'What Would Jesus Eat?'

If doctors had to identify the deadliest sin affecting Americans today, they would probably name gluttony as the No. 1 killer. As obesity in the United States reaches epidemic proportions, with more than 60 percent of adults weighing in as overweight or obese, public policy makers and health officials are scrambling over ways to improve the American diet.



But Dr. Don Colbert, physician and nutritionist, thinks the obesity crisis could be solved if Americans would pause before inhaling a super-sized fast food meal and ask themselves a simple question: "Would Jesus eat this?"

If it's loaded with saturated fats, sugar or artificial ingredients, the answer is no, says Colbert, whose recent book "What Would Jesus Eat?," combines biblical scholarship with conventional dietary wisdom. "The gluttonous spirit is deadly," he said. "I've seen so many diseases related to dietary excess, so why not go back to the owner's manual, the Bible,to see what Jesus ate?"

Jesus essentially ate a Mediterranean diet rich in whole grains, fish, fruit and vegetables and modest amounts of olive oil, meat and wine, Colbert says. Anything the Old Testament blacklists in its dietary prescriptions is out, including shellfish, pork products, horses, camels, birds of prey and other carnivores.

Colbert, a Mississippi native who studied for a year at a Bible college as well as training at medical school, said he wrote the book and its companion, "The What Would Jesus Eat Cook Book," both published by Thomas Nelson, after realizing that many of the fattest Americans are dedicated fundamentalist Christians. "Most people say, `Hey, it's important that I live a Christian life, but my body's not that important,"' he said. "They'll go to heaven, the only problem is, if they neglect their bodies, they'll go to heaven a lot faster."

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With six new books in his Bible Cure series set to come out this fall, including books on combating cholesterol, diabetes and thyroid problems through diet and prayer, Colbert's Bible-based diet empire has expanded far beyond his private practice at the Divine Wellness Center in Longwood, Fla.

And Colbert's not the only Christian diet guru urging people to ask what Jesus would eat. Christian advocates of vegetarianism say if Jesus were alive today, he would maintain a plant-based diet out of compassion for animals. Others say Jesus would probably approve of genetically modified food, given his propensity for transforming and multiplying food. "He was clearly not against the need to alter and change food," said Arthur Caplan, chair of the department of medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania, referring to Jesus' tranformation of water into wine and his multiplying the loaves and fishes.

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Alexandra Alter
Religion News Service
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