What Would Jesus Eat?: The Ultimate Program for Eating Well, Feeling Great, and Living Longerby Don Colbert M.D.
The Christian market is flooded with diet and exercise programs, each claiming to be "God's way" to healthy living. While some of them are based on biblical principles, and some have even proven effective for weight loss, there is not one program leading the pack daring to answer the question What Would Jesus Do?Or better yet,What Would Jesus Eat?/i>/i>
The Christian market is flooded with diet and exercise programs, each claiming to be "God's way" to healthy living. While some of them are based on biblical principles, and some have even proven effective for weight loss, there is not one program leading the pack daring to answer the question What Would Jesus Do?Or better yet,What Would Jesus Eat?
This comprehensive eating plan examines Scripture and reveals what we know Jesus ate and what we can confidently infer He ate. Using current medical research, What Would Jesus Eat? demonstrates why the diet Jesus followed is ideal for twenty-first century living as well. Readers will:
The second half of the book equips the reader with tools to effectively follow the plan -- recipes, nutritional information, and practical advice.
For those desiring to safely lose weight and for those seeking a healthier, Bible-based eating program, the only question to ask is, What Would Jesus Eat?
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Read an Excerpt
What would Jesus do?
This question has been asked millions of times in recent years. We read the question or see the acronym for it-WWJD-on everything from bumper stickers to bracelets.
Most Christians I know truly want to understand what Jesus would do, and they truly want to follow His example in any given situation.
We certainly want to love and honor our heavenly Father as Jesus did.
We want to obey the Ten Commandments as He did.
We want to learn how to love other people as He did, and how to help them in both miraculous and mundane ways.
We want to follow Jesus' teachings when it comes to the use of our time, our talents, and our financial resources.
But do we want to eat as Jesus ate?
Why shouldn't we? We seek to follow Jesus in every other area of our lives. Why not in our eating habits?
Jesus cared about the health of people. Certainly His many healing miracles are testimony to that fact. He desired that people be made whole, and that included being whole in body as well as in mind and spirit.
But did Jesus actually teach anything about nutrition or how we should eat?
My contention is that He did-not necessarily by what He said, but by what He did. There are hundreds of examples throughout the Bible of practices related to healthy eating. Jesus embodied them fully in His lifestyle.
Even casual readers of the Bible know of many stories that refer to food as part of, or the main focus of, the story. Jesus taught key spiritual principles using a number of food analogies. He also participated in biblical feasts and celebratory meals. At the Last Supper, He instituted a ritual that involved food as the most sacred memorial of His death.
The medical and scientific facts confirm it. If we eat as Jesus ate, we will be healthier. He is our role model for good habits in eating, exercising, and living a healthy, balanced life.
"But," you may be saying, "times have changed since Jesus walked the earth two thousand years ago. Technology has advanced. We have many new foods today that Jesus didn't know about. Our eating patterns are vastly different."
Yes . . . and no. Times have changed and our eating patterns are different, but that isn't necessarily a good thing!
When you think of the American diet, of what do you think? Generally, we eat three large meals a day. Most people in other nations eat only two meals a day.
When you think of Southern cooking, of what do you think? Everything is fried. Fried chicken, fried country ham, fried potatoes, fried onions and other vegetables. Added to that are biscuits high in fat, covered with butter, and mashed potatoes smothered in rich milk gravy.
When you think of a good meal, of what do you think? Usually, in our minds, a good meal is one that includes dessert. Many Americans do not consider a meal to be proper or complete without something sweet at the end.
When you think of the American diet, that is not the way Jesus ate. Instead, the way we are eating has put us into the fast lane of health decline.
In 1901, the United States was classified as the healthiest nation in the world among one hundred nations studied. By 1920, we had dropped to second place. By 1950, we were in third place. By 1970, we were in forty-first place. And in 1981, we had dropped all the way to ninety-fifth place!1
How does a nation go from being in forty-first place in the area of good health to being in ninety-fifth place in only eleven years? And from first place to ninety-fifth place in just one century? The answer can be summed up in two words: fast food.
