Does The Bible Talk About Eating Healthy? Should Christians Watch Their Weight?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Does the Bible mention healthy eating habits? Are believers supposed to watch their weight? Should Christians be careful what they eat? What does the Bible say about a Christian’s health and their diet?

Clean Versus Unclean Foods

God gave Israel dietary laws and these laws were strictly enforced. Jews could not eat what God deemed unclean but only those prescribed or allowed by God. One important point is that these laws were given to the Jews and not to other nations. These laws were part of the Mosaic Laws which was done away with when Christ brought in the new and better covenant. Certainly there are health advantages to not eating some seafood and pork because pork generally has a higher salt content and some seafood have risks, but God was trying to set this nation apart from the rest of the nations. He was trying to create in them a heart of obedience. There are some churches that still adhere to the dietary laws of the Old Testament and they sometimes look down on others who do not follow these dietary restrictions. With this being said, we can certainly understand Peter’s hesitation when he had this vision sent from God in Acts 10:11-15 where Peter “fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ But Peter said, ‘By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.’ And the voice came to him again a second time, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’” While this vision was given to indicate that the gospel was now to go out to the Gentiles (Acts 10:34-35), the thought can not be lost that restricting certain foods are not what concerns the Lord but what is in the heart.

Jesus said that “it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person” (Matthew 15:11). This offended and angered the Pharisees who believed that they were more righteous than other Jews and Gentiles by following the laws…including dietary laws. Jesus clarified this to the disciples by saying “Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone” (Matthew 10:17-20). Most certainly we see Jesus’ intent. It is not what we eat or that we wash our hands or any other external law or tradition that makes us righteous. What pollutes the heart are the evil thoughts, intents, and sins which proceed out of the mouth. What comes out of the mouth then is what reveals is in our heart. Jesus is not concerned with what we eat or what goes into our mouth but what comes out of it.

 “If food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble” (1 Corinthians 8:13)

“If food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble” (1 Corinthians 8:13)

Does Food Defile?

Jesus again reaffirms that it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles a person and not what we eat. The religious leaders were so caught up in external tradition that they missed the internal heart issues. What is in the heart is revealed by what comes out of the mouth (Matthew 15:18). Jesus went a step further in Mark 7:18b-20 saying “Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, ‘What comes out of a person is what defiles him.’” What stands out here is that “he declared all foods clean.” How clear can that be? Paul wrote about this in 1 Corinthians 8:8, saying “Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.” It is not about dietary laws and what we put into our mouth but what we say that comes out of our mouth that pollutes us. Jesus said “by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:37).

Stumbling Blocks

Even though we are free to eat whatever we want, we are not to put stumbling blocks in front of others. Even if it is not sin for us to eat particular foods, it is sin if we cause offense to others. I have some Jewish friends that I would never invite to dinner and have a pork roast. Even though pork roast is fine and is not sin to eat, I would instead have roast beef for dinner because I don’t want to unnecessarily offend them. What if they could not, in all conscience, eat what I had for dinner? Why would I risk embarrassing them if they felt they couldn’t eat it? What else could they do but refuse? Paul was sensitive to this because the early church was composed primarily of Jews but Gentiles were being added to the church and so this is why he said “if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble” (1 Corinthians 8:13).

So we are not to cause unnecessary stumbling blocks of offense to others but the opposite is equally true that we are not to become offended when others may mistakenly have something that you do not eat. In Romans 14:13-15 Paul addresses this issue writing, “Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.” So if we might cause offense, don’t go there. This could apply to alcohol too…as well as many other things where we may differ in belief and conscience from our brother or sister in Christ. Paul was “persuaded…that nothing is unclean in itself” but it is “unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.” We are to be considerate and sensitive to the beliefs and conscience of others…even if we think there is nothing wrong with it.

Is Gluttony or Obesity Sin?

There are actually some sins that concern food but these also may include alcohol or too much of anything. This is called overindulgence or gluttony. For some “their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things” (Philippians 3:19). We are commanded to “not be among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags” (Proverbs 23:20-21). Why is over consumption or gluttony sin? Paul asks, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). Paul is actually talking about sexual sins which are against the body. And Paul is not talking about a person losing their salvation because of gluttony but if they fail to take care of their bodies, God reserves the right and may indeed take them home early. Your “body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). If a person eats too much they will be overweight and overweight people face higher health risks but many people just have a different metabolism. We should never judge or condemn someone who is overweight. We don’t know the whole story. It might be a thyroid problem or it might be some other medical condition. Unless you’re their doctor, you have no right to condemn them or look down on them.


