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BIBLICAL EATING - THE RABBI'S DIET

The following is an article by Rabbi Michael Stepakoff: 

"THE RABBI'S DIET" - SOME PRACTICAL WISDOM FROM THE RABBI FOR HEALTHY EATING :

As a Messianic Rabbi, I am a spiritual teacher, and I feel that I have to focus on teaching spiritual truths, and not materialistic things like giving you advice about the stock market or how to prepare for a hurricane.  In any case, there is such a thing as spiritual food for the body.  And although spiritual food and material food are not the same, still, I feel I should have some help to offer in this area of diet.  Because it is important, and people want answers.  I have noticed that so many people today suffer an array of physical problems.  I believe that much of it is connected to unhealthy diet and being overweight.  The two usually go together.  We can heal the sick and raise the dead through prayer.  I believe so.  But there's nothing wrong with making wise dietary choices either.  This must go beyond just eating kosher, which in essence means no pork or shellfish.  Smart, but a healthy diet goes beyond that. 

So, years ago, I started looking into the matter of whether there is such a thing as a "biblical diet," and I discovered not only that there indeed is such a diet, for the sake of our health, but also, I lost about 45 lbs. when I starting eating that way, and I've been able to keep my weight in the ball park of the 170's, and sometimes a little under, which is where I was when I was in my 20's.  I call it "The Rabbi's Diet."  I admit, I have had my ups and downs with it, and I do not always follow it.  And when I don't follow it, my weight goes up.  Then I follow it again, and it comes back down.  So, yeah, you may catch me at oneg stuffing my face.  But when I do follow this diet, I always lose weight, without much effort.  And, I believe it is the biblical model for healthy eating and for keeping fit and trim for life. 

Note that although I call it "The Rabbi's Diet," it is not about holiness.  You can eat this way and keep the weight off, but still be prideful, and suffer from greed, lust, jealousy or any of the other things that destroy a person.  After all, it's your heart that counts, and whatever abides in there will determine your life.  That's why it's not what goes in the mouth, but what comes out that destroys you, because what comes out is coming out of your heart. 

And, yes, I do keep kosher, biblically-speaking, and I suggest you should not eat pork or shellfish or any of the major reptiles.  However, know this - you can keep kosher and still be overweight and unhealthy.  If you don't eat right and fail to exercise, eating kosher won't solve it.  In the same manner, you can be really holy, but still be totally overweight and unhealthy.  May I suggest to you, why not integrate your spiritual condition as if body and mind were one whole?  

Regular exercise is also very biblical, especially walking.  People walked everywhere in biblical days.  Not so today.  Hit the pavement every chance you get.  There's nothing I enjoy more than jogging and/or walking to be alone with the Lord and to get some great exercise.  It is essential.  


But when it comes to the issue of what to eat, I must say up front, with "The Rabbi's Diet," you can always deviate and make a few exceptions here and there.  Do not go on a diet to make yourself miserable.  The bible says, "the Joy of the Lord is our strength."  Any diet should remember that principle first and foremost.  To give you an example, one basic rule of "The Rabbi's Diet" is that you should never eat at night, but you should make dinner your last meal.  On the other hand, go ahead and partake at Oneg.  You'll be okay.  Just don't gorge yourself.  And don't do it again Sat. night and Tues. night.  So, if you see me eating at Oneg, just know that I'm making one of those "exceptions."  I'm the Rabbi, I can do that.  And here's the good news:  So can you.  Just don't do it a lot, or then it's not an exception anymore, it's the rule.  Okay?

Seriously, before you proceed with "The Rabbi's Diet," you must remember to always make room for celebrating life's precious moments.  Don't let your diet stand in the way.  Shabbat is one of those times.  There will also be family gatherings, birthdays, bar and bat mitzvahs, weddings, and festivals.  Celebrate life.  Yeshua did.  And so did His followers. But those occasions are the exception, not the rule.  If you take this wisdom to heart, you can follow this diet for the rest of your life, and never miss out on anything. 

