It’s been a long time since I ate a burger. I can’t remember the last time I ordered one. It’s just not something I eat, not something I crave.

Occasionally my body craves red meat, but I go for a grass-fed rib-eye or filet. “Hamburger” just doesn’t seem to be on my body’s database of what I need.

This week I’m playing roadie, chauffeur and traveling companion to my niece Caity as she returns for her senior recital as a jazz studies major at University of North Texas. When we arrived last night and wanted something to eat, she suggested “Whataburger.” She described it as the “In and Out” of Texas, “But the meat is better…after all, this is Texas.”

What? Me? A burger?

With that endorsement, I figured when in Texas, do as Texans do. I ordered a Whataburger Jr. and ate the whole thing–gluten filled bun and all!

Why did I eat a burger? Because I don’t want to be a food nazi!

After my breast cancer 21 years ago I became militant about food. I only ate vegetarian, low-fat, unprocessed organic foods because I feared the role animal products, pesticides, processing and other toxins played in the onset of my cancer.

For a few years, that was a necessary and important stance to take. But over time,  I began to listen to my physical needs and not my fears and found my way to a more balanced, loving and life-giving relationship with food.

For me, it’s about moderation, balance and choosing the best food. Today, that includes minimal red meat and limited gluten based foods. Yet, if there’s an Auntie Em’s dessert or a loaf of bread from Fiore Cafe around, I’ll say “Yes” and enjoy every bite of my gluten. If I’m going to eat the gluten that can sometimes activate rosacea on my cheeks, I’m going to make it worthwhile.

My remarkable niece Caity

My relationship with Caity is more important than what we eat. I enjoyed the burger well enough…for a burger. But even more important was how much I enjoyed being with Caity in her college town, going to the places she hung out and getting a taste of her last five years. Celebrating her success as a top-notch jazz saxophonist and experiencing the world where she’s honed her skills, met her boyfriend and matured into a remarkable young woman–that’s why I’m here.

When I was a food nazi (while hard to admit, at times even now) what I ate took precedence over enjoying the people, events and places around me. Thanks be to God for the love, grace and truth that have come to me over these past 21 years. I am free to eat burgers or not eat burgers. For this freedom, I am exceedingly grateful.