We have read that a person’s heart is revealed by what comes out of their mouth. It is not what goes into the mouth that pollutes the heart but what comes out in our words. We should take care of our body and eat a good diet and exercise because we have the Holy Spirit in this temple (body) but we should not cause offense by what we do eat or be offended by what others eat. We should be sensitive to others and not be judgmental because each one of us will stand before and give an account to our Lord. If you are not presently saved, then you will have to give an account for every idle word ever spoken and every idle deed ever done and the result will be worse than you can imagine (Revelation 20:12-15). Decide today whether you will stand before Christ and be judged for your works on earth and what rewards He will give you for the Kingdom of Heaven…or have Him be your Judge Who will condemn you for rejecting Him as your Savior. It’s your choice. Choose today. Life or death?

Take a look at this article to see what else the Bible says about food:

Bible Foods

Resources: New International Version Bible THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Nikita August 10, 2013 at 4:09 pm

Wow, Jack. Awesome article. The last few lines are, for want of a better phrase, ‘hard-hitting’ and drive the point home. They remind me of my father. I am so worried for him. I don’t want him to end up standing in front of our Lord, regretful that he’d had so many chances and never took them.

Thanks again, Jack, for a great article. You are inspired and inspiring.


Jack Wellman August 10, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Thank you Nikita for your kind words. I am also sorry for the state your father is in now. Prayer is not the least we can do but the most we can do, including for those of our own family and I admire you for caring enough and I am sure you are already praying for him. We know that God doesn’t want any to perish outside of the faith (2 Peter 3:9) and so I will join you in praying for him for the Holy Spirit to come to him and create in him an urge to repent, confess his sin, to see his need for a Savior and that finally, he would put his trust in Christ.


Nikita August 11, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Oh, I thank you ever so much. You are really wonderful and caring. May God bless you and your family.


John Olubobokun August 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm

You really preached what the Holy Spirit expects. God bless u real good!


Jack Wellman August 14, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Thank you so much Mr. Olubokun for your very kind words. I appreciate the encouragement sir.


faith August 27, 2013 at 6:19 pm

thank u so much for this I love Ur articles. I use to feel guilty about eating as its hard not to think of food or what’s right to eat n even food s we desire from time to time. so I tend to not eat most times. this has opened by eyes I haven’t read the whole story in a lot of things I know by Jesus. I’ve nothing to worry about eating n enjoying good food as long as I mean well to my body n depend on God providing it n thankfulness for it. after all God made food for our enjoyment n mum has thyroid that explains her lack of ability to shift weight. you’ve helped me greAtly from this. ill let her know not to feel bad about her effort failing. its not her fault.


Jack Wellman August 27, 2013 at 6:46 pm

I am overjoyed it could help some Faith. I myself am guilty of not eating well and balanced meals for me sometimes are a hamburger in one hand and a shake in the other (just kidding) but seriously, while I was writing, I was convicted myself by myself! I could do better but thankfully, our life is but a vapor here but in the Kingdom, we will live forever in a perfect body! Can’t wait for that (though, Lord, I am in no hurry! :)….


faith August 27, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Nikita. I’m so sorry. I gave a prayer for you don’t give up hope trust in God. He saved alot of family by prayer so I know if it’s meant to be it will happen in God’s time x


faith August 27, 2013 at 6:27 pm

sorry i meant my family. I know though it was Him and his will saved them. but prayer is still powerful as God already knows Ur heart before you pray


Thomas October 19, 2013 at 7:34 am

Question: “Was Jesus a vegetarian? Should a Christian be a vegetarian?”

Answer: Jesus was not a vegetarian. The Bible records Jesus eating fish (Luke 24:42-43) and lamb (Luke 22:8-15). Jesus miraculously fed the crowds fish and bread, a strange thing for Him to do if He was a vegetarian (Matthew 14:17-21). In a vision to the apostle Peter, Jesus declared all foods to be clean, including animals (Acts 10:10-15). After the flood in Noah’s time, God gave humanity permission to eat meat (Genesis 9:2-3). God has never rescinded this permission.

