In his March 18th article, “Food news can cause indigestion,” The Seattle Times staff columnist Jerry Large humorously begins, “Do you eat food? If yes, then maybe you haven’t been reading all the latest news.”
Large writes how he is striving to adapt to changing nutrition recommendations and doing “whatever it takes to stay healthy.” For instance, Large is considering a weekly plan of meatless Mondays, fish Fridays, tofu Tuesdays, and maybe water-only Wednesdays.
I thought, water-only what? He must be joking, but it’s hard to tell. Before anyone considers a diet that includes regular fasting, perhaps they should consider what the Bible says on nutrition and spiritual, health-promotive thoughts – but more on that in a minute.
Reading the online comments to the Large article, I found that I’m not the only one viewing nutritional reports in the media with a grain of salt. Have you noticed how the reports are often contradictory? Experts have noticed this also, including science writer Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories - Bad Calories, who has questioned the validity of many widely accepted ideas regarding carbs, calories, and what is considered healthy eating.
Another critic of nutritional studies is respected meta-researcher Dr. John Ioannidis, of the Stanford School of Medicine. Ioannidis has spent his career uncovering bias and wrong conclusions in medical research. His findings have shown that studies often sharply conflict with one another and are prone to numerous errors. When asked by Atlantic Monthly "How should we choose among these dueling, high profile nutritional findings?" Ioannidis suggests a simple approach: ignore them all.
That’s right, he suggests we ignore all the nutritional studies.
It leaves me wondering where we should turn when it comes to finding healthful eating guides. It may not be everyone’s first place to look, but I’ve noticed that relevant perspectives regarding today’s discussions on eating and health can be found in the Bible. Here are a few:
1. Questioning nutritional guides is nothing new. A healthy skepticism regarding nutritional recommendations goes back to the biblical time of Daniel. Over 2,500 years ago, Daniel held to his religious beliefs and proved that he and his friends could refrain from the recommended diet and yet be healthier and better nourished.
2. What you eat is not what is most important. Jesus Christ stated that we should not worry about what we eat. He even advised his followers to eat whatever was served to them. And since he devoted so much time to healing others, I don’t think he was uncaring about their health. Some may think this view to be an irresponsible approach today, but not the French. When it comes to what they eat, the French appear to have followed Jesus’ suggestion. A recent article from WebMD.com explores French eating habits that are less concerned about what to eat than having reasonably sized portions.
3. More important: What thoughts are you consuming? Jesus also emphasized that it wasn’t what went in someone’s mouth that mattered, but what came out of it. I think this means that what we say represents the thoughts we’ve consumed, ruminated on, and then repeated out loud. With all the mental junk food available today, I believe Jesus was cautioning us regarding our mental diet.
4. Think grateful thoughts. The Bible notes that our mental diet should include grateful thoughts and seeing the good in life. John Kralik’s A Simple Act of Gratitude: How Learning to Say Thank You Changed My Life highlights the restorative benefits of this way of thinking.
Regardless of what the next nutritional report recommends and before beginning water-only Wednesdays, consider taking a cue from the Bible and focus on spiritual, health-promotive thoughts. These are a form of healthcare we can all afford.Article first published as Does the Bible Serve Up the Healthiest Nutrition Advice? on Blogcritics.