In The Maker's Diet, Rubin lays out a "best-case scenario" for eating: vegetables free from pesticides, meats free from pollutants, and milk free from hormones. It's a tough regimen, but one that literally saved Rubin's life after he was physically crushed by Crohn's Disease, a chronic inflammatory disorder of the intestines that has no known cause or cure. Years of research, experimentation, and prayer led him to develop a plan that has helped him attain good health. He admits, though, that his radical diet may be too extreme for the average person. "Most people don't do the whole ball of wax, but they get great results anyway."

"God desires us to care for our health-spirit, soul, and body." —Dr. Cris Enriquez, author of The Healthy Life

From Atkins to South Beach, fast and easy weight-loss programs tend to be the goal of most people seeking a new diet. But virtually every health expert agrees that the path to true wellness lies not in the latest diet craze but in a permanent lifestyle change.

"The weight is certainly what is causing the amazing detriment to our health and our vitality and our energy," says nutritionist and author Pam Smith, "but the issue isn't really just the pounds on the scale. It's the perspective that we have about eating, the perspective we have about food, and the perspective that we have about our bodies that is really the issue."

Since 1987 Carole Lewis's Houston-based ministry, First Place, has helped countless believers experience dramatic changes in their health. Recently, one First Place adherent dropped 55 pounds in six months. "And all he did was start eating sensibly and walking three miles a day," says Lewis. "The only way that people are going to lose weight and keep it off is with a lifestyle change. It's not dieting."

The right foods

Fortunately, Christians have a place to turn for insight on healthy living. In addition to the emotional and spiritual guidance of the Scriptures, there are practical physical guidelines to help us slim down and live longer.

"The healthy diet," Dr. Enriquez says, "is what we find in the Bible—the fruits and vegetables in Genesis 1:29. God added meat in Genesis 9:3, but we're not supposed to let go of the carbohydrates [as the Atkins craze would suggest], because we need them for our energy. But we need the right carbohydrates, not the simple ones you find in white bread or white pasta or white rice. They give us calories, but they have no nutrients. We need more complex carbohydrates in the form of fruits and vegetables."

"The issue isn't just the pounds on the scale. It's the perspective that we have about our bodies."—Pam Smith, nutritionist and author of Eat Well, Live Well

Though a myriad of opinions exist among medical and health professionals, both inside and outside the church, the vast majority agrees that natural foods (God-made) serve the human body far better than manufactured foods (man-made). Lean meats, including poultry and beef, balanced with generous portions of fruits and vegetables, and sprinkled with nuts and whole grains, provide the best fuel for the body. Conversely, processed foods, bleached wheat, chemical sweeteners, and other packaged products quickly convert to fat and threaten our well-being.

Dieting offers temporary punishment for short-term gain, but a lifestyle adjustment offers true hope for long-term change. Dr. Ben Lerner, author of Body By God: The Owner's Manual for Maximized Living, advocates an "addition role" when it comes to food choice.