BREAD (Our Father, Word by Word)

June 13, 2011 | 44 comments

Our Father Who Art in Heaven, Hallowed Be Thy Name.
Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done,
On Earth As it Is in Heaven. Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread…

NOTE FROM JEN: This is the one post in the series where I asked a guest blogger to address a word from a specific angle. I have seen astonishing health benefits from limiting grains and giving up wheat entirely, and know many people who have experienced the same. There’s little question that for some significant segment of the population, grains are detrimental to health. So I asked blogger and certified Nutritional Consultant Katie of Wellness Mama to address the question: If bread is not good for many of us, what’s up with it being specifically mentioned in the Lord’s prayer?

by Wellness Mama

We petition God specifically in the Our Father for “our daily Bread” and references to bread are sprinkled throughout the Bible. Christ even refers to himself as “The Bread of Life” on two occasions in the Gospel of John.

Jesus included this petition for “daily bread, ” in the Lord’s prayer, and there is a very poignant reason for this wording beyond asking for a substance made of flour.

The word used for “daily” is “epiousious” which the meaning of is often debated, but is most correctly translated to mean “essential” or “supersubstantial.”

This reference to Bread in the Lord’s Prayer, of course, refers to Christ who said: “The bread that I will give is My Flesh for the life of the world, ” (John 6:51) While we are asking God to provide for our daily temporal needs, the mention of bread in the Our Father is commonly associated with a Eucharistic reference to our daily need for Christ, rather than to just a food made of grains.

Grains In The Old Testament

Grain references sprinkle the Old Testament, from the admonishment of Adam after the fall that “From the sweat of your face shall you get bread to eat, until you return to the ground from which you were taken, ” (Gen 3:19) to the preferred offering of Abel’s livestock to the grain from Cain’s field. (Gen 4:4-5)

A very well-known mention of grains is in Ezekiel, when God gives Ezekiel a recipe of “wheat and barley, and beans and lentils, and millet and spelt” and tells him to make bread out of them. This reference has gained popularity among the health community and there is even a commercial brand of bread made using this recipe.

Something commonly missed in this reference to bread is the context of this Chapter in Ezekiel. A siege is underway and the people are entering a time of famine. This recipe for bread is hardly a prescription for health, but rather a means of survival under dire conditions.

God’s people had to consume unleavened bread during the haste to leave Egypt and were given manna to eat during their time of exile, though they eventually cried out for meat and God gave them quail. During the seven years of famine in Egypt, the people had to eat grain because it was all they had.

Grains In The New Testament

In the New Testament, the word “Bread” takes on a strong symbolic parallel to Christ himself. Christ was born in Bethlehem, meaning “House of Bread” and is laid in a manger, a feeding trough.

Christ calls himself the Bread of Life and tells us that unless we “eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” (John 6:53) As Catholics, we understand this to be a reference to the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

This reference to bread in John’s Gospel is an association to the eventual fulfillment of the remembrance of Passover by the Jewish people in the Old Testament, and ties in an equally important title of Christ: The Lamb of God.

In the Passover, a lamb had to be slain and eaten in its entirety and its blood painted on the door to tell the Angel to pass over and leave the firstborn sons of God’s people unharmed. The blood of the Lamb took the place of the blood of God’s people in the slaying of the firstborn. It was the blood of the lamb that saved them. The Jews continued to remember this deliverance each year in the ritual of Passover.

The Last Supper takes place during Passover, on the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when the sacrificial lamb was usually consumed. When Jesus celebrates the Last Supper with his disciples, the lamb is notably absent, since Jesus will become the Sacrificial Lamb that takes away the sins of the world. The blood of Christ saves us, as the blood of the sacrificial lamb during Passover foreshadows.

Jesus holds up the bread saying, “This is my Body, which will be given for you.” In this central moment of our Faith, Jesus unites his titles of the “Bread of Life” and the “Lamb of God, ” which we must eat to have eternal life. It is not the bread itself that is salvific, but the flesh of Christ that it is transformed into. In the moment of transubstantiation, the substance of grains becomes the flesh of Christ, our sacrificial Lamb.

