Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God


{This post is a part of the Cravings blog tour.}

Five years ago, I resolved not to diet. (Go ahead. Read it. I'll be here.) As I said then, I come from a long line of dieters, and an astonishing number of women with eating disorders. For the rest of that story, you'll have to click the link. For today, I want to tell you about the last five years and a most extraordinary book. 

Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God was written by Mary deTurris Poust. 

Mary is an author, columnist, journalist, speaker, and blogger who has written for dozens of Catholic and secular publications. I think you will want to add her blog, Not Strictly Spiritual to your "read frequently" list. I first read Mary when I picked up Walking Together: Discovering the Catholic Tradition of Spiritual Friendship.

The funniest thing happened right after I read that book. Well, maybe not the funniest, but definitely worth smiling about. Linda, one of my dearest, closest friends in the whole world called to tell me that she was reading this awesome book that just reminded her of us and she wanted me to read it with her. Had I ever heard of Walking Together?

Um, yep. A little;-). I had blogged about it and had a delightful conversation with the author and Lisa Hendey for a Faith and Family podcast that very day.

Linda doesn't read my blog:-)

I love her any way. But I digress.

So when Mary asked me to review this book, I jumped at the chance. Honestly, I wasn't all that enthused about the subject matter, but Mary is an excellent writer and I really like to read her books because she thinks big thoughts and she thinks them thoroughly. In this rapid-fire internet world, those big thought, thorough books are becoming rare.

I wanted to read this book, not because I have an obsession with dieting or any kind of eating disorder, or even a poor body image. I wanted to read this book because, dang!, it's really, really hard to eat the way I have to in order to avoid setting off an autoimmune reaction. Between Hashimoto's and Celiac disease, I've learned to eliminate all grains, dairy, legumes,and sugar. Ideally, the meat in my life hasn't been fed grains, either. Think about that a minute. That's a whole bunch of food that's not in play. I feel like I think about food all the time, just to figure out what to eat next. And frankly, I'm tired of wreatling with food all the time. I don't diet, but sometimes I starve–not because I mean to, but because there truly isn't anything available to eat. Poor planning. 

So, I read this book with different eyes from most of the reviewers on the grand blog tour. Much of what Mary wrote about the voices we hear as women rang true, but for me, I was looking for something else. I had mostly quieted those voices; the taunting of different voices was ringing in my ears.

From the middle of July until last week, I stuck carefully to a very strict eating plan. And I felt well, really well. And then, all at once, the wheels fell off. I helped myself to spoonful of cream cheese frosting, then, two chocolate chips, and before I knew it, I was dipping bread in butter. That day, writhing with a stomachache, my mouth full of blisters, I tried to help my family see my son off to college. Emotional eating? No way! I had conquered that, remember?

Maybe not.

Walk with me a few minutes through Mary's book. I'll pull some quotes that spoke to me and hope they speak to you, too. They are a bit eclectic. Think of it as a buffet.

Make a list. Start to write down the tihngs you've always wanted to do, a Bucket List of sorts. I did this not long ago and was suprised by some of the things that made their way onto my list…Weight loss or  poor body image don't seem to have anything to do with those things, at least not on the surface. But when you dig a little deeper, you begin to see that a poor self-image makes us less likely to tackle something new, something that might call attention to us, when what we really want is to fade into the background.

Oh, yes. That fade into the background desire. I know it well.

I've often said the greatest weapon I have in the war against eating something that makes me sick is the Eucharist. If I can remember between times that I receive Communion that I won't even take the Lord in a form that contains gluten, it's hard to persuade msyelf that any other forbidden food is worthy.

Mary quotes Cathy Adamkievwicz, who says, 

Whenever I go to Mass, I'm offered Jesus himself in the Eucharist. It's become a profound reminder that he will feed me–repeatedly. He is always there, ready to give me exactly what I need.

And really, I don't need a grilled Brie sandwich on artisan sourdough.

Nurturing the connection between body and soul starts us down a road less traveled, one where we crave healthier foods, slower mealtimes, more physical and spiritual space. From this new perspective, we willingly choose fewer mindless high-calorie fillers [or fewer autoimmune triggers?] because we don't want to bog down our bodies and souls with things that wear us out, fatten us up, and lead to sluggishness and dissatisfaction and acedia, or inertia…We can find magic in the moments of chopping, stirring, baking, eating, savoring, and sitting around a table and enjoying our food rather than standing at a counter eating directly from the bag. But that shift in attitude takes work, so get out your shovel and let's start digging.

My college going-away-day binge?  I don't think it was deep-seated emotional muck that required a steam shovel. Instead, I think it was largely fatigue and about eight weeks worth of to-do lists that never once bulleted self-care moments. It was the royal crash my spiritual director had warned about the night before the wedding, when he gently chided, "Martha, Martha…" This book and a small spade, and I think I can shovel out of this one.

I loved Mary's reminiscing about Sunday afternoons in Brooklyn. They reminded me very much of my cousin Ellie's similar memories. I could smell the Bolognese gravy and hear the great-aunts arguing about the right way to make the perfect meatball. I don't think the value of Sunday dinners can be overstated.