So, here we go.  Now for the "meat and potatoes."  Not really though.  Never eat meat and potatoes together . . . ok, I'm getting ahead of myself here.  The following are four basic principles of "The Rabbi's Diet": 

I.  Principle #1 -  P'ri.  Fruit.  Eat fruit!   Raw fruit.  Whether it is from the vine, the tree, the ground or whatever, fruit should be the #1 food in your diet.  Eat lots of vegetables too, but fruit should be #1.  Eat all the fruit you desire, and eat tons of it!  And eat it every single day.  However, this is crucial to the success of this diet:  Don't eat fruit with anything else!  When you eat fruit, eat ONLY fruit.  Fruit makes a delicious meal that is overflowing with energy and nutrition. It is best to eat fruit in the morning as the first meal.  If not, make sure at least 4 hours has past since your last meal.


Why fruit?  The bible tells us that God created and filled the earth with food for us to eat.  The beginning of the bible says in plain language:  "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you."  (Gen. 1:29).  When you eat fruit, in its natural state, NOT cooked or heated, you are filling your body with life.  Fruit detoxifies, energizes, and stabilizes your body.  There is no food like it.   Fruit is God's superfood given to man for his vitality and well-being.  That is why when God put man in the garden, he told him: "Of every tree of the garden, thou mayest freely eat."  (Gen. 2:16). 

Fruit and vegetables are so good for you that you could live on nothing but them if you had to.  In fact, many people believe that God created Man to be a vegetarian.  While it is clearly true that Mankind were originally vegetarians, I do not necessarily agree that we should be vegetarians.  It is certainly a healthy way to eat, but not mandated.  However, we should keep in mind that eating the flesh of an animal involves the taking of a life, and, therefore, eating meat should not be viewed as something "willy-nilly," but something that we do occasionally, instead of regularly.  Meat is not supposed to be a major part of our diets.  My personal goal is to limit my meat consumption to about three or four times per week, and red meat only about once per week.

I note that people only ate fruit and vegetables, and did not eat meat at all until after the flood.  After the flood, God told Noah: "Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant. 4"Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.… " (Gen. 9:3,4).  So, people began eating flesh.  Before this time, people were living 800-900 years.  After the flood, the average lifespan went way down.  This is probably due to a variety of factors, but eating flesh is no doubt connected to it.    

I reiterate, eat tons of raw fruit.  However, there is one major mistake that people make with fruit - they eat it together with other foods.  Do NOT eat fruit with other kinds of foods.  When you eat fruit, eat it as a meal of its own.  Don't mix it with other foods.  This way, it is absorbed quickly in your stomach and goes right to work in your bloodstream to give your body what it desires.  That's why it's best to eat it first meal of the day, when your stomach is empty.  It gives you a rush of energy that lasts all day.  It is very easy for your body to digest, which means you won't feel tired around noon time, as you do when you eat a heavy breakfast, especially one consisting of meat and bread, mixed together with fruit.  Fruit can also make a great lunch or dinner.  Eat fruit for one of your meals every day. 

The one exception, if you must mix fruit with other foods, mix it with vegetables.  But nothing else.  If you eat fruit by itself, or only with vegetables, you will feel such a rush of energy at all times, you will not be hungry, or tired, your health will be advanced, your immunity will be increased, and you will lose weight because you won't be eating as much.   This will not work if you eat fruit as a dessert after a steak dinner, or have a bowl of cereal with a big bowl of fruit.  Eat fruit, all you want, but only eat it by itself. 

II.  Principle #2 - "Lechem" - Bread.   Bread is a symbol of Life in the bible.  Yeshua said, "This is the bread that came down from heaven so that a man may eat of it and have life eternal."  Just as the Spirit of the Living Messiah is the staff of Life, so too, following that same paradigm, for our natural bodies, bread is the staff of life. 


