When and Why Were Leafy Greens Added to Man’s Diet?

When and Why Were Leafy Greens Added to Man’s Diet?

Kale, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, herbs… 

When did God introduce leafy greens into man’s diet, why did he do it, and what are the benefits of eating these types of vegetables?

When was the original diet changed?

In this post, I’ll be covering the second time God gives Adam and Eve instructions in the Bible about what they should be eating. 

In short, Adam and Eve’s VERY first diet consisted ONLY of plant yielding seeds, and trees with fruits as their seeds. If you’d like to learn more about the original diet, check out this blog post.

And that diet was perfectly suited to their needs at that time. But something major happens in their life, and it affects what God tells them to eat.

What am I talking about? 

Adam and Eve’s sin when they ate the forbidden fruit. 

The serpent seduces Eve. 

Eve eats the fruit and gives some to Adam and he eats it as well.

Right after that, they immediately recognize their error. 

God shows up, and the next thing you know EVERYBODY gets cursed. 

Take a look at Genesis chapter 3, verse 17.

And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife  and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you,  ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you, in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;  and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face  you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground,  for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

In verse 18 God is telling Adam and Eve to eat something that he’d previously only allotted to animals – the plants of the field. (That’s back in Genesis 1:30).

How did the Fall effect Adam and Eve’s life?

Take a look at the consequences that result directly from Adam and Eve’s sin:

  • Now, people have to deal with threats from animals. There’s now hostility or conflict between people and snakes.
  • Childbirth becomes dangerous and excruciatingly painful. 
  • Men and women will now forever be locked in a power struggle. 
  • The ground is now full of weeds, thorns and thistles that have to be tended 
  • Man now has to strive and toil and work hard for a living
  • And the worst and most significant consequence of all…PHYSICAL DEATH is now a thing and presumably all the illnesses and circumstances that cause it.

As a result of sin, things aren’t looking too good for the future.

But then God adds something SIGNIFICANT to their original diet – leafy greens.

So, why did God change the original diet? 

After the fall, men and women had to endure an enormous and unprecedented level of stress. 

Could this be the very reason why their diet HAD to change and these SPECIFIC plant foods were added?

Stress can have an adverse impact on our health, and can bring on or worsen every disease known to man.

Specifically, stress can…

  • weaken the immune system
  • trigger headaches
  • increase the risk of depression
  • trigger cardiovascular disease
  • cause hormonal imbalances, and
  • adversely impact the digestive system

Now, even though mankind has to suffer the consequences of disobedience, God provided a means to lessen some of that physiological impact with these NEW dietary additions.

So, let’s talk about some of the benefits of eating leafy greens.

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What are leafy greens and what type of nutrients do they have?

Leafy greens are just plant leaves, and there are nearly a thousand different kinds of edible greens. Some popular types you’ve probably eaten before are Arugula, Romaine, Green or Red Leaf Lettuce, Spinach, Kale, Swiss Chard, Mustard and Collard Greens, Broccoli, or Cabbage.

The word used in the original Hebrew is `eseb, which means herb, herbage, grass, or green plant. 

Initially, in Genesis 1:29, God instructed Adam and Eve to only eat plants bearing or yielding seeds but now in Genesis 3:18 His dietary guidance expands to include ALL green plants.  There is a clear distinction in the text.

Green plants are packed with vitamins like A, C, E, K, and many of the B-vitamins.

They are also rich in antioxidants that can protect cells against cancer development. 

They have high levels of fiber, iron, and minerals like magnesium, potassium and calcium. 

Additionally, greens are nutrient dense which is just a fancy way of saying a food is high in nutrients but low in calories.

What are the benefits of eating leafy greens?

In terms of how these foods affect our physiology, here are just a few health benefits from adding greens to the diet. They…

  • Improve digestion
  • Boost bone health
  • Balance cholesterol levels
  • Fight free radicals
  • Support heart health
  • Boost energy levels
  • Support overall detoxification 
  • Prolong lifespan

So, when you think about the detrimental impacts that the original sin had on mankind…it’s pretty incredible that God had already provided some solutions in the form of  additional foods.

God is incredibly generous, isn’t he? 

He provided Adam and Eve what they needed before they even knew they needed it…and He did so even when they didn’t deserve it.

And since God doesn’t play favorites, he will do the same thing for us! (Acts 10:34-35)

Amazing!