In the chapter on balance, Brother Victor of The Gift of Simplicity and the wonderful Monastery Kitchen books, writes, 

Make preparing food an enjoyable time. People can get into it and learn the value of these different elements, how to balance a meal. It's not just a question of eating and filling ourselves up and then just forgetting. Making food is something that can really bring quality into your own personal life and your family, not only on feast days and special occasions. Do it as an everyday thing, even if it's in a simpler form, and then perhaps on weekends or feast days you do something more elaborate.

My kitchen time of late has not been enjoyable time. It's been crazy-busy, hard pressed, and utilitarian, even when feeding large crowds of loved ones for special occasions.

Brother Victor again:

The daily rhythm of a monastic life attaches great importance to the time spent in the kitchen and food preparation, to time in the refectory and the act of consuming food. Saint Benedict attached great importance to these matters, and throughout the whole of monastic tradition, food retained a sacred character because of the importance given to it by Christ himself. Anyone participating today in the life of a monastery notices the importance the monks and nuns give to their meals, their practical and healthy method of cooking, and their reverential way of serving food at the table and their equally reverent consumption of it.

I've been at war with food. A former foodie with an Italian passion for food and feeding my family, I've been fighting food this past year. It's truly too hard to feed an entire very large family with my food restrictions. After reading this book, I'm ready to fill myself with Christ, and–so filled–to cook with intention for my family, secure in knowing that I can forego some of the foods they are eating because food isn't bigger than the Spirit that fills me. 

I'll let you know how it goes. 

I highly recommend the book and I have a copy to give away. Leave a comment below; join the foodie conversation (I truly do love foodie conversations). I'm going to try to pop in frequently in the next couple days and follow up on comments.

You may leave separate comments if you share this post/giveaway on Twitter and Facebook (or even Instagram–I love Instagram. And foodie Instagram, all the better. I'm @heartofmyhome). The contest ends at 8 pm EST on January 25, 2013. 

Also, there's this giveaway. It's a biggie! Win a Williams-Sonoma gift card.




  1. says

    Is it fate that I’m sitting here scarfing mini-donuts with tears in my eyes after a rough week? I need to read this book. Thank you for the review!

  2. Melissa Buttry says

    I must read this book. My youngest has life threatening food allergies and I think about food all the time. I love food and I love to cook and have so many memories based around family, food and the kitchen. Since being thrown into this world of food allergies, it has turned my relationship with food into one of love/hate. I am forced to think of food when I normally would not like when out and I have to wipe surfaces off so trace food particals don’t come in contact with her skin. Oh and the stress eating I have accomplished with all this is so not a good thing. Definitely putting this book on my to read list for the year.

  3. says

    I cannot wait to read this book! I keep finding out that friends are trying new “diets” not because they want to lose weight but because they are convinced that vegan, paleo, gluten-free, casien-free, soy-free, color-free etc will make them happier/healthier/more beautiful etc. And the vast majority do not have a health reason, as you do Elizabeth, to be on one of these diets (quite a few have had their doctors check for allergies, celiacs, etc and did not show any sensitivities). They become more and more obsessed about what they can eat or can’t and sadly it does not make them happier. I like your take on it as it shows how we can allow food to rule us even if it’s not in the typical weight-loss/beauty realm.

  4. says

    Isn’t it ironic that we so often find ourselves “at war with food” when it is one of God’s richest blessings. Sounds like an excellent book. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  5. says

    I need to read this book, too! I know how I should eat…much like you…to feel good, even though my reasons aren’t as serious, but it’s so hard sometimes. And then, I hate being different from everyone else, or unable to celebrate the feasts of the Church as I would like to.

  6. Carrie says

    I have to say, this book peaks my interest. It has been a very long 6 years with a suicidal husband, and on top of that, the last 2 years in which my 17 year old son on the Autism spectrum lost most of his faculties, and has s-l-o-w-l-y been trying to get back what was lost, to now facing a return to the Catholic church despite the fact that everyone I know will think I’m crazy. To say that I have been medicating myself with food is an understatement. My self care has completely fallen off the list of to-dos. I think this book will top my list of things to read this month!
    thanks for sharing it with us!

  7. says

    I would love to read this book!! I have learned in the past few months that I feel much better off if grains. And I did well for a few months, even lost 20 pounds. But them December came. I don’t have as many physical issues with the foods as you do, but my energy level and irritability are practically 100% diminished when I don’t eat wheat. But i still struggle so much! Ugh! I need some new motivation to get me back on track in the new year!

  8. Christina says

    I am interested in this book. I have found that I feel much better when I stick to a sugar/grain free and limited dairy diet, but it sooo hard to have the willpower to stick to it.

  9. Jeanine says

    Two kids extremely sensitive to wheat, another dairy sensitive and a momma who should be eating Paleo with no nightshades. I think about food all. day. long. This book looks fabulous!

  10. Heather says

    I’ve been a silent reader of your blog for a year now, but this post moved me to comment. I just read Kate Wicker’s review of this book on her blog a few days ago and put it on my to-read list. I am always struck by food and dining imagery when I read the Bible, and I think about how “thirst” and “hunger” apply both to food/drink as well as to God’s presence. When I want to binge on potato chips (my weakness) or after I’ve binged on them, if I actually go out and buy some, I feel awful about myself and only in hindsight do I ask myself, “What exactly am I/was I hungry for?” Sometimes it is in fact potato chips, but more often I find that I am or was hungry for something deeper and more fulfilling.

