Good nutrition is not a twenty-first-century revelation that is sweeping America. This revelation existed in the Garden of Eden. God Himself looked at all the trees He had created for food and saw that they were good! God created all the foods necessary to produce a nutritionally balanced diet. He then reemphasized nutrition through dietary laws written for the Jewish people under the law. Although the Lord used the dietary laws to differentiate between clean and unclean, scientific studies have proven that there are parasites within unclean animals that can be harmful to the human body.
To prove how important the proper diet is to a believer, let us take a look at the life of Daniel. In Daniel I, the first step the king took to assimilate the Hebrew children into the Babylonian culture was to change their diet. “And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof
they might stand before the king” (Daniel 1:5). In virtually every culture, food is used as a means of assimilation into that culture.
Now, Daniel and the three Hebrew young men were the only four mentioned, out of all the young men brought into the king’s palace, who purposed in their hearts not to compromise the laws of God for the favor of man. Because of this, God gave Daniel favor with the prince of the eunuchs. This resulted in his granting Daniel’s request to eat “pulse” (vegetables) and to drink water for ten days. The results were glorious. Daniel 1:15 reads, “And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.” The Word goes on to say that “as for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in learning and wisdom: and Daniel had under standing in all visions and dreams.”
The young men who compromised their convictions are never mentioned in the Bible. They ended up assimilating into the Babylonian culture and forsaking the commandments of God.
Nutrition plays a very active role in keeping our temples consecrated to the Lord. Much of what we call food is in reality fat, sugar, and chemicals that are producing dangerous chemical and psychological imbalances within our bodies. These imbalances affect not only our physical endurance and productivity but also our mental abilities to process information, concentrate, and make decisions. All of these are necessary for producing God’s blessings in our lives and for helping us to be the best we can be for God.
Many of our physical illnesses can be completely cured by proper nutrition and fasting. Isaiah 58:8 teaches us that fasting brings forth healing speedily.
What is the Kings Meat Today?
There does not need to be a lot of explanation about what fast foods are. The Word teaches us that anything done in haste comes to nothing. This is true with our eating habits also. Fast foods provide little nutritional value for our body. The only real benefit is that they satisfy hunger pangs temporarily. Have you ever noticed that the more junk food you eat, the more you want to eat? This is because your body is being stimulated by the fats and additives in fast foods. Therefore, it is not receiving the important nutrients it needs to be satisfied. In addition, eating fast foods builds up toxins (poisons) in your body. This makes fasting more difficult because of the physical hardship experienced while the body is cleansing itself of these poisons.
Fasting alters the way you think about food. After cleansing your body on a fast, you are less likely to want to refill it with junk. You always can return to old habits, but it’s better to start new ones. If you are going to eat out, either choose healthier fast foods, or invest in a balanced meal at a more formal restaurant. At all other times, prepare nutritious meals at home and eat what is prepared. This will save a significant amount of money and headaches (unnecessary suffering)!
Processed and Fat-Free Foods
Processed foods are foods that have been altered in some way from their original state. These alterations improve the shelf life of food, but they often destroy the nutritional value of that food. Many of the chemicals found in processed foods have been found to be cancer-causing and addictive. In addition, many processed foods contain high quantities of sugars that have numerous, unhealthy side effects.
It is wiser to invest in fresh ingredients fresh food, and the extra time needed to prepare meals in larger quantities. Leftovers can be easily frozen in individual meal sizes. This is not only cost-effective, but it�s much more nutritious and satisfying.
Fat-free foods do not alter a person’s eating habits. Rarely do people who eat fat-free foods lose the weight desired, and what they sacrifice in calories, they gain in chemicals. It is wiser to eat purer food products and simply cut back on how much is eaten.
I remember a time, many years ago, when my car died in the parking lot of my workplace. Upon examination, I found that the battery cables were corroded. Therefore, I took baking soda and a toothbrush and proceeded to clean the cables. While I was cleaning them, a girlfriend suggested using Coke. So I tried it. To my amazement the Coke dissolved the corrosion immediately, the car started, and off I went! Can you imagine what soda can do to a stomach? The ingredients of soda are water, artificial colorings and flavorings, and sugar. The diet brands contain cancer-causing agents such as saccharin or NutraSweet. For a soda alternative, try combining fruit juice with soda water (carbonated water). It is refreshing, tastes great, and is nutritious. (Note: The above does not pertain to the necessary sugar restrictions of diabetics.)
There are some benefits to caffeine. It produces increased mental alertness. It stimulates the burning of extra calories. For those with breathing problems, it serves as a respiratory relaxer, and it can increase blood flow. However, there are also other important facts to consider when consuming caffeine.
First, caffeine is a drug, and it is addictive. It also has been associated with heart disease, birth defects, digestive disorders, breast cancer, headaches, and anxiety. In addition, it has been associated with depression. Caffeine also releases insulin. Insulin causes blood sugar to drop which in turn creates hunger pangs.
