Archive for Food

The day God got it all wrong?

Posted in Musings with tags , , on October 21, 2012 by johnfom

I have recently been given a book by my mother detailing the scientific and biblical rational for adopting a vegan diet called the ‘Hallelujah diet.’  On another front, my wife’s mother has also given us the book ‘Sweet poison’ by David Gillespe to review.  I want to say right up front that I respect a person’s right to choose a vegan diet as there are valid reasons for doing so (as a spiritual discipline or for a personal statement against ending an animal’s life) as I respect the right to limit the intake of sugar in one’s diet (I would recommend this).

Nevertheless, in perusing these two books I must admit that I have been rather disturbed by the tendency of the respective authors towards demonising a particular food group they deem to be unhealthy.  In the case of the Hallelujah diet meat is presented as a food that damages one’s health and must be avoided at all costs.  In the case of Sweet Poison it is sugar, namely fructose, that is the enemy that must be expunged from our diets if we are to maintain our health.  This would include cutting out certain fruits containing fructose.

The problem with both of these perspectives is that their plea to expunge a food group from our diets for the sake of our health is not based on good science.  In the case of sugar, David Gillespe points to certain studies ‘proving’ that fructose damages the health of animals.  However, more than one dietician (the scientists behind nutrition) has pointed out that these studies gave the test animals 200 times the normal intake they would normally have.  Of course this will cause problems.  But this does not mean that there is no safe level of fructose input.  In fact, the brain’s source of energy is sugar, meaning sugar is a necessary part of a healthy diet.

In the case of the Hallelujah Diet the case is prosecuted via the emotive argument that meat rots in the gut, causing us harm.  But to my knowledge there is no study that supports such a contention (my wife is studying dietetics and none of her text books even hint at this kind of problem) and a study put out by those behind the Hallelujah Diet indicates that those on the diet frequently suffer the effects of several major mineral and vitamin deficiencies.  I would say that there is little danger to our health posed by eating meat if it is done as part of a balanced diet.  In a balanced diet appropriate amounts of soluble fiber comb the intestines preventing any problems in relation to food being stuck in the gut.  These discussions remind me of the emphasis on a fat free diet.  However, while it would be prudent to limit our intake of certain fats, dietitians now emphasise that our bodies actually require a certain amount of fat to remain healthy.

In the end it is a balanced diet that is the best way to go as both meat and sugar are necessary for healthy nutrition of our bodies (in appropriate quantities).  I know that not all Christians will agree with me but I can find no compelling biblical reason for eliminating entirely one or more food groups from our diets.  Did God get things wrong when he gave humans permission to eat meant or included fructose in fruit?  The key challenge I wish to leave the reader with is to urge you to take the time to find out what goes into a balanced diet.  With this knowledge you may be able to take some real steps towards protecting your health in the long term.

Darren J Clark

Do churches make people fat? (A World Food Day* post)

Posted in Musings with tags , on October 17, 2012 by johnfom

 

Do churches make people fat?  I am not about bashing churches I just want to get your attention and make you think.  However, I am concerned that certain aspects of our culture provide an environment which makes it more difficult for people to maintain a healthy weight.  This is what is known as an ‘obesogenic environment.’  In such an environment a person is faced with a whole range of cultural cues and environmental factors that trigger overeating in general, the over consumption of the wrong kinds of food and a sedentary lifestyle.  The obesogenic factors involved in our society are far too numerous to list here but can range from simple things such as larger dinner plates (therefore larger portions sizes), to the ads we see on tv, to the way our cities are designed (reducing the ability to exercise).  These factors pervade our whole society and are not always readily identifiable, meaning we have to take to time to think about how the way society is structured affects the way we eat.  Our churches are part of the society so it is fair enough to ask are there any inbuilt cues, structure or factors in church life that contribute to the development of obesity to those who attend church.

I do not want to be exhaustive but rather provide a starting point with which we can begin to talk about this issue.  Something that comes to mind is the way some youth groups I have been involved with have regularly offered unhealthy snacks (potato crisps, coke, lollies, pizza etc) while the youth sit around a study or movie.  What does this teach teens about healthy eating?  In a similar fashion pot luck lunches are interesting but contribute to people losing the ability to judge portion sizes correctly.  As church life is by its very nature a series of social events it is inevitable that a good number of these events will contain obesogenic factors reinforcing existing bad habits people have obtained over a lifetime of an unhealthy approach to diet and exercise.

I do not think all churches are full of fat people.  This would be too simplistic a viewpoint as I see instances when groups in churches get together to play sports or lose weight.  My point is that each and every church needs to consciously and deliberately examine the ways in which church life throws up barriers to healthy living.  In my view it is awful to think that the way we organise church life makes it harder for some people to lose weight etc.  In my view it is not enough to wait until some is seriously ill or near death from complications relating to obesity before we act (usually in the form of prayer).  Should we not at least be concerned about the health of our fellow Christians now?  Action now would demonstrate that we love and care for each other.  In light of this I would rephrase my original question to, ‘Does my church contribute to the obesity of its people?’  And I would urge you to agitate for change where necessary for the sake of the health of your fellow worshipers.

 

Darren J. Clark

(*World Food Day is 16 October)

Bread of Life

Posted in From others..., Musings with tags , , , , on January 15, 2009 by johnfom

This video came through on the feed from TED The other day. I’ve just gotten round to watching it.

It’s a great parable.  It tells a story, relates it to spiritual matters AND leaves you to draw all sorts of meaning from it.  It has given me all sorts of things to think on in my current endevour of trying to learn how to tell stories with meaning.

What I particularly like is that you can see the passion this man (Peter Reinhart) has for what he does.  He has what I’d describe as a ‘visible vocation’.  He gives the impression that this is not ‘just a job’ for him.

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Take the 15 or so minutes to watch it.  It’s well worth it.  You can see it here.

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