The typical American now consumes three hamburgers and four orders of French fries every week.2
In 1970, Americans as a whole spent approximately $6 billion on fast food. In 2000, we spent more than $110 billion. We spend more money on fast food than we do on personal computers, computer software, new cars, and higher education combined. We also spend more on fast food than on all magazines, books, movies, newspapers, videos, and recorded music combined.3
The reason fast food has risen in popularity so dramatically is simple-our fast pace of life almost demands it. People feel they are too busy to prepare traditional meals, and they see fast-food meals as time-saving alternatives. In addition, many times it costs more per serving to prepare a traditional meal than to purchase a single serving at a fast-food restaurant. This is due to the fact that most of us do not routinely prepare home-cooked meals, and so we may waste much of the food we bring home from the market.
In our culture, advertisements constantly bombard us and often fuel our desire for fast food. Incentives are offered to children in the form of toys included with a meal and playgrounds just outside the restaurant. Furthermore, a fast-food restaurant is usually never more than a mile or two away. The end result is that good nutrition is sacrificed to convenience, cost, and accessibility.
Fast food is designed to appeal to these four senses: sight, smell, taste, and touch, or texture. One of the primary ways of adding both taste and texture to food is to add fat. One of the key ways of adding taste to food is to add sugar. Foods that have a glaze or a glow to them-from donuts to cake icing-are foods that have had a layer of fat added to them. In addition to having virtually no nutritional value, fast foods tend to be high in salt and low in fiber.
Eating a diet high in salt, low in fiber, very high in fat and sugar, and virtually void of nutrients is not the way Jesus ate.
The Value of a Primitive Diet
Would we really be healthier if we ate a more primitive diet-the sort of diet that Jesus ate?
Medical science says that we would.
Nearly seven decades ago, Dr. Weston A. Price reported a study that is still valid and still amazing. Dr. Price, a dentist, studied primitive people who were isolated from Western civilization, including people in Switzerland and Scotland who lived in villages and towns that were isolated from their nation's mainstream societies. Some of the cultures he studied consumed diets that included fish, seafood, and wild game; other cultures had diets that included the meat and dairy products of domesticated animals. Some cultures had diets that included fruits, grains, legumes, and vegetables; other primitive groups consumed almost no plant foods. Some primitive cultures consumed foods that were eaten raw; others consumed mostly cooked foods.
All of the cultures, however, had diets that shared certain characteristics: there were no refined, devitalized foods such as white sugar or white flour, no pasteurized or homogenized milk, no canned foods, and no hydrogenated or refined vegetable oils. All of the diets did include some animal products, and all did include salt. These isolated groups of people preserved their food using salt, fermentation, and drying methods, all of which maintained a high nutritional value of the food.
In all, Dr. Price investigated some seventeen cultures including Eskimos in Alaska, African tribes, Australian Aborigines, traditional American Indians, peoples of the South Sea Islands, those living in remote Swiss villages, and those living on remote islands off the coast of Scotland.
Dr. Price analyzed the diets of these isolated groups of people and then compared them to the American diet of his day. Keep in mind that he conducted his research in the 1930s and 1940s when the nutritional value of the American diet was actually much higher than it is now.
Here's what Dr. Price found:
- All of the so-called primitive diets contained at least four times the quantity of minerals and water-soluble vitamins as the American diet.
- All of the diets contained at least ten times the amount of fat-soluble vitamins in the American diet.
- People in these isolated cultures had virtually no tooth decay, and they had a high resistance to disease.
In some cases, Dr. Price had the opportunity to study those who had recently been introduced to processed, Westernized foods. He found that when Western civilization reached these remote areas and the diet began to include processed and sugary foods, the number of dental cavities rose rapidly. Not only was tooth decay more prevalent, but disease in general began to increase. Children born to parents who had consumed the processed food had a greater number of instances of facial and jaw deformities. A higher percentage of birth anomalies began to occur, and both acute and chronic diseases were recorded in increased numbers. The more refined the food, the faster the health of the people declined.
