Apr 23, 2010
What Would Jesus Eat?
What Would Jesus Eat? To answer this question we must look to the Bible. Jesus is only recorded eating a few times, but we know that being Jewish and perfect he would have followed the dietary laws of the Old Testament. Jesus did not follow all of the rules that the pharisees had tacked on to the laws, but rather he followed the law with a desire to honor God. Let me be clear before I begin, by saying that we are not compelled to follow these laws. These laws were to set the jewish nation apart from the world. Their very diet helped identify them as the people of God. We can however learn from seeing God's protective shepherding of his people in this area.
Were these just random rules set by God, or were they healthy eating concepts that were way ahead of their time? I believe they were the latter. Jesus would have eaten whole grains at nearly every meal and since olives were native to Israel they would have plenty of healthy fats. Fish were the most readily available meat source in Jesus' time and he is recorded fishing, cooking, eating and giving fish to others.
Red meat was seldom eaten and Jesus may have had it once or twice a month. It could also hardly be called red meat because they would only prepare it well done (no blood). This is backwards to most people in our culture. We eat red meat daily and fish once or twice a month. Whole grains are seldom eaten in favor of white bread, white rice, and flour. This poison was not even available in Jesus' time nor would it have been allowed. Pork was off limits completely.
The fish eaten by the Jewish people did not include catfish, shellfish, or mollusks such as crabs and lobster. It was pretty much a given that if an animal were a bottom feeder (catfish), water filter (shellfish), or a scavenger (mollusks) they were forbidden. It is amazing how true to science the Hebrew laws were.
All fruits and vegetables were permitted by God except grape products prepared by non Jews. This was probably because the alcohol content would have been higher. Let us also remember that wine today is different than Biblical wine. Wine was permissible, but had only a mild amount of alcohol in it. "Strong drink" (which was forbidden) in Biblical times was 3-11% alcohol. Today, distillation increases alcohol content. This method was not discovered until A.D. 1500. Modern wine has 9-11% alcohol. In Jesus' time no Jewish person was drinking this amount of alcohol.
What about snacks and drinks? Jesus would have had fruits, grains or other healthy snacks. We know this because he is recorded in Mark 11 as being hungry and going to a fig tree in search of a snack. Another time his disciples chow down on grain in a field. Jesus also enjoyed a honeycomb. These were rare treats in those days but still more natural than the refined processed sugars of today. It may be interesting to note that the only time he is recorded eating honeycomb is in his glorified body, but I think he probably had some before. When it comes to drinks he is recorded as having wine and telling others to give water to people in need. Jesus may have also had milk, but this was considered more of a luxury like honey.
How does this diet match up with the latest food pyramid based on scientific research? Well, there are two variations. Harvard has done one that has exercise as its base. This is right up Jesus' alley since he did manual labor (carpenter), and walked everywhere. The other more widely accepted pyramid begins with whole grains. This just happens to be the most regularly eaten food of Jesus' time. Produce, vegetable oils, and fish and poultry are the next steps of the pyramid. The top contains sugary foods and red meat because we should only have them every now and then, and pork, shellfish, and mollusks don't even make the list.
The food pyramid continually changes from decade to decade. The newest one is based on our cunning 21st century scientific knowhow. It is strikingly similar to how Jesus ate 2,000 years ago and God's people for 1,500 years before that. All we had to do was read the Bible. This timeless book continues to speak truth even in these postmodern times. Jesus' diet may not be required for today, but it sure could not hurt. Let's not forget Jesus' most important lesson on food--"It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" There is always a need for healthy eating, but only God can make us truly whole.
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Confessions of a Sodaholic