I was sitting down to write this, I made some peanut butter banana toast and warmed up some leftover cinnamon rolls. The fact that I selected both of these bready food items made me smile as I knew that God was giving me some content for how to begin this post about bread and Whole 30. I was about to eat a breakfast that was definitely not Whole 30 approved and I was going to delight in it since I am not on Whole 30 today. ;-)
I learned a great deal about food from Whole 30 and the 30 Days to Healthy Living with Arbonne*. I'm used to just consuming whatever I would like. I do not have any known food allergies, my genes have proven to have a good metabolism, and my schedule has typically been full of physical activity so I have been lucky not to have to worry too much about weight and diet. One Lent, I was trying to figure out what to give up and I thought that the discipline of only eating whole foods would both challenge me and motivate me to learn to cook. The 30 days achieved both of those goals as I now have a full spice rack, drink almond milk, and snack on avocados. These are just a few of the pieces of evidence.
Whole 30 provides an opportunity to experience how your body feels when it is nourished with whole foods. In a culture where processed foods are cheap and convenient, we don't know how they affect us without removing them from our diet. By slowly introducing food groups back one day a time, an individual is able to notice the difference between a particular food being a part of the diet and not. In an experiment, it's helpful to have a control group and that's what the 30 days provide.
A couple of weekends ago our deacon gave a beautiful homily reflecting on quarantine that reminded me of my Whole 30 experience. As we transition out of quarantine, he posed the following questions: What have you lost? What have you gained? What was taken away that may not be worth bringing back into your life?
For Lent this year, no one could have ever predicted that we would be forced to fast from the Eucharist. For 2,000 years, Christians have been "re-membering" Jesus by breaking bread together like He did with His apostles during the Last Supper. Within the past few weeks, churches in America have begun to open their doors again to the Sacraments for the first time since quarantine began. Going from being able to participate in Mass daily to not even be able to walk in the doors was challenging in so many ways.
The results of this fast have been similar to Whole 30. Jesus disguises Himself in a piece of bread so that he is can be approached, touched, and seen by everyone. I recently watched the Cooked documentary on Netflix (highly recommend!!!!) and not only learned about human's connection with bread, but also fire, water, and fermentation. Bread is a basic part of diets across the world. No matter one's socioeconomic status, bread is offered in stores, jails, and soup kitchens. Yes, there are bread alternatives now for those who are gluten intolerant, but there is usually some form of bread in our diets. It's universal.
During Whole 30, I got to see what my body felt like without bread for a whole month. During quarantine, I got to see what my body felt like without the Bread of Life for two months.
Going without something does not mean it is bad. Sometimes going without something is out of respect or necessity for a time. How often do we receive something without really thinking about what we are receiving? How often do we consume food without even really thinking or tasting it? As a kid, I often gave up chocolate for Lent. On Easter Sunday, that first bite of chocolate was incredibly savored. I had practiced my free choice to go without in order to be more mindful of the season we were in, not because chocolate was bad, but in reality -- because it's delicious and required discipline to turn down when offered.
So, as I have introduced the Eucharist back into my regular diet I have noticed the tremendous impact it has had on my body, mind, and soul. I have more energy, clarity, and confidence, especially when facing difficult situations. Spiritual warfare is real and I have noticed I feel like a more equipped soldier when nourished by the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist.
As the Church was asked to go without in order to keep communities safe during quarantine, I believe that we were hungrier than we realized. Bishop Barron stated in a homily that we were starving and likely beginning to feel "hangry" (a term used for anger arising out of increased hunger). During quarantine, we were able to grow in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who normally aren't able to receive the Eucharist as often as we do here in America. This is for a variety of reasons. It is good to be reminded of the sacred gift of the Bread of Life and how it truly blesses our body and soul.
May we never take the Real Presence or our Church for granted. May these insights help us to become more mindful of how good, whole foods bless our mind and body. We become what we eat and I am filled with wonder and awe that Christ became Bread so that we can become like Him.
"The greatest love story of all time is found in a small white host." - Fulton Sheen
*If you interested in learning more about 30 Days to Healthy Living, please send me a message :) There are new groups starting about every 2 weeks!