The next day, Christ dies on the cross at the hour that the lamb is usually sacrificed during Passover, another symbol of his role as the Sacrificial Lamb. The “Bread of Life” becomes the “Lamb of God” and sacrifices Himself for our sins.

Just as with the Jews at Passover, unless they consumed the lamb and marked their doorposts with its blood, they would lose the life of their first-born son. Catholic faith holds that the Eucharistic Bread is not just a symbol of Jesus’ body but His actual flesh, His presence among us.

The consumption of Christ in Holy Communion can be thought of in a two-fold way. The actual form of grains, the “Bread of Life” that we consume in the Eucharist can represent the ties to the times of famine and need in the Old Testament, and how grains were necessary for survival during times of punishment. Through the Eucharistic prayer, we also consume the Lamb of God, the true Body of Christ, which represents the real and everlasting sacrifice of Christ as the Lamb who took away the sins of the world.

Though grains sustain in times of famine and trial, it is the Lamb that brings our Salvation. Thus, the Eucharist reminds us of both references to Christ, the “Bread of Life, ” our sustenance during trial, and the “Lamb of God” that grants our salvation by His Blood.

Thus, when we pray for our “daily bread, ” it is understood that we pray not just for our daily temporal needs, but more importantly for the sustaining nourishment of Christ truly present in the Eucharist.

Should We Consume Bread Since It Was Eaten In the Bible?

To digress, let’s consider our temporal needs that we also petition God for in this reference to Bread. Are we praying specifically for bread? Is this reference in the Lord’s Prayer a command to eat grains for sustenance?

From a nutritional perspective, I often encourage people to cut grains out of their diet, and many people have dramatic health results from doing so. Often, people question how grains can be bad or harmful to us if they are referenced so often in the Bible and if Christ even referred to himself as the “Bread of Life.”

This is certainly a question worth considering, and I think we can find the answers to this in Scripture as well. God’s people ate grains in times of famine or trial. The grains sustained them, but during times of celebration or feast, they ate the “fatted calf.”

Similarly, when Christ was fasting in the desert, he ate only bread and water, a sign of sacrifice. Ezekiel had to eat bread during a pending famine, not during a time of plenty. The references show that while grains can sustain life, they are not necessarily the optimal food. Even today, Catholics abstain from meat while fasting because it is a sacrifice.

From a nutritional perspective, it is important to note that the grains of Christ’s time were much different than the grains we consume today. During Biblical times, there were only three varieties of grains: Einkorn, Emmer and later Triticum aestivum.

Today, there are almost 25, 000 varieties of grains, most created in a lab through hybridization and genetic modification in the 1980s. They were modified to be more resistant to disease, to produce more and to resist some forms of pesticides.

Consequently, grains today contain higher levels of phytic acid, lectins and gluten (antinutrients), which have all been shown to be harmful to the body in several ways.

We consume grains in much larger amounts than were likely consumed in Christ’s time and don’t often use methods like soaking, sprouting or fermenting to lower the antinutrient content. It can be assumed with certainty that Jesus was not stopping by Krispy Kreme or grabbing a hamburger from McDonalds on His way to the wedding at Cana.

Grains these days have been linked to autoimmune problems, metabolic disorders, inflammation, cancers and other problems. Even if grains (in much different form) could have been consumed without harm in Jesus’ time, their modification and the way they are processed today often create problems for our bodies.

With heart disease and cancer claiming millions of lives annually and metabolic disorders rampant, one must evaluate if eating grains is the best treatment of our bodies- the temples of the Holy Spirit entrusted to our care. Grains have been modified to such a degree that they have little nutrient value, high pesticide contamination, and they create an immune response. This is certainly not the way God created them, and likely not the way He intended us to eat them.

So, when asked, “Shouldn’t we eat grains since they are referenced so often in the Bible, even as a title for Christ Himself?” I emphatically answer “NO!” for several reasons:

God gave us many other foods that are more nutritious than grains, including meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts and healthy forms of fat. We can eat these foods in the form God created them without having to process them to remove harmful antinutrients.