So you must eat grains.  Don't buy into the idea that carbs are bad for you.  The low-carb diets are good for emergency weight loss, but for long-term eating, they are not good.  Your body is not created to eat nothing but meat and vegetables.  "Hamotzi lechem min ha-aretz," means "He brings forth bread from the earth."  The King of the Universe brings forth bread because He wants us to eat it. 


However, when you eat bread or any type of grain, only eat whole grains!  White bread is one of the worst foods we can eat, it's right up there with refined sugar (which should never be consumed either).  White bread is the most common component in all food today.   Avoid it.  The body isn't made for it.  What happened was that in modern times, instead of eating food in its natural condition as created by God, man has created his own synthetic versions of food.  Mechanically and/or chemically processed food has become the staple of our modern diet.  Not good.  Processed grain has seriously affected human health and greatly contributes to weight gain. 

Man cultivated grain long ago from natural seeds.  We figured out that we can plant these seeds and bring forth grain foods like wheat, rye, spelt, millet, barley, corn and rice in great supply, in order to feed ourselves.  Cultivation of grain gave rise to civilization.  It was God-given wisdom.  We should be able to feed the entire world and never have people on earth who are starving.  Unfortunately, that has not been the case.  The problem is not the supply, it is in distributing it.  There are always people in power who are keeping their people in a state of starvation rather than collaborating with the developed world to feed them. 

As non-sensical as that may seem, likewise, the grain we have available in abundance today is starving our bodies nutritionally.  The most common food today is white bread, and we have more than enough of it, but it's deadly.  White bread is literally dead bread.  It is the result of a process that chemically bleaches the flour and removes the healthy part of the grain in order to make it more appealing to certain tastes, easier and quicker to make in mass quantities, and has a longer shelf-life due to preservatives.  Since all the good stuff is removed, the grain is often "enriched," which means, theoretically, the good stuff is put back in.  But it doesn't work that way.  God created food the way it was meant to be.  Any food that has been altered in some way by heating it, treating it chemically, or by removing parts of the food, or adding to it, is altering God's natural order.  This is obvious.  To eat food as God created it is a good principle to abide by. 

When it comes to weight loss, the truth is that you will shed pounds by eating only whole grains because you won't feel hungry and lethargic when you eat whole grain, instead of white bread.  This is because the nutritional value is so much higher.  Also, whole grain is loaded with protein.  That means you don't need to eat meat for protein.  The no-carb or low-carb diets out there have risen to fame because of the fact that people who eat tons of white bread are constantly having health issues and are putting on weight.  This is true, however, eliminating grain from the diet and replacing it with meat and cheese is not the solution.  That will definitely result in weight loss, but it is difficult to maintain for life, and it causes a host of other health issues.  A healthy, biblical diet will include whole grains, lots of them.  But no white bread.  That's the way people have been eating since biblical days, and it's the way we are meant to eat.  Every time you eat whole grains, your body says, "Toda raba!"

Note - Grain should be eaten by itself, or with vegetables.  Never eat grain with fruit.  Avoid eating grain with meat.  Try a veggie sandwich or an avocado sandwich on whole grain, with tomato and cucumber - delicious!  Or dip whole grain in extra-virgin olive oil.  Get away from that turkey or roastbeef sandwich with cheese.

III.  Principle #3 - "Basar" - Flesh.  Do not eat a lot of flesh!  When you do eat meat, eat it with green vegetables but not with anything else. 

In biblical times, before refrigeration, there were flocks and herds.  People definitely ate meat, but they did not eat a lot of it, not as we do today.  Meat was expensive.  When they ate meat, it was usually for a special meal.  Perhaps big celebration.  Something like, "My son is home, let's kill the fatted calf and celebrate!"  After the fatted-calf was eaten, it might be weeks or months living on nuts and fruits and whole grains - which is healthy, satisfying and delicious - before partaking of another meat meal.  Unlike today, where McDonald's and Burger King make food available to people of most limited economic means, it is likely that poor people in bible times hardly ever ate meat, except at festivals in the Temple when all people shared of the tithes of the flocks and herds.  Simply put it was too expensive for the commoners, and it did them no harm not eating it, so long as they had plenty of fruit, bread, and nuts, they were fine.  