Dr. Price concluded that dental decay was due primarily to nutritional deficiencies, and that the same conditions that promoted tooth decay also promoted disease in general. He became a strong advocate for Americans to change their eating habits by
- choosing untampered, nutrient-dense foods.
- avoiding foods that have been processed or refined.
- choosing foods that are in their natural, fresh state.
These are the same eating habits that were the foundation of Jesus' diet!
The diet plan presented in this book is an approach to food that emphasizes the following:
- Whole foods
- Fresh foods
- Pure water and foods without pesticides, fungicides, or any type of additives
- Foods that have not been laced with sugar or infused with fat, salt, additives, or chemical preservatives
This book presents "the Jesus way of eating."
If you truly want to follow Jesus in every area of your life, you cannot ignore your eating habits. It is an area in which you can follow Him daily and reap great rewards for doing so. Following Jesus in your diet requires a commitment to change, a commitment to be all that God created you to be, and a commitment to yield your desires to God's instruction. God, in turn, will honor your heartfelt commitment by giving you more energy, better health, and a greater sense of well-being.
Are you wiling to make a commitment to follow Jesus' example and eat the way He ate? If you are, then turn the page and let's begin.
- Gunther B. Pualien, Ph.D., The Divine Philosophy and Science of Health and Healing (Brushton, N.Y.: Teach Services, Inc., 1995), 202.
- Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation (New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2001), 6.
- Elizabeth Gleick, "Land of the Fat," Time International Edition, 25 Oct. 1999, 242.
Did Jesus Exercise?
Many Christians seem to believe that exercise is of very little value. They base their opinion, in part, on what the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy: "Bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things" (1 Tim. 4:8).
However, biblical times were vastly different from today with regard to people's need for additional "bodily exercise." When Jesus walked the earth, most people walked from three to ten miles a day in the course of their daily life and work! The people did not need to engage in additional exercise. Extra exercise was usually only done in the Roman Empire to increase muscle size and strength for participation in spectator sports. Certainly Paul valued physical health; he simply believed that getting bodily exercise for the purpose of engaging in sports was not as profitable as using one's time and energy to develop spiritual strength.
When Jesus was approximately four or five years old, He walked with His family from Egypt to Nazareth, a distance of more than four hundred miles. His ministry was marked by frequent travels to various parts of Israel, many of the trips being ones from the Galilee region to Jerusalem, a distance of about a hundred and twenty miles.
The Jews had seven official feasts-three of which were to be celebrated in Jerusalem: Passover (Feast of Unleavened Bread), Pentecost (Feast of Weeks), and Succoth (Feast of Tabernacles). Exodus 34:23 said of these feasts: "Three times in the year all your men shall appear before the Lord," which meant a visit to the tabernacle or temple.
Being a devout Jew, Jesus' earthly father, Joseph, would have attended these three annual feasts in Jerusalem. It was customary to take one's entire family on these pilgrimages. These trips meant walking through mountainous and desert regions, often in temperatures that might range from freezing (in the fall and early spring) to more than 110 degrees Fahrenheit (in the summer). Jesus very likely made this trip to Jerusalem three times a year from the age of five until the age of thirty. If so, He walked at least 18,000 miles just on these three annual pilgrimages from Galilee to Jerusalem!
We certainly know that Jesus made the trip from Nazareth to Jerusalem when He was twelve years old. In the gospel of Luke we read:
His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. (Luke 2:41-42)
Evangelist Arthur Blessitt once obtained maps that showed the roads Jesus traveled. He calculated that the total miles Jesus walked during the three years of His public ministry were 3,125 miles. He added this mileage to the mileage from Egypt to Nazareth, as well as the miles Jesus walked from Galilee to Jerusalem, and he came up with a total of 21,595 miles that Jesus likely walked during His life.
On many days, it appears that Jesus walked between ten and twenty miles. We have no idea how many miles Jesus may have walked while in the wilderness for forty days at the outset of His ministry. The actual miles Jesus walked in His life may have been double the amount calculated by Blessitt.
