People have been asking me to write this diet book for years. I do a lot of traveling and speaking, and since 1998 I’ve occasionally discussed the health plan that is now called the Jerusalem Diet. (I’ll tell the whole story behind my discovery of the diet in chapters 2 and 3.)
“You have to turn this into a book,” people would say. So here we go.
At its core the Jerusalem Diet is not just about eating but about a lifestyle that’s easily communicated and understood. It’s a way of doing and being—a world-view, a mentality about food and health.
All the famous diets you are aware of can work with this idea. The Jerusalem Diet is simply a framework, and a flexible one at that. It offers a plan, but you can adjust it to develop your own system for eating, exercising, and enjoying your life.
You should know that I’m not a physician—I’m a pastor. While the information in this book has been researched and tested by personal experience, what I have to tell you does not have the authority of an MD. If you need a doctor, talk to a doctor. But as a pastor, I often work as a life coach. It is my responsibility to figure out general trends in people’s lives and help them live better, longer, healthier. Often that means talking about their families, jobs, and spirituality, but it also means talking about things like food and exercise.
I have personal reasons for being interested in this subject as well: both my mother and father were obese and died early because of it. Several other embers of my family struggle with weight issues, and in the fall of 1998 I began to struggle with extra pounds of my own. It frightened me—I want to live my full life span, and I want to feel good.
Also—and if you haven’t been around the Christian culture much, this may strike you as strange—pastors are the single fattest group of people I know! Food is such a big part of church life—potluck dinners, pizza parties, Sunday suppers, and those famous holiday banquets with piles and piles of food. We love to eat, and I love that we love to eat. But for some of us, all this food becomes a problem.
The Jerusalem Diet changed my life and helped establish the culture of health that is in New Life Church, where I pastor in Colorado Springs. We don’t talk about it much, but the people who are in leadership model it. They are not “beautiful” people who are overly conscious of their appearance; they are just ordinary people who look healthy.
I had been using the Jerusalem Diet for several years but had never thought of teaching it until one evening when I was the after-dinner speaker at a banquet for the pastors of one of the largest church denominations in America. I was seated with the president, and as a courtesy, I asked him if there was anything specific he wanted me to say in my speech.
“Thanks, Ted,” he said. “Actually, I invited you because I do want you to talk about something.”
“What do you have in mind?” I wondered why he hadn’t mentioned the topic to me earlier.
“Ted, this will be easy for you. Just speak from your heart and experience.”
“So, what do you want me to talk about?”
“Look around,” he responded.
I didn’t see anything but a banquet room and pastors from all over America eating with their spouses and friends.
I did, and this time I saw it. Everyone in the room was overweight. I turned to him in horror. “You can’t ask me to address this subject at your national banquet!”
“This is the acceptable sin in our movement,” he said. “Our leaders are so fat that they’re sick and dying early. Our churches are a disgrace, because everyone on the platform on Sundays is fat.”
I laughed and said, “I do have a plan that makes fat people happy. And when they are happy and hopeful, they can lose weight and improve their lives.”
“I know. That’s why you are here,” he answered, smiling.
That occasion was the first time I taught the Jerusalem Diet in public. I did it on the condition that I could speak to the same group the next year. I taught the simplicity of the program you are going to read about. Then I left for twelve months.
At the next year’s banquet, I couldn’t believe my eyes. There were a few heavy people in the room, but not nearly as many. The group seemed happier, laughing and enjoying their meal. They looked better and appeared to feel better too. Interestingly, many of them came up to me and told me about sicknesses they had been struggling with the year before that were now gone.
For many, the Jerusalem Diet had given them the hope they needed for a new start.
Yes, the Jerusalem Diet works, but it is not a quick fix. If you want an instant, easy reversal of the damage you’ve done to your body over many years, this plan may not be right for you. The Jerusalem Diet—although easy— requires patience. It takes time for your diet to change, your weight to reduce gradually, your body shape to adjust to your ideal weight, your muscles to tone, and your metabolism to increase so that food doesn’t always make you fat. It requires that you be loving and patient with yourself as you become your best.
I think you will love this plan!
I’ve presented this concept to groups of leaders and other busy people. In every case it has given them a way to address their weight concerns without radically unbalancing their world.
