Diets can be a shame ridden topic for people who have yo-yoed in and out of them most of their lives. There’s always some new fad or friend on Facebook promoting something. The outcome looks promising, so you jump on, win for a while, but fall off the wagon again. This vicious cycle has left so many of us wondering, is there a better way? And what is God’s diet plan? What food does the Bible say to eat? Can I find lasting success with a Bible Diet?
You’ve got lots of questions, well I’ve got answers sister!
In addition to helping women build healthy biblical habits, and drop the shame of yo-yo dieting with our BodyCare Blueprint, we also create epic guides like this one that covers all the basics!
Below in this guide, I’m going to give you the good and the hard when it comes to the Bible Diet (click to go right to that section):
- Does the Bible Give us Rules for Eating?
- Spices and Herbs
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Nuts and Legumes
- Whole Grains
- Fish and Animal Meats
- Dairy and Eggs
- Superfoods of the Bible
- Raw Honey
- Olive Oil
- Food Miracles
- 5 Diets of the Bible
- Plant Based Bible Diet
- Kosher Bible Diet
- Biblical Cooking Methods
- Grace Based Bible Diet
- Fasting in the Bible
- My Prayer Over You
Does the Bible give us rules for eating?
The Bible actually has a lot to say about our bodies and health. Most of us have separated our faith from how we treat our physical bodies. But God does not see us in segments, He sees us as whole individuals, mentally, physically, and spiritually.
What happens in one area of our lives, effects the others. That’s why the Bible talks about everything from sleep, relationships and money, to drinking water, physical training, and even what we eat. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
God’s not out there creating lists of rules to follow. In fact, he violently condemned the religious leaders of his day for doing just that.
In Matthew 23:4 & 15 Jesus says “They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” ““Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.”
What He does give us is wisdom, guidance, and undeserved grace so we can live life to the full. John 10:10 states “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
In this guide I will not only help you understand what the Bible says about food, but how you can apply it to your life in a way that will truly last. Romans 12:2 says “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Let’s start by learning exactly what foods are directly mentioned in the Bible, and how they can benefit your health. You will be happy to find that all food groups are mentioned in the Bible! Later you’ll learn several different types of diets that can be applied from the Bible and what that looks like in your daily life.
Spices and Herbs
Dietitian Monica Auslander Moreno, adjunct professor of nutrition at the University of Miami and a dietitian for the Miami Marlins says ““Herbs and spices fight inflammation and reduce damage to your body’s cells, that’s because each one is rich in phytochemicals, which are healthful plant chemicals.”
Spices and herbs can also improve blood sugar, lipid levels, blood pressure, digestion, and muscle soreness.
Here are spices mentioned directly in the Bible and their references:
- Coriander (Exodus 16:31; Numbers 11:7)
- Cinnamon (Exodus 30:23; Revelation 18:13)
- Cumin (Isaiah 28:25; Matthew 23:23)
- Dill (Matthew 23:23)
- Garlic (Numbers 11:5)
- Mint (Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42)
- Mustard (Matthew 13:31)
- Rue (Luke 11:42)
- Salt (Ezra 6:9; Job 6:6)
- Saffron (Song of Solomon 4:14)
- Aloe (Song of Solomon 4:14)
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and rich in phytochemicals which can help lower your risk of many diseases, including cancer and type II diabetes. Fruits and vegetables also have the ability to help us feel full and sustained while remaining low in calorie.
Here are the fruits and vegetables mentioned in the Bible and their references:
- Apples (Song of Solomon 2:5)
- Dates (2 Samuel 6:19; 1 Chronicles 16:3)
- Figs (Nehemiah 13:15; Jeremiah 24:1-3)
- Grapes (Leviticus 19:10; Deuteronomy 23:24)
- Melons (Numbers 11:5; Isaiah 1:8)
- Olives (Isaiah 17:6; Micah 6:15)
- Pomegranates (Numbers 20:5; Deuteronomy 8:8)
- Raisins (Numbers 6:3; 2 Samuel 6:19)
- Sycamore Fig (Psalm 78:47; Amos 7:14)
- Cucumbers (Numbers 11:5)
- Leeks (Numbers 11:5)
- Onions (Numbers 11:5)
- Flax (Proverbs 31:13)
Nuts and Legumes
Nuts are loaded with antioxidants, are high in healthy fat and protein, low in carbs, and a great source of several nutrients including vitamin E, selenium, and magnesium. Nuts may also help lower cholesterol, blood sugar, and reduce inflammation.
