Daniel 1:5, 8-17
The Wisdom of Eating from the Garden
What do you look for in a healthy diet?
You’ve heard of Daniel and the lion’s den. But how about Daniel and the vegetables? After Daniel and a number of Israelite youths are taken as prisoners to Babylon, to be servants in the king’s palace, they are given the opportunity to enjoy food and wine from the king’s table.
But Daniel resolves not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and makes a request of their guard, “Why not test your servants for ten days? You could give us a diet of vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance to the appearance of the young men who eat the king’s food. Then deal with your servants according to what you see” (Daniel 1:12-13).
The guard agrees to this and tests them for ten days. At the end of the period they look healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who eat the royal food. So the guard takes away their rich food and gives them vegetables instead. Daniel and his colleagues eat from the garden, and are much healthier as a result.
We, too, are challenged to “eat from the garden,” and to enjoy the health benefits that come from such a diet. This approach was not original to Daniel, but goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden, where God said to the first man and woman, “I now give to you all the plants on the earth that yield seeds and all the trees whose fruit produces its seeds within it. These will be your food” (Genesis 1:29). God recommended a vegetarian approach to his very first people!
Eating a diet made up of abundant fruits, vegetables, and whole grains not only puts you closer to the way God intends for you to eat, but it also happens to put you on the cutting edge of nutrition science. There is wisdom in eating from the garden, because a low-fat, calorie-controlled diet built on these nutritional components can help to dramatically reduce your risk of being overweight, which, in turn, lowers your risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers.
Such an approach, however, requires determination. Daniel had to stand up to the powers of Babylon, and in similar manner you may find yourself at odds with today’s culture of fast food and fad diets. But focusing on simple vegetables has clear benefits, as the Babylonian guard discovered when he saw that Daniel and his colleagues “looked better and healthier than all the young men who were eating the king’s food” (Daniel 1:15).
When you are putting together a healthy diet, focus on the fruits, vegetables and grains of the Garden of Eden. You’ll not only look better, but you’ll avoid some of the clogged arteries, strained hearts, and aching joints that are caused by the rich foods of Babylon.
Thank you, Creator God, for an abundance of healthy food. Help me to choose wisely. Amen.