You need to get control over anything that is currently controlling you. Those who consume large quantities of caffeine often find it more difficult to fast. Fasting is a cleansing process, physically and spiritually. Therefore, as toxins are being eliminated from your body, there can be side effects such as headaches, nausea, shakes, anxiety, etc. These side effects have discouraged some from fasting. The withdrawal from caffeine can cause numerous side effects, but those who have kicked the caffeine habit feel better physically and emotionally.
There are ways to break the caffeine habit. When you want a quick pick-me-up, try hot water with lemon and honey. There are also grain-based products such as Postum and Pero that taste similar to coffee. They are low in calories and are made from bran, wheat, and molasses. Cafix is another grain-based drink that can be purchased either in a supermarket or health-food store. Caffeine-free coffee and herbal tea are good alternatives, although it has been documented that herbal teas can be a more serious health hazard than coffee. Fruit and vegetable juices are also good alternatives to caffeinated drinks.
Note: moderation and good eating habits are the keys to enjoying a lifestyle of fasting and good health. For those who enjoy drinking caffeinated products, such as coffee, let moderation be your guide. The more you minimize your intake, the better you will feel overall.
“Can you fast by drinking coffee, soda, etc., and if so, does God consider it a valid fast?” The answer is yes to both questions, unless God has dealt with you otherwise, However, I do not recommend fasting this way. Fasting is a time of purification; water and juices are best suited for fasting. Putting nutritionally poor substances into your body could result in symptoms of diabetes, hypoglycemia, and other chemical imbalances. It is best to train yourself to fast with water and/or fresh juices.
Refined flours lack approximately 80 percent of essential nutrients found in whole-grain flours. Whole-grain flours contain many B vitamins that aid in the absorption and metabolism of proteins; they also help the body use fats and assist in the formation of red blood cells. Whole-grain flours also contain vegetable oil and vitamin E, as well as protein.
Many people buy breads made with refined flours because they cost less, and the “kids” like them better. Although this may be partially true, you can usually find good whole-grain bread at reduced prices in your local store. You may even want to consider making your own bread. It does take extra time, but it can be cost-effective, and your family will love it.
Buying nutritionally deficient foods to save money is a myth because these types of foods do not satisfy the body’s nutritional needs, and therefore the body requires and craves more food. Consequently, you will spend more money on food because of increased food consumption.
Sugar is this nation’s most popular food additive, We consume ten times more sugar than all the other 2,600 or so food additives combined, except salt (a distant second). Next time you go shopping, check the ingredient lists on the processed foods you buy and count how many of them contain sugar.
The only benefit of sugar is the calories: only four per gram. There is not enough time to describe the ill effects of sugar. Let it suffice to say that excessive sugar intake can affect you physically socially, and mentally. Many of the disturbing emotional problems today’s children suffer from could be corrected by reducing the amount of sugar in their diets. The severe concentration problems among Americans today could most assuredly be reversed by diet. The saddest thing that sugar does to your body is that it destroys many of the important nutrients your body processes after eating. This results in a weakened immune system among other things.
To Cut Down on Sugar:
1. Cut back on stocking sweets and candy at home. Instead, provide fresh fruits and vegetables. Popcorn is also a healthy snack.
2. Get in the habit of serving fruit. Fresh fruit can quench the most ferocious sweet attack if you will reach for it instead of a sweet. You can also cook fruit to make it sweeter tasting; add honey and you have a dessert.
3. Bake your own cakes and sweets at home. Cut the sugar called for by one-third to one-half. You will find your baking more satisfying and healthier.
Where Do You Begin?
Moderation Is the Key
Begin by praying and asking God to direct you into a lifestyle of eating that pleases Him. Start fasting one to three days a week to rid your body of toxins that have accumulated over time and that are poisoning your body.
Start planning meals, including desserts. Purchase only the necessary ingredients to make these meals. Buy more fresh vegetables and fruits. Replace excessive use of red meat with moderate portions of chicken or fish. Buy whole- grain breads. Stock up on staple foods such as grains, spices, potatoes (a great nutritional investment), rice, onions, garlic, oil, etc.
Read up on nutrition. There is a great deal of information available to the public on nutrition. I was asked to include a section on nutrition in this book. I have only touched on the basics and, therefore, recommend that you look into other resources. Joy Haney has written a book entitled Radiant Health. Nona Freeman has also written a book entitled Keeper of the House. Both of these books are highly recommended and contain valuable information that will bless you for years to come.
Jane Brody’s Good Food Book and Nutrition Book are two outstanding resources for nutritional information and meal planning. Her books contain excellent low-fat recipes and cooking tips that will enhance any kitchen. Many of the facts presented in this nutrition section have been gleaned from Jane Brody’s Nutrition Book.