Everything that God does and says is for a purpose. Every command has an intention behind it.

If God told Adam and Eve to eat greens after the fall, it’s because it was GOOD for them..and consequently, that means it’s GOOD for us as well.

In conclusion, if you’re not doing so already, be sure you’re getting ample leafy greens in your diet. That’s a really simple way to take better care of your temple.

I’d love to hear what you think about this post, so drop your comments below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: DALILA JONES STITZ

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: DALILA JONES STITZ

Founder and CEO, Health Insurrection LLC

Dalila is a native Houstonian and currently lives in Switzerand with her husband and two kids. She received her health coach training through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and Hallelujah Acres and teaches in-home bible studies and online courses.

Learn More.

The Genesis 1:29 Diet – What Did Adam and Eve Eat in the Garden of Eden?

The Genesis 1:29 Diet – What Did Adam and Eve Eat in the Garden of Eden?

What were Adam and Eve eating before they sinned in the Garden of Eden? If you said plants – you’d be only partially right! 

In this blog post, we’re going to cover EXACTLY what God told Adam and Eve to eat He created them, and whether those instructions hold any relevance for Christians today. 

Our main text can be found in Genesis 1:29. So let’s turn there and have a look at what it says. I’m reading from the English Standard Version.

 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.

Now, if you had asked me what Adam and Eve were eating in the Garden of Eden before I studied it closely, I would have just said plants. But it wasn’t ANY plant – it was only plants and trees with seeds in them.

What are seed-yielding plants?

The first category mentioned was plants that yield seeds.

Seed Yielding Plants include:

  • Nuts
  • Seeds (Some examples of that would be things like Hemp seed, Flaxseed, Sesame seeds, Sunflower seeds)
  • Grains (Wheat, corn, barley, rice, quinoa, millet, amaranth)
  • Legumes – all the beans like kidney beans, black beans, peas, black-eyed peas, peanuts, lentils)
  • Nightshade vegetables – things like eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and green beans, and
  • Melons like watermelon, cantaloupe, etc. 

The second group was trees with seed in its fruit. These are all the fruits that we typically eat like:

  • Oranges, apples, lemons, limes, bananas, strawberries, coconuts, grapes, dates, avocados, olives (which technically are all fruits); 

These lists are not meant to be exhaustive, but hopefully, this gives you a clear picture of what the first diet included.

 

Which foods were NOT included in the original diet? 

The foods that were excluded from the original diet were:

  • Animals like chicken, turkey, beef, pork
  • Fish and seafood
  • Anything excreted from an animal like goat or cow milk, cheese, eggs
  • Insects
  • Mushrooms
  • Leafy greens 
  • Root vegetables

Are you surprised that root vegetables like carrots and potatoes and leafy greens like, kale and spinach were NOT part of the original diet? 

I found that fascinating! 

God does expand the list of foods after the fall of man, but right out of the gate, those foods were not on the original menu.

So in short, Adam and Eve were on a whole foods, plant-based diet, they were originally vegans, and I’m going to make an educated guess that their food was also raw (so that means it was uncooked and unprocessed). 

There is no mention of cooking methods or any kind of meal preparation at all in the text at this point in human history. 

And if that WAS the case, then I have to wonder if they were even eating grains and legumes at that point.

One thing we do know for sure is that they were eating lots and lots and lots of carbs. And no animal protein.

Interesting, right?

If they were eating lots of carbs and no animal protein, were their diets deficient?

I doubt it. In their pristine environment, they had to have adequate nutrition. 

Why do I believe that? Well, because God said that what He created was good. 

It defies logic that He would design people, design the perfect environment for them to live in, and then design a diet that would not meet their needs at that point in their lives. 

That makes absolutely no sense.

It’s not until AFTER the fall that God chose to expand the dietary guidelines. So, perhaps the fall placed different physiological needs on the body. 

That’s a topic I’ll explore in a separate blog post, but it’s definitely something to chew on!

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Are the original dietary guidelines still valid for Christians today?

Absolutely!

I believe Genesis 1:29 is still vitally important.

Say tomorrow, I go out and buy a luxury vehicle like a Mercedes. 

Now, the people that designed and manufactured that car are going to give me an Owner’s manual. 

Those instructions are going to tell me how to maintain my new car to get optimal performance.

One of the first things they will tell me is that my new car runs on premium gasoline. 

So, if I want to get the most out of my car, I’m going to do what the manufacturer recommends, right? 

