The Genesis Diet: The Biblical Foundation for Optimum Nutrition by Gordon S. Tessler, Ph.D. (1996)

Another week, another book called The Genesis Diet. This Genesis Diet actually predates the Genesis Diet I discussed last week but the diet Gordon Tessler laid out was ahead of its time. In this diet from 1996 Tessler explained the dangers of trans-fats, processed food and what he called the “four white deaths” (white salt, white sugar, white flour and white fat) as he urged readers to adopt a simpler diet based on the book of Genesis. Tessler described the diet of modern Americans as a diet of man-made foods and the Genesis Diet as a diet of God-made foods.

Tessler’s book brimmed with bible verses that helped him convince readers that Genesis contains a divine diet plan that requires their attention. For instance, he discussed the deceptive power of modern processed foods by comparing this deception to that of Eve in the Garden of Eden. Tessler wrote, “Eve, like so many after her, didn’t realize how dangerous it can be to eat something that God commands us not to eat” (17). Tessler continued to illustrate the deceptive processed food that modern Americans consume and reminded readers that “food processors are not concerned with your life but with shelf life” (22). Tessler also dedicated a decent portion of the book to exploring New Testament passages that many people believe altered the original diet laid out in Genesis. According to Tessler, the unclean foods of Genesis remain unclean. He asserted that God’s word is consistent. He included lengthy discussions of Acts 10, 1 Timothy 4:4 and the writings of Paul which seem to point to an end to concerns of unclean foods and carefully suggested alternate readings that imply that the New Testament retained the unclean food designations of the Genesis diet.

The Genesis Diet, described by Tessler as “the optimum diet for optimum health,” is composed of 50% grains, seeds and nuts, 10% fruit, 6% dairy, 4% meat and 30% vegetables. Tessler restricted meat consumption to clean animals that have been slaughtered properly and had their blood removed, following the traditional laws of Kashrut. Tessler bolstered his advice for animal consumption with biblical evidence but it is interesting to note that the verses related to animal consumption appear in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, not Genesis. Tessler connected the rules for animal consumption to Genesis through Noah. Tessler explained that after the flood, “Noah sacrificed clean animals and birds” (46) suggesting that Noah was aware of the restrictions. In addition to the consumption of proper foods (in correct proportion) Tessler also promoted fasting “for spiritual and physical renewal” (123). Finally, Tessler listed a number of herbs from “God’s Pharmacy” and their common uses. He supported this diet with scientific studies of healthy cultures and testimonials from people who read this book and improved their health with the Genesis Diet. One testimonial from an Ohio woman described putting her whole family on the diet with success and she concluded her letter with the proclamation: “We are all experiencing greater health God’s way” (171). Tessler published two related books Breaking the Fat Barrier and Cooking for Life that support The Genesis Diet, but unfortunately I have not read them. A project for another day!

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