In the realm of eating I see two extremes happening in America. On the one hand, meal time has been reduced to a drive through window or something from a box, that’s “ready in minutes”. Families just “don’t have time to cook anymore” On the other hand, healthy eating has become way too complicated, with many varying opinions on what is healthy and what is not.
In fact, have you ever thought about feeding your family more nutritious foods, but just did not know where to begin? Perhaps you have even bought one or two of the many books on the subject of healthy eating, only to find yourself more confused than enlightened. Well, do not feel alone. Twenty five percent of Americans say they are confused about what is healthy and what is not.
Many of us have found that as we search for answers we often find that even the “experts” do not agree on the subject of healthy eating. Raw food diet, low “carb” diet, fruit and vegetable juice diet, coupled with lists of “can’t haves”, leaves us asking the questions, “Does healthy eating really have to be this complicated?” “Does it have to be that different from what my family likes?” Or “Is there really anything wrong with good old meatloaf and mashed potatoes”?
The answer to these questions is, absolutely not! With just a few simple steps you can put meal time back in its proper perspective and serve healthy foods that you family will not only eat, but enjoy!
One basic principle, however, must prevail over our endeavors to change our eating habits. We must return to a diet consisting of “real” food. By “real” food, I mean food that is created by God to nourish our bodies and that is eaten in a form as close to the way God created it as possible. For example, eat an apple instead of an apple flavored fruit bar or a highly processed package of apple sauce. Eat real meats, real vegetables and real fruit. Choose real eggs and real butter. You do not have to become a vegetarian or change to a raw foods diet or become a meat eater for that matter. Just make real food choices from the many wonderful options that God has given us, that best suits your family’s likes and meets your body’s needs. The exciting part is you can begin today and even shop in the regular grocery store. Shop the perimeter of the store to find the real food. The important thing to remember is to just “GET REAL”.
With this basic principle in mind, there are a few specific steps you can make that will bring drastic and noticeable improvements to the health of your family.
Step 1: Eat Real Bread – Buy a Grain Mill -There is one exception to finding real food in the grocery store and that is BREAD! Of all the foods God has given us, bread, or food made from grain, is the most altered by man. The grocery shelves are filled with denatured, processed grain products. Real bread, however, is bread made from freshly milled whole grains. Without making your own bread and grain foods it will be difficult to obtain real bread or the remarkable health benefits it will bring.
For our ancestors of 100 years ago, whole grains and real bread were the staples of their diet. They did not suffer the cancer, heart disease, or diabetes as we do today. In fact, in 1900 America was the healthiest of 93 countries surveyed. By 1920 it had dropped to 2nd and thereafter America’s health continued to rapidly decline. Today, America is the world leader in chronic sickness and disease as well as obesity. What happened to cause such drastic changes in America’s health?
Prior to the 1900’s most bread baked in this country was done so at home. Grain was milled at the local miller or homes had mills of their own so that flour could be milled as needed and used before it spoiled. The bran and germ portions of the whole grain contain many vital nutrients to good health that oxidize quickly once the flour is milled and the germ portion contains oils that go rancid as well. In the late 1800’s steel rolling mills were invented that sifted the bran and germ portions away, leaving white flour that would not spoil. Thinking this a wonderful discovery, steel rolling mills soon replaced the local millers and by 1910 white flour and white bread became food for the common man.
Three diseases became epidemic immediately and health officials traced the problem to the new white flour that had taken over the market. They urged the millers to put the bran and germ portions back into the flour but the millers refused, choosing instead to enrich the white flour. For the 25-30 nutrients lost by removing the bran and germ, only 4 were replaced. Unfortunately, the synthetic vitamins and minerals used to “enrich” or “fortify” foods are often forms that our bodies cannot readily absorb.
This is a significant turning point in America’s health history. You see, white flour and white bread have always been around, however, its consumption was reserved for the wealthy or royalty. Royalty could afford servants, who would sift out the bran and germ portion to make white flour “dainties and delicacies” as mentioned in Proverbs 23:3. Proverbs 23:1-2 warns us that this is deceitful food and that we should even “put a knife to our throats lest we be given to gluttony”.
The invention of the steel rolling mills made white flour available to the common people, rich and poor alike. By 1920, bread and bread products had drastically changed and America’s health has been declining ever since. Today, most of what we eat has been so altered by processing and preserving it can hardly be called bread at all.
America is now the fattest nation in the world, evidence that we are truly “given to gluttony”. We are now the world leader in heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Asthma has increased by 200% in the past 10 years and the number of children with type II diabetes (previously called “adult onset”) is alarming. Americans, old and young alike, are dependent on antihistamines and allergy relief medications and constipation is no longer an old person’s problem.
Recent government studies state that whole grains reduce the risk of these now common health issues, yet God knew all along. In Deuteronomy 24:6 God instructed the Israelites in wise business practices. It was customary to take a pledge from someone when making a loan. God declared, however, that “no man shall take a mill or upper millstone in pledge, for he would be taking a life in pledge” (emphasis mine). God knew the importance of bread for maintaining life and health, therefore the capacity to mill grain was equated with the very life of a person.