  11. Sonya says

    This sounds like an excellent book to read. I have not faced food issues like many have, but I am also working my way down the grain-free road due to autoimmune issues. I look forward to hearing more about your journey as it is one I am facing as well, with my family eating differently than I do. As always, thanks for sharing some of your journey as it helps me with mine.

  12. Patty says

    Thank you for recommending the book. I believe I have it on my Amazon wish list. I too have been struggling with food this year, after having an unexplained bout of massive itching that oddly enough recurs ONLY when I eat gluten foods (not as massively as the first time, because I don’t ever, EVER want to go through that again, and eat accordingly). No, I don’t have celiacs. No, I don’t have an allergy. I’ve done an elimination diet that has repeatedly shown me gluten is the problem, and that’s quite enough for me. I am still figuring out how I am going to keep weight on my teenaged son swimmer and not cook myself a separate meal every day. It’s a slow process. Sigh. I wish I didn’t have to think about food all the time.

  13. Cas says

    This book sounds like a winner. I too am worn out thinking about food. There was a time when I enjoyed the whole food process; growing, gathering, planning, cooking, serving etc. I want that back :)

  14. says

    First time commenting. Thank you for the book recommendation. I have seen it circulating among some blogs, but your reflection spoke directly to me. I too have never had any real issues with food. Indeed, I love food and never had a (mental) problem with eating it. Unfortunately, physically that is a different story. Over the last few years I have had more trouble with food – lots of intolerances and celiac disease and am still struggling with balancing it all and finding my health again. Now, it’s a love/hate relationship. When it’s good, it’s great. When it’s bad, well, still struggling, still trying to keep positive and working toward letting it lead me to a better spiritual life. I just recently found St. Joseph Moscati, an Italian doctor who lived the knowledge that the physical healing of the soul first needed spiritual healing. Do you know of him?

  15. says

    I am laughing at myself as I read your post.. Grilled Brie? Sourdough? My goodness we just might have that in our fridge? I can visualize the melted cheese! How beautiful that creamy white of brie!:)Do I think that moving the skillet out of the cupboard will wake the kids? :)
    I too struggle with emotional eating. I am a blessed mom of 8 kids under 10 years old! I am often picking off kids plates, this bite of a pb and j, a nibble of this, a nosh of that, and I hate seeing waste on kids plates…
    I do not want to spend my child rearing years not baking chocolate chip cookies for tea time because of my own insecurities. My children adore me.They are proud of the mother that I am. Today at mass my oldest son, age 10, put his hand on the small of my back and rubbed it like he sees his father do. He looked up at me and we shared a gentle smile. I am beautiful in his eyes. I am reflecting on that today.
    Our parish had a blurb on the flashing memo board outside on New Years day that read “Make change, not resolutions.” Giving myself time to breath fresh air and to get meals more streamlined so that I can enjoy dinner time are my goals. I do not need to do either of those two things alone; I am often filled by sharing these moments with my kids; but I do need to do them nonetheless.
    I am just finishing Sally’s book. It takes me a good long time to read something if I really want to allow myself to be transformed by it. You know what I mean? This might be a good book for me to delve into next. Thank you for the recommendation.
    I am keeping you in my prayers as you adjust to the new normal for your family.
    Much Peace,

  16. Jamie says

    I am so blessed to be pregnant with our 4th … pregnant and very, very nauseous.
    Mealtimes here are sacred and I’m striving to make my family’s food experience (not to mention day-to-day life) still enjoyable as I progress through this first trimester. I ended up dehydrated and in the hospital when pregnant with our 3rd child and now at only 7 weeks along, have already almost ended up there again.
    I know that graces about in suffering … I trust the Lord is at work.
    God bless you!
    p.s. My mother has Hashimoto’s and works so hard for her job, she does not eat the way she probably should. I’d love to learn more about your meal plans, what you typically eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks!

  17. Karen says

    This is so timely for me, Elizabeth. For the last 4 months, I have spent an unbelievable amount of time on my daughter’s diet, which has come to be fresh, pastured meat, some seafood, and mostly green veggies — NO sugar, grains, starches, fruit. In addition, food allergies have limited our choices. She doesn’t like eating since it causes her pain that lasts for long periods. Food is not a pleasurable experience, as it once was. This fall/winter, we missed out on all of our traditional “food” experiences that help us mark special feast days and such. We are learning a new way to eat, but it is very time-consuming, and I can easily spend an entire day in the kitchen doing meal preparation just for that day, alone!
    It’s been a draining period for me, and I’m worn down. These last 2 days, I let stress get the better of me and ate an entire bag of chocolates that I’d bought for someone else. YIKES!! I think I need to read this book ASAP!

  18. Stephanie P says

    Hi Elizabeth. I started reading your blog after finding it on Sally Clarkson’s. My family and I have been dealing with food issues for the past few years and with not much success doing an elimination diet or any other diet, I kept searching for answers. Well, thankfully through talking to various people we have finally found what we have been praying and looking for. Several people whom I have spoken with are now allergy free due to the naturopathic treatment they went through. My kids and I have started the treatment this past August and we are seeing amazing results! We discovered so many allergies/sensitivities and we are being healed from them. I was very skeptical at first because it’s such a different treatment and it’s not well known but it makes sense once you understand it. My naturopath has treated her own children who had severe allergies and they are now allergy free. I am not able to eat grains, wheat, gluten, dairy and sugar either but going through the treatment has been amazing and giving us freedom from stomach pain, headaches, chronic leg pains, bloating, etc. Please contact me if you would like more info and I will give you the link to the main site. I hope and pray you find relief.
    I am really interested in this book and look forward to reading it. Thanks so much!