They created the car, they ought to know best how to take care of it. 

Of course, I can overrule those instructions and put a lower quality gasoline in the tank. But, if I choose to do that, what’s going to happen? 

My car is not going to run well. Eventually, it’s going to break down.

God is the highest intelligence in the universe. 

He created the first man and woman, a pristine environment for them to live in, and then He gave explicit instructions about what they should and should not eat. 

He was the architect and manufacturer of the human body.

Based on what you know about God’s character, is it likely that He gave Adam and Eve those VERY SPECIFIC eating instructions for no reason? 

I don’t think so. 

After telling Adam and Eve what they were supposed to do, he tells them what they were supposed to eat.  

Genesis 1:29 contains the VERY first instructions from God on how to care for the human body…the body that He designed.

Yes, diet guidance does change later as I mentioned earlier, but it’s additive. At no point EVER in the Biblical record does God EVER tell people not to eat plants and trees with seeds. 

These foods are foundational. These foods are essential. 

Based on this understanding, I believe these plant foods should make up the majority of what we should be eating if we want to take optimal care of our bodies.

In 2017, the CDC reported that only 1 in 10 Americans got the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables daily. 

The lead author of that study, Dr. Kwan said,

“This report highlights that very few Americans eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables every day, putting them at risk for chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease,”…He goes on to say “As a result, we’re missing out on the essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that fruits and vegetables provide.”

Vitamins, Minerals, Fiber – all the things we CANNOT get eating animals and animal products. 

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are linked to all the major killers of Americans including  heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

So, most of us are starving ourselves of the foods that God specifically designed to fuel our bodies.

The CDC also reports that 7 in 10 of deaths of Americans are caused by a chronic illness. 70%!

Could the fact that most of us don’t eat the way God originally instructed Adam and Eve and the fact that chronic illness rates have been and continue to explode be mere coincidence?

Or is it a consequence of violating one of the first and most foundational biblical health principles? 

I believe it’s the latter. We are reaping what we have sown.

When God instructs us about ANYTHING, it would be wise for us to listen and apply that wisdom to our lives. We will reap benefits and blessings when we do.

And that goes for any area of our life…including the foods we choose to eat on a daily basis.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, so let’s connect and discuss!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: DALILA JONES STITZ

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: DALILA JONES STITZ

Founder and CEO, Health Insurrection LLC

Dalila is a native Houstonian and currently lives in Switzerand with her husband and two kids. She received her health coach training through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and Hallelujah Acres and teaches in-home bible studies and online courses.

Learn More.

Stop Blaming God (or Your Genes) for Lifestyle Diseases

Stop Blaming God (or Your Genes) for Lifestyle Diseases

Have you or a loved one ever been diagnosed with a chronic illness, and the only way you can make sense of it is to think that it must be God’s will?

That your suffering must have been caused by God?

I’ve never been comfortable with this idea that God causes most of our sicknesses.  Things that we don’t understand we tend to explain away.

But just because God has allowed something to happen, does not mean that it is his will. Neither does it mean that He is the cause behind it. The answers to why we suffer from chronic illnesses are often much closer to home.  More times than not, we are simply experiencing the biblical principle of reaping and sowing…whether we understand that or not. We need to stop blaming God for circumstances that we ourselves have created.

 

Sin and Disease 

To be clear, there are many illnesses which are not caused by lifestyle choices. They could be congenital problems, or illnesses that develop with no known cause. Not every disease is the result of something we did or did not do (see John 9:3; Job 2:3-7)…but many are.  

The Bible draws a clear connection between sin and disease in the both the Old and New Testaments.

In Exodus 15:26 there is a direct correlation between obeying God’s commands and health (as well as disobedience and disease).

King David spoke of hidden sin that destroyed his health in Psalm 32:3-5.

In John 5:1-15, Jesus warns a paralytic man that he had healed to turn away from his sin or risk suffering a worse fate.

Similarly, in 1 Corinthians 11:27-30, Paul makes the case that many Christians had become sick or died because of sins against the body of Christ.

If we think of sin as violating God’s laws…including the natural laws God created which govern his creation and our bodies, it doesn’t take much imagination to see how sin could directly lead to physical illness.

 

Should We Blame God for…Cause and Effect?

A man chain smokes for 30 years, and then is diagnosed with lung cancer. Did God cause his suffering?