While grains can prevent starvation and keep a person alive, they are not necessarily the optimal food for human consumption and we over-consume them drastically. With the high rates of obesity and disease in our society, it is often better to avoid grains, which create an insulin response and can lead to other problems in the body.

The consumption of grains is certainly not necessary for our salvation. God did not say, “eat bread and you shall have eternal life, ” but that unless we eat “His Flesh and Drink his Blood, ” we shall not have eternal life. It is Christ as the Lamb of God who ensures our salvation. After all, Man cannot live on bread alone, but only on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God!

Katie, a.k.a. Wellness Mama, is a wife, mom (with a new baby due this month!), certified Nutritional Consultant and freelance journalist. Check out her great blog, Wellness Mama, which is one of my top daily reads.


  1. Alek

    That’s so interesting about the bread ‘recipe’ in Ezekiel. I think I am going to have to try and make some!

  2. SteveG

    This is a really interesting topic and I think the key here is hinted at in this quote:

    “It can be assumed with certainty that Jesus was not stopping by Krispy Kreme or grabbing a hamburger from McDonalds on His way to the wedding at Cana.”

    Just my opinion, but the problem is not that we eat grains. The problem is that we eat WAY too much of everything, and we eat WAY too much sugar in particular.

    While I totally agree that grains are not an ‘optimal’ food, the repeated suggestion that they were primarily for times of famine or to stave of starvation is just not accurate at all. Grains have been a regular daily part of the diet of nearly every culture throughout history. They were eaten along with lots of other more ‘natural’ foods of course, but grains have always been a staple food.

    As I’ve already suggested, I think the real game changer in the past century or so is not the eating of grains (altough it is unfortunate that we have switched out healthier whole and brown grains for white ones), but the immense amounts of sugar (in it’s many forms) that we eat.

    In addition, there is tons and tons of evidence coming out over the past few years that our sedentary lifestyle is having as big an impact (possibly bigger) than even diet.

    If we stay active, eat mostly natural foods, and keep our sugar intake to a minimum, moderate grain consumption most definitely can and should have a place in our diet as it has had since at least the advent of farming.

    I think the fact that He chose bread as the host which would be transubstantiated does indeed say something. I think it tells us that we need not be afraid of grains.

  3. Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy

    I stopped eating gluten after Christmas…and this is an issue I get hung up on! I enjoyed reading a similar post on Katie’s blog last month; thanks for the coverage over here!

  4. LeeAnn Balbirona

    Since being diagnosed with celiac disease in 2008, I wondered: Why would Jesus call himself the Bread of Life if bread makes some people sick? My take is that food allergies & intolerances are just another effect of the Fall. It’s annoying that I can’t eat what are historically considered normal foods like bread but I don’t take offense at it or get angry about it. Nor do I think of my gluten-free diet as superior to a normal one…it’s medicinal at best. There is something a little bit sad about not being able to eat the traditional foods of the poor (almost all based on wheat or barley) or “break bread” with others without the hassle of preparing special gluten free food. There are lots of workarounds sure, and I am not complaining here, just observing that this is just another example of the brokenness of creation. I like what the article’s author had to say about the body and blood of the lamb being what saves us…not the bread.

  5. RosieB

    I always thought that the Bread reference in the Our Father was more related to two things. Either our daily needs to survive as in our basic needs for nutrition. They could have said our daily protein, carb and vegetables, but I think “Bread” is a metaphor for our nutrients to survive.
    Or our daily “bread” as in our daily nourishment in the spiritual sense as described in the end of the post.
    I enjoyed reading the entry, and it makes me want to take a second look at my bread intake in this modern world, but I just never thought of “daily bread” in the Our Father as being so literal as it was described.
    Just my opinion!
    I love your blog and best of luck to you on the birth of your baby!!

  6. Kimberlie

    Good post. I think, like Rosie, I have always viewed Jesus’ reference to bread as the thing that sustains life in us – nutrients, sustenance – and not as literal bread.

