This blog is going to try and answer the million questions I get about how I manage to afford eating paleo with six kids and "What do you EAT?!" and the even more asked question of "What do your kids eat?!", throw in an occasional "How do you have time to cook three meals a day?" We live a normal and crazy life with a house full of crazy kids, endless laundry, weeds in the garden, and a growing desire to not be satisfied with poor health. I homeschool, garden, Crossfit, eat paleo, have SIX kids, three dogs, lots of chickens, love the Lord, and am trying to honor Him through finding true health both physical and spiritual.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Paleo Diet and the Christian

This probably will be the only time I address this but time will tell eh? The question is whether eating a paleo lifestyle is compatible with the Christian. You'd be surprised the questions I have been asked and comments I have gotten. I even had someone tell me that using the word paleo "denies the existence of the Creator". Oh yes I was told I was denying the existence of the creator publicly by using it. Today I had an online friend ask me some good-hearted curious questions that I thought I would answer here. And because I'm about to get all heavy and type a super long post I will post this to cheer me up. I have no idea if Kirk Cameron is paleo or not and couldn't seem to find info online about whether he is, but I literally laughed out loud when I found this during my search of Christian paleo clip art. It doesn't offend me instead it cracks me up something fierce so hopefully it doesn't offend you. Now onto more serious pastures.....



Bread is not "Wrong"

First, I want to be clear that I believe wholeheartedly that believing that the current state of our bodies warrants choices to not eat certain foods that were in the Bible does not call those foods "unclean". It does not say they are bad, or go against God's Word. It does not take a spiritual stance that they should be forbidden. It is not a spiritual doctrine to cut these foods for better health.


1 Timothy 1-4 1But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,2by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,3men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.4For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude;5for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.

People don't go around saying that they are going to eat 10 bags of Cheetos a day because they are thankful for them. If I were starving and the only thing I had to eat was Cheetos, by all means, I would eat that bag with thankfulness. Fortunately I am not currently in a place in my life where I would starve without Cheetos. For my best health in the midst of the Lord providing the means for me to eat a nutrient-rich diet, I don't choose to eat them. Or grains. Or legumes. Or most dairy and right now in fact no dairy. Believing they are not optimal choices for great health does not go against God's Word.

1 Corinthians 23 "All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up."

So while all things are  lawful, they are not all beneficial. That is where I am in my relationship with food. Not all things are beneficial. God's Word is clear that many things are allowed that may not always be best.

Food is only a tool to stay healthy to be able to do God's work here on earth. Being a good steward means doing the best with that body and keep it functioning the best that it can. That is my goal with my exercise, and it is my goal with my food choices. Optimal Health. We often forget that paleo is just as much about what it IS than what it IS NOT. My research has led me to place where I focus on not eating inflammatory foods, and eating only nutrient dense foods. Keep that in mind as I go on.

So why is saying that eating grains, legumes, and modern dairy okay in light of God's Word... and why would I chose as a Christian to not eat things spoken of clearly in the Bible? A few things that I have confronted as I prayed about my health, my eating, and it's relationship to God's Word:

Living in a Sinful World

 Adam and Eve were created to live in eternity with God in the garden. But through their sin, all of creation was cursed. Romans 8:22 "For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now." Romans 5:12 - Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned. 

All of creation was now under the curse. Death was brought to the world. Death came to Adam and Eve as well. But they lived close to 1000 years! Since sin came into the world, life expectancy has steadily dropped, dropping off quickly after the flood.


As we grow farther from the original sin our bodies have been degrading. From a near perfect genetic material in the beginning the current state of genetic degradation we have now with our genes, we have seen a slow and steady onset of disease of everything from cancer to allergies. The wages of sin is death and simply living in a world cursed by sin we have seen a steady onset of death through disease and poor health.  Sinful behavior from gluttony laziness also affects the way our bodies work. Changes in diet such as growing up eating a more processed high carbohydrate diets affect our body's ability to process higher carbohydrate loads. Poor prenatal nutrition greatly affects our children's gene expression, leaving them with damaged genes to pass onto their children. Our cultural norms have eroded the concept of moderation to the point that we have damaged our bodies. And in the end, we just live in a world corrupted by sin, our bodies are not excluded. We are reaping what was sown in the state of our bodies. I do not think I can expect to live the same life as someone who lived in a very different life than my own.