Legumes, which include beans and lentils, have been shown to help guard against type II diabetes, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, help control weight, and lower your risk of heart disease.
Nuts and Legumes do have the anti-nutrients lectins, phytic acid, tannins, and saponins, that can make them difficult to digest and absorb, but soaking them like they were in Bible times, reduces these anti-nutrients and make them truly wonderful foods for your health.
Here are the nuts and legumes mentioned in the Bible and their references:
- Beans (2 Samuel 17:28; Ezekiel 4:9)
- Lentils (Genesis 25:34; 2 Samuel 17:28; Ezekiel 4:9)
- Almonds (Genesis 43:11; Numbers 17:8)
- Pistachio Nuts (Genesis 43:11)
Even though whole grains have gotten a poor image from diets like Paleo and Keto, when properly prepared, they have been a part of the human diet since the earliest times. The problem is what we eat today barely resembles the nutrient rich grains of the Bible times, but you will learn which items to choose at the grocery store later in the article!
Whole grains, for those without Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, in their whole form, when soaked, sprouted, or fermented in the sourdough process, are incredibly nutritious. They are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins and minerals, protein, and antioxidants. These nutrients have been studied to lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, and type II diabetes, support healthy digestion, reduce inflammation, and lower your risk of cancer.
Here are mentions of whole grains directly from the Bible and their references:
- Barley (Deuteronomy 8:8; Ezekiel 4:9)
- Bread (Genesis 25:34; 2 Samuel 6:19; 16:1; Mark 8:14)
- Flour (2 Samuel 17:28; 1 Kings 17:12)
- Millet (Ezekiel 4:9)
- Spelt (Ezekiel 4:9)
- Unleavened Bread (Genesis 19:3; Exodus 12:20)
- Wheat (Ezra 6:9; Deuteronomy 8:8)
Fish and Animal Meats
Animal meat can also be a controversial topic when it comes to health. However, nearly every instance of correlation between meat consumption and increased risk of disease, has been from highly processed meats or meats cooked extremely well done.
In addition, the meat we consume in western cultures, mainly muscle meats, is very different than the full range of animal meats eaten in Biblical times, including liver, bone broth, and other organ meats which are highly nutritious.
When unprocessed and properly cooked, meat provides a rich source of vitamins and minerals, (particularly organ meats), and can help with retention of muscle mass, building stronger bones, boost iron absorption, reduce appetite, and increase metabolism, which all lead to lower risk of disease.
Fish is loaded with important nutrients like protein, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients may lower your risk of heart attack and stroke, boost brain and mental health, reduce the risk of autoimmune disease, help prevent asthma in children and boost development, improve your sleep, and protect your vision in old age.
The Old Testament does distinguish between clean and unclean animals, we will explore that later in the article in the Kosher Bible Diet. Here are the fish and animal meats mentioned in the Bible and their references:
- Fish (Matthew 15:36; John 21:11-13)
- Partridge (1 Samuel 26:20; Jeremiah 17:11)
- Pigeon (Genesis 15:9; Leviticus 12:8)
- Quail (Psalm 105:40)
- Dove (Leviticus 12:8)
- Calf (Proverbs 15:17; Luke 15:23)
- Goat (Genesis 27:9)
- Lamb (2 Samuel 12:4)
- Oxen (1 Kings 19:21)
- Sheep (Deuteronomy 14:4)
- Venison (Genesis 27:7 KJV)
Dairy and Eggs
Dairy such as milk, cheese, and yogurt from grass-fed/pastured animals, and often unpasteurized, raw, or fermented like kefir, is a rich source of natural digestive enzymes, beneficial bacteria, vitamins A, K, E, C and B, and CLA which is known to lower the risk of certain cancers.
Eggs from pasture raised hens, have 3-6 times more vitamin D than conventional eggs, 70% more vitamin B 12, 50-200% more folate, 40-60% more vitamin A, 30% less cholesterol, 10-25% less saturated fat, 2-7 times more omega-3 fatty acids, 2-3 times more vitamin E, and 7 times more beta carotene.
Consider your source when choosing dairy and eggs, as it makes an incredible difference in the nutrients of your food.
Here are instances of dairy and eggs in the Bible and their references:
- Butter (Proverbs 30:33)
- Cheese (2 Samuel 17:29; Job 10:10)
- Curds (Isaiah 7:15)
- Milk (Exodus 33:3; Job 10:10; Judges 5:25)
- Eggs (Job 6:6; Luke 11:12)
Superfoods of the Bible
Many of the foods eaten in Biblical times could be considered “superfoods”, but several stand out in the ancient diet mentioned in scripture.