    I have read Katie’s blog before and her reasons for going grain free. I thought, “no way, I could never give up break or pasta.” That was before finding out I was gluten intolerant in March. I do eat some gluten-free varieties of bread and pasta but because I am counting calories to lose weight, I don’t often eat a huge amount of starches because they are just too calorie rich. I’d rather save calories so I can have a glass of wine in the evening. 😉 I would say my grain consumption has been cut in half and I really think that if I cut it in half again, I wouldn’t miss it. Though, I probably would miss my bowl of oatmeal in the a.m. Nothing seems to satisfy me longer.

  7. Stitchwort

    The author of this post seems, at least here, to be using “grains” as a synonym for “wheat.”

    She writes:
    “During Biblical times, there were only three varieties of grains: Einkorn, Emmer and later Triticum aestivum.”

    Einkorn, Emmer and Triticum are all varieties of Wheat. Other grains include Rye, Oats, Barley, Corn, Rice, Sorghum and a variety of Millets. Apart from corn, which is a New World plant, all the rest were known from prehistoric times, and many were eaten in the Mediterranean area in Biblical days. Not all of them contain gluten. Not all of them have been as highly bred as wheat.

    And then there are the “pseudo-grains” such as buckwheat and quinoa.

    Perhaps she felt that this was too technical for this post, and wanted to focus only on wheat, which was the preferred grain in the Holy Land, and which is required for a valid Eucharist.

    That’s a valid judgment call, but then she would have done better to speak of wheat rather than “grains.” Using the broader term has introduced several inaccuracies which, for me, seriously undermine the argument.

  8. Christina Rose

    I have recently decided to try to go gluten free. I have not been diagnosed as needing to, but I have heard and read so much about the sucess and this argument makes sense to me. I have a few questions for Jennifer and Katie:

    1) Do you still take communion every week or even more often than that?

    2) If you are trying to follow a gluten free diet, do you also have your young children follow this diet? I am not a mother yet, but am curious about this for when I do have children.

    3) What grains do you eat? I do feel like my options are limited and I’m searching for a healthy bread that is gluten free that I can rely on. I have found that many of the options available seem to be lacking any sort of nutritional value.

    Thanks for a great post!

    • Katie @ Wellness Mama

      Hi Christina,

      I do take Communion (daily if I can get there). This is such a small amount of gluten, that without an official Celiac diagnosis, I won’t worry about avoiding it.

      I do follow not only a gluten free, but grain free diet, and feed my family this way too. The kids thrive on it since they are getting plenty of healthy meats, fats, veggies fruits, etc. I make a lot of meat and veggie stir frys in coconut oil or tallow. We eat a lot of salads with protein and eggs for breakfast…

      We don’t actually eat any grains. Things like meat and vegetables have much higher nutrient value anyway, and it was expensive and time consuming to try to make gluten free alternatives. I do occasionally cook with coconut or almond flour though.

      Hope that helps!

  9. Johanna

    Thanks for the perspective Wellness Mama!
    I agree that agriculture (grain consumption) was a direct result of the Fall. My husband and I have been gluten-free for two years and for the majority of the time we are 100% grain free as well and have never enjoyed better health and vitality.

    The reference to Bread in the Our Father is Christ’s Body and our needs for today and today only.

    Re communion-
    It is possible to talk to your pastor and request a gluten-free host. Most diocese do keep some in the tabernacle and will administer if your reaction to gluten is so severe you need to avoid it 100%.

    • LeeAnn Balbirona

      Are you responding to my post above? If so, you’ve misunderstood. The eating of meat is definitely a consequence of the Fall. There was no death before then, so presumably, no eating of animals. Wheat is a GOOD thing. What is bad is my body’s screwed up reaction to it. Celiac and gluten-intolerance are a result of the Fall, not the eating of wheat. Hope that made sense!

      • LeeAnn Balbirona

        But I also see your point that agriculture (you will eat by the sweat of your brow–tilling the earth) is also a result of the Fall. So how Adam and Eve ate before the Fall is an interesting subject…just fruits and nuts and things that could be gathered easily? Or by some more mysterious heavenly means? However, since our nature is fallen, we can’t expect to live as they did in Paradise enjoying their perfect healthly, disease-free lives. That will have to wait for the new heaven and new earth!