Cultural Changes

The lives of those in Biblical times do not mimic my own. The lives and times of those in Bible times are different than mine. Their struggles with sin are no different, but the way they lived, they way they ate, the health of their bodies, the gut health, their muscle mass, their mobility, everything is very different than mine. God's Word does not contradict history but nor does it ignore it. To refuse to acknowledge that the peoples of Bible times lived in a very specific time and that their lives in regards to food and exercise are different than ours is looking at things through rose colored glasses.


Peoples of the Bible lived lives that look nothing like my own. To walk everywhere, doing manual labor to be able to even just cook, well we can be sure that I do not live that way. I do not raise all my own food, nor work endless hours harvesting food. I do not walk 20 miles to get to town, let alone 100. I do not carry large heavy vessels of water. Muscles on women? Oh yeah in Biblical times there were alright! Their activity level alone is enough to spur me to question whether my food choices should perfectly mimic theirs.

Being raised from birth eating nothing but wild caught fish, all free range animals, fermented foods, no exposure to chemicals, life-long constant exercise and sunshine, all these things affect the state of the bodies of those in Biblical times. To compare the health of our bodies now is almost impossible. Although I can't say I wish I hadn't been raised to eat that way!

Food Quality

There is the obvious discussion about the increasing lack of quality of our food that is going on really everywhere from the late night news to discussions after church. Nutrients in our soil is degrading. Our meats are not free-ranged. Hybridization of grains over time has left us with grains that look nothing like their original forefathers. Pasteurization instead of fermentation leaves us with foods that irritate our stomachs instead of heal them. Highly processed flours. Higher processed sugars lol. Chemicals sprayed on our foods and added to our foods. The list is endless. Even those trying to eat their very best in a modern society don't even begin to rival the quality of food of Bible times.

There is no way this doesn't have an affect on our bodies. We can't put our heads in the sand and pretend that these things don't affect our bodies. I personally have chosen to take a path that questions whether some modern foods are ideal for my body in its current state.

Commandments?

I often hear things like "well what about bread? Jesus called himself the Bread of Life". References to "breaking bread", "bread of life", are not commandments. They are a set of terminology that references history, can be figurative, as well as be literal. I don't see the notion of "breaking bread" as commanding me to break bread but to spend time around the table in fellowship. The Lord's reference to himself as the bread of life was an amazing illustration. Does it mean we are commanded to eat bread? Not in my opinion anyways.

Communion? This one is up for individual interpretation. I don't personally have a problem with eating a bite of bread for communion. I chose to honor the experience of communion over my food choices. But there are also those that through much prayer have decided not to in the paleo world. I admit I would feel much better if it were long-soaked ancient grain bread with live fermented wine instead of a pressed cheap wafer with grape juice, and if they had gluten-free bread I'd eat as well.

Etc., etc. 

People seem to have no problems with the idea of someone being allergic to wheat, legumes, etc. but seem to have an issue with those who believe that not eating them is best for their optimal health. If one has celiac disease that makes them instantly sick when they eat gluten, there seems to be little to no argument amongst Christians that it is totally okay for them say that eating gluten is bad for them. Nowhere do I see negativity amongst Christians over someone with celiac. But the rest of us that choose to align ourselves with the paleo community's science as well as personal experience about the inflammatory nature of grains, legumes, etc. we are met with an onslaught of questions about how we as Christians can support calling something like wheat that God calls good, something not ideal for optimal health in the modern body.