Of course not. We know now that smoking causes cancer. He developed that disease as a direct result of his actions. Was it God’s will that this man destroyed his lungs by his actions? I doubt it. But God did allow the natural consequences of his behavior to take effect.

A woman drinks to excess for most of her life and then is diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. Did God cause her suffering?  

No, He was not the cause. We know that too much alcohol leads to liver disease. The cause of her liver damage was the alcohol she consumed over her lifetime.  Was it God’s will that this woman destroyed her liver by her actions? No. She reaped what she sowed.

A teenager uses illicit, intravenous drugs and contracts HIV. The cause of his immune disorder was a needle contaminated with a deadly virus. Did God cause his suffering? No. Today, we know how these deadly viruses are transmitted. The young man became sick as a direct result of his poor decision.

Today, Americans are being diagnosed in record numbers with diseases that are a direct result of our lifestyles: the things we choose to eat and the way  we choose to live. They are collectively known as lifestyle or chronic diseases.

Our problem is that most of us are ignorant of the true causes of these diseases.  It’s not God who is to blame after all…it’s our own choices.

 

The True Causes of Chronic Illness

According to the CDC, “Chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer, are among the most common, costly, and preventable (emphasis added) of all health problems in the United States.”1

If these diseases are preventable, that means there is something that we can do to reduce our chances of developing them. And if we can take actions that increase or decrease our chances of developing these diseases, then that means the cause (or cure) is in our own hands. 2

Well, if God isn’t to blame then you might have another suspect in mind. Maybe your genes are the culprit..

 

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The Role that Genes Play

Nice try. But not so fast.  Most chronic illnesses do not have genetic causes in the way that we think.3

Blaming our genes is just a scientific way of blaming God anyway. Because God made our genes.  If we have no control over our genes, and then get sick, we can still point to something besides our own choices as the cause.

Something completely outside of our control.

That’s a perfect model for ducking responsibility for our own health outcomes.

Most of us believe that genes are like destiny. That if you have a certain set of genes (like BRCA1 and BRCA2) that you’re guaranteed to develop breast cancer or ovarian cancer. But that’s not quite how it works.  (Studies show only 5-10% of breast cancers are due to genetic factors by the way).4

Genes do play a role in disease progression…but only if they are actually switched on.  

Guess what switches genes off and on?

Our environment.  

This relatively new field of study is called Epigenetics.

“Your genetics load the gun. Your lifestyle pulls the trigger” – Mehmet Oz

And what it shows us is that outside influences can affect gene expression – turning them off or on.

What are those outside influences?

Things we DO…

what we eat,

how well we sleep,

if we exercise,

how we handle stress,

the chemicals we’re exposed to…

by and large actions that we have enormous control over.

 

Taking Responsibility for Our Own Health Outcomes

The truth is, that most of what is physically ailing Christians today is the direct result of our own choices.

Though this may be a tough pill to swallow, there is really nothing but upside in accepting this reality.

If we can eat and live in a way that makes us more likely to develop a chronic illness, then we can also live in a way that makes us less likely to develop a chronic illness.

We can choose what to eat.

We can choose how much to move.

We can choose what type of products we use.

We can choose how we work, play, and rest.

We can choose how we handle our emotions.

In short, we can choose to live in alignment with God’s principles.  

But…we can also choose not to.

And if we do choose to live in opposition to God’s laws, then we will suffer the consequences of those choices eventually.  And when that happens, we should place the blame directly where it belongs.

On ourselves.

 

Resources

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/aag/prc.htm
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2862441/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4841510/
  4. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/risk-and-prevention/breast-cancer-risk-factors-you-cannot-change.html

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: DALILA JONES STITZ

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: DALILA JONES STITZ

Founder and CEO, Health Insurrection LLC

Dalila is a native Houstonian and currently lives in Switzerand with her husband and two kids. She received her health coach training through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and Hallelujah Acres and teaches in-home bible studies and online courses.

Learn More.

The Biblical Case for Eating a Whole Foods Diet

The Biblical Case for Eating a Whole Foods Diet

Have you ever decided to start eating a healthier diet but then second-guessed every single food choice because you’re not sure if it’s actually good for you or not? One day the diet gurus tells you it’s all about low-fat…next it’s high protein…then it’s low carb…finally it’s NO carbs (the horror!)