As a comparison, the distance around the world at the equator is 24,901.55 miles. It is not difficult to assume that Jesus walked almost the distance around the world in His lifetime!1
The Most Beneficial Exercise: Aerobic
The most beneficial cardiovascular activity is aerobic exercise. Aerobic simply means "in the presence of air." Aerobic exercise both challenges and increases the oxygen-carrying capacity of the body. The cardiovascular system and the muscles become more efficient and stronger. The heart is able to pump out more oxygenated blood per beat, so the heart becomes more efficient and the resting heart rate becomes slower. A slow, strong heart rate is a good sign of cardiovascular fitness. I commonly see marathon runners whose heart rates are fifty beats per minute.
Aerobic exercises are those exercises that use the large muscle groups of the body in repetitive motions for a sustained period of time. These exercises may include brisk walking, jogging, aerobic dancing (including jazzercise), cycling, swimming, rowing, stair-stepping, skating, and cross-country skiing. An aerobic effect can also be gained by playing a vigorous game of racquetball, singles tennis, basketball, or another active sport.
Even moderately paced walking is an excellent form of aerobic exercise. In fact, some research shows that moderately paced walking five times a week for thirty minutes is just as advantageous as brisk walking or jogging, although the benefits from a brisk walk or jog can be achieved in less time.
As an active walker, Jesus certainly was engaged in aerobic exercise.
The Health Benefits of Aerobic Exercise
The greatest benefit of aerobic exercise is that it significantly decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact, the risk can be decreased by approximately 50 percent. For those with heart disease, aerobic exercise lowers the risk of the disease progressing. Aerobic exercise results in the body forming collateral circulation in the coronary arteries. These additional arteries act as something of a natural bypass, and they improve the circulation to the heart muscle.
Aerobic exercise also decreases what are called coronary risk factors. These are factors that seem to impact heart disease. Aerobic exercise helps decrease body weight, lower blood pressure, lower blood triglyceride levels, and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. Regular aerobic exercise also helps raise HDL (good) cholesterol. In one study, researchers monitored more than 84,000 female nurses for eight years. Those women who exercised regularly had a 54 percent decreased risk of both heart attack and stroke when compared to sedentary women. Similar studies with men have produced similar results.
Exercise also helps prevent diabetes and improve glucose tolerance, which is the body's ability to regulate the level of sugar in the blood. Impaired glucose tolerance often leads to diabetes. About one in four adults in our nation at present is at risk of developing impaired glucose tolerance and eventually diabetes. Exercise also improves the body's ability to use insulin.
Recent studies reveal that regular physical activity significantly decreases the chance of developing adult onset diabetes even if one doesn't lose weight. However, weight loss will further reduce ones risk of diabetes. People who exercise regularly decrease their risk of Type II diabetes by nearly 300 percent!2 Approximately 90 percent of all diabetics have Type II diabetes. This form of diabetes is not a true insulin deficiency, but a resistance of tissues, especially liver and muscle tissue, to the effects of insulin.
Regular aerobic exercise also helps decrease the risk of developing cancer. Individuals who are physically active have a dramatically decreased risk for developing colon, breast, and prostate cancer.3 So many people are concerned today about these three types of cancer, and perhaps the best thing they can do to prevent them is to lace up their walking shoes and go for a brisk walk four or five times a week! What is good for the body is also good for the soul-getting a little fresh air and sunshine is good for you!
The Health Value of Weight-Bearing Exercise
Weight-bearing exercises, which include jogging, aerobic dance, and walking, also help a person maintain bone density and thereby prevent osteoporosis.4
Osteoporosis is very common in women over the age of fifty. Bone mass decreases at an annual rate of 0.3 to 0.5 percent usually after the age of thirty. This loss increases to approximately 2 to 3 percent when a woman goes through menopause, and this rate of loss occurs for about ten years thereafter. Over their lives, women tend to lose about 35 percent of their cortical bone mass (the long bones of their arms and legs), and about 50 percent of their trebecular bones (vertebrae). Men, in comparison, lose only about a quarter of their cortical bone mass and only about a third of their trebecular bone mass over the course of their lives.