The Word Paleo

In the end I will say this. Paleo is not a verb for me. Paleo is not "eating the way a caveman eats". It is a now recognizable label for my choice to eat non-inflammatory nutrient-dense food. If it were called "pre-ag" for pre-modern-agricultural, Christians wouldn't have much of an issue with it. So when I see you next, ask me how my "pre-ag" diet is going. Or anti-inflammatory diet? Maybe you should ask how my "antinflam" diet is going. Eh pre-ag is cooler. But no one would know what you were talking about until you said "paleo". So paleo it is.

14 comments:

  1. the term "grain-free" works too. :)
    thanks for the post, Kim! i loved it and i'm sharing it.

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  2. Hey Kim!

    This was a great, thought-provoking post from one pre-ag dieter to another!! I will say that even in Christian circles, I've found "food allergies" to be somewhat taboo or at least something that people aren't always sensitive to. I get questions like, "Why are there so many people allergic to wheat all of a sudden?" When, actually, cases of "celiac" were historically recorded in the First Century by the Greeks! Modern medicine is just now recognizing celiac disease (mainstream research starting in the 50s) but people have suffered from wheat and dairy allergies since the beginning of time in our fallen world. I believe more and more people will become sensitive to it as it touches so many people's lives.

    Thanks for the great post.
    Jen
    my BIG FAT grain free life

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  3. Hi, I just found your blog, and I really needed to hear this today! It is really hard to explain to others what paleo actually means, and honestly once you say, "Paleo" they shut their ears and start spewing fire... well hell no I didn't say you had to do what I do, but why is it people ask questions only to argue your answers??!!! Anyway, I have been praying a lot about my convictions. We have been paleo 31 days and it has been an eye opening experience. From a family who was was gf/cf/sf...this really wasn't to difficult of a transition, but wrapping my head around it, sometime is. Thank you for writing, thank you for being a sahm and thank you for sharing! Well, we are off to the Farmer's market, placing an order for some coconut flour, and hopefully not melting in 100 degree heat! Cheers
    Allison

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  4. So breaking bread is figurative but Adam living for 1000 years has to be literal? Or maybe the reason why bread figures so heavily in scripture is because monotheism developed post agricultural reveolution around 10, 000 BCE.

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  5. http://paleodiabetic.com/2012/07/18/can-a-christian-be-a-paleo-advocate/

    This indvidual seems a little more sensible I'm his approach.

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  6. I appreciate you being respectful in your posts Mark. Not everyone is on this subject for sure. I fully expect many to see my personal views on what God's Word says to not be "sensible" and that's okay with me. Thanks for the link. I have read that before. There are a few out there who have talked on this subject who don't necessarily hold the same views as I do. I still hold to my personal beliefs about what God's Word says. I truly appreciate your respectful tone as many attack with ugliness when coming from the other side of this argument (both Christians and non-Christians).

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  7. Very encouraging post. I have been paleo since 1/1/13. I have 7 children , 5 still at home, and homeschool also. Here is what I usually tell people when they ask what the Paleo way of eating is: "I eat the best quality of meat that I can find, vegetables , fruit and some nuts.Paleo is about cavemen and hunter gatherer diets but I don't buy into that premise. But this is a better way of eating for our family."
    I too got tripped up on how bread was touted as good in the Bible so many times. But it doesn't say , "Thou must eat bread!" I know that I was a carb addict and this has been so good for me and my husband. The kids aren't all on board yet. But most meals are primarily Paelo. I also moved the non Paleo foods out of the kitchen and into a hall closet with shelves. There is one section in there that has the non Paleo foods for some of the kids to choose from. I think it is most hard for my 2 teenaged daughters. They can cook already and make many of their own choices in foods during the day. But they see the results . My husband, my 3rd daughter and myself have lost 110 pounds together since the first of this year. We are also now raising chickens (and getting eggs) and raising Tilapia. What a new and good adventure this has been. My husband and I are just about off of the blood pressure medicines that we have been on for years. We are thankful to the Lord for showing us this health-filled way of eating.
    Keep up the good work.
    Blessings, Tricia Gann
    Las Vegas, NV

