What Would Jesus Eat?
- 2005 1 Feb
Editor’s Note: Does God care about what we eat? Should Christians be healthier than the rest of the world? While some would scoff at such a notion, Dr. Jordan Rubin believes Jesus rules all parts of our lives. Since his book, The Maker’s Diet, is a runaway bestseller, we thought we should ask Rubin to explain the underlying biblical principles. Oh, and you might just pick up a few ideas for your grocery list.
It’s a new year, which means that Americans from Connecticut to California are embarking on new diets to try to shed some extra pounds. Given that we as a people spend billions of dollars each year on diet books, supplements and assorted other products meant to slim the waistline, it may seem that the last thing we need is yet another book about dieting.
The Maker's Diet, however, is far from your typical dieting book. For starters, the New York Times bestseller, which has now sold over half a million copies, isn’t really a “dieting” book at all: it is a lifestyle change book. And unlike all the new-fangled fad diets that hit bookshelves each year, The Maker's Diet is a fascinating read based on principles of eating that are thousands of years old—principles mainly found in the Bible, according to Dr. Jordan Rubin, the book’s author. (The book has received an endorsement from no less than Dr. Charles Stanley, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta.)
Rubin has about as dramatic a story as you’re likely to ever hear. He almost died at age 19 after being diagnosed with (among other maladies) incipient diabetes, jaundice, chronic fatigue, arthritis, leukocytosis and severe Crohn’s disease. His weight dropped to a precarious 104 pounds, and despite seeing over 70 doctors from Europe to Mexico, South America to Canada, Rubin wasn’t able to regain vital health until a few years later when he made a drastic lifestyle change that incorporated The Maker's Diet principles.
Following The Maker's Diet involves significant lifestyle change, including eating unprocessed, natural and organic foods. Many of them sound foreign to the typical American ear; words like kefir, hijiki, and tahini aren’t part of the vernacular in this country. But for those interested in knowing more about Rubin’s journey from misery to an abundant life, The Maker's Diet will likely prove an engrossing, motivating read.
Dr. Rubin recently spoke with Crosswalk.com about this atypical diet and lifestyle plan, and how Scripture serves as a guide. A portion of the conversation appears below.
MC: When you meet a stranger, say, on an airplane, how do you describe for them what The Maker’s Diet is?
Rubin: The subtitle of the book is ‘The 40-day health experience that will change your life forever.’ The Maker’s Diet is a health plan that covers physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health, based on the Bible, proven through history and confirmed by science.
MC: How do you respond when people express skepticism to you about whether the Bible really has much to say about diet and eating habits?
Rubin: This is one area of our lives that as believers, we have taken from God. People don’t like to hear that, but in reality, we operate with the idea that God controls our mind but we control our body.
The bottom line is that God wants us healthy. We are His tools to use, and He’s given us a plan to be healthy. But the more we ignore it, the more we as believers are going to suffer from all the health maladies of the rest of the world. And we aren’t glorifying God. I Corinthians 3:16 is pretty specific when it says ‘Do you not know your body is the temple of God, and My Holy Spirit dwells in you? If you defile My temple, I will destroy you.’ And I truly believe that today, believers everywhere are not treating their bodies like the temple of God, and we are being destroyed. If we disobey the health principles that He has put in place, we are robbing Him—and ourselves—of time. Just because Jesus died to redeem us from our sins and from the yoke of bondage that was placed upon us from trying to adhere to the Law in our own strength, it doesn’t mean that what God said 4,000 years ago is wrong. God is the same yesterday, today and forever.
MC: You obviously travel a lot due to the nature of your work. How do you maintain consistency in following this rigorous program in the ‘real world’ of airplanes, restaurants and hotel rooms?
Rubin: Well, I make it a priority. People can make it work; it just takes more planning. A lot of times before I go on a trip, I look [online] for local health food stores or progressive food stores. I stay in hotel rooms that have refrigerators, and I’m able to exercise in my hotel room. So it’s not as difficult as people think; it’s just a matter of where you put your resources. I think that people don’t spend enough of their resources—money or time—on their diet and lifestyle, but if they did it would be paid back in spades, maybe even fourfold. I believe that with the money and time we lose due to illness, and the length of life that is shortened because of our poor choices, this is just the greatest investment in the world to pour into our lives.
I know a woman who educates people on The Maker’s Diet in churches all across Canada, and she always ends her presentation by saying, ‘Going on The Maker's Diet isn’t hard. Changing the way you eat isn’t hard. Exercising isn’t hard. What’s hard is going to the funeral of a 39-year-old friend who had four kids, a wife and a thriving ministry. Spending the extra time in the kitchen isn’t hard. Taking the time to pray every day, to find your purpose in life isn’t hard. But going to the funeral of my best friend who died of cancer—that was hard.’
