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Monday, October 28, 2013

A Different Perspective About Food

Photo by: rakratchada torsap

Fat free, gluten free, protein rich, vegetarian, grapefruit, fiber rich, vegan, low carb, and diets by a million names . . . . I am mind boggled! About every five years, there’s another new revelation about eating. Each has its merit, of course, and each has its weaknesses. When people begin the diet, they feel great—more energy, revitalized—for a couple of months. After two years, their bodies are sick. Again.

Where is a happy medium? What is best?

First, let me tell you what this post isn’t. It isn’t the last word. It isn’t a course on nutrition. It isn’t scientific. It isn’t about special diets for people with celiac disease, allergies, or other health issues. It isn’t about right and wrong eating.

It's a different perspective about food.

This is how it began for me. Thirty years ago, I noticed a group of believers who were promoting a certain way of eating. They believed they had found the “truth” about food, and they were eager to spread this good news to all of their friends. When they were invited to someone’s house, they asked what kind of food would be served. When they went to a church function, they made sure their kind of food was on the menu. If they didn’t like the food choice, they didn’t attend. It divided Christian brethren socially.

Some years later, quite a few of my friends went vegetarian. After a few years, I noticed that one friend who had eaten vegetarian for several years looked gray. He had absolutely no color. I thought he must be ill. Later, two of my other friends who had gone vegetarian for several years complained of feeling sick, and I noticed that same gray pallor on their faces. (I found out later they hadn’t gotten enough protein.)

These experiences made me go to the Bible to see if God’s Word had something to say about food. I wanted to understand nutrition from the Word of God, and not only from the things I heard—which was changing about every three to five years. Obviously, we were being misled, but I wasn’t sure how.

I began by asking: when God required people to eat something special—for a feast day, for example—what did He ask them to prepare? In Exodus, for the Passover dinner, the Israelites were to prepare a lamb (meat), unleavened bread (whole-wheat flat bread), and bitter herbs (some kind of greens). God provided the Levites and their families with grain offerings, ripe fruits, the best of the oil, grape juice, and the firstborn animals, as well as the wave breast and the right thigh. (Numbers 18:8-20) Elijah received meat and bread from God’s special delivery guys, the ravens. (1 Kings 17:4-6) God commanded Ezekiel to eat various grains (starch) and beans and lentils (protein) for 390 days. (Ezekiel 4:9) When Jesus fed the 4,000 and the 5,000, what did He give them? Fish and bread. After His resurrection, when He prepared food for the disciples, what was it? Fish and bread. (John 20:9-13)

When God, Who made our bodies, either furnished the meal or ordained a meal, what was on the menu? Meat, fish, or beans, and bread (or grain). He didn’t make a huge bowl of tossed, raw salad and pass it around. He wasn’t grilling squash and mushrooms by the Sea of Galilee. He gave the people meat or fish (protein, essential for body growth and maintenance) and bread (carbohydrate, provides energy). God, the Creator of our bodies, knows what we need. 

If we truly want to eat what Jesus ate, we will eat crushed whole grains, whole grain bread, honey, butter, milk, grape juice, herbs, fish, and meat. Jesus also mentioned a variety of fruits, and we can assume He ate them.

Daniel and his friends ate “pulse” (probably some kind of bean), and Esau sold his birthright for lentil stew.

Bread is the most-often mentioned food in the Bible. Jesus even said He is the Bread of Life (John 6:48). When God gave manna in the wilderness, it was white, and it tasted like wafers made with honey (Exodus 16:31). Remember the widow of Zarephath’s never-dwindling supply of oil and meal? (1 Kings 17:14-16)

Leeks, melons, garlic, and cucumbers, were obviously a hit with the Israelites in Egypt.

On several special occasions, fatted calves were prepared and served with bread. (Abraham gave the angels and the pre-incarnate Jesus this meal with butter and milk in Genesis 18:7-8.)

The ultimate prophet lunch was John the Baptist’s locusts and wild honey. Sweetened insects! Yummy!

There’s more to food than food itself. The Apostle Paul taught the Roman believers an important lesson in Romans 14:2-23; 15:1-2. This passage deals with eating meat that had been offered to idols. Some people felt comfortable doing so, because an idol isn’t really anything in the first place. Other believers had problems with eating this meat, because in their consciences, they were thinking it was “unclean” in the sense that it had been offered to a false god. (They are the “weak” brethren in these verses.) Paul’s conclusion is that we’re not to hurt or offend others by what we eat or drink.

What an interesting concept! We’re to eat or not eat with others in mind. We should use good judgment. The Bible says we have liberty in the Lord, but we don’t want to be a problem for others. We shouldn’t knowingly offend Christians or non-Christians. We should be considerate.

In a nutshell, I learned that:
  • Moderation and balance are important in food choices.
  • Our bodies need both protein and carbohydrates.
  • That Christians have freedom in the Lord to eat or not eat what they want, but that they don’t need to push their views on others.
  • I should be conscious of others’ feelings when eating with others.

Some of this post is edited from my book, His Ways, Your Walk, pages 187-195, in a section about food and fasting.


  1. I wrote a research paper about food in the Bible for a class in college. I wish I knew where it was now! Probably in a box in the attic somewhere - that was before the days when we could save everything on the computer.

    This is a good synopsis. I don't know why we are so prone to fads in this area, but as in all areas we need to come back to Biblical balance. As has been mentioned on your Facebook status about this post, there are people with various food-related ailments (gluten allergies, dairy intolerance, etc.) who have to take special care with their eating habits, but that is a different thing than chasing after the latest fad and then insisting that is "the" Christian way to eat.

    1. Exactly. Well said. Thank you, Barbara. I wish you could lay your hands on your research paper, too. It would be interesting to see what it says. God bless you!


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