What's wrong with occasional s'mores and brownies?
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What’s Wrong with Occasional S’mores and Brownies?

Last week, I read where the US Forest Service wants us to make our s’mores with fruit and marshmallow crème rather than chocolate and roasted marshmallows when we go camping. Half the fun of making s’mores is roasting the marshmallows over a campfire! And, isn’t chocolate a vegetable? This week, I read where the children in Vermont could no longer have brownies served to them at school – not even one every once in awhile, just for fun! Are we so obsessed with 24/7 healthy foods that no one can have a treat even once in awhile without feeling guilt and shame over doing so!

I am all for eating healthy foods on a regular basis. That’s just common sense. Serving healthy meals has been a part of my food planning and preparation for more than 40 years now. But, even as we ate lots of lean meats, fruits and vegetables as a family, we still left room to indulge in a bowl (or two) of Blue Bell ice cream on special occasions or just if we felt like it. For fun. Without guilt or shame. (Well, maybe just a little guilt after the second heaping helping!). Some of our treats had lots of chocolate in them. Sometimes we served ice cream over a brownie with chocolate sauce on top of that. That could get us thrown out of certain states or national parks these days!

What’s wrong with the occasional treat? These days, Ron and I look forward to our regular Culvers night. If you have never had Culvers custard, and especially certain “flavors of the day,” I will grieve with you. We eat wonderful, healthy food at home all week while planning our next trip to Culvers for a hamburger chased down with one of the smoothest, downright mouth-watering desserts we have ever known. And, we don’t feel the least bit of guilt or shame about it.

I am so glad that the grace of God gives us the freedom to choose what we eat and to extend to others the freedom to choose what they eat as well. The average women’s group has so many more dietary restrictions now than ever before. Some of my friends have true allergies to wheat, nuts, or dairy. Some just choose to not eat any meat or dairy. Creating a hospitable environment for a group means that I try to provide something for everyone to be able to eat when we get together. That’s my exercising my freedom to serve them.

What crosses the line into legalism is when someone who chooses not to eat meat (dairy, chocolate, sugar) looks down on me or tries to make me feel guilty or shameful because I do eat meat (dairy, chocolate, sugar). That would be imposing her preferences on me as standards for me to follow, too. That’s legalism.

If I go camping once a year, I have the freedom in Christ to roast big marshmallows over a fire, slap that on a slab of chocolate right between two graham crackers, and eat every delicious morsel of it without feeling guilt or fear of getting publicly reprimanded for doing so. Nor does anyone have the freedom or the right to make us feel guilty for enjoying our weekly Culver’s custard (usually including chocolate). When it’s one of our favorite “flavor of the day” combos, you just might see us there – guilt-free and unafraid.


More Resources:

Graceful Living Bible Study (read online)

Graceful Living Bible Study (download pdf)

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Melanie Newton

Melanie Newton is the founder of Joyful Walk Ministries, an online ministry that helps women learn to study the Bible for themselves and grow their Bible-teaching skills to lead others on a joyful walk with Jesus. Melanie has written many Bible study guides (available on Bible.org and her website) and presented insightful messages to large groups of women. All of her BIble Studies are available as books on Amazon.com. Melanie is wife to Ron Newton (“Integrity at Work” ministry), loves to be outside in her garden, and enjoys her yearly fix of boiled crawfish.

One Comment

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    Janet Young

    all those food restrictions

    I found out the other day that there are now "peanut butter tables" at schools where a school child sits if they are allergic to peanuts. This is to avoid all possiblilities of trading sandwiches that might have some peanut butter. Some kids have life-threatening allergic reactions, I know, but to single them out seems rather damaging. All of these food restrictions have overtaken the other guilt-tripping ways we've had in the past like having a sparkling clean house in the 1950's. Of course, eating healthy is better. If you buy your vegies at a Farmer's Market you know how good a real tomato tastes compared to the bland ones at the supermarket that have been genetically modified. I would like a great big watermelon with seeds please. I haven't been able to find one for years. Along with the legalism and judging, I also think food programs and restrictions are about how people love to make rules. They love to be in control and tell others what they can and cannot do. It's like the little girl telling her little friends all the rules when playing with dolls. It's not about health, the envioronment or being overweight, but it is about getting to tell others what to do.

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