    • Chris Erdman

      There is no valid 100% gluten free hosts. There are some varieties of gluten low hosts, but it must contain wheat in some amount. The easiest solution if you have Celiac’s Disease is to simply skip the host and go straight for the cup.

  10. Jeanne G.

    I have taken on this topic before, but here’s something I didn’t think of: How are we to eat His Body if we don’t eat grains? I don’t mean to be adversarial, but just logical. The bread that becomes Christ’s body in the Consecration still retains the accidental properties of bread.

    Maybe if that is the only time that we eat grains?

    • Katie @ Wellness Mama

      For me, this is the only time I consume grains in any form…

  11. Claire

    Scripturally, Jesus ate nothing during his temptation in the desert. Both Matthew and Luke comment that he was hungry; his first temptation was to turn stone(s) into bread.

  12. MK

    It strikes me as a somewhat negative portrayal of the Eucharist (not that the writer intended it this way) to suggest that Christ chose a symbol of something that was merely a measure to stave off starvation in times of trial. Definitely the Eucharist serves to stave off starvation, but it is much more than that. In fact, I think the evidence of the Bible shows that bread was chosen because it was seen as the most essential food, a primary food, a central part of nourishment. The writer states that “God’s people ate grains in times of famine or trial. The grains sustained them, but during times of celebration or feast, they ate the ‘fatted calf.’” It is true that grains sustained them in times of trial. But it is also true that the Bible has a number of references to grain taking part in celebration. When the angels visit Abraham in Genesis 18, he rushes off to Sarah to ask her to take the finest flour and make bread from it. After that, he goes off to kill a calf. Even more compellingly, in Deuteronomy 8:7-9, in Moses’ speech telling the Israelites of what God has enjoined upon them and promised them, he describes the Promised Land as “a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; 9 a land where bread will not be scarce …” The Promised Land, the land in which there will not be starvation and suffering of the kind the Israelites have endured in Egypt, is a land that will overflow with grain. There are numerous other Biblical depictions of wheat which depict it not as a measure to stave off starvation but as a feature of the rich and blessed life. In Jeremiah, for example: “Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the LORD, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd …”
    Now I don’t believe for one minute that there is any moral imperative to eat bread. I think eating or not eating grains is a personal choice with no moral implications. Both sides have scientific evidence to back their positions. But to suggest that bread in the Bible is merely a symbol of something we need to stave off starvation, not something essential and life-giving, is I think a serious underselling of all that bread symbolizes in the Bible, and thus a serious underselling of the richness of the Eucharist appearing under the form of bread. Bread in the Bible doesn’t just stave off starvation, it is presented as an essential – perhaps the essential – ingredient in man’s diet, and as an outstanding feature of the good life promised in the Promised Land. .

    • SteveG

      As I only hinted above, I agree with this 100% (and I am glad MK said it so much more clearly). I understand the motivation (and need in the case of celiac’s) to try to square this with the Eucharist and the faith in general.

      But any effort to justify an ‘anti-grains’ stance so that it fits better with our faith just won’t stand up to scrutiny. Wheat, grain and bread are just too intimately tied to biblical life and language for this to be able to work out.

  13. Phyllis A

    Study lesson on the Our Father or a health food sermon? Seems to have gotten off-track with this one.

  14. MK

    Thank you , Stitchwort, for giving us one of the few educated comments here.

    “Wellness Mama” needs to brush up on her food history. Nearly ALL of the grains available to us today were also available in Biblical times. To say they were all developed ‘in labs’ is ridiculous. How long have the Irish been eating oatmeal? Oh, I guess only since some high-tech food destroyer lab techs created it a few years ago.

    Another thing is, you cannot act like the whole Bible is just metaphors. When the Bible says bread, it means bread. It does not mean “foods we eat when there’s nothing else” or “starvation diet”.

    Also, I must say this post seemed to me more of an anti-grain rant than a commentary on a prayer. What does the OUr Father have to do with our diet, anyway?

    I think those who buy everything Wellness Mama says without doing research themselves to validate her points, are doing themselves a disservice.