You settle on what you think is the best plan to lose weight and get healthy.  Then, as you casually scroll through your newsfeed looking for cute cat videos, you come across the story of a man that ate nothing but junk food for 30 days and STILL managed to lose weight.  You wonder if worrying about your food choices is really worth the hassle…or if it even matters what Christians eat.

Amid all the confusion, contradiction, and calorie-counting, what’s a clean living Christian supposed to eat?

 

Seek and You Shall Find

The answer is pretty simple actually. Try cracking open the good book and searching for some answers there.

Surely, if we can glean life principles about personal and business relationships, handling our emotions, and money management there would be something worthwhile for us to learn regarding how to care for these magnificent bodies that God created.

Well, there is. The Bible is full of information and guidance regarding the human diet. Though the specifics change through time, there is one common denominator that connects all the dietary guidelines that God laid out in his Word.

And it’s a super easy principle.

Ridiculously simple actually.

Are you ready to have your worldview completely transformed?

Here it is…

God directed his followers to eat food that He made. They’re called Whole Foods.

 

The Food that God Made

Whole foods are defined as minimally processed foods, which are in (or close to) their natural state. These foods do not have chemical additives, preservatives, artificial flavors, colors or any other synthetic ingredients. They are foods in the same form they existed in the Garden of Eden when God first created them.

Here are some examples of whole foods you’ve probably eaten before:

  • Vegetables (Eggplant, Peppers, Cucumbers, Squash, Green Beans, etc.) – Genesis 1:29
  • Leafy Greens, Root, and Cruciferous Vegetables (Spinach, Kale, Carrots, Potatoes, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, etc.) – Genesis 3:18
  • Fruits (Oranges, Apples, Lemons, Limes, Bananas, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Avocados, Olives, etc.) – Genesis 1:29
  • Whole Grains (Wheat, Corn, Barley, Rice, Quinoa, Millet, Amaranth, etc.) – Genesis 1:29
  • Legumes (Kidney Beans, Black Beans, Peas, Black Eyed Peas, Peanuts, Lentils, etc.) – Genesis 1:29
  • Nuts (Almonds, Walnuts, Pecans, Cashews, Pine Nuts, Macadamia Nuts, Pistachios, etc.) – Genesis 1:29
  • Seeds (Hemp Seed, Flax Seed, Sesame Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, etc.) – Genesis 1:29
  • Animals (Beef, Chicken, Fish, Turkey, etc.) – Genesis 9:3

If you prefer a little nutrition science to back this idea up, researchers compared the pros and cons of every mainstream diet and concluded that eating whole foods, i.e., real food that God made, most of which should be plant-based, is the unifying key to health and longevity.

So, if you’ve been searching for an optimal way of eating, the best place to start is by eating more whole foods, particularly those from plants. And if you’re adding in more whole, God-made foods to your diet, that means you probably need to eat a lot less of the man-made ones.

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Can Man Improve on God?

That’s not a rhetorical question.  

Think this through for a minute.

If you believe, as I do, that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and omni-present…that HE is the highest intelligence, then does it also make sense to believe that man-made foods are better for us than the ones God made?

Are the highly processed, nutrient deficient “frankenfoods” that man created with his limited intelligence any match for the wholesome, nurturing, vitamin and mineral rich foods that God made in his infinite wisdom? (That’s a solid no for me.)

I believe that God created the first human beings – Adam and Eve.

I believe that the creation story in Genesis is a historical account and not an allegory for evolution.

And because I believe that God is the architect behind the design of the human body, his instructions on what to eat ought to be taken as gospel truth.

But given the typical spread we eat at most church functions,  Christians must believe that man-made “food” is superior to God-made food…because that’s mostly what we’re eating on a daily basis.

 

The High Cost of Ignorance

Rates of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s are increasing at an alarming rate in the US. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 6 in 10 Americans have a chronic disease. According to The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, “[chronic illnesses] account for 81% of hospital admissions; 91% of all prescriptions filled; and 76% of all physician visits”.

The CDC lists poor nutrition as one of the leading risk factors in the development of chronic disease. The other three (tobacco use, lack of physical activity, and alcohol consumption) are all lifestyle related causes.

It’s NOT our genes which are to blame. It’s what we’re putting into our mouths and how we’re choosing to live that is at the root cause of most of our suffering.

