Chapter 1

Counsels on Diet and Foods, pp. 19-22 (EGW)

Penalty for Ignorance

11. God has formed laws which govern our constitutions, and these laws which He has placed in our being are divine, and for every transgression there is affixed a penalty, which must sooner or later be realized. The majority of diseases which the human family have been and still are suffering under, they have created by ignorance of their own organic laws. They seem indifferent in regard to the matter of health, and work perseveringly to tear themselves to pieces, and when broken down and debilitated in body and mind, send for the doctor and drug themselves to death.—The Health Reformer, October, 1866 {CD 19.1}

Not Always Ignorant

12. When persons are spoken to on the subject of health, they often say, “We know a great deal better than we do.” They do not realize that they are accountable for every ray of light in regard to their physical well-being, and that their every habit is open to the inspection of God. Physical life is not to be treated in a haphazard manner. Every organ, every fiber of the being, is to be sacredly guarded from harmful practices.—Testimonies for the Church 6:372, 1900 {CD 19.2}

Responsibility for Light

13. At the time the light of health reform dawned upon us, and since that time, the questions have come home every day, “Am I practicing true temperance in all things?” “Is my diet such as will bring me in a position where I can accomplish the greatest amount of good?” If we cannot answer these questions in the affirmative, we stand condemned before God, for He will hold us all responsible for the light which has shone upon our path. The time of ignorance God winked at, but as fast as light shines upon us, He requires us to change our health-destroying habits, and place ourselves in a right relation to physical laws.—Good Health, November, 1880. {CD 19.3}

14. Health is a treasure. Of all temporal possessions it is the most precious. Wealth, learning, and honor are dearly purchased at the loss of the vigor of health. None of these can secure happiness, if health is lacking. It is a terrible sin to abuse the health that God has given us; such abuses enfeeble us for life, and make us losers, even if we gain by such means any amount of education. [Examples of Suffering Due to Disregarding Light—119, 204] {CD 20.1}

15. God has bountifully provided for the sustenance and happiness of all His creatures; if His laws were never violated, if all acted in harmony with the divine will, health, peace, and happiness, instead of misery and continual evil, would be the result.—Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 151, 1890 {CD 20.2}

16. A careful conformity to the laws God has implanted in our being, will ensure health, and there will not be a breaking down of the constitution. [Health Reform the Lord’s Means of Lessening Suffering—788] {CD 20.3}


A Call for Everyone to Study Ellen White did not intend that her writings along nutritional lines should exclude the need for earnest study to find the best and most agreeable diet, taking advantage of a growing knowledge, and the experience and investigation of others. She wrote: {CD 5.3} “To keep the body in a healthy condition, in order that all parts of the living machinery may act harmoniously, should be the study of our life.”—Page 18. {CD 5.4} “It is plainly our duty to give these [nature’s] laws careful study. We should study their requirements in regard to our own bodies, and conform to them. Ignorance in these things is sin.”—Ibid. {CD 5.5} Clearly Mrs. White felt that each person should become well informed, taking advantage of the advancements of science in nutritional investigations, so long as the conclusions harmonize with the counsels given through inspiration. {CD 5.6}

An Offering Without Blemish


17. In the ancient Jewish service it was required that every sacrifice should be without blemish. In the text we are told to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service. We are God’s workmanship. The psalmist, meditating upon the marvelous work of God in the human frame, exclaimed,“I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” There are many who are educated in the sciences and are familiar with the theory of the truth, who do not understand the laws that govern their own being. God has given us faculties and talents; and it is our duty, as His sons and daughters, to make the best use of them. If we weaken these powers of mind or body by wrong habits or indulgence of perverted appetite, it will be impossible for us to honor God as we should.—Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 15, 1890 {CD 20.4}

