I have a weight problem and, as a result, I have tried a lot of ways to lose weight. Interestingly, all diets I have seen are fundamentally the same. Eat less? To a point, but we all know you have to eat to live. Exercise more? Sure, but you cannot win a race against your mouth. If you don’t believe me, go watch people cross the line at a marathon. Trust me, that is not the first time they ran that far and few will have the super lean, low body fat look most people want. If you read any diet book today, most all that I have seen, at its root, comes down to lowering carb intake. So eliminate or significantly reduce bread, sugar, and potatoes (and no, this is not a complete carb list). Some even go so far as to eliminate carbs all together. There was a point when I gave up on this. Why? Someone filtered this diet strategy through their worldview and it just demonstrated its absurdity. I am speaking about the Paleo diet craze. And believe me when I say there are a lot of books on this. The absurdity is this: they are suggesting weight gain is because of recent changes in diet. I agree with that. But they are suggesting these changes are things like potatoes and bread. You go back a hundred years and the problem with weight was people had trouble putting weight on. Obesity is a modern problem. As in the last 1 or 2 generations. Bread has been around 4 thousand years or more. To say bread is a new problem just does not make sense.
Then that leaves one to ask: what is the root cause of weight problems? I decided to view that through my own world view. What does the bible say about food? Interestingly, categorizing biblical law is difficult because some law is given as a remedy or in some way conditional on circumstances. Let me quickly explain. The bible says, “do not murder.” But in other cases it says to kill. There are some sin so serious in nature that if someone commits those sins, they are to be killed. So is killing someone to fulfill conditions given the same as murder? No. In the same way, a police officer using excessive force when someone is combative or will not comply is not the same as a police officer using excessive force to someone that is peacefully minding their own business. That is why motive is so important in murder cases.
So there are some straightforward laws about food and there are some indirect laws about food that are needed to be followed to fulfill other laws. So an example of a straight forward law is, “The pig is also unclean; although it has a divided hoof, it does not chew the cud. You are not to eat their meat or touch their carcasses” from Deuteronomy 14:8. An example of an indirect law would be to not eat levin and remove levin during Passover. We are not told to never, ever eat levin. We should just remove during The Passover.
Last year for the first time I made my own bread. In the new year I was a baking fiend. I even went so far as to make my own yeast or sourdough starter. And something interesting happened. Really interesting. In fact, it prompted this post. I lost 25 pounds in a few months. Years ago I bet some people at work I could lose 30 pounds in 12 weeks. I barely did that. And I ran 3 miles 3 times a week almost without fail plus a very strict diet and weight lifting. But last year nothing else in my diet changed. I did not decrease my food intake. Or exercise more. I just ate a lot of bread I made myself with my own yeast. Keep in mind, this is heresy in terms of modern dietary thought.
If you talk to bakers, some will tell you the reason their bread taste is so unique is they are using the same levin for centuries. In other words, they have a sourdough starter that they have never thrown out as is commanded in keeping with Passover. Could it be that these old yeast strains have something to do with obesity? Think about this when you eat out: how much do you eat out and how much of those meals contain bread or pasta or anything that contains yeast? Particularly bakers yeast, dried yeast, or some super old sourdough starter.
Yeast is an interesting thing. In fact, many people don’t realize how hard it is to keep something from being impacted by yeast. In fact, if you read about the origin of Welch’s Grape Juice, you’ll see that the original reason they pasteurized grape juice was to kill the yeast that naturally grew on grapes and was in the juice. They wanted a non-alcoholic, unfermented grape juice to be served in churches instead of wine because of the then strong objections to alcohol. The thing was, until the discovery of pasteurization, non-alcoholic grape juice was impossible. It couldn’t be done. It just happened. Just like growing yeast for bread. It happens all by itself.
I also think it is interesting the symbolic nature of yeast. In Galatians 5:9 and 1 Corinthians 5:6 it talks about a little yeast leavens the whole lump. In other words, sin spreads. So think on this: for the passover we are asked not to eat leaven in bread. Remove it from the house completely.
Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 1 Corinthians 5: 6-8
Then in the New Testament there is this story right before Jesus is crucified. The last supper. Some have said this was a Passover meal and I agree with that. Interesting that no lamb is served. The Lamb Of God is seated right there with them and says:
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Matthew 26:26
So I ask you this: did the wine Jesus serve contain yeast? If wine symbolizes the blood of Jesus and yeast symbolize sin, perhaps not. I don’t know. They are just symbols. But modern theology would suggest we are born into sin and to be without sin is as impossible as wine without yeast. The only way to have wine without yeast is pasteurization. In other words, to cook it out. To burn it out. To burn with fire. A similar process is discussed. The process of purifying gold. But that is a story for another time.