“Chronic disease is a foodborne illness. We ate our way into this mess and we must eat our way out” – Dr. Mark Hyman

Reaping and Sowing

Galatians 6:7 says “ Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”

Our current culture is oriented around eating for pleasure…to “please our flesh”. We’re often more concerned with feeding our appetites than the health effects of the foods we’re choosing. Those choices are literally leading us to broken down bodies and early graves. These same choices are cutting short contributions that we could be making for God’s kingdom. Sadly, most of us are sowing junk food and reaping disease.

Thankfully, God made our bodies incredibly resilient. When we start to shift more towards a whole foods, God-made diet similar to the one in Genesis 1:29, we start to experience vibrant health. In many cases, disease progression stops and may even fully reverse. Skeptics may chalk up curing the incurable to spontaneous remission or even a miracle, but the truth is, people who eat what God calls food are just reaping the benefits of eating the way He designed us to eat.

What Will You Choose? Chronic Illness or Vibrant Health?

What matters most when it comes to Christians (and everyone else) experiencing vibrant health, is what we choose to eat and how we choose to live.  

We can bounce between all the mainstream diets and their complex rules or…

We can follow the simple roadmap for diet that God defined in his Word.

We can suffer unnecessarily with all the dreaded diseases of the modern age or…

We can reap abundant life, optimally nourished and prepped to fulfill the purpose for which God created us.

 

It’s completely our choice.

 

Now, I’d love to hear from you.

Have you struggled with trying to sort through conflicting and contradictory information around what to eat?

Do you believe that eating in alignment with the guidelines God designed will impact your health for the better?

Are you willing to transition from a diet based on man-made foods to one based on a God-made one?

 

Share your thoughts!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: DALILA JONES STITZ

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: DALILA JONES STITZ

Founder and CEO, Health Insurrection LLC

Dalila is a native Houstonian and currently lives in Switzerand with her husband and two kids. She received her health coach training through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and Hallelujah Acres and teaches in-home bible studies and online courses.

Learn More.

Does It Really Matter What Christians Eat?

Does It Really Matter What Christians Eat?

God wants us to know His will for our lives. His Word provides guidance on many areas of life: from relationship advice to financial management to how we handle our emotions. But what about diet? Does it really matter what Christians eat?  Are we free to eat however we choose? 

An Unexpected Biblical Perspective on Food

Years ago, I had an intriguing conversation about diet with a Christian friend.  This woman was very well versed in the Bible and knowledgeable about scriptures. We had met in a women’s Bible study class and both shared a passion for God’s word.

She had been suffering from a long list of ailments, one of which was morbid obesity. Her plan was to undergo gastric bypass surgery to help get the weight off quickly and improve her overall health.

As a relatively new coach, I asked her what I thought was a reasonable question:  

“Are you willing to consider dietary changes before going under the knife? “

Her response shocked me.

Based on her understanding of scripture, she didn’t feel that it was necessary to make any dietary changes at all. She believed that she could and should eat whatever she wanted…as long as she prayed over her food. So, that’s exactly what she did. Her interpretation was that all food is sanctified as long as we pray over it beforehand.

In other words, if we bless our food, it will not bring us any physical harm.  She based her viewpoint on 1 Timothy 4: 1-5.

So, was she right?

Did it really not matter at all what Christians eat?

Ignorance is Not Bliss…It’s Deadly

Even though my friend didn’t state it exactly this way, she was basically saying that God was magically converting anything and everything that we consume into health food as it enters our bodies.   If that were true, then no Christian anywhere in the world would be sick with a chronic disease. We would all be exempt from the diseases that the medical establishment says are primarily caused by diet and lifestyle.

Scientific research show that most of the major killers of Americans – heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes, etc. are related to the foods we eat and the way we live.

If God was doing what my friend suggested, then Christians would be an outlier from those statistics.

But, we’re not.

Christians are suffering the same fate as everyone else that chooses to eat the Standard American Diet. We are just as sick as everyone else.

Hosea 4:6 says “my people are destroyed from a lack of knowledge”. Ignorance is not bliss…it’s actually deadly.

What Christians eat matters.

 

Violating God’s Laws Has Consequences

In 2005, George H. Malkmus, a minister and cancer survivor published the book Why Christians Get Sick.  In it he explores the reasons why Christians, in spite of praying to an Almighty God, still suffer and die from the same chronic illnesses as non-believers. He asks why God is generally not answering the many prayers of his people for healing.

He concludes that God’s people are suffering because we are violating His laws.

