When Food becomes a Religion

Food is taking on the role of religion in some people's lives.

This food religion is incompatible with radical unschooling as discussed on this site
and in the discussions supported by and supporting this site.

Overt religious language:

Magical thinking, and sacrifice to guarantee health:
There's TED talk I really like. It's about a fair number of things, but this is a quote from the transcript:
The fifth foundation is purity/sanctity. This painting is called "The Allegory Of Chastity," but purity's not just about suppressing female sexuality. It's about any kind of ideology, any kind of idea that tells you that you can attain virtue by controlling what you do with your body, by controlling what you put into your body. And while the political right may moralize sex much more, the political left is really doing a lot of it with food. Food is becoming extremely moralized nowadays, and a lot of it is ideas about purity, about what you're willing to touch, or put into your body.
—Jonathan Haidt
In the absence of religion, it seems people invent their own (or borrow what's seeming to "save" someone else). And religions need devils, and angels, and religions need martyrdom, so for the past few years if anyone suggests there are WAY too many pieces of the true cross on display, or that there are WAY too many people claiming they will puke or explode if they eat wheat, they claim you're persecuting them and would cause their deaths.

It's irritating and amusing, and it will pass. Crazy fads usually pass, as people move on to something else they can exercise their extreme emotions on.

My parents and grandparents were happy to get ANY food, during the Depression, and during the dust bowl days. Some of those people are still alive (still alive!? After eating white bread and Spam!? :-)), and the comparison is a horror.

Here's the link for that quote. https://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind/transcript?language=en

Fallacy stated as fact, taken on faith:
-=-I know that the colours in sweets are carcinogens and banned in almost every country-=-

Food colorings are ancient, and varied, and they can't ALL be carcinogens. Same with paints or dyes, different colors are made from very different things.

-=- I know that gluten causes leaky gut syndrome , which in turn causes many other intolerances/diseases. -=-

It might help if you rephrase in your mind just a bit. instead of "I know," maybe downgrade it to "I believe" or "people say" or "it seems." Because fads flare up HUGELY and this recent food near-religion i a hot one. And then the people who jumped in because it was a fad go away, and some of what's left doesn't look so much like knowledge anymore.

If you look back at other diseases (assuming that "leaky gut syndrome" is a disease, for the moment) of the past, there was always misinformation, superstition, fallacy and "medicine" and science that turned out not to be so valid. We are IN the history of medicine; time will pass and 2013 will be in the past, and we will look back and see it more clearly.

2015 note from Sandra Dodd:
Those are my responses above. What came to mind when the mom wrote "I know" was songs from my Southern Baptist childhood:
  • Jesus loves me, this I know
  • I know that my Redeemer liveth and on the earth again shall stand...
  • I know that He is living, whatever men may say...
When something someone heard from a friend or read on a blog is stated adamantly as TRUTH, rational thought has been batted away. Some people have the fervor of conversion upon them, having heard that there is an easy way to SAVE their families from disease and death, to make their children smarter, and better behaved; to make themselves strong and beautiful into old age. It is partially fountain-of-youth stuff. It is partly an attractive excuse for controlling children (and spouses, sometimes).
January 2017 on Radical Unschooling Info on Facebook, someone wrote:
I'm planning to unschool. I also am a holistic nutrition and wellness coach. I think food especially for children is the upmost importance because gut health and nutrition dictates health and mind body spirit connection. Unhealthy body unhealthy mind and unschooling is to promote natural curiosity and learning. My suggestion is not to take the restrictive route. Instead cook whole real foods together. Learn about sprouting grains and lentils and have kids help. Great for kids that are into science. Grow a garden to take them to a nearby sustainable organic farm. Let them learn (and you re learn) what real food is and you'll all find something much better than a bagel with cream cheese ☺️
Some of the responses are worth saving:

Nicole Kenyon:

Restricting food is not radical unschooling. That is like telling a vegan group you really should consider eating animal protein.
Sandra Dodd:
Being this judgmental of food because you're a nutrition and wellness coach (LOTS of people are being ordained as ministers in various churches of diet in the past few years) will be detrimental to unschooling.

There are probably people for whom a bagel with cream cheese reminds them of loving grandmothers, of neighborhoods they needed to move away from against their will, or maybe they just love that, and there IS no better food for them.

I nearly deleted the post the same way I would have if it had said light a candle and pray to the Virgin Mary to cure the eczema.

Go easy of food as religion. If you can't discuss unschooling without recommending diets or insulting bagels, don't post in this group. Sorry. It's a big day of people who have never posted before jumping in and telling parents to limit their children. I don't need to provide a forum for that.

Jo Isaac:
==what real food is and you'll all find something much better than a bagel with cream cheese==

Is a bagel with cream cheese not real? Have I been imagining it all this time? Would it not save someone from starvation? Provide carbohydrates and protein?

Given the choice between 'unreal' bagel and cream cheese, or sprouted grains, I'd go bagel every time.

Hannah Ford:
"Real food?" A bagel and cream cheese aren't fantasy.

from January 2015, a discussion ultimately deleted by its iniator: The mom wrote:
But why do we have to offer refined, chemically bleached sugars that has the same effect on our brain as cocaine? Why not some raw, unrefined sugar, raw honey from your local beekeeper, or vitamin rich maple syrup?
Sandra Dodd:
You seem to have been reading a lot of booga-booga fright blogs, and there are a lot of them out there. "The same effect as cocaine" is scary, isn't it? Is it something you can explain in your own words, or are you (as much of your post seems to be) repeating phrases you've read as though they're objective, clear fact?

The ideas above were about things parents had brought to or around unschooling discussions, about food magic. Below is from an article in 2018:
From ritual offerings to dietary laws to prescribed fasts, food has always played an important role in religion. In recent decades, however, diets have become religions of their own. They create community, set standards of moral value, and even promise salvation.

In his 2014 book “Diet Cults,” Matt Fitzgerald identifies a cult diet as a “way of eating that is morally based, identity-forming, community-building, and viewed by its followers as superior to all other ways of eating.” It’s based less on sound science than on a desire for identity and meaning. Alan Levinovitz, a professor of religious studies and author of the 2015 book “The Gluten Lie,” explains that humans naturally seek “symbolic frameworks for understanding our place in the world.” Religion is one of those frameworks. But eating, an “intuitively symbolic” merging of your body with the world, can also become a framework for thinking about how to live your life in general. “Food is one of the number one ways people think about morality,” Levinovitz says.

. . . .
If you’re relying on your diet to change your life, it may just end up consuming it.
The article: Is your diet a cult?, by Maria Devlin McNair

The book: “Diet Cults,” Matt Fitzgerald (Interview with the author)

Food at an Unschooling Table (notes from a conference presentation) Fear of Food "The Full Plate Club"