Since 1992 I have been teaching on the health benefits of grinding your own grains to make your own breads. We have heard literally thousands of testimonies of improved health from this one dietary change alone. In all my years of study of healthy eating and trying many different ways to improve my health and the health of my family, I have never seen one change bring such immediate and noticeable results as when we began milling our grain and making bread. The best part is the bread tastes good and will have your family begging for more!
How important is this first step to improving your family’s health? IT IS YOUR LIFE!
Though this first step may seem hard, it is definitely worth it. The immediate improvements in health will not only encourage you to go on in your journey, but will also you give you the energy you need to move forward. If you never make any other changes in your family’s diet than real bread, you will still experience many health improvements. But, there are a few more simple steps you can make that will bring even more positive results.
Step 2: Drink More Water – Most of us have become very concerned about the food we eat, but neglect the importance of what we drink. A person can fast from food for as long as 40 days and not die, yet a fast from water for longer than 3 days results in death.
Water makes up 65-75% of the human body and is essential for life and the proper functioning of the body. Most of us, however, do not clearly understand its life-giving role, nor do we drink enough.
Valuable nutrients, as well as oxygen, are continually brought into our cells by water, while it also carries waste products away from our cells. This process of transporting and eliminating is essential for the health and function of every cell in our bodies. Necessary nutrients vary from cell type to cell type but the transport vehicle remains the same – WATER.
Since water is instrumental in flushing toxins and waste from the body, if the body does not receive enough water these toxins build up and hinder the proper function of the cell. Both our digestive and eliminative processes are adversely affected by the build-up of toxins. Sugar and chemical laden beverages, such as teas, coffee, soft drinks, and fruit juice drinks (even the 100% juice drinks) do not have this cleansing potential. Since we would certainly not consider cleansing the outside of our bodies with one of these beverages, why do we think they can replace pure clean water for cleansing the inside of our bodies?
Step 2 then in our quest for better health involves replacing the sugar filled beverages we consume with water. A great place to start is first thing in the morning. Begin each day with an 8 ounce glass of water, before anything else goes in your mouth. I call this “priming the pump”. Morning is your body’s main cleansing time. Drinking a glass of water will get things moving. I have noticed also that drinking water first thing in the morning enables me to distinguish between thirst and hunger. It will actually help you to want more water throughout the day.
Step 3: Friendly Bacteria – The more I study the human body the more I am amazed at the importance of replenishing the good bacteria that lives in our colon. These “good guys” play a vital role in our immune function. This “friendly flora” suppresses the growth of pathogenic bacteria and yeast. America is one of the few countries that does not have a cultured or fermented food as part of its daily diet. By cultured food I mean yogurt and kefir, both fermented dairy products, or a fermented vegetable such as sauerkraut. Yogurt and kefir are the easiest foods to incorporate into a healthy eating program, but they of course need to be “real” – containing at least 5 different live active bacteria and not heavily sweetened, flavored, or colored. A good plain yogurt or kefir can easily be blended into a fresh fruit smoothie or sweetened with honey and frozen fruit and eaten like ice cream. I enjoy eating yogurt with my granola instead of milk, or at breakfast I often serve yogurt and fruit as a side dish. Try to consume at least a ½ cup every day.
If dairy allergies are a problem I would supplement with a good “probiotic” which can be purchased at any health food store.
Step 4: Fresh Fruits and Vegetables – Making a conscientious effort to eat more fruits and vegetables will do a lot to improve your bowel health as well as supply your body with many of the vitamins and minerals so important to good health. Begin to replace sugary snacks with a piece of fresh fruit. I have noticed that hungry people, especially children, will eat the most convenient thing. Make fruit more convenient than chips and crackers. Try to have a fresh vegetable, cooked or raw, at least once a day.
Step 5: Get Rid of the Junk – At some point we have to make the decision to get rid of the junk in our lives. I am not a purest by any stretch of the imagination, but my little junky splurges are rare these days. I found that by eating real food, especially real bread, my craving for sweets and junk food have greatly diminished. Begin to read labels. Make wiser choices, choosing real food over processed foods. Again make real foods more available than less healthy ones. A great question to ask yourself before partaking of these little “dainties and delicacies” is “Will this food add to my health or take it away?”
Step 6: Exercise – You may be wondering what exercise has to do with healthy eating, but physical activity is critically important to the function of both our lymph and elimination system. So our health is not only about what we eat, but also about what we do!
God created our bodies to work. Unfortunately we find ourselves in an era that does not typically require much physical labor in the work force. Most of us now have to “work” at exercising. Regular exercise does not have to be complicated, just regular. A nice long walk can do wonders for your physical health. Find and activity you enjoy and “JUST DO IT”!!
Step 7: Rest – “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. And God blessed the seventh day, set it apart as His own, and hallowed it because on it God rested from all His work which He had created and done.” (Genesis 2:2-3)
We should not get legalistic here, but we must find time to rest, each day, as well as weekly. Plan your days and weeks so you can look on your accomplishments as God did and say “It is good” – then sit down, relax or better still – turn out the lights (and computer) and go to bed!!!
Will changing the way you eat, or live, reverse or prevent life threatening diseases? Maybe – Maybe not, but everyone should experience improved health when we begin to give our bodies what they need. This is not rocket science. God lovingly caused the earth to produce food that would perfectly nourish the bodies He created. Man can’t improve on God. It’s that SIMPLE!