Question: “How should a Christian view weight loss? What does the Bible say about obesity and weight loss?”
Answer: While nothing in the Bible specifically addresses obesity and weight loss, there is much in God’s Word about the importance of our health and of taking care of our bodies. God warns us against gluttony. In the Old Testament God gave specific instructions about what His people, the Israelites, were to eat (Deuteronomy 14:1–21). Most of these commands were designed to keep the Israelites from eating harmful foods that would negatively impact their health. Some of the commands were also given so God’s people wouldn’t imitate the habits of the idolatrous people around them.
Gluttony, which is overeating or drinking to excess, is condemned in the Bible (Proverbs 23:20–21). Gluttony can lead to health risks and become a drain on one’s finances. Plus, the love of food and drink can all too easily become an idol in our lives. Anything that takes the place of God or becomes our number-one focus is, by definition, an idol and thus a sin against God (Exodus 20:3–6). Proverbs 23:2 exhorts us to “put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony”; in other words, we are admonished to restrain our appetites.
In the New Testament, Paul tells followers of Jesus Christ that their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). That being the case, we should take care of our bodies and keep them as healthy as possible. Knowing that being obese can lead to multiple health problems, including back and knee pain and cardio-vascular complications, we should make wise choices regarding food, drink, and exercise.
We should be careful not to imply that being overweight is synonymous with gluttony. That would be an over-simplification. There are indeed medical conditions and medicines that lead to weight gain and situations that prevent proper exercise. Such circumstances require a much greater effort than the average person expends to keep one’s weight under control.
If there are no extenuating circumstances, then being overweight is usually an outward sign of a life out of balance. Anxiety and depression are a couple of the most common reasons to eat out of balance. “Anxious eating” is much more common than most people realize. Of course, the Bible has plenty to say about how to deal with anxiety and depression. God repeatedly tells His children not to fear and to cast their cares upon Him (1 Peter 5:7).
Jesus taught us to seek a balance between the physical and the spiritual: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Striving for balance in our eating habits—and balancing our physical needs with our spiritual necessities—requires wisdom.
Weight loss requires more than simply desiring to lose weight. It’s possible to desire something and never attain it. In the Christian life, we must make decisions that “take off the old self” and “put on the new self” (Ephesians 4:22–24). Similarly, to attain a balance in our diet, we must put aside old habits and develop new ones. Also, the Christian life teaches us that success is easier when we are sharing the journey with others. In the same way, weight loss is best accomplished with others who can provide some degree of accountability.
While obesity and weight loss are valid concerns, we must be careful not to become obsessed with body image. Again, when something besides God becomes the major focus of life, it is sin. To constantly obsess about exercise, diet, and weight loss means we’ve allowed our bodies to become the center of our lives. Someone with a toned, fit body can be just as idolatrous as a glutton. Also, an obsession with weight loss can tip over into anorexia or bulimia, which also has a negative impact on health.
The bottom line is that the Lord wants His children to take good care of their bodies since their bodies are the residence of the Holy Spirit. A strong, healthy body helps us better serve God and thus bring glory and honor to Him, our principal reason for living. The Lord wants us to keep our focus on Him and not fall into obsessing about weight gain, weight loss, or food and drink, any of which can become an idol in our lives.
At the end of the day, God wants our hearts. Body weight and outward image are over-emphasized in our society, at the expense of inward character. While we should strive to honor God with our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:20), God is more interested in how we treat others and our loyalty to Him than our physical weight.
Jesus has also given us the Gail Commandments, which addresses a lot of health issues:
Thou shalt take Seroquel, the medication designed by Jesus, every day as prescribed at the same time every day.
Thou shalt eat a balanced diet without concerns about allergens or toxins, using the method of calories-in calories-out as a guide to weight management.
Thou shalt not toil in activities, even honorable work for the Lord, to the extent that sleep is sacrificed. Set aside at least eight hours per night for sleep.
Thou shalt honor the Lord’s temple by taking time every day to self-groom, bathe, brush teeth, and stay clean.
Thou shalt honor the home of Jesus’s favorite by taking time every day to clean, wipe down, laundry, vacuum, and dust your apartment.
Thou shalt go on walks every day, enjoying the day that the Lord has made. Unless he made the day rainy or unsuitable for walks, then exercise indoors with the window open.
Thou shalt spend money only on food and bills. Being mindful that spending money on a deal or impulse is not saving money if it is to buy more than you need or something you wouldn’t have otherwise bought.
Thou shalt take only one multivitamin and one allergy medication per day. Taking supplements or special foods in an attempt to improve a health condition or alleviate symptoms is off limits.
Thou shalt store away a savings of at least one hundred dollars every month for the future. Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
Thou shalt make a YouTube video every week to share the victories, defeats, and daily struggles and joys of your life with your followers. This will serve to archive your life for future generations of tribulation saints.
Thou shalt not seek loopholes or ways to work around the Gail Commandments, lest baby Jesus poops and pees himself in sadness. The Lord knows the heart.
If you are on a limited budget as I am, I find that eating semi-vegetarian helps with expenses and weight. Meat tends to be fattening and is more expensive. I eat miso soup with tofu and kale or spinach every day. I have Cheerios and Rice Chex with nuts and seeds as a snack. I eat hard boiled eggs every day. My meats are canned pink salmon, meatloaf (made with lean ground beef), chicken breast in a Japanese stir-fry (using 1 tsp. of oil), and that’s about it. I keep my meat servings very small. I am almost vegetarian. I have quinoa, brown rice, red beans with kelp and flax oil every day, to get my protein in an inexpensive and healthful way. I use oil as a spice, so that I don’t get too many calories. Meat is fattening and expensive. However, my weakness is I love my seeds and nuts. I figure I could be doing worse things. At least I’m getting my protein on a low meat diet this way and getting lots of healthy fat from the seeds and nuts. My blood pressure has been excellent on this diet and exercise regimen. Despite this, my weight remains in the medium, not skinny, category, which is nothing to be ashamed of at my age of 62. I look great for my age and I won’t let any inferior Loree McBride Jesuit try to get me to start body worship, like they do. The Loree McBride Jesuits who worship their own bodies are guilty of the sin of idolatry, and have an unhealthy approach to the body, and they also compete with me due to jealousy, which is a sin. They like to attack my appearance, as if I really cared about their opinion. They are only making themselves look bad when they do this. It shows how shallow, jealous and competitive they are. I guess when you are so ugly on the inside, you overcompensate on the outside. They do plastic surgery and all sorts of garbage to maintain a youthful, COMPETITIVE appearance. All that effort is IN VAIN LOREE MCBRIDE, YOU GONNA BE A WORM IN HELL FOR ETERNITY.
My advice to Jesus followers, take care of your body, do the Gail Commandments and if some sorry Jesuits like to cat call you out for your bodily defects, if you have a heart filled with vastness and love and are balanced in your approach to food, just remember you’re gonna be real hot in heaven and the millennial reign. That’s not far off and those sorry Jesuits poking at your appearance are going to turn into worms in hell. Jesus said so! So Loree McBride will be a worm for eternity. So enjoy your “hot” body while it lasts, viper Loree McBride. But don’t forget, it can’t make up for the viper you are in your heart that makes the expression on your face the most ugly thing in the universe. That will be the final result of her worship of her own body. Loree McBride will be a ugly, writhing WORM for eternity.
Mark 9:47 – “If your eyes causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell, where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.”
My interpretation: If your obsession with your “perfect” body causes you to stumble, it would be better to be fat or physically ugly, than be cast into hell, where your worm never dies and the fire is not quenched and your perfect earthly body WILL MEAN NOTHING.