In Temple times, in Israel, many of the animal sacrifices brought to the Temple as a sacrifice were eaten as part of the Temple system, whether by the person offering it, or by the Priests and Levites.  This was done mainly at festivals and other rare occasions.  In this case, slaying of animals and meat-eating was ceremonious.  It involved tens of thousands of animals slain during major festivals such as Passover or Sukkot, in which there might be as many as one million people attending.  Otherwise, however, in ancient days, there was no mass system of slaughtering animals by the millions, to be sold to the masses to be eaten two or three times per day, with the help of refrigeration and freezing.  Nowhere in the bible do you see any mention of smoked meat.  Preservation of meat was limited, and therefore, people generally ate what they slaughtered.  That means meat wasn't always readily available as it is to us.  Which means that people didn't eat it that often.

The key to good health and keeping your weight down is to get away from being a carnivore.  Not completely eliminating meat, but reducing it greatly.  We're not talking about being a vegetarian, but limiting your meat intake is key to good health and maintaining optimal weight.  Especially red meat. 

I note that in the bible, Yeshua and his disciples are often seen eating fish, a great alternative to meat.  Other alternatives are:  eggs, nuts, lentils, split pea.  Also corn is good for protein.  And lots of vegetables like broccoli, kale, spinach, etc. are packed with protein.  Moreover, whole grains are loaded with protein.  You do not need meat to get more than enough of protein.   

Again- When you eat meat, do not eat it with bread or fruit.  Eat it with a green vegetable, but nothing else.

IV.  Principle #4 - "Shemen" - Oil.   Consume olive oil!  The great commodity of the ancient biblical world was olive oil.  In particular use it for vegetables and whole grains.  Drizzle it all over your salads and veggies.  Generously dip your whole grain bread into it.  Smother your whole grain pasta with it.  Psalm 45:7 and Isaiah 61:3 use the expression, "Shemen Sasson," which mean the "oil of gladness."  Biblically, there is something about oil being connected with gladness and joy. 


Olive oil was used to anoint the furniture in the Temple, and to anoint the Kings and leaders with authority, and to heal the sick.  It was eaten with bread, and also the bread was made with oil.   It was used in cosmetics, to light people's homes, and so many other important functions.  Olive Oil was a huge part of the life of the bible, and one of the reasons why the land of Israel was a gem in the eyes of the Greeks and the Romans, who prized the Israeli crop of olive oil. 

In the time of Elisha the prophet, the Lord blessed a widow with a little jar of oil, by multiplying the oil to the point where she was able to fill jar after jar, and thus pay off all her debts.   (2 Kings 4).  Such value was olive oil, that God repeatedly promised Israel in the Torah that he would bless and multiply the oil.  (See Deut. 7:13, 11:14).   To this day, the people of the Mediterranean region, including Israel, Greece, Rome and Spain, have long understood the great health and nutritional benefits of olive oil.  Olive oil is healthy, delicious, helps your body to absorb nutrients, aids in digestion, and it makes you feel satisfied so that you are not feeling hungry and lethargic.   

So, there you go.  This is the four basic principles of "The Rabbi's Diet."  If you have any questions, feel free to email me and I'll be glad to share personally with you on a more in depth basis to help you eat healthy and drop some of those unwanted "lbs."   Definitely check with your personal physician, and with the Chief Physician, especially, if you are diabetic or on medication or have any uncertainties about what you are supposed to be eating.  After all, I am not a doctor, just a messianic Rabbi.  I do get my wisdom from the Chief Physician - but I'm not Him.  And I don't claim to be (-:  And therefore I can't give you medical advice, nor would I pretend to.  You have to seek the Lord for yourself, and seek your physician for medical advice. 


Hope this helps you to live healthy, happy, and be filled with the Joy of the Lord!  Shalom in Yeshua's name!

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