What is a Biblical Diet? During my pursuit of optimum health and living responsibly, I’ve read about and tried a number of different diets. Many of them were extremely restrictive, difficult to follow, and overly time consuming. While they might have resulted in some added health benefits, many of them were simply fads or marketing schemes. And even if there were a few health benefits, the cost to follow the diet ultimately outweighed the benefits. What we eat is extremely important, but it should not consume our lives. If what you eat is consuming you, rather than you consuming it, it’s time to rethink your diet strategy. There is more to life than eating. The Bible teaches that the most important reality is the Kingdom of God, not this world or our physical bodies. According to Romans 14:17, “The Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
Some of the diets I’ve tried include: vegetarian, vegan, raw, low-carb, and primal. I’ve also read about several biblically-based diets that give dietary recommendations based on the Judaic law. While everyone has differing convictions and beliefs about how to eat responsibly and healthfully, I have a few insights I’d like to share that might free some of your time and energy from trying to follow a complicated or overly restrictive diet.
Regarding the healthfulness of food in general, one of the greatest factors of health is how you perceive things. This has been demonstrated scientifically through the placebo effect. Basically, if people believe something is good for them, it often is! I think this has powerful implications when taken into consideration with the Biblical teachings of apostle Paul. He taught that our perspective plays a part in the purity of what we eat. He said, “For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” – 1 Timothy 4:4-5
While purity and Judaic food restrictions aren’t necessarily related to health; some biblical-diet authors try to argue that they are. Yet, when taken as a whole, the laws of the Old Covenant are primarily related to ritual cleanliness and to actions that set Israel apart from other nations. After Jesus fulfilled the law, however, the requirement to abstain from particular foods was eliminated . Thus any teaching that claims abstaining from particular foods is more holy is a works-based teaching that contradicts God’s word. We are taught in the New Testament that if we receive anything with thanksgiving it is sanctified through the word of God and prayer! The heart condition of how we receive our food is more important than what we eat.
That being said, there are definitely some foods that are healthier than others, but by an large the unhealthy food are the ones that are processed and deformed through human innovation. In the beginning God granted Adam and Eve the permission to eat from every seed bearing plant. After the flood, God gave Noah and his sons the permission to eat meat as well. In other words, everything God made is ok to eat. Yet, in our Technological Age we have a new problem: industrial food. The more I read the latest nutrition research the more I find the only truly unhealthy foods are the processed ones: refined grains, refined sugar, artificial flavors and colorings, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and trans fats. I believe the debate between researchers about whether the low-carb or the high-carb diet is more healthy exists because it isn’t so much the quantity of these nutrients that matters as much as their quality.
God designed our bodies and the foods needed to properly nourish and sustain them. Our bodies are also capable of adapting to a wide variety of diets. When people start altering what God designed, that is when we get ourselves into real trouble. The most important thing to remember when choosing foods is to eat a varied diet that consists primarily of whole foods. Also, purchase organic or chemical-free whenever possible. These principles aren’t directly taught in the Bible but are extrapolated from Biblical and human history. God made the world, and it was very good. People chose to do things their own way, and things went south.
One thing that is taught directly in the Bible, however, is the importance of love. Jesus said that love is our new command. Thus another important dietary consideration is social justice. Much of our food is grown and harvested by workers that aren’t paid a fair wage. This is especially true of luxury items like tea and coffee. While we shouldn’t do anything out of obligation or legalism, it makes sense to purchase food locally or from companies we know are treating their employees and laborers fairly. Another consideration when purchasing food is the treatment of animals. According to Proverbs a “kind man considers the welfare of his animals.” Also, Jesus said that he cares even for the sparrows. These teaching reveal God’s heart for his creation, and as his children we should care too. Many of the industrially raised animals are treated inhumanely: raised in the dark, confined to small cages, matured too rapidly, or killed in painful ways. You can help ensure animals are treated kindly by purchasing meat-products labeled “free-range” or buying locally and researching the farming practices.
Hopefully these tips and insights free you from worrying too much about what you eat. Eating healthy is simple: Eat the foods God made and avoid the foods people changed. Our tastes and likes are highly malleable Research indicates that our taste preferences are largely based on marketing strategies. You can chose what you enjoy by looking at it in a differently light. You don’t need all the extra sugar and added fat of processed foods. Resist the marketing schemes, and don’t let huge companies force unhealthy food on you. Learn to enjoy the natural flavors and textures of the foods God made. Your body will thank you as you thank the Lord!
Originally posted 2011-08-24 21:03:00.