For the last three years, it has been common to see people wearing masks, pumping hand sanitizer, standing six feet apart. The world has been hyper aware of sickness and the spread of germs. It is common for people to succumb to sickness during “flu season.” But God meant for us to be sickness-free all the time! We need to pray for God’s protection and have faith in the divine power of healing, but we also have our part to play in fulfilling God’s wish for us in 3 John 2: “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”
Herbert W. Armstrong wrote, “The most perfect mechanism ever designed and made is the marvelous mind and body that is man” (The Incredible Human Potential, emphasis added throughout). God wants us to be radiantly healthy, and He made our bodies so they would never be sick if we observe the physical laws of health that regulate those bodies.
That is our part: We have to keep the laws of radiant health! When we follow those laws, we have strong, vigorous health. When we break those laws, we commit physical sin. As a result, we suffer disease, physical sickness and other problems.
We need to keep God’s spiritual law, spelled out by the Ten Commandments. But we also need to keep His physical laws. Lawkeeping is our way of life in God’s Church: We respect and obey the law. That is the mindset God is building in us. In our culture, people actually boast about how much they commit spiritual sin and mistreat their bodies! It is hard to do things right in this world, but that should be our desire: to please God and keep moving toward better and better lawkeeping.
God made sure His end-time Elijah received a strong education in physical health, and he lived a robust, invigorating, healthy life of 93 years! The later years were among his most productive.
At the 2021 S.E.P., campers and workers read William Danforth’s book I Dare You. He discussed four areas in that book: the physical, mental, social and spiritual. The physical chapter is titled “I Dare You to Be Strong.” In this chapter, Danforth examined the lives of very successful people. Though they all have different personality traits and strengths, he identified one trait they all possessed: energy!
Energy could have described Mr. Armstrong. He was a very energetic man! It was impossible not to listen to his compelling, booming voice on the radio—when he was in his 60s! How much energy do you have, in your youth? Could you match Mr. Armstrong’s energy levels?
God wants you to be a person of energy! And to have energy, you must have good health. That means you have to build your health.
Danforth wrote in his book, “Every day is a crucial test in the game of life. The longer you live the better will you understand that fact. Every time you take liberties with your physical strength, such as eating or drinking things that do not agree with you, or losing sleep, you will find that someday you will pay the price when you need the ability to spur or maintain a high batting average or need strength for that extra pep and punch when all those around you are weakening.” That kind of energy may come naturally to you now in your teenage years. But it will not come so naturally in your later years, even though you will need it just as much and more than you do now! You need “pep and punch” all the way through life. You can determine how much energy you will have now and later by what kind of fuel you put into your body: the food that you eat.
The sort of fuel you put into your marvelous mechanism is even more important than the fuel you put in your car. It is important to put in the right fuel. Think about it: You would never put Pepsi or Coca-Cola into the carburetor. If you put in junk, that’s what you get out. Putting bad fuel into your body through unhealthy foods and beverages will destroy you just as surely as it would the carburetor of a car. The problem is, the world doesn’t look at food as fuel. They are interested in selling as much of their products as possible, not in what their products are doing to our bodies.
Mr. Armstrong once said that 85 to 95 percent of all sickness and disease comes as a direct result of what we eat! Look back at the Garden of Eden. What happened there? God offered Adam and Eve two trees, and that is exactly what Satan used to go after Adam and Eve. The tree of death looked good for food! (Genesis 3:6). In Satan’s world, with modern food production, there is “forbidden fruit” everywhere—things that are pleasing to the palate but lead to death.
Mr. Armstrong strongly criticized the typical American diet. He wrote in his autobiography, “[T]he average American meal is in fact a dietetic horror—consisting of an overwhelming preponderance of the starches, sugars and greases—the carbohydrate acid-reacting elements which cause numerous ailments and diseases.” In The Seven Laws of Success he wrote,“[T]he medical profession has made great strides toward eliminating communicable diseases, yet is having little success coping with the increase of the noncommunicable diseases—such as cancer, heart diseases, diabetes, kidney diseases. These latter are affected by faulty diet.”