  15. Judy @ Learning To Let Go

    I was sorry to have this series on the Our Father turned into an “anti-grain rant”, as MK says above. I respect those who must and those who have chosen, for their own particular reasons, to restrict their intake of gluten, but to have this point of view preached from so many different sources really does make me skeptical that the movement is just another dietary fad. I really did not expect to have to listen to another version here, a place I come to for spiritual insight and wisdom.

  16. rachael

    I didn’t get the impression this was a rant, or even necessarily across the board anti-grain. Why is every position out of line with our own now considered a “rant”? There was no emotional, childish, or political outburst here, only someone nice enough to offer her point of view. Grains in general, corn, wheat and soy, in particular, are tied to many ill health effects. It’s worth considering that we wrongly rely on them for so much of our diet. I don’t think it’s out of bounds to explore this as we’re charged with taking care of ourselves.

    As for the wheat Host – no worries – gratefully, the Precious Blood is sufficient to cover, if one is intolerant of wheat altogether, as is the Host, for those who cannot tolerate the wine.

  17. Maggie Dee

    Thank you. As someone who doesn’t do well eating grains, simple carbs, or sugar I really enjoyed this post. I’ve thought a lot lately about my inability to eat grains vs how much grains are used throughout the Bible. For whatever reason, my system does not handle them. I wish it did, but it just doesn’t.

    What I really, really wish is that people would accept my “no thank you” when they offer me something to eat or just let it go when they notice me not partaking in a certain food item. I don’t lecture others on their food choices (quite honestly I could care less) but they seem overly interested in mine. I don’t want to explain my persoanl health issues/history at every social gathering. And no, I don’t want “just a little”, it makes me feel like I have the flu. Sigh.

  18. Suzanne

    I think that the reason bread was important enough to be mentioned in the Our Father, was that agriculture was literally what made ancient civilization possible. Farming moved people into cities and civilizations were well established in the Holy Land before the Old Testament was written. Without grains, it was impossible to feed a large number of people in one place. It is still impossible today. Most of the world’s people survive on “staple crops” and most of these are grains (the main exceptions are potatoes and cassava). As a Catholic, I think it is wrong to denigrate the food that sustains most people and always will. It seems somehow elitist. As a biologist who has studied economic botany, many of the ‘facts’ in this article are just plain incorrect. As my husband is European and we travel there each year, I have noticed that Europeans eat much more bread, most of it made from plain white flour, than Americans and don’t suffer from obesity or its related disorders. This can only be because they eat much less at each meal. The problem is not grains, just plain overeating.

    • Maggie Dee

      It doesn’t necessarily work that way for those of us who have a bio chemistry that doesn’t process grains. I bloat up and gain weight when I eat like that no matter how little I eat. I wonder though if Europeans are able to eat more bread because they have banned GMOs, etc. so the end product is healthier? I have a friend who can consume pastries every morning with no weight gain problems in her home country. But, when she’s in the U.S. she gains weight when she eats that way. For some reason, her body doesn’t handle whatever the difference is between the ingredients in the two different countries.

  19. Jennifer Fulwiler

    I just want to reiterate that *I* was the one who chose this specific angle for Katie to address. As an armchair nutrition buff, I thought it was interesting and might engender a good discussion among Christians with different perspectives. I feel bad that because of my invitation Katie has been the recipient of comments with caustic and unfriendly tones.

    I know that food is an emotional issue, but please remember that this particular angle was not the choice of my guest writer. Feel free to direct your frustration at me, but please be respectful towards her.

    • Stitchwort

      However, the historical and scientific inaccuracies which underlie this post are ultimately Katie’s responsibility, not yours, Jenn. I have a M. Sc. in biology and a longstanding interest in life in historical times, and I’m in agreement with Suzanne above, that there are a number of errors in her “facts.” Personally, I am also very uncomfortable with the way she is using Scripture here.

      • Sara Lane

        And personally, I am very uncomfortable with the way many people in this combox are treating Katie (and Jen, for that matter)–yourself included, Stitchwort. Your arrogance, condescension, and disrespect are shameful. Who the hell do you think you are?

        • Scott

          No joke, Sara. Jen, can you get a URL blocker and ban these blowhards?