Fermented Grape Juice, also known as wine or vinegar is mentioned 240 times in the Bible from the beginning in Genesis to the end in Revelation. Famously Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding reception for his first miracle (John 2:1-11.) He also drank sour wine (vinegar) offered to him on the cross (John 19:28-30.)
In 1 Timothy 5:23, Paul urges Timothy to “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.” In ancient times the beneficial health effects of wine in moderation were well known.
The Bible does not prohibit alcohol but is careful to warn against drunkenness and to use in moderation. Ephesians 5:8 says: “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” and in 1 Timothy 3:8 moderation is urged: “In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain” and again in Titus 2:3 “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.”
Modern science confirms the healthy benefits of red wine in moderation. It is rich in antioxidants including resveratrol which has been studied to be protective against heart disease by raising good cholesterol, reducing blood clots, and preventing artery damage.
Moderation is defined as one 5-ounce glass per day for women of all ages and men over 65, and up to two glasses per day for men under 65.
Honey is mentioned in the Bible 62 times and is seen as a symbol of prosperity and abundance. When the Israelites first spied out the Promise Land, the scouts in Exodus 3:8 described it as “a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.”
Stories about the Judge Sampson, the King’s son Jonathan, the warrior David and his men, and John the Baptist, finding and eating a little honey in the wild are told in the Bible. The Poetry books of the Bible are rich with honey as a symbol of something enticing, healing, and good for you.
Like with wine, the Bible is quick to warn against over indulging in honey. Proverbs 25:16 says “If you find honey, eat just enough— too much of it, and you will vomit.” And in Proverbs 25:27 “It is not good to eat too much honey, nor is it honorable to search out matters that are too deep.”
In ancient times, honey was not mass produced and included in most of their diet through factory processing. They either found it in the wild (contending with bees to do so) or ate it as a delicacy; something rare and precious.
In today’s world the average person consumes 19.5 teaspoons of sugar each day, dramatically raising the risk of obesity, type II diabetes, heart disease, and dental decay. Sugar and high fructose corn syrup can be found in high amounts in ketchup, BBQ sauce, spaghetti sauce, sports drinks, low fat yogurt, chocolate milk, granola, ice tea, protein bars, vitamin water, flavored coffee, canned soup, breakfast cereal, canned fruit, baked beans, peanut butter, pre-made smoothies, and flavored coffees.
Raw honey is indeed a superfood when eaten in moderation. You won’t find sugar anywhere on the list of foods eaten in Biblical Times or on a healthy diet. It’s crucial to make that distinction!
Raw honey is a good source of antioxidants, is antibacterial and anti-fungal, can boost healing time and reduce infection in wounds, is rich in beneficial phytonutrients, can help calm digestive issues, and can soothe a sore throat. It’s interesting to notice that most of these health benefits are for short term illness or injuries.
Olive oil is mentioned over 100 times in the Bible, and used as fuel for lamps, mixed with grains to make bread, to tithe to the temple as an atonement for sin, balm for a wound, and a symbol of prosperity and a fruitful land.
Olive oil was so valuable in ancient times it was used as a type of currency in trade, and to pay off debts. In 2 Kings 4:1-7, the prophet Elisha miraculously provides olive oil into borrowed containers for a widow and her sons who are near death: “She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”
Despite the poor science and lobbying behind the low-fat diet fad, many of us still view fat as the enemy of our health and waste line. To be sure industrial seed oils produced in factories, such us canola oil, cottonseed oil, safflower oil, and soybean oil, are incredibly unhealthy for us. These are the oils commonly found in most packaged goods like chips, crackers, and salad dressings.
However, studies have shown consumption of these industrial seed oils can lead to: an increase in inflammation, decrease in good cholesterol, damage the lining of your blood vessels, lower insulin sensitivity, increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, raise body fat, and impair cognitive function. Yikes, that’s a terrible list!
Olive oil on the other hand, which can be naturally derived from olives, is extremely healthy. It’s rich in the good fats that reduce inflammation, helps you feel fuller longer, may help prevent strokes, is protective against heart disease, has been linked with favorable effects on body weight, may help fight Alzheimer’s Disease, reduce the risk of Type II diabetes, has anti-cancer properties, can help treat rheumatoid arthritis, and has antibacterial properties.