Faulty diet is not a problem that emerged only in Mr. Armstrong’s time, however. King Solomon warned about eating a diet of rich, unhealthy foods: “When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee: And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite. Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat” (Proverbs 23:1-3) The king has the luxury to eat anything he wants to eat, but this proverb says beware. If you’re inclined to eat whatever is pleasing to you, you’re going to get into trouble. We really do eat like kings, in the sense that is described here. People everywhere are falling into this trap, getting into lust when it comes to food and drink. It’s easy to fall into this habit—in fact, it’s hard not to.
If you have this problem, you’d better restrain yourself! You have to know yourself, and take special steps to avoid traps and weaknesses. Don’t buy something that you know is bad for you if it is easy to indulge in. You won’t eat the ice cream if you simply don’t have it in your freezer to begin with. Whatever food tempts you, keep it out of your kitchen. We need to live lives of moderation (Galatians 5:23). We need to be self-controlled, prioritizing God and serving Him over ourselves.
Here are some practical tips you can follow to start putting the right kind of fuel into your body:
Keep the law: Become law-oriented when you think about food.
Remember that you have the blessing of knowing and being able to keep God’s physical health laws. Avoid foods that have been altered by men in food factories, and try to maintain a balanced diet that will give you all the elements you need for your body to sustain you and be healthy.
Eat whole foods.
Eat what God created you to eat, the way He made it. There’s a big difference between eating a potato and eating potato chips. God made apples. That has one ingredient: apple. You can make applesauce from apples. Food manufacturers want to make sure it looks good, tastes good and lasts a long time sitting on the shelf. They will put things in there that make you crave more. If you pick up a jar of applesauce at the store, you’re likely to find high fructose corn syrup, various sugars, natural flavor, ascorbic acid, and other addictive and man-made, unnatural ingredients.
Try to eat food in the state God created it. Mr. Armstrong summed it up: “Eat only those natural foods that will spoil, and eat them before they do.” That’s a great rule to live by!
Avoid processed foods.
As much as possible, avoid processed and refined foods. Most of them are full of enhancers and colorings that God did not make. They were created in a lab to make money, not give your body fuel: ingredients like propylene, glycol, alginate, etc. You really have no idea what you are putting into your body when you eat these. For example, the Food and Drug Administration allows food manufacturers to have up to 93 different ingredients in bread without having to put them on the label!
If you do have to eat something out of a box, then aim for those with seven or fewer ingredients—the easier they are to pronounce, the better. For instance, instead of buying chips with 20 ingredients, try original Triscuit crackers, which only have three.
In 2004, a film director released his documentary named Super Size Me. For one month, he ate exclusively McDonald’s fast food to test its effects on his health. A short while into the experiment, this formerly healthy man was being told by his doctor, end this experiment immediately; continuing could permanently damage your health! He also tested McDonald’s french fries for their shelf life. Normally, food sitting uncovered for months will become a home for all sorts of molds that feed on it for their own growth. But after months, the McDonald’s fries looked exactly the same. That means microorganisms are not even interested in eating McDonald’s “foods”!
If you avoid processed foods, what should you be eating? Fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and whole grains are all much healthier and more filling alternatives.
Teach your taste buds.
If you train yourself to actually enjoy nutritious food the way God made it, you’ll find that you will begin to get a lot more pleasure out of it. It really is a matter of eliminating the things that are bad for you. The more you do that, the easier it will be to enjoy what’s good for you.
Beware hidden sugars in food. Sugar is in everything. People that come to the United States from other countries often ask why everything tastes so sweet here. Sugar is in almost every product, masquerading under names such as dextrose, fructose, corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup. A few years ago, the average person in Europe ate only three to four pounds of sugar a year. Today, that number has skyrocketed to over 100 pounds. And the more sugar you have, the more you crave.
In a 12-ounce can of soda, there is one cup of refined sugar. That sugar overload creates a lot of health problems including thyroid malfunction, bone loss, dental decay, hyperactivity, cancer, acne and even violent tendencies. As an alternative to sugar, try natural sweeteners like maple syrup or raw honey, and use them in moderation. Avoid prepackaged treats; instead make your own, using good fats.
Proverbs 25:16 says, “Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.” In other words, keep your sweets intake—even the ones made with healthy sweeteners—under control.
Eat proper proportions.
