Q&A with the RD

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One of the best aspects of my job is having the opportunity to communicate daily with the members and leaders of First Place. Whether via email or telephone, I love being able to connect with and assist you in every way possible regarding question about nutrition or the Live It plan. Recently, I answered a couple of questions I feel are important enough to share publicly. Due to the depth of some questions, they have been condensed for the purpose of sharing the most relevant content. I look forward to hearing from you again soon!

Question: Is the First Place food plan biblical?

In the past several months, I have been reading books such as The Maker’s Diet…and find myself honestly believing that biblical eating habits truly are healthier than those of the ADA…I am a devoted Christian and I believe that renewing your mind for God’s principles is probably key to me sticking with any eating/lifestyle change, which has lead my search for truth to First Place. Can you help me by expounding more as to why biblical eating is not really mentioned in anything I have read thus far in the First Place book? 

Answer: Definitely!
Biblical eating is definitely emphasized in First Place by way of teaching people to eat more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and God-made foods instead of man-made foods. However, when it comes to the Old Testament dietary laws laid out in Leviticus 11 and included in The Maker’s Diet program, you are correct that we do not emphasize them.  We have a few reasons for this. First, everyone has different spiritual convictions concerning them. Some Christians believe that with the new covenant came new freedom to eat these foods, and others believe they are allowed to eat them, but in moderation. People who join First Place are often at various places in their walk with Christ, and we want their first impression of us to be that we are committed to our overall mission of working to encourage and motivate people to embrace the love God has for them as well as work to achieve emotional, mental, spiritual and physical health. We are not opposed to anyone choosing to follow these dietary guidelines if they feel convicted to do so. However, we do not feel compelled to make them a major tenet of our program. Other than this,The Maker’s Diet is actually quite similar to what we advocate in First Place, although
some differences do exist.  From their materials, I gleaned these major points that I’d like to discuss:

  • What you eat in one of the major components of a healthy lifestyle
  • We were designed to run on better fuel than junk or fast food
  • Meals should represent a healthy balance of quality choices from the food groups
  • They claim their diet is designed to prevent insulin resistance, infection, and inflammation

First, the notion that what you put in your body is a major determinant of health and wellness (not to mention weight management) is one we support wholeheartedly in First Place. There is no arguing the fact that food choice and overall health are strongly interrelated. 1 Corinthians 10:23 and Proverbs 25:16 even warn us to critically examine what we choose, why we choose it, and how often.

Second, we believe that a diet of fast food and “junk” is definitely not what God intended for us. We recognize that He has made so many other delicious and nutritious foods that not only meet our needs but give us pleasure, as well. He created food to not only nourish His children, but bring glory to His name!  See Ecclesiastes 2:25 and 1 Corinthians 10:31 for more on how enjoyment of eating involves God and how we can bring Him honor through the vehicle of our own eating habits.

Third, First Place believes a healthy diet, as stated by the USDA, is one that “emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products; includes lean meats, poultry, fish, bean, eggs, and nuts; and is low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.” This is a relatively standard view of healthy eating, and is one that leaves room for personal preferences and individual needs.

The fourth point emphasizes prevention of three common assaults on our health: insulin resistance, infection, and inflammation.  First, balancing insulin and blood glucose levels is definitely an important concept, especially for people who are overweight already and possibly “pre-diabetic” or close to formal diagnosis of type II (insulin resistant) diabetes. Since the exchange plan is based upon the American Diabetic Association’s guidelines specifically designed for people living with diabetes, this is a non-issue. Without a doubt, First Place admonishes blood sugar control by three main ideas: lose excess weight, become more physically active every day, and eat a balance of nutritious foods low in added sugar and fat.

Next, a healthy diet along with exercise and enough rest is definitely a homemade recipe for better health. Since the majority of our immune systems are housed in our gastrointestinal tract, it is common sense that what we put into our stomachs will play a key role in how prepared our bodies are to fight off infection. We have so many thrilling testimonies about how First Place assisted people in not only losing weight, but improved their health! For example, with their physician’s approval, many First Place losers have found they no longer need certain medications (for blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose control) upon which they were once dependent.

Finally, inflammation is a hot topic right now. Scientists are now beginning to determine how to better manage and manipulate certain biochemical pathways to yield less inflammation in the body which contributes to asthma, arthritis, and heart disease. In First Place, we encourage a diet rich in vegetables, healthy (unsaturated) oils, and fish which all contain anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.

We discourage most baked/fried goods, highly processed foods, and products containing a higher (more inflammatory) ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. Dr. Dick Couey from Baylor College of Medicine who is a long-time friend of First Place and author of many books, is doing cutting edge research on this very topic and will be sharing some of his research findings with us in July at our Leadership Summit. We hope to see many of our First Place leaders there!

To good health,

Erin Dubroc, MPH, RD, LD

First Place Registered Dietitian
erin.dubroc@firstplace.org

Erin Dubroc is the First Place Registered Dietitian.

Erin is a native Houstonian, blessed with a loving family and wonderful husband, Matt. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition Science from Texas A&M University in 2003 and has since been completing her Master’s in Public Health and Registered Dietitian (RD) program at the University of Texas School of Public Health in the Houston Medical Center. Her recent academic career has focused on theories and methods for designing, implementing, and evaluating nutrition and other health education programs.