Essentially the list of benefits from eating the food God made, the way He made it, is the exact opposite of the list of health risks from eating foods that can only be created in a factory. This is the essence of the Biblical wisdom we glean from a study of foods in scripture and their effects on our health.
The Bible is rich with stories of miracles involving food. As humans we need food and water to survive, so it’s no wonder we become preoccupied with food. God knows what we need though, and time and again he reminds his people that He this their source and provider by miraculously supplying food and water in times of need.
In Exodus 16 the Israelites are wondering in the wilderness after being rescued from slavery in Egypt and they start to complain about the lack of food and water, wishing to die or to return to Egypt as slaves so they could eat all they wanted. Talk about being hangry! In response the Lord rains down just enough mana from heaven each day to feed them. Here’s the lesson: God wants us to rely on His goodness and not on our circumstances.
In chapter 17 of Exodus the wandering Israelites are now thirsty and about ready to stone their leader Moses to death if he doesn’t quench their thirst. Moses cries out to God, and He responds by directing Moses to gather some of the elders, and use his staff to strike a rock, and water pours out for them to drink. Here’s the lesson: God wants us to know His goodness is not bound by what we see.
In 1 Kings 17 the Lord instructs the prophet Elijah to hide in the wilderness near a brook during a severe drought, and He sends ravens to bring him bread and meat twice a day. When the brook dries up the Lord sends Elijah to a widow and her son who are starving to death. He miraculously provides enough oil and flour for both Elijah and the widow and her son until the drought is over. Here’s the lesson: God wants to use us as His tool to miraculously provide for others in need.
On several occasions, Jesus miraculously multiplied a few loaves of bread and fish into enough to feed thousands of followers who were days from home and food. (Matthew 14:13-21; Matthew 15:32-39; Mark 6:30-44; Mark 8:1-13; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15) In every instance, Jesus first asks his disciples to feed the crowds, and when they cannot, He shows them how by taking the food, looking to God and giving thanks, and then giving the food to His disciples to distribute. Here’s the lesson: Jesus teaches us that focusing on what we do have, and giving thanks for it, is the doorway to his miraculous provision for us and for those around us.
It is clear from the human experience we worry about our needs being met and taken care of. Jesus knew this and proactively spoke words of comfort over us in Matthew 6:25-27:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
5 Diets of the Bible
You’ve learned about food directly from the Bible, now you may be wondering, how do I apply this wisdom to my life? There are five dietary plans or principles we can draw from the study of food in the Bible. What may work will vary from person to person and even change through seasons of life, so pray for God’s divine, individualized wisdom on your journey.
Plant Based Bible Diet
Two places in scripture we read about the Bible characters consuming a plant based, or vegan diet. The first is Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden, before sin entered the world. In Genesis 1:29-30, it says:
“Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.”
Later in the Bible when Daniel and his friends were carried off into exile by the Babylonian king, they were conscripted into his service and given the royal food. Not wanting to defile themselves with the king’s “unclean” foods, in Daniel 1:12-17 they asked:
“Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.”
From this passage of scripture has come the popular Daniel Fast. You can read our comprehensive Daniel Fast guide and meal plan here. The Daniel Fast is a plant based, partial fast. It is often done for 21 days and paired with intentional daily prayer. You can make it however long you like. Some do three days, some a week, others the full three weeks.
In 2010, after baptizing hundreds of church members, California mega church Pastor Rick Warren became convicted their church, and he himself, had a fat problem. As a congregation they turned to the Daniel Fast and collectively lost 260,000 pounds!
Dr. Richard Bloomer, Dean of Health Sciences at the University of Memphis, and co-author of the Daniel Cure, has conducted several studies on the 21 day Daniel Fast and found it lowered risk factors for high blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduces oxidative stress, which contributes to a host of diseases over time.
Dr. Bloomer says most participants lose between 5 to 6 pounds over the three-week plant based fast and report other benefits like increased energy and clearer skin.
“We’re not thinking [the health benefits come from] the restriction in animal protein, per se, but more the restriction in all the other stuff that you would find in packaged foods,” says Bloomer.
Kosher Bible Diet
In the Old Testament God gives the people, through Moses, a list of foods that are considered clean and unclean. From this list we get some of our modern Kosher food labeling still followed by devote Jews.
In Leviticus 11 it says: “The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Say to the Israelites: ‘Of all the animals that live on land, these are the ones you may eat: You may eat any animal that has a divided hoof and that chews the cud. “‘There are some that only chew the cud or only have a divided hoof, but you must not eat them. The camel, though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof; it is ceremonially unclean for you.”
