In the previous article, we talked about our physical temple and a proper definition of health. From a Christian perspective that is. One that still would be objective, so true for even non-Christians and measurable to prove that point.
I stated that health is best defined as functional and metabolic efficiency. In the last article we talked about functional efficiency and what that entails. Now we will shift the focus to that other type of efficiency our body should achieve as much as possible.
If functional efficiency is the ability to use your body to the full extent of its God-given design, then metabolic efficiency is the ability of your body to process proper nutrition to make function by said design possible.
Food in the Bible
The golden question that comes to your very smart mind is of course: “So mister smart article writer; What is proper nutrition?”
Adam & Eve
To answer that very good and reasonable question, we first turn to the Good Book. We read that Adam and Eve ate fruits. There is no mention of meat of any kind. Their children ate meat, as Abel was a shepherd and we can assume they didn’t keep the sheep only for wool and dairy.
From what we read about the Israelites, by the time they came out of Egypt, they clearly were used to eating practically all the natural foods we can eat today. By that I mean; fruits and vegetables, meat and fish, dairy products, nuts, grains, and honey.
If we study what God fed them in the desert, we see that His first choice was Manna. It was a substance the Israelites could bake and even eat raw. When baked it tasted liked cake baked in oil and when eaten raw it tasted like wafers. It wasn’t after they complained that He added quails to the menu. So God first confined the diet of the Israelites to Manna, a non-meat, non-dairy food, even when they traveled with livestock.
The conclusion we can draw from this is that God is of the opinion that man can live without eating meat. His humble opinion of course. He doesn’t seem to have a problem with meat and dairy, just that it doesn’t seem to be a “must have” to stay healthy and in fighting condition.
Our Lord’s Prayer
Now when you think about what is most important on our plate from a macro nutritional standpoint, let’s turn to “Our Lord’s prayer”. In this, Christ mentions “our daily bread”, not steak, not cheese, not milk, not honey, just bread (not even grapes or some other fruit). Now bread is predominantly carbs, pure and simple. Yes, you have fat and minerals in there, but carbs are hands down what bread is made of most.
Jesus Christ, when thinking about food, thought first and foremost about bread. Bread was at that time in the Middle East the primary source of carbs for the population. When He fed the multitudes of 4000 and 5000 people, there was some fish in there too, but He didn’t mention it in His arguably most important prayer.
I think we can safely say that based on this information, carbs should form the basis of our meals. Meat and fish should, if available, not be disregarded if there isn’t a clear reason not to. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and honey all consist of a mix of carbs, protein, fat, and minerals so let’s keep those in as well. The trick is to keep the balance by building the meal, starting with (slow) carbs.
When getting our heads around the nutrition of many physically imposing people and groups in history (who weren’t necessarily Christian in their ways, but very good at their worldly jobs), we find a surprising majority being primarily carb eaters. Examples ranging from the Spartans, the Roman legionnaires (reportedly even complained about too much meat in the diet before battle), the Roman gladiators (were called ‘hordearii’ or ‘barley eaters’) and the modern-day Hercules Mike Metzner, who was a strong proponent of a diet consisting of at least 60% carbs.
Now let’s say that you compose your meals 60% out of carbs, 25% of protein and 15% of fats, then there is still the possibility that you overload your metabolic system and by doing so keeping it from functioning efficiently. The phenomenon of unconscious overeating is to some extent a curse of our time and the technological advances we have made.
With the help of advances in technology and new food processing methods that we have developed based on it, we have succeeded in producing unnaturally calorie dense food products. These unnaturally calorie dense food products are not aligned with the calorie assessment system of our body.
We know that we have consumed enough natural food when our body signals this to us through the feeling of satiety. The feeling of being full and content with the amount of food we just consumed. With the modern unnaturally dense foods we now consume, this signal is given much later and by then we have consumed much more calories than our body was actually seeking. So modern processed unnatural calorie dense food frustrates the correct signaling of satiety. Calorie density is thus the enemy of satiety.
Of course there are strategies the healthy Christian man ( and his loved ones) could use to reign in the overconsumption of calories, by consciously bringing down the calorie density of the food consumed. The most basic strategy is to be aware of what most processing does to the food that is treated.
– The water content is lower or even removed
– The fiber content is lowered or even removed
– The nutritional content is lowered or even removed
(On top of this, these processed foods often need added salt or sugar (sometimes both) to make them more palatable for our refined tongues.)
The above processes are detrimental to our body’s satiety signalling system, because of the detectors that the body uses to measure our food (Yes, believe it or not, but the Good Lord, gave our body internal food scales). The receptors/detectors in our body are used to measure our food, look for bulk, fibre and nutritional content. These three are measured all at the same time (That is why you should eat your calories instead of drinking them, as liquid calories are not measured by this system). Now let those just be the things which are lowered or even removed in the processing of modern food.
A healthy Christian man or a Christian man working towards getting his health back, can work around this fact about modern food, by using the strategy of meal sequencing. Meal sequencing is the practise of structuring your meals in a certain order. In this case it would be eating from the least calorie dense to the most calorie dense food.
A practical example would be how one could structure one’s dinner. Let’s say we split up the meal in fruits or vegetable salads, soups and finally regular fair like pasta or some oven dish. The sequencing that would be most in line with your body’s satiety measuring system would be to start with the salads, followed by the soup and after that you eat as much of the regular meal you can get in without feeling extremely bloated.
This way the greatest portion of your meal is properly measured by your body’s satiety signalling system.
Of course this strategy could also be adapted to your breakfast and your lunch. In case of your breakfast, you can start with a some chopped fruit, oatmeal (both very bulky, full of fibre and nutrients) and then follow that up with anything else you fancy. Your lunch could be kicked off with a soup or salad before following up with the regular fair.
The overall goal is to bring down the caloric density of the food you consume without sacrificing the feeling of satiety, which most people need to do while subjecting themselves to any sort of diet (in the end that is a losing battle for most of the time, as their body is screaming that they are not getting in enough food).
In the next article we will look at an extensive list of both high calorie foods and low calorie high nutrient foods, to help with an informed meal sequencing plan.
If you want to share your thoughts and experiences with food and meal composition as a Christian, join the discussion in our Facebook group.