IT'S A MIRACLE! A health and diet book with a spiritual focus

Cal Samra, Editor, The Joyful Noiseletter

Food, Faith and Fasting: A Sacred Journey to Better Health by Rita Madden is an extraordinary book by an Eastern Orthodox Christian who mined a treasury of holistic health advice from the Orthodox and Catholic saints of the first centuries of Christianity. This book is a fountain of holy health wisdom, focusing on both the care of the soul and the care of the body.


Madden, MPH, RDN, an American whose Levantine mother raised her on a Mediterranean diet, is the nutrition director for Mediterranean Wellness, a company that focuses on chronic
disease prevention/management and sensible weight loss.

She completed her graduate work in public-health nutrition at Loma Linda University, a Christ-centered Seventh-Day Adventist University famous for its research on health.

Ironically, Ellen White, the founder of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, and John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, both recommended a diet focusing on fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and nuts ‒ very similar to the Mediterranean diet recommended by the early Orthodox and Catholic saints. And many contemporary medical doctors consider the Mediterranean diet the world's healthiest diet.

In a time when the market is flooded with wacko diets and health books, JN offers you a rare book (published by Ancient Faith Publishing) that links health and healing to spirituality. Madden has been a parishioner at an Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church, a Greek Orthodox Church, and a Russian Orthodox Church.

Recipes and Fasting

Madden stresses the importance in healing of fasting (practiced by Jesus and the early Christians), a healthy diet, and regular exercise. Her book includes some delicious, healthy recipes you can learn to cook, including Mediterranean dishes. Many of the Orthodox and Catholic saints she references thrived on a Mediterranean diet and occasional fasts.

Madden favors organic foods, free of preservatives, artificial sugars, and pesticides. The Mediterranean diet is mainly organic. She warns about the consumption of fast foods and "fake foods."

This book is full of ancient and modern wisdom that will strengthen your health. It's the perfect book for Lent.

Madden's dietary recommendations recently received confirmation from the famous Blue Zones, whose best-selling book The Blue Zones focused on the world's longest-lived peoples, many of them in Mediterranean countries. The Blue Zones email newsletter recently reported: "Fasting makes our cells resilient to stress. People in the Blue Zones areas of the world fast regularly for religious purposes or intermittently based on their daily routines. This practice has beneficial effects that go beyond weight management."

Stewardship of the body

Her book, Madden says, is for "Christians or people who are open to Christian values and who are trying to better their health through a faith-based approach.

"In these times of fast-food restaurants and vending machines, it doesn't take a doctor, a scientist, or a food expert to explain to us how we have lost sight of cultural and traditional ways of eating. Like a giant tidal wave, this lifestyle engulfed and scattered us. We've lost the focus and awareness that make our faith the definitive guide and anchor when it comes to living and caring for our health."

Her book records some of the personal observations relating to sound health and nutrition practices that "tap into and reflect the wisdom of many saints, early Church fathers, and present-day spiritual fathers and mothers."

The saints of the past recognized that both soul and body work together to bring us closer to God, and passed down to us a purification process for our health, she observes.

"Let's practice sacred eating," she advises, "remembering to say our prayers before and after the meal."

Avoid Fake Foods

"Eating," she observes, "was much easier 150 years ago when foods came primarily from farms, ranches, oceans, and rivers. Now we're dealing with what many refer to as 'fake foods.' Many food products on the market today are marketed as 'healthy,' but in reality, they are wreaking havoc with our health. Numerous 'health foods' have been produced that contain harmful additives and artificial foods are taking the place of natural ones.

"They can be harmful to our health. We must make the commitment to limit – or better, to stop – partaking of the foods that we know contain them. The evil (one) never sleeps. I think he works overtime when throwing his crafty darts at our food supply."

Madden recommends: "We start by eating primarily from God's creation. If the food didn't exist during the time of the Apostles, then we probably shouldn't be eating it. Let's start by eating primary ingredients from God's creation. Become a food-ingredient-label detective. Remove foods from your diet that contain fake ingredients, and replace those foods with real foods. We always want to move away from processed foods as much as possible."

Madden insists: "We're not going to take the joy out of eating. In fact, we're doing just the opposite: we are going to allow mealtime to be a time to commune with the Divine by returning to eating delicious foods from our Creator's creation."

Views of the early saints

Madden lists quotes from a variety of early Christian saints to support her views:

"Fasting is the mother of health. Illnesses are frequently born in many from a disorderly and irregular diet."

‒ St. Simeon
10th-century theologian

"You must teach yourself how to eat less, but with discernment."

‒ St. Silouan the Athonite

"Eat just enough to alleviate your hunger."

‒ St. John Chrysostom
Third-century theologian

"The Holy Fathers have not given us only a single rule for fasting or single standard and measure for eating, because not everyone has the same strength – age, illness, or delicacy of body create differences. But they have given us all a single goal: to avoid overeating and the filling of our bellies."

‒ St. John Cassian
Fourth-century theologian

"There can be no knowledge of the mysteries of God on a full stomach."

‒ St. Isaac the Syrian

Madden stresses the importance of occasional fasting to good health. "Moses the lawgiver fasted," she notes. "David the king fasted; Christ fasted; the apostles fasted. Fasting is a timeless discipline as an act of devotion to God."

The importance of exercise

Madden also stresses the importance to good health of exercise, walking, gardening, and working with the hands.

"Physical exercise is good for the health."

‒ St. Clement of Alexandria
Second-century theologian

Madden concludes her book with the suggestion that we all "practice positive thinking" and "practice alms-giving." She quotes Mother Teresa: "Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless."

(Food, Faith and Fasting: A Sacred Journey to Better Health by Rita Madden is available from The Joyful Noiseletter's catalog (No. 0484) for $17.95 plus $8.95 for postage and handling. It's the perfect gift for Lent. It may be ordered with credit cards from our website – or by calling toll-free 1-800-877-2757.)

©2024 the Joyful Noiseletter. All Rights Reserved


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