. It is their tradition that all leftover food either be preserved for the next meal, given to someone in need, or given to the animals for consumption. It can not be thrown to the ground or discarded. But it did not have to be eaten.
They maintained their conviction for the value of food, but saw an alternate solution to the problem of dealing with the excess. This made me think, maybe a lot of things are like this.
I’m busy. My mind is hyperactive. I have a lot of irons in the fire. And I sometimes reach a point where I almost want to break down and scream,
“THERE IS TOO MUCH ON MY PLATE!!!”
Through my recovery from alcoholism, I have learned in situations like these that the first question I must ask myself is “What part did I play in the creation of this situation?”
Well, I’m the one who made my plate. So……
My old response to the situation of the overfilled plate is frantically trying to figure out how I am going to consume all of it.
But now I try to look over it and ask myself,
What can I remove from it? What is unnecessary, what can be saved for later, what just needs to be “given to the animals”?
The New Year is upon us and it is a time of year where many of us begin to think about what we want to accomplish this year. What we want to add to our plates. But my advice is to first, set aside some time, make a list of what is already on your plate, and consider what things can be removed to make room for the things that bring you life!!