Saturday, February 21, 2009

What the Bible Says About Healthy Living

If you read my entry A Lifestyle Change (see Musings "In the Kitchen" or Archives), then you are familiar with the three main points of Rex Russell's book What the Bible Says About Healthy Living. Simple and easy to read, Russell tells his own journey in discovering eating habits based on the Bible. From his studies he came to three important conclusions; 1) eat only what God intended to be eaten as food, 2) eat it as close as possible to the way God created it, and 3) don't make any food your god.

Next, Russell goes through different food categories and details the good, the bad, and the ugly. And I mean really ugly. For example, catfish are scavenger fish that eat off the bottom of the lake or river. Basically, they are trash consumers that eat the waste products around them. When properly cooked, testing reveals that contaminates are still high in the fish meat. Then as consumers, we eat what we think is safe when really it is not. Or how about this; the FDA allows for more foreign matter in pasteurized, homogenized milk than in raw milk and it does not eliminate all the bad bacteria. Raw milk is actually cleaner! (I couldn't bring myself to actual say what is found in traditional FDA approved milk. Check out www.realmilk.com for the real scoop.)

I can not say I agree 100 percent with every statement that Russell makes in his book, nor will most people. For example, I do not feel his statements about wine are completely correct. Russell feels everyone should abstain from wine completely. Jesus' first miracle was to turn water into wine. Why would he do something miraculous that was so bad for us? I would agree that it should be used in moderation and some individuals should abstain completely from alcohol, however this does not make wine off limits for everyone. Also, many will take issue with his interpretation of Peter's vision that it was okay to eat unclean animals. Personally, I know I have freedom in Christ to eat whatever I wish to consume. However, not all things are profitable at all times.

Don't throw the baby out with the bath water. If I could recommend one book that outlines the basics of eating correctly, this would be it. Just putting his principles into practice will keep you busy for quite a while. Ahhh...but you'll feel so much better. I do!

A Lifestyle Change

Back in 1998, I realized that our eating habits had to change - big time! I think several factors led me to this conclusion, such as weight gain, sluggishness...all the usual. But what made the difference in my commitment level was the age factor. I knew I wasn't getting any younger and things would only get physically harder to change and would be just as hard to maintain! I would like to tell you that my husband was on board, but he wasn't exactly. Not at this point anyway. All I really knew when I started out was that this would be a change forever. No going back.

I happened to pick up a book by Rex Russell, M.D., What the Bible Says About Healthy Living. His three main points included 1) eating only foods God created to be consumed, 2) eating them as close to the way God made them as possible, and 3) not to make any food your god. This seemed so freeing compared to every other book I read. Not to mention doable. Some might not agree with his Biblical interpretation of certain passages, however, I believe that he is not completely off base. One thing I appreciated were his warnings not to be legalistic about avoiding certain foods; that we have freedom in Christ to eat all foods, just not all are profitable for the body.

So, I began what has been a 10 year journey (so far!). I would have overwhelmed my family as well as myself if I had changed everything at once. Instead, I switched our family to whole grains and eliminated as many preservatives as possible, especially high fructose corn syrup. I started reading labels and buying things that had ingredients I could actually identify! I found that often this meant buying organic (thought not always) because the organic items often contained less obscure ingredients. I was skeptical at the time of the claims of organic, however, I did come to believe that if I couldn't identify it, it probably wasn't good for me.

During this first stage, I cooked a lot more! No trips to the fast food chains. Trips to the supermarket took a lot longer now. I shopped the outer edges of the store for the most part and when I did go down the middle isles I stopped to read all of the ingredients on each label. But after a while, I began to learn what items were safe and those that were not. Amazingly, I lost nearly 30 pounds in just under 3 months!

A couple of years later, I progressed to cutting out refined sugar from our diet and reducing the amount of natural sugar. This really helped me feel like I had more energy, not to mention keeping the weight under control as I aged. By this time, my family was beginning to catch up with me in their attitude. It took my husband another year or two, but eventually he got of the sugar as well. I think it was about this same time I switched over to using only olive oil, organic chicken, and grass-fed beef as well as raw milk and raw goat's milk. I never fried foods anyway, so switching to the olive oil was easy. Other than gasps of horror from friends, the switch to raw dairy products allowed my lactose intolerant daughter to enjoy milk with the family. (This worked for her, but might not work for everyone).

Late in 2007, we had an opportunity to switch entirely to organic produce by joining our local farmers through Abundant Harvest Organics. Each week we receive a box of organic produce that is in-season and sustainably grown. By cutting out the "middle man" the farmer can deliver quality produce at a reasonable price and the consumer directly supports and knows the growers. This has been a real win-win situation that has blessed both the growers and our family. Let me add that this isn't like the organic stuff in the grocery store. This is fresh, right out of the fields the day or two prior to delivery. Gorgeous produce! Take a look at this weeks winter offerings...

Check around your area and see if you can locate a farmers market or similar co-op that works with farmers and consumers. This is really great for the kids as it helps them to begin to understand that food doesn't just appear at the grocery store. Weather effects the crops for good or bad and depending on what happens locally determines what we get in our box!

So here I am, 10 years down the road. Do I cook like my mom did when I was growing up? No, not really. Most recipes I was able to convert. The rest I save for special occasions like the holidays (which is the right time to feast on foods we do not normally eat). Did I have to learn some new ways of doing things? You bet. But it was worth it. Now I'm teaching my daughters so that what was unnatural for me, is normal for them. Hopefully they will carry these lessons into their adult lives. 

I'll be going into details on later posts, but for now, this is an overview of what we do and why. I hope you'll follow this blog and share with me some of what you've learned as well.  Until then, may what you eat bless your body!


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