Please note: This article has nothing to do with several
“Jesus Diet” hits found on google.com. Some of those provide
food for thought, while others are just plain foolish.
For numerous reasons, exact knowledge about Joshua ben
Joseph, the person, is rather scarce. The New Testament was
assembled several centuries after his death, and really was
not focused on the historical person’s life. In fact, I have
read excerpts from later theological texts which “prove”
that Jesus neither ate meat nor defecated, both of which
So, the best guess at what Jesus ate can be obtained from
study of Mediterranean cultures, especially the Jewish.
First Conclusion: Jesus never ate ham, not even for Easter
or Christmas. People ate pork at the risk of death from
trichinosis (a worm infestation).
Second Conclusion: Jesus did eat fish. This is documented in
the New Testament. He did not eat any sea food which lacked
fins or scales, such as clams, oysters, crabs, lobster,
octopus, eel, as these were un-clean by Jewish Kosher laws.
Likewise, he did not eat meat from pigs, horses, donkeys,
camels, vultures. He could have eaten deer meat, chicken,
duck, turkey, eggs, et cetera. Most likely, he did not eat
rabbit, squirrel, rat, or any birds of prey.
Kosher laws were originally based on good empirical
observation on what foods did or did not cause illness. They
are not the latest word on good health practices. Some of
the Kosher laws go against modern medical and common sense.
However, the concepts of “eat only what is good for you”,
and “do not kill food animals with avoidable suffering” are
certainly good ones.
Third Conclusion: Jesus did not eat four legged meat every
day. The average for those times was about once a week to
once a month, even for sheep herders. Hunters in the field
probably ate more meat. This does NOT mean that Jesus was a
vegetarian, as some claim.
Fourth Conclusion: Jesus ate bread; lots and lots of bread.
And it was not “low carb”, either.
Fifth Conclusion: Jesus probably ate fruits, vegetables,
grains, garbanzo beans, nuts, olives, goat cheese, salted
fish (when fresh was not available). He probably also
needed salt in his diet, ate honey, but most certainly did
not eat refined sugars.
Sixth Conclusion: Jesus was in good physical condition. Any
carpenter without power tools, any person who walks a lot,
would be in good physical condition.
Seventh Conclusion: Jesus was not a teetotaler, despite what
some branches of Christianity now claim. Miracles attributed
to him involved loaves, fishes, wine. If you don’t belive in
miracles, there are several historical facts to consider.
1. For most people, refrigeration is a modern invention.
Fermentation is a natural event unless deliberately avoided,
such as by cooking, drying, pickling, and/or salting foods.
Canning was not known in biblical days. Fermentation allowed
the making of leavened bread and the preservation of grain
and fruit juices as beer and wine.
2. For most people living in early communities, drinking
water could not be counted on to be clean. Not everyone had
access to fresh spring water, or un-polluted streams.
Therefore, use of beer and diluted wine allowed alcohol to
To my knowledge, Jesus did not spell out recipes for his
followers. He certainly would not have forbidden or promoted
foods that were not known in his time and area. I don’t
think he knew about soy foods, caffeinated beverages, high
fructose sugar, and more.
Modern Christians, and others, do well to learn from recent
health publications on paper and on internet, using healthy
skepticism. Things which cause obesity are not healthful.
Myths which masquerade as truth (such as “low carb” fad
diets), should be evaluated and cast aside. Tobacco and
other smoking materials are to be avoided, both through
direct use and second hand smoke. Sedentary life styles
should be offset by at least moderate exercise, such as
daily walking. And nothing to excess — except for parties.
Historical records seem to show cancers and strokes were
formerly less common than today. However, some illnesses
were not recognized, such as “colic” which probably covered
appendicitis, cancer, and food poisoning. Whereas some
people lived long in biblical times (ignore Methuselah),
life expectancy was much less than in modern countries so
that most died before some diseases could get to them.
Still, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
puts a lot of emphasis on Good Diet and at least Moderate
Exercise as keys to good health and longevity. I don’t think
Jesus would argue against that.
** Diet with FACTS, not MYTHS. **