18. God requires the body to be rendered a living sacrifice to Him, not a dead or a dying sacrifice. The offerings of the ancient Hebrews were to be without blemish, and will it be pleasing to God to accept a human offering that is filled with disease and corruption? He tells us that our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost; and He requires us to take care of this temple, that it may be a fit habitation for His Spirit. The apostle Paul gives us this admonition: “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.” All should be very careful to preserve the body in the best condition of health, that they may render to God perfect service, and do their duty in the family and in society.—[Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 52, 53] Counsels on Health, 121, 1890 {CD 21.1}


The Hazards of Extremes

Ellen White was not slow to point out the hazards of extremes, or inattention, or laxity in providing an adequate diet for the family. This fact is illustrated by the statement that the mother “by ill-prepared, unwholesome food” might actually “hinder and even ruin both the adult’s usefulness and the child’s development” (p. 476).

In the same statement she called for “providing food adapted to the needs of the body, and at the same time inviting and palatable.” {CD 6.1}

While the reasons for including some dairy products in a balanced, adequate diet were not fully understood, Ellen White spoke in favor of them, and even cautioned against eliminating them. Today in the light of the knowledge that certain minute nutrients are vital to body functions, we have a better understanding. Some of these nutrients, while apparently not present in all-vegetable diet, are available in adequate amounts in a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet. This is particularly important to children whose proper development Ellen White stated might be hindered by “ill-prepared unwholesome food.” {CD 6.2}

Near the turn of the century Ellen White began to write that because of accumulating disease in the animal kingdom all animal foods, including milk, will in time have to be given up (see pp. 356, 357); yet at the same time she repeatedly cautioned against premature steps in this direction and in 1909 declared that the time will come when such may be necessary, but urged against creating perplexity by “pre-mature and extreme restrictions.” She counseled that we “wait until the circumstances demand it, and the Lord prepares the way for it” (pp. 355-359). {CD 6.3}

It was the lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet that sustained Ellen White in active service well into her eighty-eighth year. {CD 6.4}

A Pitiful Offering


19. Knowledge must be gained in regard to how to eat, and drink, and dress so as to preserve health. Sickness is caused by violating the laws of health; it is the result of violating nature’s law. Our first duty, one which we owe to God, to ourselves, and to our fellow men, is to obey the laws of God, which include the laws of health. If we are sick, we impose a weary tax upon our friends, and unfit ourselves for discharging our duties to our families and to our neighbors. And when premature death is the result of our violation of nature’s law, we bring sorrow and suffering to others; we deprive our neighbors of the help we ought to render them in living; we rob our families of the comfort and help we might render them, and rob God of the service He claims of us to advance His glory. Then, are we not, in the worst sense, transgressors of God’s law? {CD 21.2}

But God is all-pitiful, gracious, and tender, and when light comes to those who have injured their health by sinful indulgences, and they are convinced of sin, and repent and seek pardon, He accepts the poor offering rendered to Him, and receives them. Oh, what tender mercy that He does not refuse the remnant of the abused life of the suffering, repenting sinner! In His gracious mercy, He saves these souls as by fire. But what an inferior, pitiful sacrifice at best, to offer to a pure and holy God! Noble faculties have been paralyzed by wrong habits of sinful indulgence. The aspirations are perverted, and the soul and body defaced.—Testimonies for the Church 3:164, 165, 1872 {CD 22.1}


Employ Sound Principles in Study

Certain sound principles must ever be applied in the study of the dietary counsels found in this book. All the instructions, as a broad, consistent, well-balanced whole, should be studied with an open mind. Care should be taken to read the entire statement on a given topic. Then, to gain the full intent of the author, statement should be put with statement. If one statement does not seem to accord with another, the student would do well to trace one, or both, to the original settings. {CD 6.5}

The student should also follow Ellen White’s example in recognizing three basic principles as enumerated on page 481: {CD 7.1}

  1. “The diet reform should be progressive.”—The Ministry of Healing, 320. {CD 7.2}
  2. “We do not mark out any precise line to be followed in diet.”—Testimonies for the Church 9:159. {CD 7.3}
  3. “I make myself a criterion for no one else.”—Letter 45, 1903. {CD 7.4}