Dr. Kenneth Cooper, considered to be the founder of the aerobics exercise movement, is a strong advocate for impact-type exercises, which increase bone density in both men and women in skeletal areas that are subjected to the increased pressure from impact exercises. Exercises that fall into this category are aerobic dance, skipping rope, canoeing, volleyball, jogging, and tennis.
Exercise and Weight Control
One out of two Americans is either overweight or obese. Obesity is a risk factor for heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, some forms of cancer, and other degenerative diseases.
Walking is one of the best aids to weight loss known. Brisk walking helps a person both reach and maintain the ideal body weight in two ways: by increasing muscle mass and basal metabolic rate, and by decreasing appetite.
How does exercise impact a person's metabolism, and what does this have to do with weight control? The basal metabolic rate of a person decreases by about 5 percent for every decade of life after the age of twenty. Sedentary individuals have a significant decrease in their muscle mass as they age. In sedentary individuals, there is approximately a seven-pound loss of muscle mass every ten years past the age of twenty. Regular aerobic exercise, as well as weight training, helps a person increase muscle mass and thus raise the body's basal metabolic rate. As the metabolic rate goes up, a person is better able to lose weight. Because both metabolic rate and muscle mass decrease as we age, it is virtually impossible for a person to prevent weight gain after middle age unless that person exercises on a regular basis.
Additionally, aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease a person's appetite and also decrease cravings for foods.
- Arthur Blessit, "How Far Did Jesus and Mary Walk?" www.Blessitt.com
- M. Mogadam, Every Heart Attack Is Preventable (Washington: Lifeline Press, 2001).
- S. Blair et al., "Physical Fitness and All-Cause Mortality: A Prospective Study of Healthy Men and Women," Journal of the American Medical Association, 262 (1989), 2395-2401.
- Susan. Puhl et al., ACSM Fitness Book (Champaign, Ill.: Human Kinetic, 1998).
Meet the Author
Don Colbert, M.D., a board-certified family practitioner since 1984, is the author of such bestsellers as What Would Jesus Eat?, Toxic Relief, Walking in Divine Health, and the Bible Cure Booklet Series. Dr. Colbert hasdeveloped his own vitamin line, Divine Health Nutritional Products, and hosts the national talk show, Your Health Matters, with his wife Mary. He regularly speaks at national seminars. He makes his home in central Florida.
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This books lacks valid reference material and it filled more with opinion of Dr. Colbert. Although I found this book moderately interesting, it is not a book that is packed with truths. Too many 'I have no doubt that Jesus...'. For anyone looking for a good book on traditional dieting, try Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions, or Rex Russel's 'What the Bible Says about Healthy Living'. To me this book is cashing in on Jesus' name and I question the knowledge of Dr. Colbert.
This book is very eye-opening, especially if you are a person who thinks the four food groups are hamburgers, French fries, chocolate, and soft drinks. I knew that Americans did not eat right, but this book really lays down the ugly truth. I read it last year and have not eaten pork, shrimp, or other 'unclean' meats since then (except on two occasions when I didn't realize it until later) I have also drastically cut down on animal protien and replaced it with beans instead. Dr. Colbert makes a solid case, backed by medical, historical, and biblical facts, on why the Mediterrian Diet (which was the diet of Jesus' day) is the healthest in the world. The only problem is that Dr. Colbert infers that if one does not follow the food restrictions in the Old Testament Law, then they are not truely followers of Christ. He makes no mention of the fact that Jesus Himself said that all foods were clean, or of the other verses that show that the food restrictions were ceremonial laws that have nothing to do with one's spirituality. While diet is a topic Christians far too often neglect, it in no way affects their standing before God, unless of course food has become their God. Other then that, it is a great book. I have applied many of its principles to my own life and have seen wonderful results. I used to feel sick all the time and have headaches all the time, but now I feel a whole lot better since I've started eating whole foods. I must warn you that eating healty will mean more time in food prep, and more money for groceries (since whole foods are more expensive than processed foods). It is hard to give up your 'comfort foods', but after awhile you don't miss them.
this book will give you better understanding on what foods God really intended for us to eat and why. this is a MUST read.