In today’s world, we live in an overeating epidemic! Our world today is as evil as the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and that is not referring only to sexual sins. Ezekiel 16:49 describes some of the sins plaguing our nations today: “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” The English Standard version translates “fulness of bread” as “excess of food.” We see that in modern Israel today. We lack for nothing, and excess of food is a huge problem. People don’t know what a healthy portion of food looks like.
2 Timothy 3:3 says our people are “incontinent.” That means they have no self-control! Instead of staying away from something that is bad for them, they give in to their every whim.
Childhood obesity is rising in America. Now 17 percent of children and adolescents age 2 to 19 are obese. That is almost 1 in 5 children, or a whopping 12.5 million. Childhood diseases are also on the rise, with steady increases in blood sugar problems and diabetes. Diabetes in children is caused by too much insulin in the bloodstream as a result of faulty diet: usually too many sugars and refined carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are actually the most crucial element to consider in a portion size. The good news is, it is the easiest thing to fix quickly—but you have to be aware of how easy it is to overeat them.
Mr. Armstrong wrote in his autobiography: “Most people seemed to suppose it is natural for our bodies to get sick. But sickness is not natural. Sickness comes only from broken physical laws within our bodies. Most of the time it comes from excess of carbohydrates.”
Carbohydrates are not bad. They turn into different sugars in the body that we use for energy. Your body needs carbohydrates. But the amount and quality of the carbohydrates you consume really matters. If you overload, you create problems for yourself.
Generally speaking, the simple carbohydrates are the bad ones, and the complex carbohydrates are the good ones. The simple carbohydrates have a simple structure with refined sugars and very little nutritional value, like soda, candies, etc. Complex carbohydrates can be stored in the muscles or liver and be used later for energy. The bodies have to work harder to break them down, so they don’t cause your blood sugar to spike. Complex carbohydrates are found in fruits, vegetables, lentils and so on.
Favoring complex carbohydrates gets back to our point about eating whole foods. A sweet potato is a healthy carbohydrate for you. A bag of sweet potato chips? Not so much.
The phrase “less is more” could really apply to your carbohydrate intake. One full bagel—a simple carbohydrate—has 36 grams of carbohydrates. To get the same number of complex carbohydrates, you would have to eat four oranges, or eight cups of broccoli, or 24 cups of Romaine lettuce! When it comes to cereal or bread, it is best to remember that a little goes a long way. On the other hand, it is pretty much impossible to overdo it on the vegetables.
A good rule of thumb is to eat no more than a palm-size portion of carbohydrates at each meal.
Follow the 80-20 rule.
If you are eating right 80 percent of the time, there are times when you can depart from that and not pay the penalty you would otherwise. Eighty percent of eating right and 20 percent of being a little less particular would be like being disciplined during the week and having a little dessert on the Sabbath only. This can provide a balanced, easy method to stick with something as opposed to never, ever letting yourself have a doughnut or other treat. But make sure it is the exception rather than the rule.
Most importantly, if any of these points are to work, you must remember: This is a way of life. This is not something you try for a few days or weeks, decide it didn’t work out, and then give up on. This isn’t just about losing weight. This is about living a lawful way of life: living the way God wants, day after day. You will see the benefits over time! Maintaining good health shows God that you are willing to be a tool in His hands. It demonstrates godly stewardship.
Show God you are thankful for the marvelous human body He has given you. If you are taking care of what He has given you, you will become a stronger person—not only physically, but spiritually too.
In the World Tomorrow, sickness will be completely eradicated: “But there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams …. For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us. … And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity” (Isaiah 33:21-22, 24).
Inspired by these verses, Mr. Armstrong wrote, “The combined force of right education about true health, and healing of all sickness, when it is repented of, will mean perfect, utopian health” (The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like).
Repentance means living the right way and keeping God’s law—and when that law is broken, repentance means getting back on track. People will have to repent and change in the World Tomorrow—and then God will heal them! But people will not know what to repent of unless they have teachers giving them “right education about true health.” Those teachers will be you!
The World Tomorrow will be filled with people of pep and energy, accomplishing dynamic and awesome things all over this Earth. You are blessed to be in God’s Church, the Kingdom of God in embryo. You can live that dynamic life now—so give it all you’ve got!
You are preparing for a future when you will be teaching others how to enjoy robust living. You are the leaders of tomorrow—so prepare by living that way of life today.Prepare by building vibrant, robust, good health.