Ingrid Friesen Moser, MA, RDN has worked in wellness for 25 years. In addition to her ten-year history as Wellness Coordinator with Mennonite Church USA’s Corinthian Plan, the health plan for MC USA pastors and church workers, she works with children and adults at Maple City Health Care Center in Goshen, Indiana. Her degrees in nutrition (Goshen College) and Christian Formation (AMBS) reflect her passion for the intersection of health and wellness with spiritual disciplines. Ingrid is grateful for meals shared around a table, interests like birding that get her out looking for the next new and amazing thing to cross her path, and the giant sequoias found in Sequoia National Park that inspire and are among the tallest, widest and longest-lived organisms on the planet.
I have always loved food. My mother tells a story of a very young me fascinated by sweet, delicious berries that came, to my amazement, in both red and blue. I remember how eager my six-year-old self was to taste and drink coffee, and I decide coffee ice cream was my favorite flavor. Still is. Not only did my parents introduce me to a variety of foods and flavors, but I was fortunate to have a mom that introduced me to cooking. My parents, to this day, have people into their home to eat and share food weekly. This created a frequent opportunity for me, as a child, to find a place in the kitchen chopping, measuring and mixing alongside my mom. Sure, I loved making cookies and cakes, but my first cooking love was the task of making salads. The chopping, arranging and creating combinations of bright colored vegetables rivaled anything I could do with a box of Crayola crayons. And I could eat my creations!
When it came time to pick a career, dietetics offered me the combination of skills and opportunities with food that has made for a rewarding career for the last 28 years. My seminary training in Christian formation added the anchoring dimension of placing our human relationship to food, and daily habits like eating, in God’s work of love and transformation.
The best food and nutrition advice I can give at this stage in my life and career is this, and it comes from things I have learned over a lifetime in the kitchen:
- The act of cooking is transforming love into something edible.
- Eat a colorful plate.
- Food is a gift to be shared and eaten with others.
- Cooking is an everyday, mundane task, as well as a holy celebration. Embrace both. They each lead to eating — the incredible remembering of who we are physically, emotionally and spiritually.
- Establish a daily rhythm of eating at regular, predictable times; and give yourself to the work it takes in the kitchen to make this possible, and/or show your appreciation to those that make it possible for you to eat in this way.
There is no shortage of shortcuts, gimmicks and fads that will tell you how to get out of the “work” of cooking and eating well. To that I offer this hope and prayer: May you find your way to experiencing joy in the work of feeding yourself and others.