        • SteveG

          I’ve read and reread the comments here and with the exception of MK’s second comment (which was definitely uncalled for and uncharitable-and below MK indicates that that comment came from someone else-Jen should be able to see if that is true or not), I honestly don’t get why this reaction has occurred to the criticisms of the post.

          Putting the moral and the nutritional issues totally to the side, there are in fact some very serious inaccuracies with the original post that, as stitchwort said, ‘seriously undermine the argument.’

          I just don’t see that Stitchwort has said anything that was in the least disrespectful, arrogant, or condescending in bringing that out.

          • Stitchwort

            Thank you, Steve.

            Who am I? I’m a moderately well-educated mother and grandmother, with a passion for accuracy, who has been reading Jenn’s blog with pleasure for several years.

            Nowhere did I attack Katie personally, or her choices for herself, her family or her blog. Gluten intolerance and celiac disease are real and serious medical problems; those affected have to avoid the substances that set off a reaction. And Internet resources which help them do that are invaluable.

            But this particular post, as written, contains factual errors which undermine the argument, and I had the temerity to point that out. If that makes me “arrogant, condescending and disrespectful,” . . . then so be it. It’s not the first time my desire for factual accuracy has gotten me in trouble.

            And thank you, Katie, for your post below, clarifying some of the issues.

  20. Christina

    Katie, I really appreciate you answering my questions, that is helpful information!

    As someone who has known both children and adults who have experienced positive health benefits from abstaining for wheat (and other grains) I think it is important to be respectful of the information Katie has shared. Her post may particularly help those who must abstain from grains due to a diagnosed health condition and I think it is important to offer these individuals support.

  21. MaddiK

    to Christina: Yes, it may be helpful for those who need to abstain from gluten/grains for health reasons. We don’t ALL have to.

    Someone else said she is just ‘offering her perspective’. That’s fine, but she should not make it seem that her perspective is the only right one and the only one that makes sense historically. I don’t care if she never eats grains. That’s fine. But her whole blog is a plug to make everyone who reads it never eat grains again. You know how much my grocery bill would go up if I wasn’t able to serve a big loaf of homemade whole wheat bread to fill up my husband along with the main dish?

    Jennifer, no one is trying to make Katie feel bad. I personally think she is too self confident in her no-grains thing. She needs to do more research. You invited her, but she wrote the article. Any issues readers have with the article’s content are issues with her, not you. Also, I am very uncomfortable with the way she is interpreting the Bible. It’s a rather Protestant thing to take a Scripture passage and make it only say what you personally wish it to say.

  22. rachael

    MaddiK, Katie has done her research, from what I can tell – the science she finds (that many of us find, frankly) contradicts mainstream doctrine with regard to the foods we consume. In real life, off-textbook, which is what matters anyway, many people have found relief from physical problems by consuming fewer grains.

    How is it her interpretation is Scripturally unsubstantial? I’d really like to know. Why do you believe she’s wrong?

    • MK

      Rachael, I can’t speak for MaddiK but in my comment above (I’m the first MK, not the second — I’m the one with the long post on the Bible), I outline why I find the author’s argument Scripturally unsubstantial — namely, because it doesn’t reflect the full meaning of bread in the Bible. I have no problem with people not eating grains and explaining why they don’t, but I felt the author was unintentionally misinterpreting the meaning of bread in Scripture — making it seem much less significant and rich than it actually is. Bread is not just a means of staving off starvation in Scripture; it is viewed as something lifegiving and a part of a rich diet. The presence of bread is in fact listed as a distinguishing feature of the Promised Land. I cited several Bible passages as examples, and could have cited more, only I felt my post was already getting long! 🙂 Again, my issue is not with whether or not anyone wants to eat or not eat grains, but with the fact that I found the author’s argument to not be a full depiction of the richness of bread in the Bible. I don’t think we can get away from the fact that bread is viewed very positively in the Bible — as far more than a means to stave off starvation. The Promised Land is a land overflowing with grain, “a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce …” (Deuteronomy). I think it’s tough to explain away those passages or suggest that the Bible doesn’t place a high value on the goodness of grains and bread (not that this creates any kind of moral obligation to eat grains — it doesn’t — but I think it’s wrong to suggest that the Bible just views grains as a means to stave off starvation).

