Chapter 1

Counsels on Diet and Foods, pp. 15-18 (EGW)

For the Glory of God


1. Only one lease of life is granted us; and the inquiry with every one should be, “How can I invest my powers so that they may yield the greatest profit? How can I do most for the glory of God and the benefit of my fellow men?” For life is valuable only as it is used for the attainment of these ends. {CD 15.1}

Our first duty toward God and our fellow beings is that of self-development. Every faculty with which the Creator has endowed us should be cultivated to the highest degree of perfection, that we may be able to do the greatest amount of good of which we are capable. Hence that time is spent to good account which is used in the establishment and preservation of physical and mental health. We cannot afford to dwarf or cripple any function of body or mind. As surely as we do this, we must suffer the consequences. —Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 41, 42] Counsels on Health, 107, 108, 1890 {CD 15.2}


Choice of Life or Death


Every man has the opportunity, to a great extent, of making himself whatever he chooses to be. The blessings of this life, and also of the immortal state, are within his reach. He may build up a character of solid worth, gaining new strength at every step. He may advance daily in knowledge and wisdom, conscious of new delights as he progresses, adding virtue to virtue, grace to grace. His faculties will improve by use; the more wisdom he gains, the greater will be his capacity for acquiring. His intelligence, knowledge, and virtue will thus develop into greater strength and more perfect symmetry. {CD 15.3}

On the other hand, he may allow his powers to rust out for want of use, or to be perverted through evil habits, lack of self-control, or moral and religious stamina. His course then tends downward; he is disobedient to the law of God and to the laws of health. Appetite conquers him; inclination carries him away. It is easier for him to allow the powers of evil, which are always active, to drag him backward, than to struggle against them, and go forward. Dissipation, disease, and death follow. This is the history of many lives that might have been useful in the cause of God and humanity. {CD 15.4}


How This Book [Counsels on Diet and Foods] Came to Be



Decades before many physiologists were concerned with the close relationship between diet and health, Ellen G. White in her writings clearly pointed out the connection between the food we eat and our physical and spiritual welfare. In her discourses and writings from 1863 onward, she discussed frequently the importance of diet and adequate nutrition. Her counsels, as preserved in pamphlets and books, in the journals of the denomination, and in personal testimonies, have exerted a strong influence on the dietetic habits of Seventh-day Adventists, and indirectly have left their impress upon the general public. {CD 3.1}

Mrs. White’s writings regarding foods and a healthful diet were drawn together in 1926 in a topically arranged work designed to serve primarily as a textbook for students of dietetics at the College of Medical Evangelists at Loma Linda. This initial printing, titled Testimony Studies on Diet and Foods, was soon exhausted. {CD 3.2}

A new and enlarged volume, titled Counsels on Diet and Foods, Appeared in 1938. It was referred to as a “second edition,” and was prepared under the direction of the Board of Trustees of the Ellen G. White Estate. A third edition, printed in a smaller page size to conform to the requirements of the Christian Home Library series, was published in 1946. The present edition is the fourth, and involves no change in text or pagination. {CD 3.3}

Seek for Perfection


2. God desires us to reach the standard of perfection made possible for us by the gift of Christ. He calls upon us to make our choice on the right side, to connect with heavenly agencies, to adopt principles that will restore in us the divine image. In His written word and in the great book of nature He has revealed the principles of life. It is our work to obtain a knowledge of these principles, and by obedience to cooperate with Him in restoring health to the body as well as to the soul. —The Ministry of Healing, 114, 115, 1905 {CD 16.1}

3. The living organism is God’s property. It belongs to Him by creation and by redemption; and by a misuse of any of our powers we rob God of the honor due to Him. —Letter 73a, 1896 {CD 16.2}


This Is a Unique Compilation

In assembling the materials comprising Counsels on Diet and Foods, an effort was made to include the full range of instruction on the subject from Mrs. White’s pen. The resulting compilation is unique among the Ellen G. White books, for it presents the counsels clustered topically under a general heading, with no attempt to provide a continuity in reading. {CD 3.4}

Each section contains the E. G. White materials that, assembled, make a representative presentation of the topic dealt with. Nothing that would make a substantial contribution has been ignored. Often in the original sources many phases of health instruction are treated together in one paragraph. To give all the context in such cases would have involved considerable repetition. Through the use of cross references such repetition is minimized. {CD 4.1}

While the limitations of space and the effort to avoid repetition have made it inadvisable to include every statement on the more general phases of the diet question, a complete and comprehensive presentation of the E. G. White teachings has been given. {CD 4.2}

A Question of Obedience


4. The obligations we owe to God in presenting to Him clean, pure, healthy bodies are not comprehended.—Manuscript 49, 1897 {CD 16.3}

5. A failure to care for the living machinery is an insult to the Creator. There are divinely appointed rules which if observed will keep human beings from disease and premature death.—Letter 120, 1901 {CD 16.4}

6. One reason why we do not enjoy more of the blessing of the Lord is, we do not heed the light which He has been pleased to give us in regard to the laws of life and health.—The Review and Herald, May 8, 1883 {CD 16.5}

7. God is as truly the author of physical laws as He is author of the moral law. His law is written with His own finger upon every nerve, every muscle, every faculty, which has been entrusted to man.—Christ’s Object Lessons, 347, 348, 1900 {CD 17.1}

