What Would Jesus Eat? The Ultimate Program for Eating Well, Feeling Great, and Living Longer by Don Colbert, M.D. (2002)

When I was in high school WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) bracelets were all the rage. I never witnessed any Jesus-based decision making on account of those colorful bracelets but I am excited to report that this week’s faith-based diet program is Jesus-based decision making in action. What Would Jesus Eat? is a comprehensive diet program based on what Jesus ate that also explains why contemporary Americans would do well to follow his example. Don Colbert, a board certified physician, combined his medical knowledge with his faith in this well organized and persuasive book.

The diets I covered previously were all based mainly on the dietary prescriptions of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). Colbert’s diet is a slight twist on that formula. In What Would Jesus Eat? Colbert shared the same dietary prescriptions from Leviticus and Deuteronomy but he did so because Jesus would have adhered to those dietary prescriptions as a first century Judean. Colbert emphasized the benefits of eating as Jesus did: “The medical and scientific facts confirm it. If we eat as Jesus ate, we will be healthier. He is our role model for good habits in eating, exercising, and living a healthy, balanced life” (x). Colbert urged his readers to question what they eat and avoid foods that Jesus would not have eaten. Colbert made it clear that much of what Americans eat today, especially highly processed foods, would not have been part of Jesus’ diet. Colbert even suggested that “if dietary laws of the Bible were being issued by God today, there would be a ‘thou shalt not’ attached to processed foods high in sugar, hydrogenated fat, salt or additives” (7).

So what would Jesus eat? Each chapter of Colbert’s book detailed one aspect of Jesus’ diet and ended with a summary of how readers can adopt Jesus’ diet in their lives. Readers are encouraged to eat a lot of whole grains and whole grain breads, beans and vegetables. Colbert encouraged consumption of fresh fish (with fins and scales in accordance with Leviticus) and cautioned against overconsumption of meat. He suggested that readers eat only free-range, organic-fed and kosher meat, chicken and eggs and urged them to do so sparingly. Colbert noted that Jesus drank a lot of water and some red wine but Colbert recommended a red-wine substitute instead of the real thing. Colbert informed his readers that for dessert Jesus ate fruit, nuts and honey. Colbert, a realistic man of the twenty-first century, also allowed for more indulgent sweet treats but only on special occasions. Finally, Colbert reminded his readers that Jesus’ ministry involved a great deal of walking, perhaps ten to twelve miles a day. Colbert suggested that his readers also strive to get ample exercise on a daily basis. Colbert ended the book with a wealth of resources including a BMI (body mass index) chart, a Mediterranean diet food pyramid, a pantry set-up plan, a daily eating plan and a week’s worth of menus. Colbert also wrote a companion cookbook (The What Would Jesus Eat Cook Book) in order to ensure that his readers could truly eat as Jesus ate.