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  8. This was very thoughtful, balanced, and encouraging article on Paleo. I am still transitioning to the Paleo diet because I feel that modern foods have gone against the nutrition that our bodies need. I like your approach on nutrient-dense foods, common sense, and the understanding that we don't live in the same time period as our ancestors. The rules, therefore, are a little different. Our objective, then in my view, is to eat the best we can, get some sun & exercise, relax and let God take care of the rest!

    Peace and continued blessings
    Charles

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  9. Hi Kim - thanks for your post. I also read the post that Mark shared from Paleo Diabetic. You know, I often have trouble sometimes getting hung up on matters like these and can sometimes get overly legalistic. Thankfully, God has given me a husband that has really shown me that life with God is not about arguing over controversies, but rather focusing on drawing closer to Him and allowing Him to transform you.
    You know, in the Bible when the Teachers of the Law would ask Jesus loaded questions like, "Is it ok to heal on the sabaath?" Jesus always gave them sort of cryptic answers or said, "Hey, watch this!" and healed someone. It feels to me like sometimes we all spend too much time getting stuck in the particulars rather than loving God with all our heart soul and mind and loving His people.
    For me, growing closer to Him right now means giving up some things, like you said, are permissible, but not necessarily beneficial, and allowing Him to transform my body and and health, and transform my relationship with food. And the paleo method seems like a great place to start.
    So, sorry for writing a book (oops), just wanted to say thanks for your post, and your gracious responses. I'm glad you addressed this topic even though you knew some people might feel differently or respond negatively.

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  10. Thank you Kim!
    I am a Christian that "Found Paleo" by process of elimination. I have been a Type 1 diabetic for 22 years, and have had debilitating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for 10. It has reallly messed up my life and my ability to serve others in God's kingdom, and provide for myself. (I'm not saying that God has not moved in spite of this and there have also been many redemptive things going on in my life as well). Through a slow process of learning about what foods help and which ones hurt, I ended up with "paleo" I just wonder if I might have avoided all of the challenges in my life had I been able to adopt this way of eating when I was younger.
    I always try to keep in mind that "The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking. but about righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17) Still, it would be nice to go to more occassions where Christians are "breaking bread" and be able to find something there that I can eat. I try to at least bring something that I can eat, and people usually LOVE IT!
    I also know that when it comes to eating heavy carbs, I just don't know when to stop. I also have the "advantage" of my glucose meter (and body) telling me that this is NOT a good thing for me.
    I am hoping to connect with more Christians that eat this way.

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  11. What do you feed your babies? When they are newborn? Or is breast milk excluded from being 'inflammatory'?

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    1. Human babies are meant to drink human milk. So yes, feeding human babies breast milk is 100% acceptable and would not be inflammatory because it is specifically designed to meet the nutritional needs of a baby human. Cow milk, on the other hand, is specifically designed to meet the nutritional needs of a baby cow.

      Yes, you could give a human baby some cow milk if necessary (there are "recipes" for natural formula which contain ingredients to make digestion easier and less likely to cause an inflammatory problem in a baby's digestive system) but cow milk is in no way a required food for human babies, human children, or human adults.

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  12. As a Christian I am off all dairy now because of the way the veal calves are treated as waste from keeping the cows pregnant, kept in two foot crates with their heads through a hole and a chain around their necks to keep them from moving. It would be worthy for Christians to check out factory farming and avoid it as inhumane and sin. Check out Life Behind Bars - Mary Tyler Moore for Farm Sanctuary (video on youtube) shows only the average daily conditions, enough to make their point though. There is meat available that is not raised like that, or harvested like that.
    Carol
    Proverbs
    The righteous man *regardeth his beast ...
    (*cares for even the feelings of) Amplified Bible

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