In the mid-to-late 1990’s I used to listen to Warren Duffy on KKLA. For those who don’t know, Mr. Duffy is a conservative Christian Radio Broadcaster. In the Los Angeles area, Mr. Duffy is pretty much known for his anti-government stances, including conversation, the sustainability, carbon credit auction … as Seinfeld would say, Yada! Yada! Yada! (In truth, I only watched three episodes of Seinfeld.) In fact I pretty much concluded that almost anything a Democrat could possibly think of would be considered ecologically unsound. Sorry … I digressed.
So, you ask, “What made me expound upon KKLA?” Well, HBO has a new documentary series titled, The Weight of the Nation that explores how approximately one-third of our country became obese and what can be done to tackle the growing national health crisis. For the time being, you can actually watch part of this online. I suggest anyone seriously interested in weight loss watch and review this important series. As I watched part of this documentary, I instantaneously remembered Saturday afternoons listening to KKLA, where specially paid programming catered to Christian Radio.
Ah yes, my friends, my friends, my friends (sorry Joel) … What Would Jesus Eat? Also, don’t forget the more recent ‘The Eden Diet,’ a book that helps readers understand the many reasons why they have not been able to lose weight in the past. In most cases, they fail to eat according to their God-given internal sensations. Other Christian remedies included, ‘Fasting,’ Corinthians recommends “…eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Lastly, some Christian diet guru’s tended to quote the Apostle Paul, using analogies likened to running and being physically fit. For example, in 2 Timothy 4:7 Paul said “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” What the heck does 2 Timothy 4:7 actually have to do with physical exercise is beyond me, but hey … I am just a stupid lay person.
My point is this, the area Jesus lived in during His life is not at all similar to today: it was not a very pleasant place to live and the politics were a bite. Few lived beyond age fifty (50). Climate was as it is today – hot during the daytime and extreme cold, especially in the desert areas, at night. Rainfall was infrequent but when it came, it was torrential.
At the time of Jesus, bread was the main food of ordinary people. Meat was a luxury and only the rich could afford to eat. Fine bread made from wheat was expensive. The poor often ate coarse bread made from barley. Grain was ground to flour by women using millstones. For vegetables, beans, cucumbers, garlic, leeks, onions and lentils were grown. Fruit including figs, pomegranates and grapes as well as nuts like almonds and pistachio nuts were pretty common. The Jews also ate cheese, eggs and fish.
Jesus lived in an era when most people walked – everywhere. There were no cars, trucks, SUV’s, air conditioning, McDonalds, Apple iPods, email, etc. The distance between Nazareth and Jerusalem is over 70 miles. That simply is one heck of a hike. Jesus also had no processed food, no Red Bull, Coke, V8, Evian Water or anything else. He never tasted the sweet essence of McDonald’s Big Mac’s “…two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions – all on a sesame seed bun. Nada…didn’t have it. Maybe He has had a meal near Frog Jump, Tennessee but no one identified Him. Seriously, while it is important for all us to stay healthy, it is impossible to compare our lifestyle with that of Jesus’ day.
So back to the moment: to be totally honest, I am the epitome of ‘The Weight of the Nation.’ I lived that life. Traveling everywhere, constantly on the road, I had little exercise, drank too much and ate at every fast food joint seen. Pizza Hut, McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, Dairy Queen, TGIF, Hooters and host of others were my hang outs. I popped cheeseburgers as an alcoholic slams hard liquor. Twenty-years later, my BMI (Body mass index, a measure of body fat) stood at an astounding 37.3%.
Today I still travel, but not as much. And in order to keep with the general Buddhist precept of ahimsa (non-violence), I am primarily vegetarian. I do not follow the East Asian “Buddhist” cuisine which is avoidance of killing plant life. That is simply just too much work. If you have read my posts, I do partake of an occasional Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich. But I have not had a Diet Coke or Pepsi in six weeks. Nor have I had a McDonalds Big Mac either. By following a Buddhist lifestyle, in the past six weeks, I have lost two inches off my waist. My skin looks better and I feel better.
As Kevin Brownell, professor in the Department of Psychology at Yale University, stated, “The beauty of the diet industry is that they keep promising miracles, and there’s very little regulation on what they can promise people. And since none of the programs really work very well, then you have this growing clientele of people who want to try one program or another after another in hopes that something might finally work.”
As a Buddhist, all of us must create a culture that values and deliver quality, healthy food. It is our responsibility to demand it and then act upon our intention to eat mostly things that are healthy for us.
John Hoffman, vice president of HBO Documentary Films and the executive producer of “The Weight of the Nation,” told National Public Radio the documentary is “not a piece of journalism” but instead “a piece of public health.”