The challenge with any diet is sticking to it. All diet plans work. If you hear about a new diet, buy the book and start the program. That diet will work for you until you don’t want to do it anymore. Then you’ll quit or start another diet, and the new diet will work too—until you get bored and give up. We’ve all done this. For people who stay on Atkins, Atkins works. People who stick with Weight Watchers have success. But very few people can stay on the same plan successfully year after year.
The problem—the wonderful, wonderful problem!—is that we have so much variety in food and one opportunity after another to eat. We can eat almost anything we want. If we are hungry for a doughnut, it’s no problem to go to Krispy Kreme and eat three or four or eight doughnuts in one sitting. If we feel like having a burger and fries, four bucks will get us a quick, tasty slab of meat grilled to perfection and served in a toasted bun—with mustard and ketchup oozing out the sides.
What I will do is give you a plan that allows you to enjoy the variety of food that’s available and also refines your approach to that food. I want you to enjoy the food you like without guilt. I also want you to avoid favorite foods for short periods when you need to. I will give you a plan that doesn’t embarrass you or force you to embarrass others. A plan that inspires hope instead of dread, that fosters success instead of failure, that challenges in a productive way and is actually pleasant.
Being overweight is the most obvious dilemma, but being underweight is a problem too. Most of the examples in this book deal with people who need to lose weight. But these ideas also work for people who are too thin. In short, I want to improve your life!
So here’s the deal: I am going to give you a diet with specific nutrition and xercise guidelines. You can follow it easily. But mostly, this overarching, big umbrella idea will assist you for the rest of your life. It’s easy, and it works.
In this book you’ll learn how to
New world-views need time to percolate. If you are going to incorporate a big, new idea into your life, you don’t have to do it overnight, but you must start a trend. Don’t go off M&M’s cold turkey—or ever. It’s the whole trajectory of your life that matters. Don’t go on a twelve-week program that you believe will permanently solve all your problems. There is no such program.
Don’t drug yourself unnecessarily. It won’t work.
Instead, start a trend. You may have a great couple of days followed by a total failure (in the form of a hot fudge sundae). That’s okay. What’s critical is that you’ve started a trend toward better living.
I see it all the time as a pastor—people who destroy their lives quickly and want to recover just as quickly. Life doesn’t work that way. You can lose a fortune in a matter of minutes, but you probably won’t get rich overnight. You can develop unhealthy habits quickly, but it’s harder to regain your health in a hurry. Success takes a little while. You have to slowly incorporate a new approach.
There is a pragmatic side to this. As you read this book, you’ll develop a specific, long-term plan that gives you a daily approach to eating and exercising. And there’s only one thing to buy if you don’t already have it: a good digital scale. If you can’t afford one, save the money until you can. (Expect to spend at least $250.) You are going to set your life by this digital scale, so it needs to be accurate. And you’ll love watching the numbers fall.
In the midst of the Jerusalem Diet plan, you can relax and enjoy life. If you love hot fudge sundaes, you can eat hot fudge sundaes. They’re good for you! It is good to be able to kick back with family and friends and genuinely, happily enjoy something as wonderfully scrumptious as ooey-gooey hot fudge drizzled over rich vanilla ice cream.
With the Jerusalem Diet you can have that experience without guilt. Is it because I have some special product that makes hot fudge produce muscle rather than fat? No. It’s because I think you shouldn’t worry about the pleasure you get from hot fudge. It should be a sensible part of your life.
Look, I love Baskin-Robbins ice cream with a passion. I jokingly tell people that if I am going to die three years early because I eat Baskin-Robbins every week, then I’ll go ahead and die three years early! Why live longer but without Baskin-Robbins?
Go easy. Lighten up. Don’t be so hard on yourself. When you forgive yourself, it opens the door to change. It opens the door for the cravings and eating tendencies in your life to be adjusted.
To encourage you along the way, throughout the book I’ve inserted comments I’ve received from people like you who are already using the Jerusalem Diet. I think you’ll find their insights helpful and their enthusiasm contagious.
This diet—yes, life itself—is a marathon, not a sprint. Read this book slowly and begin the program when you finish. Prepare to smile. Prepare to hope. Prepare to feel better. Prepare to improve the rest of your life.
Enjoy the Jerusalem Diet.