Examples of clean meat include ox (cow), buffalo, sheep, goat, deer, gazelle, antelope, and mountain sheep, and unclean animals include pig, camel, hare, and rock badger. All seafood that has fins and scales in considered clean, which means all shellfish are excluded. All winged insects are unclean, and all birds are allowed accept eagles, vultures, kites, ravens, ostriches, seagulls and owls. Leviticus 17:14 also excludes eating the blood of animals.
Many believe this seemingly confusing list of unclean foods had a divine purpose in the Israelites lives. It kept them healthy and free from catching disease from scavengers and animals likely to cause harm in ancient times.
Even though God declared all foods clean for Peter in Acts 10, and therefore all Christians, some continue to follow the cleanliness rules of the old testament today and have experienced it’s benefits for their health.
Jordan Rubin, author of The Maker’s Diet, is a prime example of following cleanliness rules from the old testament, along with eating foods the way they were in Bible times. He saw a dramatic improvement in his health from following this version of a Biblical Diet.
“While most people lose an average of 10 to 15 pounds in the first 40 days, The Maker’s Diet goes far beyond a weight loss program, providing people with a lifelong roadmap for achieving and maintaining total wellness,” Rubin says. “Eat everything in its most unprocessed state, eat what God created for food (clean foods), don’t alter God’s design, and don’t let any food or drink become your idol.”
These are sound Biblical, and nutritional principles!
Biblical Cooking Methods
A Biblical Diet is good for our modern health because it utilizes ancient nutrition techniques for preparation and leaves out our modernized food additives and processes that have proven disastrous for health.
In Ancient times, grains, beans, and nuts were first soaked, sprouted, fermented, or soured before consumption. For some this can become a full-time kitchen hobby, but most don’t have time in their busy modern lives for this arduous process. Luckily there are some shortcuts we can find at the grocery store.
Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Bread applies these ancient techniques and is quick and delicious!
Eating animals “nose to tail” has been common practice for most of human history. It is only in recent times we’ve taken to exclusively eating muscle meats. Bone broth and liver are particularly healthy, but if these things aren’t appealing, you can buy bone broth, and collagen and liver supplements. Most people who incorporate these things notice a profound difference with their joints, skin, energy, and digestion.
Look for grass-fed, pasture raised, organic, raw or unpasteurized, in season, and wild caught foods. These are all ways to buy foods from the grocery store that are closer to the way God intended them for our bodies.
Another modern culprit to good health, is the factory seed oils and sweeteners in most packaged foods. Anything with soybean, cottonseed, canola, or safflower oil and hidden sugars are harmful for your health. The best thing you can do is learn to read labels. Don’t always trust the marketing messages like “olive oil mayo” which is really mostly soybean oil with a bit of olive oil mixed in.
Here are some of my favorite products I know are healthy and clean:
Primal Kitchen is my favorite brand for healthy alternatives to dressing, mayo, ketchup, and condiments with truly healthy fats, and no sugar or weird ingredients. Swerve is my favorite brand for natural sugar substitutes that are good for you and have no impact on your blood sugar. Thankfully I can easily find both these brands at my local Walmart or grocery stores.
Grace Based Bible Diet
When most of use hear the word “diet”, we immediately think of a list of rules, restrictions, and painful deprivation. When some people think about God or religion, they feel the same way. Combining the words Biblical and Diet, can conjure up images of a boring, stoic, ultra-strict lifestyle devoid of fun.
I don’t believe that was at all what God had in mind when he created our bodies and created food. Just like He designed us for a life-giving relationship with Him, He designed food to be life-giving and enjoyable too.
Before Jesus entered the world as a baby, the Old Testament of the Bible was full of rules and regulations. These laws were designed to help God’s people live the most fulfilling life possible, bring glory to God’s name, and atone for the many sins of the people.
In those days, having a relationship with God was about following a list of rules, and making amends through sacrifices when you messed up. The law was designed to show us how broken we are, and our great need for a savior.
Romans 3:23 tells us “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” When it comes to following strict religious rules, or rigorous depravation diets, ultimately, we will all fail.
Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of what we could not achieve in our own power. And though the spirit of the law and the condition of our hearts still matter deeply to God, complicated animal sacrifices, washings, and cleanliness rules are no longer needed to have a sweet relationship with God.
Paul, in 1 Timothy 4:4, referencing abstaining from certain foods, tells us: “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.”