8. The Creator of man has arranged the living machinery of our bodies. Every function is wonderfully and wisely made. And God pledged Himself to keep this human machinery in healthful action if the human agent will obey His laws and cooperate with God. Every law governing the human machinery is to be considered just as truly divine in origin, in character, and in importance as the word of God. Every careless, inattentive action, any abuse put upon the Lord’s wonderful mechanism, by disregarding His specified laws in the human habitation, is a violation of God’s law. We may behold and admire the work of God in the natural world, but the human habitation is the most wonderful. [Sin of Taking a Course Which Needlessly Expends Vitality or Beclouds the Brain—194] {CD 17.2}

9. It is as truly a sin to violate the laws of our being as it is to break the ten commandments. To do either is to break God’s laws. Those who transgress the law of God in their physical organism, will be inclined to violate the law of God spoken from Sinai. [See also 63] {CD 17.3}

Our Saviour warned His disciples that just prior to His second coming a state of things would exist very similar to that which preceded the flood. Eating and drinking would be carried to excess, and the world would be given up to pleasure. This state of things does exist at the present time. The world is largely given up to the indulgence of appetite; and the disposition to follow worldly customs will bring us into bondage to perverted habits,—habits that will make us more and more like the doomed inhabitants of Sodom. I have wondered that the inhabitants of the earth were not destroyed, like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. I see reason enough for the present state of degeneracy and mortality in the world. Blind passion controls reason, and every high consideration is, with many, sacrificed to lust. {CD 17.4}

To keep the body in a healthy condition, in order that all parts of the living machinery may act harmoniously, should be a study of our life. The children of God cannot glorify Him with sickly bodies or dwarfed minds. Those who indulge in any species of intemperance, either in eating or drinking, waste their physical energies and weaken moral power.—Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 53, 1890 {CD 18.1}

10. Since the laws of nature are the laws of God, it is plainly our duty to give these laws careful study. We should study their requirements in regard to our own bodies, and conform to them. Ignorance in these things is sin. [Willful Ignorance Increases Sin—53] {CD 18.2}

“Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ?” “What! know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:15, 19, 20. Our bodies are Christ’s purchased property, and we are not at liberty to do with them as we please. Man has done this. He has treated his body as if its laws had no penalty. Through perverted appetite its organs and powers have become enfeebled, diseased, and crippled. And these results which Satan has brought about by his own specious temptations, he uses to taunt God with. He presents before God the human body that Christ has purchased as His property; and what an unsightly representation of his Maker man is! Because man has sinned against his body, and has corrupted his ways, God is dishonored. {CD 18.3}

When men and women are truly converted, they will conscientiously regard the laws of life that God has established in their being, thus seeking to avoid physical, mental, and moral feebleness. Obedience to these laws must be made a matter of personal duty. We ourselves must suffer the ills of violated law. We must answer to God for our habits and practices. Therefore, the question for us is not, “What will the world say?” but, “How shall I, claiming to be a Christian, treat the habitation God has given me? Shall I work for my highest temporal and spiritual good by keeping my body as a temple for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, or shall I sacrifice myself to the world’s ideas and practices?”—Testimonies for the Church 6:369, 370, 1900 {CD 18.4}


Peril of Taking a Part for the Whole

The fact that this volume is constructed somewhat like an encyclopedia, isolating the major presentations and grouping them by topic, makes it a convenient reference work. But the encyclopedia design also makes the book one that may easily be misused. To gain the author’s intent and the full impact of all her teachings, it is imperative that the book be studied as a whole. {CD 4.3}

The reader should bear in mind that a single Ellen White statement on some phase of the subject of nutrition may come far short of expressing her full intent and understanding of the nutritional needs of the body. For example, in a sentence appearing on page 314 of this book, taken from Testimonies for the Church 2:352, she says: “Grains and fruits prepared free from grease, and in as natural a condition as possible, should be the food for the tables of all who claim to be preparing for translation.” In the light of other of her statements, clearly it was not Mrs. White’s intent to teach that those preparing for translation should reduce their diet to simply” grains and fruits.” Penned in 1869 in the setting of counsel against the use of meat, this statement seems to make “grains and fruits” stand for the nonmeat diet. The statement does not mention nuts, vegetables, or dairy products, all of which Ellen White recognized as important to a balanced nutritional program. {CD 4.4}

Another statement on the same page (314), written some twenty years later, in delineating a diet intended to impart nourishment and give endurance and vigor of intellect, mentions “fruit, grains, and vegetables” prepared with “milk or cream.” Nuts are not mentioned. Across the page in another paragraph written in 1905, “Grains, nuts, vegetables, and fruits” are listed as taking the place of meat. In this statement milk is not mentioned. Yet milk is included in her 1909 statement that appears on page 355: “Vegetables should be made palatable with a little milk or cream, or something equivalent…. Some, in abstaining from milk, eggs, and butter, have failed to supply the system with proper nourishment, and as a consequence have become weak and unable to work. Thus health reform is brought into disrepute.” {CD 5.1}

There are a number of other instances similar to those cited above where Ellen White does not in a given statement enumerate all the elements of an adequate diet. Care must be exercised to get her complete thought on each subject. An isolated statement should not be used by itself, lest the part be taken for the whole. {CD 5.2}