With that said, there is nothing wrong with a Christian being a vegetarian. The Bible does not command us to eat meat. There is nothing wrong with abstaining from eating meat. What the Bible does say is that we should not force our convictions about this issue on other people or judge them by what they eat or do not eat. Romans 14:2-3 tells us, “One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.”

Again, God gave humanity permission to eat meat after the flood (Genesis 9:3). In the Old Testament law, the nation of Israel was commanded not to eat certain foods (Leviticus 11:1-47), but there was never a command against eating meat. Jesus declared all foods, including all kinds of meat, to be clean (Mark 7:19). As with anything, each Christian should pray for guidance as to what God would have him/her eat. Whatever we decide to eat is acceptable to God as long as we thank Him for providing it (1 Thessalonians 5:18). “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).


Thomas October 19, 2013 at 7:36 am

Question: “What does the Bible say about what foods we should eat (kosher)? Are there foods a Christian should avoid?”

Answer: Leviticus chapter 11 lists the dietary restrictions God gave to the nation of Israel. The dietary laws included prohibitions against eating pork, shrimp, shellfish and many types of seafood, most insects, scavenger birds, and various other animals. The dietary rules were never intended to apply to anyone other than the Israelites. The purpose of the food laws was to make the Israelites distinct from all other nations. After this purpose had ended, Jesus declared all foods clean (Mark 7:19). God gave the apostle Peter a vision in which He declared that formerly unclean animals could be eaten: “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean” (Acts 10:15). When Jesus died on the cross, He fulfilled the Old Testament law (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:24-26; Ephesians 2:15). This includes the laws regarding clean and unclean foods.

Romans 14:1-23 teaches us that not everyone is mature enough in the faith to accept the fact that all foods are clean. As a result, if we are with someone who would be offended by our eating “unclean” food, we should give up our right to do so as to not offend the other person. We have the right to eat whatever we want, but we do not have the right to offend other people, even if they are wrong. For the Christian in this age, though, we have freedom to eat whatever we wish as long as it does not cause someone else to stumble in his/her faith.

In the New Covenant of grace, the Bible is far more concerned with how much we eat than what we eat. Physical appetites are an analogy of our ability to control ourselves. If we are unable to control our eating habits, we are probably also unable to control other habits such as those of the mind (lust, covetousness, unrighteous hatred/anger) and unable to keep our mouths from gossip or strife. We are not to let our appetites control us; rather, we are to control them (Deuteronomy 21:20; Proverbs 23:2; 2 Peter 1:5-7; 2 Timothy 3:1-9; 2 Corinthians 10:5).


Thomas October 19, 2013 at 7:38 am

Mark 7:19 – Unclean Meats

By Wayne Jackson

Students of the Old Testament are aware of the fact that certain types of meat were considered “unclean” under the Mosaic economy. According to the regulations set forth in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14, the Hebrews could eat:

1. animals that were cloven hoofed and chewed the cud (e.g., cattle, sheep);
2. fish with fins and scales;
3. fowl that did not consume flesh (the vulture was forbidden);
4. some insects (e.g., locusts).

Some of these requirements likely had to do with health considerations. Overall, however, they were to set Israel apart as a “holy nation unto Jehovah” (Deut. 14:21).

Some religionists do not understand that these dietary requirements were confined to the Mosaic system, and since that regime is not in force today (Col. 2:14), we are not restricted as to what kinds of meat we may eat.

For example, the Seventh-day Adventists do not eat pork. An SDA writer asserts:

“The New Testament did not abolish the distinction between the clean and unclean flesh foods” (Seventh-day Adventists Believe…, p. 285).

This is incorrect.

Christ taught many principles which were designed to prepare the Jews for the fact that the law of Moses was to be abolished. For example, Jesus once observed that it is not mere food that defiles a person; rather, evil thoughts are the seat of sin. An inspired writer gives an additional insight into the Lord’s statement. “This he said, making all meats clean” (Mark 7:19). Underline that affirmation.