Another highly recommended book is Eat Right for Your Type, written by Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo. This book enlightens you on foods and dietary guidelines that are compatible with your blood type. Although eating a healthful way has its nutritional benefits, not everyone can eat the same foods and maintain their weight and energy level. For example, a person with type-0 blood is benefited by a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet, while a person with type-A blood is benefited by a vegetarian diet, or high-carbohydrate and low-protein diet. You will find this book to be genuinely refreshing and helpful in establishing better eating habits.
Finally, make nutrition a family affair. Get everyone involved in the planning, cooking, and serving of meals. Try new and different recipes. Study Scriptures pertaining to food and dietary customs in the Bible. Once you and your family get a taste of the real thing, you will find yourselves eating better, feeling better, and fasting better!
Exercise, in its Place
Exercise aids in the cleansing process a body goes through while on a fast. Besides being a present-day craze in our society, exercise is necessary because of our sedentary lifestyles. As Christians, we must keep exercise in its proper perspective. One rule of thumb I endeavor to live by is, “Do not do for your body what you will not do for God.” Many of us will spend precious time, resources, and strength to be physically fit, and yet our spiritual man is frail, flabby, weak, and starving from malnutrition. The benefits of spending time with Jesus far exceed any earthly or fleshly gain!
Prior to being born again, I was a certified health and fitness consultant. When I came to the Lord, I was in training for a triathlon. This endeavor required working out at home or in a health club a minimum of two to four hours a day, five to six days per week. After coming to the Lord, I purposed in my heart to invest the same amount of time in prayer. I found that prayer within itself was (and still is) good exercise for the body. Many (not all) saints would not have excessive weight problems if they gave themselves to the basics of the kingdom: prayer, fasting, and the study of God’s Word.
Exercise does have its benefits and should become a part of your daily life to some extent, but it should never exceed the time and energy given to your personal relationship with Jesus. Proverbs 31:30 sums up all that can be said regarding any issue of personal vanity: “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman [or man] that feareth the LORD, she [he] shall be praised.”
There are those who struggle in the area of weight control, as well as fasting and prayer. It is important to understand that there are weaknesses in all of our lives. A weakness can only become a strength and a victory report through God’s unfailing mercy and His unlimited grace (divine assistance). When we learn how to yield to God in the face of weakness, then we are on the road to overcoming all things. Fasting can be compared to a bulldozer removing everything in its path so the road can be built. Fasting is a very helpful tool in overcoming any yoke of bondage. At one time, I struggled with gaining weight, and I was in bondage to sweets (in particular chocolate). This resulted in slothfulness, mental dullness, and uncontrolled eating habits. Through fasting, much prayer, and praying for others with the same problem, deliverance came. The Lord lifted my addiction to chocolate, and I have not had a piece of chocolate for more than eight years! To God be the glory! The Lord is no respecter of persons . . . He will set you free, too!
Weight control and exercise are only important in relationship to your physical well-being and life span here on earth. As a member of the kingdom of God, you are not judged according to your physical appearance (this is how the world judges you), but you are judged according to your spiritual appearance. Are you adorned in holiness and clothed in meekness? Are the wisdom and power of Jesus demonstrated in your life? Do you have an excellent spirit like Joseph or Daniel? Is your outward appearance modest? Do people see and hear Jesus when they meet you?
The words penned in Romans 14:3 and 13 clearly reveal God’s perspective on the whole matter of eating, exercising, etc. Understanding and acting on these inspired words will cause us to enter into the seventh dimension of God’s kingdom: Love.
Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. . . . So then every one of us shall give account of himself to Cod. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. ROMANS 14:3, 12-13
Walking is one of the best exercises. If you choose to walk, walk at least twenty minutes at a time. (It takes twenty minutes of continuous aerobic exercise to increase your metabolic rate.) This will help your metabolism and blood circulation as well as strengthen your cardiovascular system and your muscles. You can also combine your prayer time with walking. Go on a prayer walk. Find a quiet area and just talk to Jesus while you are walking. Before you know it, you will have prayed an hour and exercised, too!
If you enjoy aerobics and/or body building, there arc Christian exercise tapes available that enable you to exercise in the privacy of your own home. If you choose to work out at a health club, choose the club carefully. I do not advise memberships to coed health clubs. The primary reason is that the level of immodesty and sensual influence contradicts biblical modesty, as well as the scriptural admonition to abstain from all fleshly lusts that war against the soul. In addition, oftentimes the spiritual environment of certain health clubs is not conducive to the spiritual growth of a Christian. There are health clubs that cater only to women or only to men. You may want to consider these types of facilities when choosing a health club.
“Fasting and Your Health,” excerpted from “Teach Us to Fast & Pray” by Kim Johnson.