  19. Sasha says

    I’m a relatively new convert, and am working on changing bad habits in eating (and exercise.) My motivation? When I receive Jesus in the Eucharist, my body becomes a tabernacle. So why am I filling it with junk? My body is created by God and thus should be treated with respect. I believe this with all my heart, but I find that after a lifetime of poor choices, it takes time to learn this new way of living. I’m a huge Mary fan, so I look forward to hearing what she has to say about this.

  20. says

    This sounds like an important addition to the home library, especially for those of us who have found wellness through thoughtful eating. I could very much relate to the story of your journey with food, Elizabeth. I wrote this piece for Suscipio about how we sometimes sabotage ourselves, and my way was through thoughtless eating:
    It would be a thrill to win this book. Thanks for sharing

  21. Tammy says

    Thank you for sharing this review….I will be purchasing this book. Gluten free, Paleo, vegetarian, grass fed, INFLAMMATION, hypothyroid, adrenal fatigue, depression, anxiety, and “what to feed the rest of the family” has been driving me a wee bit batty!
    I can’t find the simplicity in it! God Bless you and your family.

  22. Kirstin says

    Love the ideas in this book. As I was grocery shopping yesterday, I was thinking about our mealtimes and how rushed they have been lately. It’s time for me to put more into planning & preparing meals so we can enjoy them.

  23. Mary Alice says

    Elizabeth, your thoughts on the Eucharist really resonated with me. I’ve been doing some thoughtless eating and want to be more focused on health. And I want to really know that Jesus is the food I most need. I’d love to read this book.

  24. Christine Scarlett says

    I am very interested in this book. I have a 14 year old that has gotten chubby this year and I want to help her without setting up the perfect storm for a potential eating disorder. Better 10# over “ideal” weight than dead from an eating disorder, right?

  25. Kelly says

    This book looks wonderful and an answer to my prayers. I struggle with food and weight issues and today was just thinking why can’t I find the source of my food issues? Thank you for sharing this book-

  26. Ashley says

    I can completely relate to the notion of utilitarian cooking. I have often thought how much happier we would be if we slowed down and all participated in the preparing and cooking and eating vs. the slapping it together and shoveling it in way of life. Perhaps this book would help with that and add to a rhythm our family needs.
    Thank you!

  27. Stephanie says

    This post is timely for me as I am just finishing a work up for Celiac disease. I’ve already had a very cautious relationship with food and I’m having a hard time with having to become even more vigilant. I did not recieve the Eucharist this weekend and it was heartbreaking. I know you’ve posted on this before, but I’m struggling with drinking from the chalice as well…cross contamination, flu season (my immune system is not up to par right now), and just the fact of standing out from everyone else (I’m very shy). I’m so thankful for your blog and your insights. I will pray for you and for all who have posted with food issues. It really is exhausting to think about everything that goes into your mouth. God bless you and your family!

  28. says

    What a surreal – and lovely – experience to be drawn to your blog this morning and to see myself quoted! I am so honored that Mary asked for my comments when she was writing. This is a subject so close to my heart – one that so many of us need to reflect on. Thank you for your review – I wish Mary so much success with this endeavor. I’ve shared your post on facebook.

  29. rayandjuliefig! says

    Us who are CATHOLIC needed this perspective! Thanks for the review – sounds like I need to read this one!

  30. Maureen says

    I am interested in this book. I have found I think of food all day long with 18+ meals a day to prepare and multiple food allergies within my family.

  31. Sherry says

    Wow! That’s me….exactly me. Celiac disease…large family…meals being a big deal with my Southern family…struggling with what to eat next! Hoping I win a copy of this book, but not sure if I can wait until next Friday to start reading. Thank you, thank you for sharing a book that I think will be one of the best I read this year. Enjoy following you on Instagram….I’m sjgrench there. :)

  32. Patty says

    I definitely need to read this book. There are a few in my family with health issues and food allergies that require strict choices in food. I’m overwhelmed by it and not doing a very good job on staying on track and pleasing everyone’s palate! I look forward to the inspiration and wisdom this book will provide.

  33. mandamum says

    I would love to win a copy :) I don’t link food with self-image, but I am failing more and more often to feed my family the healthy food I desire to nourish them with. I’m burnt out on cooking, especially with a dairy issue and some picky eaters…. and I don’t even have to climb the no-gluten mountain. It’s all I can do to get something filling to the table, and usually I forget/fail on the salad, the veg, the nutritious balance…. If reading it would give me the emotional strength to fight another day, I should read it.

  34. Katherine says

    Have you heard of the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome)? The basic thesis is that illnesses start in the digestive tract. The diet focuses on healing first, using beef and chicken broths and fermented foods. The book “Nourishing Traditions” is a good cookbook to have for the diet. It has been very successful in giving people normal lives. The family owned company Beeyoutiful has more information and digestive aids to supplement the diet. I love everything they sell. The Tummy Tuneup works wonders for any of my kids’ tummy aches (and mine as well).

