Everyone pretty much agrees that good nutrition is very important for diabetics. What they do not agree on is what constitutes good nutrition for diabetics.
If you grew up Adventist, you learned that the Eden diet consisted of fruits, grains, and nuts. “Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.’ And it was so” (Genesis 1:29-30).
Vegetables were added after the Fall, and meat (“clean” meat, of course) was permitted after the Flood. You also learned that when Peter was given a vision of all sorts of unclean animals coming down in a sheet and he was told to “kill and eat” it was symbolic, and it really meant that he was not to withhold the Gospel from the Gentiles. And somewhere in your church school or academy days, you may have heard that, while “clean” meat is permitted, you will not live to be translated at the Second Coming unless you are what we now call dietary vegan. (When I was a child, the term was “strict vegetarian,” meaning you did not consume eggs or dairy products.) Now the term vegan means you also don’t eat honey or wear silk or leather or fur. At NEWSTART® and the other high-carb low/no-fat programs, the buzzword is “whole-foods plant-based (WFPB).”
If you did not grow up Adventist and/or if you went to public school, you may have learned about the paleolithic era of prehistoric humans, that our ancestors were hunters/gatherers, eating primarily meat and whatever grew wild, long before the time of agriculture and animal husbandry. So they did not eat grains or eggs or dairy products. And this is where the current trend of paleo diets has its basis.
I’m not convinced that grains and legumes were part of the original diet in Eden. The reason is because grains, like wheat and oats, have to die in order to provide food. Legume plants also die in the field when the seeds (beans, peas, etc.) are harvested. On the other hand, I could believe that above-ground vegetables, like beet greens and turnip greens, could have been eaten by Adam and Eve in the Garden, leaving the beetroot and turnip itself to remain in the ground as a live plant. Genesis 1:30 says that the birds and animals and “creeping things” had “every green plant” for food. Up until recently, I considered this concept of “no grains in Eden” to be just my brain’s opinion.
So I recently put this question to our group: “Where can you find proof of that in the Bible? Especially the fruits, grains, and nuts part? Genesis describes food as being whatever grows on trees, aka fruits and nuts. Where did grains come in?”
One astute member was quick to provide an answer. Justin referenced Genesis 2:5, NLT (New Living Translation) which reads (actually verses 4 and 5): “This is the account of the creation of the heavens and the earth. When the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, neither wild plants nor grains were growing on the earth. For the Lord God had not yet sent rain to water the earth, and there were no people to cultivate the soil.” I compared the same verses with KJV (King James Version): “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, and every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.” (Italics mine.)
In other words, grains and legumes and vegetables (that grow under ground) were already “in the earth” but were not “growing on the earth.” That’s a lot like what the psalmist said (Psalm 139:15-16): “My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
But regardless of what humans’ original diet may have been, we are living in the 21st century and not in Eden or the paleolithic era! We are also not living in the lifetime of Ellen White. While I believe that Mrs. White expressed many timeless principles, I also believe she gave very specific advice to specific people in specific circumstances, which may or may not be applicable to everyone—or anyone—else. So far, I have not yet found that she gave specific advice for diabetics. This could be because, for anyone diagnosed with diabetes during Ellen White’s lifetime (1827-1915), it was a death sentence. Insulin was not invented until 1921.
And I’m firmly convinced that, when Scripture and Ellen White both refer to “good bread” and the “Bread of Life,” they are not referring to today’s GMO crops of wheat and soy! Whether you support “God’s original plan for man’s diet” or the prehistoric humans’ diet, there was no diabetes back then. The food was whole foods, unprocessed, and did not come in a box, bag, jar, or can.
In the final analysis, the best nutritional approach for any diabetic is one that they will stick to. One that is sustainable over the long term, a way of eating that is not just a diet but a lifestyle. And no one can tell you what that is for you. You simply have to “eat to your meter” and “prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
For more information about dietary approaches to diabetes management, see Dietary Approaches to Diabetes Management.
Mandal, Ananya, MD. “History of Diabetes,” News-Medical (June 4, 2019). https://www.news-medical.net/health/History-of-Diabetes.aspx (accessed on 7/12/2020).