The Holy Spirit reveled almost everything in this book over the last 4 years, and I have been striving to change my healthstyle. I have lost over 70 pounds, been healed from MS, and depression! Praise Jesus!! Great book, well written, and well researched.
Dr. Colbert provides some excellent ideas for a well balanced diet that appears to to be nutritionally sound. We can become legalistic about what we believe Jesus would or would not do & although true, Jesus was about His Father's business, we must always use wisdom when taking care of these earthly bodies via eating the right foods in moderation, so we're healthy enough to spread the gospel of Jesus to the ends of he Earth. I thank God for people like Dr. Colbert who are willing to share their knowledge of what the Lord has taught them through the years. I very much disagree w/one of the reviews on here that this book is "cashing in on he name of Jesus." After all, there is always an overhead cost of editing, publishing, & sacrificing ones time & labor.
When I first started to read this book I was excited the most respected part I thought was when a particular food was suggested it was also shown where in the bible it was referenced I am a truly happy camper
WWJD. Famous initials in Christian circles. Colbert has taken this well know acronym and made it: WWJE. Maybe this approach will catch the attention of Christians.
Colbert concludes from the Biblical evidence that Jesus ate fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish, and He didn¿t eat foods high in saturated and hydrogenated fats, sweets, and processed and refined foods. He also notes that as an orthodox Jew, Jesus would have followed OT guidelines of ¿clean¿ vs. ¿unclean¿ meats, and there are sound health reasons for doing so.
Colbert is correct in noting that Jesus was not a vegetarian, as some have tried to claim. He notes that Jesus ate fish, along with lamb, at least at Passover. And Colbert notes that fish is a very healthy food. However, there are vegetarian sources of the healthy fatty acids found in fish. Colbert mentions olive oil, but flax seeds, walnuts, and other nuts and seeds are also very good sources of these healthy fats.
Exercise is another important factor in owns health. And in this case, WWJD would be a good question. Jesus most certainly did not follow a sedentary lifestyle. As Colbert correctly notes, Jesus walked everywhere, and we would do good to follow His example.
So overall, I think Colbert has found some good health advice in asking WWJE. However, he is a little too strong in recommending a ¿low-fat¿ diet. Some fatty foods are in fact very healthy, such as nuts and seeds.
I used a different approach in looking to the Bible for nutritional advice in my book Creationist Diet: Nutrition and God-given Foods According to the Bible. I do discuss WWJE, but I focus more on the early chapters of Genesis. And by doing so, I come to somewhat different conclusions than Colbert comes to. So my book would give the reader a different perspective on what the Bible teaches in regards to diet.
This book is not very practical. It would have been easy to eat this way in Biblical times, but not today. Another problem I have with this book is that it recommends that you don't eat certain kinds of seafood, and some of these mentioned are good sources of vital nutrients that you can't get by eating other meats. Also, it fails to mention that the Bible has a passage forbidding Christians from abstaining from any foods(read 1 Timothy 4.1-5).
Seafood is just as safe as any other meat as long as it isn't eaten raw or imported from a country with a poor seafood inspection program.
Excellent book for learning the entire "Law of Love" which Jesus taught while he was here on earth. These teachings go hand in hand with other aspects of the law on karma and reincarnation which we learn about in the book of Matthew.
How does this match up with Matthew 7:25-34? Did Jesus actually walk 'everwhere' of course not he also traveled by boat read Matt 8:23, 9:1..what other untruths can be found between the pages of this book? The harvest is plentiful but the labors are few.... In 2 Timothy 4:2, Pauls chargers believers to...Preach the Word, be prepared in season and out of season. For the kingdom of heaven is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit Romans 14:17. How does that pair with the 'ultimate Program for Eating Well, Feeling Great, and Living Longer? Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food Romans 14:19. So instead of wondering What Would Jesus Eat or WWJD, do what Jesus did, he was about his Father's business, he did not plan daily meals for his diet. Instead he planned daily encounters to share the gospel with others, model that instead of this authors plan for your eating. That's the true ultimate program for every believer.