Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Getting Healthy

From day one, there was much expected of me, not just as a preacher’s kid, and not just as the son of an ultra-religious family, but as the representation of everything SDA, the same as every other child of the church. This representation included, but was not limited to, how I dressed (in suits), how I acted (respectfully), how I treated others (with deference), what I did sexually (nothing until marriage), and when I went to church (on Saturday). It also included what I put into my body, or the infamous “health message.”

In my household, the health message ruled. Number one: No meat. At all. For any reason. We were as kosher as kosher could be, because that was the rule. That meant no meat products and no meat byproducts. That went for both my parents, my sister, and myself. And I never felt deprived, because it was just a way of life. In the Bible, god said to Peter that you should neither handle nor eat unclean meat. Unclean meat came from impure animals like goats, birds, and swine. In addition, we also did not eat meat from cows, even though in the Bible it was seen as clean, because the SDA health message includes the teachings of the prophet Ellen G. White, who expanded heavily on the basic principles of vegetarianism as part of the health message. She spent a great portion of her time revising the health message for Seventh-Day Adventists with John Kellogg up in Michigan, and my mother owned all of her prophetical books growing up, including health reforms. My mother swore by her, and so no cows, beef, or other meat products made from the cow made its way into our home.

It was interesting, though, because there was a faction in the church who believed in Ellen G. White as a prophet, but did not subscribe to that particular portion of the health message. My parents were not born vegetarian, or Seventh-Day Adventists, so it was interesting that they went in whole-hog, but so many others who had been born SDA conveniently forgot that portion of the prophet’s teachings. In fact, there remains a faction in the church that doesn’t follow those particular teachings, while following all others of Ellen G. White, but my parents remain staunch. I myself have still never eaten meat, even though I don’t believe in every teaching of the SDA church, a fact that many others find interesting in and of itself. This includes byproducts such as gelatin and lard.

Health message rule number two: Low sugar intake. While we have known for a long time that excess sugar, which includes the use of high fructose corn syrup, is instrumental in the rise of obesity, high cholesterol issues, and the rise of tooth decay in humans. Kellogg created Corn Flakes as an alternative to high-sugar cereals. Ironically, Frosted Flakes is one of the highest sugar-content cereals on the market today. Most SDAs I know do try their best to follow this part of the health message, making meals that are low in sugar content, which is the only way to ensure the content is actually low in sugar. Fast food is high in fat, cholesterol, and sugar, so while it may be convenient, it is also instrumental in poor health, as a practice.

And health message rule number three is the simplest: No smoking. This is the one most heavily supported by the secular community as well, today. But when it was first included in the Adventist health message, the ill effects of smoking weren’t taken seriously by the community at large. The Adventist church was the first to be pro-active in this regard, and stays active on the non-smoking front. All three of these health message rules have been validated by society and by medicine, and yet for some reason even a lot of Adventists don’t follow them to this day. Why is that? It’s because like everything else, we are human, and we have weaknesses. I have my own troubles with low sugar intake. I mean, come on, chocolate is so good! But I have stayed firm on the other two, and I am working on the sugar issues. It’s a start.

By the way, if you’re keeping track, I have never eaten meat. Weird, eh?


Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Taking the SATs on Sunday

Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Off to School

Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Suiting Up

Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Being a “Preacher’s Kid” [Freshly Pressed]

Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: A Different Kind of Brother

Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Divisions

Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Academy Life

Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Keeping the Sabbath

10 thoughts on “Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Getting Healthy

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  1. Very interesting. I LOVE learning about other’s beliefs. Have you heard of Truvia as a sugar alternative. It’s all natural. Check it out. I recently was introduced to it by my Sweety and I love it. I can tell a huge difference in my body since I started drinking so much sugary coffee and sitting all day… so I hope that changing just that little thing will make a difference. It’s also healthier than those artificial carcinogenic sweeteners… said as I sip a diet coke. 🙂

      1. Ha. And that’s how I feel about Coke. Thanks for the previous comment, though. I love to hear about different religions too!

  2. I am enjoying learning about this religion. We were also raised “no smoking” to the point that my parents turned down the sound on the TV during cigarette commercials. This was when they finally got a TV after several years of wondering whether or not it was sinful as movies were also a no-no.
    In theory (and practice until recently) I have been an omnivore but lately I have been eating along the lines of low fat raw vegan. My body appreciates it.

    1. So funny! Movies were also a no-no for us. Yes, this religion was definitely something, growing up with it. I find it also makes good fodder for journal entries. LOL.

  3. When I was a child, some 60 years ago, my pastor was asked if he’d like a Coco-cola (my parents raised me in a Pentecostal church) . He said, no but I will take a Pepsi. I often wondered about that until I learned, back then Coke was made with coke, really!. Also, if Coco-cola can clean automobile battery terminals today, think what is does to our bodies. I don’t drink any sodas anymore.

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