And again, in Romans 14:14-15 he tells us: “I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died.” The whole discussion in Romans 14 is worth a read.
Ultimately, what we decide to eat or not eat, based on the Bible, should always come down to our hearts and motivation. That’s what we teach here at Gospel Centered Health. Is your motivation for a healthy lifestyle so you can have washboard abs and eye-catching Instagram pics, or is it so you can care well for the one body God gave you and use it to serve His people and plan?
Jesus taught his followers this same standard of heart motivation in Matthew 5. Verse 17 says “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Jesus went on to take the Old Testament laws and get to the heart of the matter in examples about murder and anger, adultery and lust, divorce, oaths, revenge, and loving one’s enemies. Verse 43-44: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Jesus cares far less about the list of diet and exercise rules you follow, and far more about your heart and motivation. Are you held captive by unhealthy foods, and it’s caused you an array of health issues that hinder you from walking out God’s plan for you? Or are you held captive by your appearance and a slave to the gym and hitting your macros?
Both healthy living, and unhealthy living, can become idols to us. Jesus cares about the condition of your heart. When we live a healthy, grace based, gospel centered lifestyle, we absolutely take care of our bodies because we need them to function well on this earth. But we are careful to check our hearts and keep our worship focused on our Creator God, and not the things He created. He is the treasure!
Fasting in the Bible
The Bible mentions fasting 77 times throughout the Old and New Testament. Even still it’s a practice many of us don’t regularly do. Jesus himself fasted and prayed for 40 days in the desert to prepare for ministry, and when He speaks of fasting, He assumes we will fast as well. In Matthew 6:16 He says, “When you fast,” not ‘if you fast.’
I love this quote from Wesley Duewel on fasting “You and I have no more right to omit fasting because we feel no special emotional prompting than we have a right to omit prayer, Bible reading, or assembling with God’s children for lack of some special emotional prompting. Fasting is just as biblical and normal a part of a spiritual walk of obedience with God as are these others.”
Dr. Fung is a famous modern proponent of fasting from a scientific perspective. He claims intermittent fasting can “provide significant health benefits if it’s done right, including weight loss, reversal of type II diabetes and many other things.”
I have a dear friend who is a pastor’s wife and was diagnosed with type II diabetes. Her doctor put her on a handful of medications, as she continued to educate herself and learn more about the diet-disease connection. One of her doctor’s mentioned Dr. Fung and his work on fasting and she successfully used intermitted fasting to lose 55 pounds (and counting) and lowered her sugars from the 160’s into the 70’s. She is now weaning off her medications and feeling better than she has in years.
After trying numerous diets over the years, fasting is where she found lasting success with something she could stick to and see the health improvements she needed to walk out her calling as a wife, mom of four, and lead her church’s homeschool ministry.
Fasting is not only a powerful tool for your health, enabling you to do all God has called you to, but also has numerous spiritual benefits. Jesus used fasting to prepare for his ministry on earth, and Paul and Barnabas prayed and fasted for wisdom on behalf of their church leaders. (Acts 14:23)
Nehemiah used fasting to show his grief when the walls of Jerusalem were broken down (Nehemiah 1:1-4) and Ezra led the Israelites to fast as they sought God for deliverance from Babylon. Jonah ordered the wicked Ninevehites to fast and pray for repentance (Jonah 3:10), and in Judges 20:26 the Israelites cried out to God in fasting and prayer to gain victory over their enemies.
Joel 1:12-13 beautiful puts it: “’Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.’ Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.”
Congratulations! You’ve learned more than most people know about Biblical diets, and the effects of foods on your health. We would love to have you join us in our online coaching program, the BodyCare Blueprint, where we study in depth what the word of God says about seven healthy habits, along with group support, and practical tools for meal planning and exercise.
My Prayer over You
Before you go, I would love to pray over you and your health journey.
“Heavenly Father, thank you for the person reading this article. Thank you, God, that you led them here and I pray that something in your word, or a specific nugget or truth about your love for them, and good plans for their health and life, would grab a hold of their heart and transform them. God you know exactly what they need right now. Please give them supernatural wisdom to know exactly what next steps to take.
Jesus, I pray for healing and deliverance over their health and body. Please give them the energy, strength, and vitality to do the things they know you’ve asked them to. I pray that whatever is holding them back from living the full, abundant life you have for them, would be released in their life by the power of your Holy Spirit. Convict them where it’s needed, show them the strength of your unfailing love for them, and give them a spirit of discipline and self-control.
In Jesus name, Amen.”