We are barely into the month of June, and my 13-year old daughter is already beside herself with excitement for the arrival of August and the upcoming 2023-24 school year. Last week we met with the other homeschooling families and the class director to discuss expectations and preparation for this new level of learning. For most of these students, this fall will be the very first experience they will have spending an entire day at "middle school" without mom or dad by their side. Exciting times! My daughter is ready. I AM READY.
The director explained to the pre/teens that every week when they enter their seminar, they will see the word THINK written in large letters on the white board at the front of the room. This word will set the tone for their full day of discussion and reflection, and will serve to monitor their spoken words within the classroom. If students' comments don't pass this test, it means "Pshh! Keep quiet."
I had forgotten about this gem-of-an-acronym...I've heard it somewhere before - and as she talked the group through its meaning in terms of students' verbal contributions, I was already off in my own world thinking of broader application. Of course, I thought of food! Let me explain what I mean, and let's use the example of cereal, a food item in most American pantries, to make sense of it.
T - Is it TRUE?
When you consider cereal in the context of true nutrition, does it pass muster? Could some manmade kibble-like concoction kept fresh in a plastic bag stuffed into a cardboard box truly offer something of value to our bodies? Do highly refined grains, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial colors and ingredients qualify as true nourishment?
H - Is it HELPFUL?
Does cereal help children or adults power up for their day? Does it provide the nutrients necessary to build strong bones, well-functioning hormones, and a broad array of neurotransmitters necessary for a healthy brain that must reason, plan, organize, memorize, prioritize, and recall? Is it a wise choice for individuals struggling with weight gain, mood disorders, or learning difficulties? Does its production help the earth or the people on it?
I - Is it INSPIRING?
Other than mixing crazy combinations, or reading the back of the box, is there anything especially inspiring about cereal? Is it local, seasonal, or fresh? Is it lovely? Does it put the beauty of nature on display? Does its taste, smell, texture, or appearance bring out the best in the person consuming it? Is it something you serve your guests with pride? If we are consistently eating things that are cheap, fake, and processed, what does that mean for our bodies longterm?
N - Is it NECESSARY?
I think most of us would agree that cereal is a staple in American households because it is quick and easy. Necessary, though? Let's give that some thought. Preparing a bowl of cereal doesn't require much skill, but is it really any quicker or cheaper than a plate of scrambled eggs, some reheated dinner leftovers, or - in a pinch - a banana with nut butter on the go? We make time and set aside money for the things that are important to us. Good food should be one of those things!
K - Is it KIND?
When we fill our children's bellies with a bowlful of insulin-spiking cereal and a pour of nutrient-deficient low fat milk that will undoubtedly result in a midmorning sugar crash, is that showing kindness? If it's true that "we are what we eat," how do we feel about building our children out of Froot Loops and Lucky Charms? Is it enough to say we are so very busy and dessert for breakfast will just have to be good enough? Or can we put greater effort into modeling kindness to ourselves and others by prioritizing better nutrition all around? Think of the teachers trying to maintain control in the classroom, the business owners counting on employee excellence and productivity, the exhausted moms who need cooperation and steady moods from their kids, not another environmental trigger of emotional outbursts and behavioral meltdowns. Be kind by fueling yourself and others with food that sets everyone up for greater success.
Progress is made when we THINK before we speak, act, and even eat. Consider fueling your body the same way you might think about decorating your home or tending your garden. Focus on simple, beautiful, natural nourishment.
Philippians 4:8 NIV: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things.