It is generally conceded by scholars that Mark’s Gospel was written from the perspective of the apostle Peter. If such was the case, Mark’s comment regarding meat may have reflected information from Peter pertaining to the fact that no creature of God, under the new covenant, was to be considered unclean (Acts 10:11-15) — a symbol of Gentile cleansing.

Note also that Paul identified “commanding to abstain from meats” as a mark of apostasy (1 Tim. 4:1-5).

Thus, beside Mark 7:19 write: “See Acts 10:11-15; 1 Timothy 4:1-5


Thomas October 19, 2013 at 7:40 am

Are Vegetarians Holier than Thou?

By Wayne Jackson

An organization known as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) toured the country this past summer protesting the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. They carried signs claiming: “Pigs Are Friends—Not Food.” [When someone starts attacking “hot dogs,” they are very close to getting on my nerves!] On a more serious note, my real complaint is this. The PETA group launched an ad campaign recently which made the claim: “Jesus Was a Vegetarian.”

Let’s put this matter into focus. I have no quarrel with anyone, who, for personal reasons, elects not to eat meat. That is entirely a matter of choice. It is altogether a different situation, however, when: (a) folks attempt to bind this notion upon others; and, (b) they attempt to buttress their opinions by misrepresenting the Son of God.

Let us reflect upon the following.
1.Jesus once warned his disciples of the dangers associated with a corrupt mind. In that connection he noted that it is not what goes into a man which defiles him, but that which issues from his heart. Mark, one of the Gospel writers, commented that an incidental truth associated with the Lord’ s statement is this: all meats are clean (Mark 7:19).
2.Christ, on two occasions, fed vast multitudes with bread and fish (see Matthew 14:15-21; 15:32-39). It is rather unreasonable to argue that Jesus provided fish for these thousands, and yet ate none of the fare himself. Moreover, if it is sinful to eat meat, would it be any less evil to provide such for others?
3.In Acts 10 the apostle Peter, by means of a heavenly vision, was instructed that God had “cleansed” meats—even those considered ceremonially unclean under the Mosaic regime (v. 15). Granted, the ultimate application had to do with the reception of the Gentiles; be that as it may, the symbolism would have served no purpose if those animals were to be viewed as prohibited still.
4.The apostle Paul stated that meat was created by God to be received with thanksgiving, and that to forbid such is an expression of apostasy (1 Timothy 4:1-5).

No animal ever should be tormented or needlessly hurt. Sometimes, though, pest animals must be destroyed (e.g., rats, roaches, etc.). It certainly is permissible to kill animals for both food and clothing (cf. Genesis 3:21). It is not wrong to utilize animals, in a reasonable way, for medical research. Many health advances have been achieved in this fashion.

Animals were placed upon this planet by the Creator to be used by men—in a responsible manner, yes; but used nonetheless. There is no evidence that Jesus was a vegetarian, or that God views vegetarianism as a practice that is “holier” than eating meat.

Finally, who imposed the rule which says we may not eat meat, but we may eat plants? Are not both living organisms? Are pigs our friends, but turnips our enemies? Some people are so desperate for a “cause” to provide their dreary lives with meaning, they resort to anything.

Pass the mustard, please!


Mark November 26, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Many individuals and families simply cannot afford options of their choosing due to cost.

Their choices are compromised given their life situations in relation to work as well.

I prefer natural and non-genetically manipulated items out of respect to God, the source of all life.

I’m with Thomas…fish between two slices of bread with a very generous helping of mustard really hits the spot!


Jack Wellman November 26, 2013 at 7:17 pm

Great point Mark. I think we don’t have a lot of choice either in our home. I am a bi-vocational pastor that is unpaid and work for a foster care agency so we have to make due with what we can afford.


Mark November 28, 2013 at 7:02 am

Have a happy Thanksgiving, Jack! Thank you for sharing your heart helping the kiddos. Love does so much more than money ever could.


Jack Wellman November 28, 2013 at 10:29 am

Thank you Mark and to you, the very same thing my brother.


Anthony November 29, 2015 at 8:47 pm

Hi Jack Wellman i read in Isaiah 66 :15-17 god will judge those people that eat swine flesh and that verses is a future prophecy and in Matthew 15:11-20 is talking about a unwashed hand defileth not a man it’s not talking about food we eat .


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