  35. says

    Just writing with some encouragement, Karen. It took me over a year to settle on a diet that helped me overcome certain food issues, and I initially had to remove everything from my diet besides turkey, rice, and certain vegetables. I had to remove fruit (fructose) for a while, but now five years later, I have healed sufficiently to tolerate the fructose. Anyway, my point is that this is a draining time for you, but it will be worth it, and over time, if your daughter’s doctor agrees, you may be able to add back small amounts of certain foods without encountering problems. I will pray for your daughter’s condition, and your endurance in serving her so selflessly. ♥

  36. says

    Ohhhh…that sounds like a book I need right now! Food and I have been in a love hate reationship for a long time. I need to loose weight, but I just cant seem to break off the reationship I have food! Sigh Maybe this book would be a good place to start!

  37. Jen L. says

    I believe this is a spiritual issue and the book really appeals to me. Peace with food. It’s what I want and what God wants for me. (Thanks for the giveaway!)

  38. kelli says

    Sounds like a familiar story. I started a sugar DETOX, and it hurts to admit that I really need to detox from sugar. I guess gluttony is one of the deadly sins for a reasons! I love your blog, thank you for giving life a such a wonderful sounding board!ps. loved the curtains… have you sewed floor cushions before? I’m thinking of attempting ones from Cluck Cluck Sew.

  39. Pam says

    WOW–this sounds just like me-the making fun of when in school -the mirrors looking back at me and saying what have you done to yourself–and me praying everyday for God to hear my plea and help me. I would love to win a copy of this book–but if I don’t -then I will run out and buy one. Thanks for posting such an important message for me…Pam

  40. Heidi says

    Thank you for your post. It’s quite refreshing to read a blog that’s honest about the struggles of Catholic women. I have 6 children (so far) and we also have food allergies. We’ve recently switched the whole family to the way of eating that you talked about. No grains, legumes, limited dairy and sugar. We’ve had great results. I’d highly recommend checking out or for good and easy recipes. They’ve saved me a few times with what to do for meals. God Bless.

  41. says

    This book sounds like something I would want to read, hold onto, and share with my daughter (now 5), when the time comes. I love good food; my husband loves good food; and I wish I had the time to cook it! Instead, I find myself hauling the 5, 3, 2-year-old and infant car seat into the entryway, everyone screaming and “starving,” dashing to throw the instant mac into the microwave as everyone clamors to be fed, running back and forth from the kitchen to the table to provide cups, water, forks, ketchup (yes, on mac and cheese), enforce the pre-meal prayer, dash around to get seconds and thirds, and then suddenly, inexplicably, they are gone, off to go see Thomas the Train. I collapse in a chair, and eat what’s left.
    Then I google your blog, and start to feel something to aspire toward. ;-)
    I’d love to win a copy.

  42. Michele says

    Ah food. All I hope for is to be a person who eats to live — not one who lives to eat. Definitely trying to work through this right now. I would love to try this book! God bless, Michele F.

  43. Melanie says

    Celiac here too and thyroid issues. Would love to read the book.., have never had weight or diet issues until my seventh baby.

  44. Lindsey W says

    Your refection and review of this book sounds like something I have been looking for but not able to put my finger on what I was searching for until I read this post. My husband is a foodie, more of a food snob than anything. When I married him I gad never cooked a day in my life because I grew up in a family of fend for your selfers. My mom refuses to cook or learn, And I think has an underlying fear of liking food. She always says she is not hungry and eats very little. My guess is to keep her 105 lb body. As kids she was always critical of what we ate and how much we weighed. My sister is now a vegan but I feel like it is her excuse to continue her anarexoia she started in college. Deep down I fight the urge to want to be thin. But I am very happy to be of an average weight. But 4 kids later, my body shape has changed though my weight stays the same. So I am trying to adjust to clothing fitting me diferently than before. I could stand to loose some weight around the middle and have been debating cutting out some carbs and sugars. My husband and I did the P90X diet a few years ago and we both lost over 15 lbs on the diet alone. But those first 2 weeks with no carbs made me a monster and so irratable with the kids. So I realky don’t want to do that to them again. I really just need some good Catholic perspective on food. This book looks like it fits the bill.

  45. Lisa says

    I’ve added this to my Amazon to-buy list… but would love to win a copy. Thanks for the information and the giveaway.

  46. Rachel says

    The book looks interesting – I’d like to read it. I deal with a typical American love of foods in types and quantities that don’t fit my dream of how I’d like to appear. Add to that a 40lb weight gain per pregnancy and 3 in just over 4 years without the magical “weight that melts off during breastfeeding”. All in all, sometimes cravings get the best of me. =)

  47. Karen says

    Thank you for your encouragement, Jeannine. I was in a weak moment, feeling very stressed and tired when I wrote my original entry. I appreciate your sharing your story; it does help to put things in proper perspective.
    Your prayers for my daughter and me are a gift for which I am very grateful; and I know it’s in this cross that we have been given many opportunities to grow in virtue, as well as in good health. My daughter seems to be growing more quickly in both areas than I, but with God’s grace, I will persevere ;) .
    I’m sure that one day, we will both look back on this time as a gift and all grace. God bless you for your kind words to me. You will be in my prayers.