MC: There are some things in the book that will raise the eyebrows of casual observers. One of them is the idea that a vegetarian lifestyle is really not healthy, and that many of the soy products heavily consumed by many vegetarians, particularly tofu, are not so good for us. Can you summarize why you believe that?
Rubin: Well, I was a vegetarian for four years, and tofu was part of my diet. I don’t believe vegetarianism is a healthy long-term plan. I don’t have a huge problem with tofu; I think that is average food. But I think most vegetarians today are consuming highly processed soy foods as a staple of their diet, things like isolated soy protein, textured vegetable protein, soy meat and dairy replacements, and those are what I have a problem with. The two guiding criteria for what I eat are first, did God create it for food, and second, is it in a form that is healthy for the human body? And almost all the things that Americans eat don’t fall into one of both of those categories.
Tofu is a food that people have consumed for thousands of years in small amounts—look at the amounts that Japanese consume; it’s very small. Most of those other soy products have been altered, and they’re not in a form that is useable by the body. They all contain compounds that actually have a similar affect on the body as MSG would. And they also provide a large amount of phytoestrogens, which are plant-based estrogens that can imbalance the hormone profile in both men and women. And men certainly don’t need more estrogen! [laughter] Soy is also very difficult to digest when it is processed because it contains something called phytic acid, which actually carries minerals out of the body and can harm certain cells in your small intestine. Processed soy is also rich in trypsin inhibitors, which inhibit protein digestion. Fermented soy products are all right—they are easier to digest.
I think in the book I present a very good argument for why we should eat meat, and why the vegetarian reasons for not eating meat are faulty. I agree with most parts of a vegan/vegetarian diet—lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, sprouted grains, juices, they’re all wonderful. But I believe that by adding healthy animal products to that diet, that becomes a cornerstone of a healthy diet. People that eat the foods in The Maker's Diet comment to me that they’ve never eaten so well in their life!
MC: You obviously suffered extreme illness before you changed your way of life. Based on the feedback you are getting, is your book being read more by people in “typical” health or by people in extreme cases such as yours?
Rubin: Typical health. In the introduction to the book, I describe who this book is aimed at. I talk about a 42-year-old woman who is 20 pounds overweight, with a husband who is 30 pounds overweight. She wants to eat healthy but doesn’t really know how. She has two children, one is overweight with ADHD and the other has asthma. Her father just died of a heart attack. Her mother has arthritis. And this is what we consider “healthy” today: the absence of a serious disease! That’s not what God calls health. Moses by all accounts was healthy until the end at 120. Joshua died at 110, fighting battles up until the end. There is no term in the Bible for nursing home, or retirement, or assisted living. These people, as they grew older, they grew wiser and more productive.
I have two grandmothers. One did not follow this plan; she got Parkinson’s disease, and lived about five years in steady decline physically and mentally until she died. My other grandmother is 82, has beaten cancer and has gotten extremely healthy by following these principles in the latter part of her life. This I think is the difference between following God’s plan and not. We’re missing what I think could be the most productive part of our lives.
And the church today is doing very little to help people get healthy. My vision is that one day, you’ll turn on the news and they’ll say ‘Science now confirms that Christians are healthier than non-Christians, and have less cancer, less heart disease, fewer strokes.’ Do you realize what that would do to the Body? Churches wouldn’t be able to be built big enough or fast enough to fit all the people that would be desperate to hear about our God, if we really took heed to His principles and lived a life that was glorifying to Him.
The same goes for marriage, finances—it’s all of that. For me, I want to see in my lifetime, which I hope will be another 50 to 70 years, that God’s people will once again become a city on a hill, a peculiar people set apart for His purposes to bring Him glory and ultimately lead a lost and dying world to salvation. The church right now is, at best, only as healthy as the world, and quite possibly less healthy.
MC: If someone isn’t ready yet to jump overboard and do the complete Maker’s Diet program, what are the most essential parts of the plan that you recommend they start with?
Rubin: We’ve developed something called The Maker’s Diet Success Kit, which is a 40-day health experience in a box. It has all the educational materials needed, and I take people step-by-step through the program.
As far as tools go, the three best tools are the whole food, living multivitamin that we call ‘Living Multi.’ Also, cod liver oil—which everyone has an awful image in their head of that, but it provides four nutrients that virtually everyone is deficient in, and it is great for preventing almost every major disease. And then the advanced hygiene system