God is a God of laws and order (Romans 1:20). He governs his creation through natural laws. God is the one that created the scientific principles that govern physiology, biology, chemistry, and physics. He is the one that designed the human body.  Along with our bodies, he created food in nature to cause our bodies to function optimally.

If we feed our bodies suboptimal food, then we are going to experience suboptimal function.

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A Simple Explanation

Violating God’s natural laws is dangerous.  Whether we believe these laws exist, doesn’t actually matter. Whether we understand how these laws work doesn’t matter either. We’re still subject to God’s natural laws regardless of our personal beliefs and knowledge. 

The Law of Gravity

Let’s use the law of gravity as an example.

Do we have to believe in the law of gravity to be subject to it? No. Whether we believe in it or not, it will impact us. Whether we understand it or not, it will affect us. Now it’s certainly in our best interest to understand the law of gravity. Because if we violate it, the chances are great that we are going to suffer immensely because of our ignorance.

Imagine a non-believer is standing at the top of a skyscraper without a parachute. What is going to happen if he jumps off of that building? The law of gravity is going to kick in, and he is not going to make it when he hits the ground.

That’s common sense.

Now, let’s say that this time it’s a Christian standing on the edge of the building. Before he jumps off, he prays and ask God to keep him from dying when he lands.

What is going to happen to that Christian? The law of gravity is going to kick in, and he is going to be in the presence of the Almighty on impact.

Why is the Christian going to have the exact same outcome as the non-believer?

Why wouldn’t God answer his child’s prayer?

The answer is simple. That kind of prayer violates the very laws that he created to govern this world.

God Can Do Anything. But Will He?

Can God suspend the laws of nature and miraculously intervene to cause things to turn out differently? Of course he could. He could do anything.

But what is likely to happen is God allows nature to take its course. Because that is the way He designed the world to work.

When we violate God’s principles and his laws (including the natural laws), there are severe consequences.

Again, what Christians eat matters.

Food is What God Says It Is

Let’s take a closer look at the text that my friend used to justify eating anything she wanted.

1 Timothy 4 – New International Version (NIV)

4 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

Look closely at verses 3 and 4. Which foods are to be received with thanksgiving?

The ones “which God created” (v3). Why? Because “everything God created is good” (v4).

Guess what?  God did not make gummy worms (my personal junk food nemesis) or Skittles®, or SPAM®.  

He didn’t make artificial flavors or colors. He didn’t create chemical additives…or any processed foods for that matter.

Those things are “foods” that man created. I put foods in quotation marks because these things are not really food.

One of my favorite doctors, Dr. Mark Hyman calls these things “frankenfood” or “food-like substances”. Sure, they are edible, but they do not nourish our bodies – they have no nutritional value at all.

In fact, they make us sick. Maybe not immediately. But they cause great harm to our bodies, especially when consumed over a lifetime.

In contrast, God made what we call whole foods: fruits, and vegetable, nuts, seeds, legumes,  grains and animals. These are real foods that nourish our bodies.

Food is what God says it is.  Not what the food industry says it is. Not whatever we want it to be or enjoy eating. Food consists ONLY of the things that He specifically created as food, and gave instructions about in his Word.

 

Obedience Brings Blessing

As Christians, we must align what we eat to what God defines as food. Otherwise,  we are going to suffer unnecessarily with all kinds of diseases and chronic illnesses, many of which are completely avoidable.

Every single person that I know (and there are many) that has reversed a chronic disease, including myself…did so by switching to a whole foods diet. Science backs up our results.

2 Peter 1:3 says  “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness…

God would not leave us ignorant about something so fundamental as how to care for our bodies. He has a purpose and plan for each of our lives, and many of us are cutting our missions short because we’re too sick and tired to fulfill them.  We’re digging our graves with our forks… one bite at a time.

For this reason, it is paramount that Christians search the whole scripture to learn what God has to say on the subject of diet, and what that means for us today. 

When we align the way we live to His principles and His wisdom, we heal, we thrive, and we experience abundance in our lives.

So, as a Christian, does it really matter what we eat?

The answer, emphatically, is yes.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: DALILA JONES STITZ

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: DALILA JONES STITZ

Founder and CEO, Health Insurrection LLC

Dalila is a native Houstonian and currently lives in Switzerand with her husband and two kids. She received her health coach training through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and Hallelujah Acres and teaches in-home bible studies and online courses.

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