  48. Monica says

    My family has food restrictions due to life-threatening food allergies and food restrictions due to food intolerances. I have to follow them when I’m pregnant and breastfeeding (which has been most of the last 10 years) and I have to be crazy particular about ingredients when shopping, eating out, eating at others’ houses, etc., because I don’t want to have an accidental exposure that could mean anaphylactic shock. I’ve been pondering for a long time all of this — one of my children will almost NEVER in her life be able to eat a piece of cake at a birthday party (we bring one for her), she won’t be able to eat at buffets, Thai food or Chinese food restaurants, the list goes on and on. I’ve learned a lot from our restrictions (not only how to make a TON of baked goods without eggs) and feel blessed because of that. I’ve always been pretty bad at fasting, and maybe this is one way that God is helping me improve. But I feel like it’s an ongoing struggle, as you are finding, because I have to keep the commitment to feed my family well with these restrictions, and not feel sorry for myself or them because of the things we can’t eat. It’s tricky.

  49. says

    Stephanie, I just wanted to give a cyber hug. I completely understand where you are coming from. I have celiac disease (positive in August, my sons over three years ago though my oldest is just now preparing for First Communion).
    Anyway, I still struggle when I cannot receive (i.e., daily mass) or even this past Sunday I chose not to receive because I woke up feeling really, really bad and not wanting to make it worse by CC.
    Thankfully, I am usually at peace with it all. Pray to Jesus, lay it at His feet, offer it up. He will give you peace.
    My kids like sitting up front so we sit in the very first pew most times so that I am the first to receive the precious blood. I still feel a little weird because many times I often feel like I am snubbing Jesus in the host. I bow my head, and the priest acknowledges me and the kids but it still is unsettling.
    Anyway, long reply just to say you are not alone!

  50. Stacy says

    Thank you, Elizabeth, for sharing your food struggles. I have not eaten beef or pork for over 6 years, now, after I realized I had a sensitivity to them that made me violently ill, each and every time I ate them. I’d eaten beef and pork all my life, and I first thought I had a stomach bug. When I finally put two and two together and cut them out of my diet, the relief was incredible. And although I will not eat them (just the thought of how sick they makes me is a great motivator!,) I still find myself pouting and feeling terribly sorry for myself, on occasion, while preparing especially yummy meals for my boys and dh. One would think that not eating beef or pork would result in a very healthy me, but, nope. There are more eating issues I need to address. :o( “Nurturing the connection between body and soul…” Now that is exactly what I need to do!

  51. Mary Lou Shookhoff says

    Elizabeth, I hope you have time to read this. I don’t know if this store is anywhere near you but the organic food store “My Organic Market” or MOMs as we call it has several large sections of gluten-free food ranging from soup to nuts as they say. My daughter has celiac disease. Right now she is busy ignoring it because a neighbor told her that she didn’t really have it since she wasn’t tested. When she was little, there was no blood test for it and they didn’t sedate kids for a lot of things. The only way to tell for certain was to do an intestinal biopsy and since her diapers were so diagnostic of celiac, her pediatrician and I decided not to put her through it.
    Anyhow most of the food you would need would be non-perishable so you could go every so often and load up on tasty gluten-free treats as well as staples such as breads. And near where they sell fresh bread, they usually have some fresh-baked gluten-free treats.
    I hope that this information is helpful to you because I remember the awful bread mix that didn’t rise but was the best I could find for my daughter. Let me know is this works for you.

  52. Meghan says

    Thanks for the review and sharing your raw emotions about food. I was particularly struck by your line, “If I can remember between times that I receive Communion that I won’t even take the Lord in a form that contains gluten, it’s hard to persuade myself that any other forbidden food is worthy.” While I don’t have celiacs, I am gluten intolerant and receive the special “low gluten” host at Mass. But sometimes, I want to cheat and eat bread in secret – and I do, and then pay for it physically. In hindsight, what an insult to the Lord that must be that I need a “special version” of him but am sometimes willing to make myself sick with other foods. Thank you for helping me gain that perspective. If I don’t win the book, I’ll certainly look for it at the library.

  53. Joelle says

    This seems like such a fantastic book, Elizabeth, as I am trying to live/eat much more simply. Thank you for entering me! May God Bless you abundantly!

  54. Megan says

    I really appreciate the allergy perspective you’ve taken with this book. My kids have very sensitive food allergies, so I also think about food ALL OF THE TIME. I have nightmares about accidental exposures, and fantasies about eating cheese. Because their food allergies are so sensitive, I need to abstain from the allergens myself when breastfeeding or pregnant (which has been for the past 4 years, and looks like it will be for about the next 15:) It’s been intense, especially during my current pregnancy with my unindulged dairy cravings.
    There’s a lot of history of emotional eating in my family, so there’s that, too.
    I never know what to pray for about these food allergies. That they’ll grow out of them and be healed? That we’ll all learn to offer it up? That our new baby won’t have food allergies? That we might learn to truly fast through this imposed fast? That our extended family could just get it together and remember that it’s dairy/soy/peanuts, not gluten? Mostly, I pray that we’ll be able to serve God through this experience, that I’ll learn to trust in Him and entrust Him with my children, and that I’ll be able to find my freedom in Christ, and not in the foods that I can eat. As Monica said above, it’s an ongoing struggle.
    Blessings to you and your family,

  55. says

    I think you really hit on something when you said that we might learn to truly fast through this imposed fast. If we could do that, then these restrictions would be a gift and our way of eating would strengthen us spiritually. Otherwise, I think eating this way becomes arrows in the hand of the enemy in spiritual warfare.

