My darling Tom loves having guy friends to hang out with. He was in fraternity in college, joined seminary, keeps in touch with every guy friend he's ever made - he's a guy that likes having a group of guys he can rely on. Tom is a very enthusiastic friend: he likes being exposed to new things, so if his friends are into something, he'll get into it too. This has worked out in our relationship, but causes no end of eye-narrowing from me in his other friendships. The recent juice fast fad that has streaked through the group is a good example.
Have you seen this movie? Neither have I.
The group down here is very health-conscious, which I think is great, and very into homeopathic remedies, which I clearly support - it goes great with my suspicion of authority figures, like doctors. On the "what-kind-of-Catholic" are you quiz (if there were such a thing...hmm...), I'm pretty sure I'd be rated "ultra granola with tinges of self-righteous zealotry." Sidebar: I googled that phrase and came up with a link to the book Crunchy Cons, which is apparently about me and my family. Anyway, so I want to be as health conscious, down to earth as the next Catholic aspiring-homeschooling-mom, but I am a big moderation fan too. Actually, I had never dieted in my life until first year of law school - and even then, I didn't eliminate anything, I just controlled ratios of what I ate. Yet everybody down here does something different: all organic, gluten free, vegetarian (not too many of those), paleolithic (I couldn't make this stuff up). Which is fine; although I have always suspected specialty diets of masking eating disorders, most of our friends are normally sized and relatively sane people. But now everybody is doing this juice fast.
I don't know who started it, but they watched the above movie and decided to try a juice fast. The man in the film was facing serious health problems and did a documentary on his doctor-regulated sixty day juice fast. That's right, nothing but juice for two months. This doesn't really faze me; I'm Catholic, I know about fasting for long periods of time. So now most of our friends are juice fasting for anywhere between 7-14 days. Fine. But now Tom wants to do this thing because his bffs are talking about it, and suddenly what I was totally cool with I am resisting with all my might and mane. Why all this effort?
I will not conform!
The only way I could explain it is: I don't want to do everything the group does. I am automatically suspicious of fads that streak through groups of friends - I want friends to be unified around a shared love of ideas or devotion to ideals, not personal life choices. Now, these two things are not mutually exclusive, and if a friend of mine tried some diet changes that really improved their quality of life, I would expect them to tell me about them! Nevertheless, I am still narrowing my eyes at Tom every time he brings it up. I just like nonconformity on non-moral issues. Our friends make different choices about the sizes of their families, the music they listen to, clothes they wear, language they like to pray in - and I like it that way! I like that just because I love wearing head coverings full time, doesn't mean that I am expected to go to Latin Mass and it doesn't mean I can't wear jeans occasionally. We are free to make personal choices about who we are and, how we express our Catholic faith.
This film makes me want to be orthodox Jewish: love the head coverings!
So maybe this juice fasting thing has me spooked because it smacks of conformity for conformity's sake. The guys quickly pointed out that just because a lot of people are doing it doesn't make it bad, but I parry with, that doesn't mean it's good either. And just because something is a good, doesn't mean it's the Greatest Good. Juice fasting is helpful for many people who are facing illness that would benefit from a quick infusion of the greatest amounts of vitamins and minerals, without expending energy on digestion of a great deal of fibrous material. It's also good to get oneself weaned off of sugar, refined simple carbohydrates, or other tastes that affect a person's glucose stability. Obviously, it's not a long-term diet choice, but more of a "reset" button for a person's body that can help a person get started on the path to greater health. Which is all very great!
But my struggle isn't sticking to something, my struggle is moderation. You best believe I could do any kind of extreme diet -I could do it forever! Run every day? Sure! But...eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats, with a moderate amount of healthy desserts, and exercise 4 times a week? It's like you asked me to walk out the door with wet hair: I just can't do it. It's a parallel to my prayer life: I could live my life as a Poor Clare, I could be martyred with joy, but tolerate my Catholic brethren for saying foolish things or just pray 30 minutes in the morning, afternoon, and evening? Laws, this ain't working!
Dolly knows: the bigger the hair, the closer to God!
So while juice fasts are well and good, and might be something I try if I discern I need a healthy kick-in the pants, I think for now I'll stick to trying to be healthy with moderation and somehow get my prayer time in there too. Y'all pray for me, please?