Good for the Body, Good for the Soul

By Phillip Garside

Children’s first relationship with food is pleasure and displeasure. Then they learn another distinction, “good for you” and “bad for you.”

Their curiosity leads them to the painful truth that pleasurable food is not always healthy. In fact, it is far more often unhealthy, and vice versa. Parents use this dietary lesson as a moral lesson, “sometimes doing the most pleasurable thing is not the most healthy thing.”

For some children, this constant exchange will be one methodology to inculcate a Christian sense of sacrifice against innate hedonism. But then there are children who will incessantly ask, “Is this good for you?” with increasing anxiety throughout their development. They begin to see food as medicinal, and nature as a manipulable mechanism. To indulge such anxiety with pride misses another problem. Food is more than medicine, and nature is not simply a manipulable mechanism.

In Christianity, we rely on mysteries to express our relationship with creation, and that relationship involves the whole of our being.

When our children ask “Is this good for you?” My spouse and I usually reply, “Well, there’s good for the body, and there’s good for the soul.” Delight in a warm cookie is a pleasure that can bring immeasurable comfort in hard times. To do so with gratitude for God is an advanced spirituality that even children can adopt, if taught to. From there, it is a long but linear road of pedagogy to bring your child to a mature and holistic eucharistic experience.

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