  56. says

    Exactly! And once you look at it that way, those cheating times grow fewer. Also, when you look at it that way, the times you ask His help to overcome the urge are more powerful.

  57. says

    I think that’s the crux of it. We can look at this non-voluntary abstaining as a special blessing–a fast chosen especially for us and use it to God’s glory to bring the spiritual gifts He intends, or we can curse the fast. When you stand it on its end that way, it’s obvious what to do. The more I look at it, the more I think that this issue is probably one to discuss with my spiritual director (beyond the system we’ve worked out for Communion).

  58. says

    In all the years since I’ve left home, I’ve never had a conversation with my mother (over the phone) when she didn’t ask my current dress size or weight. It took me a long time of independent living to recognize how dysfunctional that was. Then, I had to go back and think about all the messages that framed my self-image growing up. In the book, Mary has you find old photos and recognize that even when you thought you were fat back then, you weren’t. For me, a few years ago, it was finding medical records and looking at the growth chart. There, in black and white, I was consistently in the 10th percentile for height and weight. And my parents were always controlling portions and telling me I was chubby. We need to re-write the scripts and turn off those old voices in our heads.

  59. says

    You know that the shy thing really gets me, too. I struggle with it at Mass and I struggle with it at restaurants, too. It’s really hard for me to draw attention to myself and be insistent (particularly with waiters). I keep reminding myself that I need the strength in the Eucharist and people have died for what’s there–I just have to ask and make a spectacle of myself.

  60. says

    I hear you. That same list is driving me batty, too. And I look at other people who eat so effortlessly and feel just fine and I start to question my own sanity. Why is this so complicated? Surely there must be a way for us to reach a point of simplicity.

  61. Corrine says

    I’ve always had issues with food and began dieting at a very young age, but my biggest issue now is just not trusting myself, the food industry, and nutrition “experts”. What is the best diet? Vegan? Raw? Paleo? Nourishing Traditions? I firmly believe processed food is bad for us but just don’t have the time to cook everything from scratch right now. I believe organic produce is better, but my purse strings allow for only a few of those types of purchases each week. And dairy, meat, and eggs – I believe grass fed is the better but how to feed a family on a limited budget … And so I find myself knowing we need to improve our eating habits but I’m completely immobilized by my own quest for perfection. And there is the real problem – my perfectionism.

  62. Stacy says

    Wow. That is exactly the perspective I need and how I need to look at my food-sensitivity. I’ve completely ignored the gift I have been given! Thank you, Megan and Elizabeth, for your insights.

  63. says

    That was soo good!! I did start dieting and I lost weight but I became afraid of food!! I would be afraid to have a small slice of cake on my children’s Birthdays. I made spelt bread( people who have problems with whole wheat and so on they can have spelt) and I had a slice the other day…..I cried!!! I cried out of fear that I have ruined my diet, and i will go on being fat again( not that I am skinny now)!!! Anyway so I do not want to teach my kids that and it is so easy to go a bit crazy with all the diets and book that we have in America!!! Thank you for this post!!

  64. Wendy Bussell says

    I recently purchased this book and am so glad to see that you ahve reviewed it.
    Yes, I have food issues. Living very poorly and eating the same thing for years has made me want to eat new things.
    Things with flavor, excitement, and plenty!
    Yet with just 4 of us in our little family, God has given me more than I can chew, I think sometimes, as we all have had a physical issue, allergy of course. 2 have celiac, 1 is allerigic to nightshades(UGH), very low sodium for 1 and then 1 needs a high fiber diet as well for a faulty esophigeal sphincter muscle.
    I am frankly tired of thinking about it. Wanting what I shouldn’t. Hating the thought of cooking, yet again. Wanting someone else to do it for a change.
    Long story short, I went to the authors website after reading your review and read the post about her 7 day detox before Christmas. Reading the last paragraph felt like it was all going to be ok. That God really does have my back and that He wil help me through this.
    Thank you again for just letting me ramble and for the review. I am waiting for my copy to get here. Almost to hard to wait, but I will.

  65. Jennifer says

    Your old post on dieting really spoke to me. I am in that place right now where I have read so many different nutritional theories that I don’t know what to eat anymore. I get frustrated and just eat a bowl (or 3!) of macaroni and cheese. Even though I don’t have any weight or health issues myself, I’ve been obsessed with food ever since my mother died from colon cancer (80% of cases are diet related). So yes, I could really use some healing in this area.

  66. Angela says

    I know this book would help me….need to get my head and my heart in the right place. Several of my seven here at home have food issues, too.

  67. Desiree says

    I will have to read this book. I have non-Celiac gluten intolerance, and at least 2 of my children do, too (not to mention various nut allergies!). My 8 year old has profound Hashimoto’s and going gluten free has helped modulate her dosage of synthroid. We are trying Whole30 and I was on the verge of breaking down and giving up on it all when I read this post of yours. It is so emotionally draining thinking of food all of the time. I feel so hungry and my budget just can not keep up with eating this way.

