Vanity and self harm through extreme dieting is not what Jesus taught us.
Put down that diet book and listen to the word of God. Jesus taught us to love our bodies and nourish them with good food. He never mentioned that you should deprive yourself in harmful ways especially for vanity purposes. However, to heal your body with the foods that God provided for us. Food should be glorified for it was created by God to feed his creation that is human.
We are fallible and flawed and the devil is all around us but more importantly, God is in us. Satan places huge emphasis on your physical appearance as well as personal wealth through greed. Evil lurks on television, radio, and especially the internet connections of binge watching Netflix and Youtube shows. Listen, I love a good Netflix show and enjoy multiple seasons of a given program. Indulging in crime and mystery like everyone else.
The key is to not make this your obsession.
Idolizing “false prophets” which are not God. Celebrity and red carpets while worshiping humans as anything else but the creation of God is hopeless.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”
When I do a life review and go back 20 years I see a radically different person with just a hint of who I am today. I may be flawed now but I had huge craters of self doubt, loathing, anger and jealousy. When your in the eye of the storm you don’t see the harm you are causing around you by being selfish. Similar to a Hurricane. It pained me to give too much of myself or time but I still thought I was a good person? In a larger way I knew things weren’t right because I continuously harmed myself through self ridicule and serial dieting of all types. Including starving myself which is very different from fasting for God.
As an observant Jew, Jesus would have followed the dietary laws laid down in the 11th chapter of the book of Leviticus. More than anything, he conformed his life to the will of God. Clean animals included cattle, sheep, goats, some fowl, and fish. Unclean or forbidden animals included pigs, camels, birds of prey, shellfish, eels, and reptiles. Jews could eat grasshoppers or locusts, as John the Baptist did, but no other insects.
Those dietary laws would have been in effect up to the time of the New Covenant. In the book of Acts, Paul and the apostles argued over unclean foods. The works of the Law no longer applied to Christians, who are saved by grace.
Regardless of the rules, Jesus would have been restricted in his diet by what was available. Jesus was poor, and he ate the foods of the poor. Fresh fish would have been plentiful around the Mediterranean coast, Sea of Galilee and Jordan River; otherwise fish would have been dried or smoked.
Bread was the staple of the ancient diet. In John 6:9, when Jesus was to miraculously feed 5,000 people, he multiplied five barley loaves and two small fish. Barley was a coarse grain fed to cattle and horses but was commonly used by the poor to make bread. Wheat and millet were also used.
Jesus called himself “the bread of life” (John 6:35), meaning he was essential food. In instituting the Lord’s Supper, he also used bread, a food obtainable by everyone. Wine, used in that rite as well, was drunk at almost all meals.
Jesus Ate Fruit and Vegetables Too
Much of the diet in ancient Palestine consisted of fruit and vegetables. In Matthew 21:18–19, we see Jesus approach a fig tree for a quick snack.
Other popular fruits were grapes, raisins, apples, pears, apricots, peaches, melons, pomegranates, dates, and olives. Olive oil was used in cooking, as a condiment, and in lamps. Mint, dill, salt, cinnamon, and cumin are mentioned in the Bible as seasonings.
When eating with friends like Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary, Jesus probably would have enjoyed a vegetable stew made of beans, lentils, onions and garlic, cucumbers, or leeks. People often dipped chunks of bread into such a mixture. Butter and cheese, made from cows’ and goats’ milk, were popular.
Almonds and pistachio nuts were common. A bitter type of almond was good only for its oil, but a sweet almond was eaten as dessert. For a sweetener or treat, diners ate honey. Dates and raisins were baked into cakes.
Meat Was Available But Scarce
We know Jesus ate meat because the gospels tell us he observed the Passover, a feast to commemorate the angel of death “passing over” the Israelites before they escaped from Egypt under Moses.
Part of the Passover meal was a roast lamb. Lambs were sacrificed at the temple, then the carcass was brought home for the family or group to eat.
Jesus mentioned an egg in Luke 11:12. Acceptable fowl for food would have included chickens, ducks, geese, quail, partridge, and pigeons.
In the parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus told of the father instructing a servant to kill a fattened calf for the feast when the wandering son came home. Fattened calves were considered delicacies for special occasions, but it’s possible Jesus would have eaten veal when dining at Matthew’s house or with Pharisees.
After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to the apostles and asked them for something to eat, to prove that he was alive bodily and not just a vision. They gave him a piece of broiled fish and he ate it. (Luke 24:42–43).
My Grandmother “Granny” as we called her, lived until she was 93 years old and passed in 1996. Her secret was the simplest of answers to keeping weight under control and living a healthy life:
Never dyed her hair (still had streaks of black) and washed her hair with ivory soap.
Consumed small portions on a small plate way before this became a way to portion control. Balanced her plate with veggies, small protein and some kind of potato.
Her main meal of the day was in the early afternoon. Allowing her body to digest the food before she fell asleep around 8 pm.
Drank black coffee and made fresh lemonade everyday. An occasional tiny glass of wine only.
Baked with fresh ingredients and cooked with plenty of love and great taste.
Fell asleep reciting the Rosary usually making it only half way until she closed her eyes and her beads fell at her side.
Forgave often and didn’t spend much time for grieving anything in life regardless of the loss of a loved one. Always stating;
“Well, that’s the way God wanted it”
Most of how my Grandmother lived was based on her upbringing and difficult circumstances in a different world then we live today. Limited financial income for a woman who was a lifelong homemaker to her husband, children and then her grandchildren. However, when you look back at the history of eating to when we all over indulged and under indulged and the water fall of new and old dieting techniques the basics still go back to my Grandmother and the bible. She used to say;
“Eat when your hungry, drink when your dry, makes a man healthy wealthy and wise”.
Nourishing your body with good food as natural and organic as possible, filling your plate with vegetables and some starch. Protein is important for muscle retention and energy. Keeping it simple and lightly indulging in simple sweets (homemade if possible). Sweetening with a little raw honey. These are the food Jesus consumed and asked that we eat them in joyful delight.
We all want to physically look good but this has a different meaning in the bible then it does on the internet and through reality programs.
Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity,
And revive me in Your ways.
Feeling physically well on the inside always radiates to a glowing skin on the outside. Thus, “looking good” has an entirely different meaning then how the entertainment world wants you to look.
He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity.
The Bible offers so many life lessons but your relationship with food should be a pleasant exchange between God and your physical well being. One day you will leave your body and be restored in Heaven. Leave your body the way Jesus would want us; glorious and healthy inside and out.
(Sources: The Bible Almanac, by J.I. Packer, Merrill C. Tenney, and William White Jr.; The New Compact Bible Dictionary, T. Alton Bryant, editor; Everyday Life in Bible Times, Merle Severy, editor; Fascinating Bible Facts, David M. Howard Jr., contributing writer.)