  68. Patty says

    I’ll let you know how it goes. ****
    Please do. I find feeding four (with one person restricted) totally overwhelming. I would so be blessed by hearing *how you go about providing food for your family and yourself, from a practical standpoint. And it would be nice hear from someone, anyone, whose primary goal isn’t to talk me out of believing grain free eating is possible, or preferable, never mind necessary. Seriously in need of support here, can you tell?

  69. Elizabeth says

    Would love to get my hands on this book…I also am completely obsessed by food planning, prep, labels, latest research, perspectives and opinions. Suffer from several autoimmune conditions (celiac, thyroid) probably exacerbation by crazy and extreme diets in the past that stressed my system. Thank you for entering me! God bless!

  70. Kim says

    Wow. I am overwhelmed and don’t know where to start thinking about food these days. I am currently a blob (yes you read that right!), and the part about poor self-image and wanting to fade into the background gives me lots to think about. This week, I found out that my beautiful daughter has anorexia. I am almost afraid to have this book in my house, but that’s surely a sign that I should read it, right? +JMJ+

  71. Molly says

    This is timely for me, too. I had radically changed my eating before conceiving this time and I felt great, but bored to tears with food and often hungry like you said because I hadn’t planned well. Towards the end of the pregnancy I really fell off the wagon and went back to breads and sweets and stopped the good, nourishing way of eating that was responsible for my best pregnancy yet. Now here I am, five weeks postpartum. We’ve run out of Christmas and birthday excuses to indulge. I’m tired and dragging, knowing the key is my diet. My brain and the mirror tell me to get back with the plan, but I don’t want to! It’s dreary and cold and I want comfort foods even though I know firsthand the benefits of eating carefully.
    Maybe this book will be the kick in the rear I need?

  72. says

    I also spend tons of time thinking about nutrition until it becomes an idol for me. I would love to read this ood and consider the ever illusive “balance”. Thanks for your thoughts!

  73. jen says

    We have no real allergies to food here (just a couple of items and not severe), but my husband and I are foodies and to him a meal means something really specific. And lately, he’s been cutting out carbs for weight loss and so it’s been hard to come up with meals that don’t involve making multiple things for everyone to be happy. Pasta for the kids and farro for us, etc. I’m worn out with it all. And that’s just dinner. Making sure everyone eats appropriate breakfasts and lunches to keep them from becoming raging lunatics due to low blood sugar is tiring. And then my oldest (15 and male) has infantile anorexia (since he was born. he doesn’t EVER feel hungry). After being told no one liked boiled potatoes (which I had made) at dinner last night, I kind of lost my temper. (I’m also currently on steroids which isn’t helping my temper) I feel like I can’t please anyone food wise all day long. And all I want is someone to make ME something to eat. Or even just make me a cup of coffee once in awhile. Sorry to complain to the internet. Just a bad week on medication and no sleep and feeling unappreciated.

  74. Mary Lou Shookhoff says

    Do you have gluten-free hosts offered at your church? Mine does. How I wish they were around for my daughter.

  75. Mary Lou Shookhoff says

    With the amount of gluten in non-grain foods, there still may be some things that would be helpful. I never realized that until my youngest was born and I started to REALLY read the labels. Think about it.

  76. Megan says

    Year four of eating with these food allergies, and I’ve really hit a wall. I’ve been struggling all year, especially this pregnancy, with these intense cravings for the forbidden foods. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said “Otherwise, eating this way becomes arrows in the hand of the enemy.” Thank you! I think that’s what has happened; and, now, I’m trying to recommit myself to prayer and offering up this sacrifice as a fast.

  77. Aimee Landreneau says

    Loving this discussion…thinking so much about how this will look in my family, how I will communicate healthy living to my son and three daughters, both by word and example. I need to get my hands on this book!

  78. shwell says

    My very simplistic suggestion – I have some restrictions but not as severe as yours, and my family don’t – freeze portions of everything you make for yourself, if it can be frozen. It has saved me many times from “just having a taste” of something forbidden. I use wide mouth Quart canning jars for freezing my meals. After awhile you should have a variety of things to choose from, but you do have to keep it up. This year I decided to only cook a new meal 5 nights a week, the other two I ask my family to choose from the leftovers in the fridge and provide a dessert option which they don’t get on the other 5 nights :). That gives me two nights where I can cook only for myself if I have to. Can you eat avocados, I have used them in smoothies before which makes them very creamy and filling.

  79. says

    This is SO hard for me…because for the first 23 years of my life, I was allowed, nay encouraged and berated!, to eat whatever I wanted. I was severly malnourished, which is part and parcel with cystic fibrosis. I was never hungry. I had almost no food cravings.
    Then I had my transplant and I went from 83 lbs. to, um, a lot more thna that. I LOVED food. I realized I understood people who loved food! I loved to cook and experience new tastes. And of course steroid therapy didn’t help, at first.
    But now, I have to come to some sort of happy medium, and dagnabbit, I cannot find it. At all. I’m hungry, I’m not hungry. I crave some thing DESPERATELY. I want to go gluten-free, wheat-free, but I can’t make myself do it. I live alone, so there’s no built-in accountability force.
    So yeah, I need to read this. :) For serious.

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