  23. Katie @ Wellness Mama

    Thanks to Jen for the chance to write a guest post… and I’m sorry it has brought so much controversy for her!

    Thanks also to all the commenters who took the time to read and evaluate my article. To clarify a few things:

    -I wasn’t trying to address every reference to grains in the Bible, nor did I claim to. My post was a novel as it is, and certainly there wasn’t time to consider each instance that grains are mentioned. I was evaluating the question of why bread is mentioned in the Our Father if grains are unhealthy for many people (especially those with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance) and was providing certain references that were relevant to that question.

    -I was certainly not suggesting that every reference to grains in the Bible was metaphorical, but the mention of “bread” in the Our Father is generally understood to refer to a broader petition than just a request for a physical substance made from flour.

    -I’m sorry I was not more clear about the three types of wheat grain that were present in Biblical times. As wheat is the most common type of grain used in our society, by far, I was addressing it in particular. Certainly Barley, Rye, Spelt, Millet, Oats, etc existed during Biblical times and exist today, as did wheat, but the grains used to commercially prepared foods today are biologically very different from the ones that Jesus would have consumed. Most people in today’s society are also not using whole heirloom grains that have been fermented, soaked or sprouted and hand grinding them to make their own bread.

    -I have heard many Christians use Biblical references to defend their choice to eat grains, which is fine, but I wanted to offer another perspective and hopefully provide some insight for those who can’t, or choose not to, eat grains. There are many diets out there that promote a vegetarian high grain diet based on Biblical principles, and I wanted to offer an alternative.

    -I certainly don’t expect everyone to ditch grains completely just on my recommendation. I personally and in my work with clients have seen major health improvements from doing so, but I absolutely support every person’s choice to make their own nutritional decisions. Since this way of eating has helped so many, I present the information in hopes that in may help others. For those concerned about the cost of adapting to this way of eating as one person mentioned, I can say from experience that while it is more work to eat grain free, it can be done without a big difference in grocery bill.

  24. LeeAnn Balbirona

    Jen, if you read/pray the Liturgy of the Hours then you’ve probably already seen this. I thought the phrase “the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world” might add something to this discussion–the bread is not mere bread, but bread that is Flesh.

    From today’s Office of Readings:

    Second reading
    From a treatise on the Lord’s Prayer by Saint Cyprian, bishop and martyr
    After the gift of bread we ask pardon for our sins

    As the Lord’s Prayer continues, we ask: Give us this day our daily bread. We can understand this petition in a spiritual and in a literal sense. For in the divine plan both senses may help toward our salvation. For Christ is the bread of life; this bread does not belong to everyone, but is ours alone. When we say, our Father, we understand that he is the father of those who know him and believe in him. In the same way we speak of our daily bread, because Christ is the bread of those who touch his body.

    Now, we who live in Christ and receive his eucharist, the food of salvation, ask for this bread to be given us every day. Otherwise we may be forced to abstain from this communion because of some serious sin. In this way we shall be separated from the body of Christ, as he taught us in the words: I am the bread of life which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats my bread will live for ever and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. Christ is saying, then, that anyone who eats his bread will live for ever. Clearly they possess life who approach his body and share in the Eucharistic communion. For this reason we should be apprehensive and pray that no one has to abstain from this communion, lest he be separated from the body of Christ and be far from salvation. Christ has warned of this: If you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood you will have no life in you. We pray for our daily bread, Christ, to be given to us. With his help, we who live and abide in him will never be separated from his body and his grace.

  25. Manda

    I enjoyed the post immensely, thank you for it!

    It did cause a bit of a debate though between my husband and I after we kind of got off on a tangent about celiac disease so I thought I’d put it here for better catechized Catholics than I to answer.

    “If communion bread is truly transformed into Christ’s body and blood (tran-substantiation) and not simply Christ’s body and blood within the bread (con-substantiation) then why does the Catholic church allow for celiac-friendly communion bread as an option? Shouldn’t wheat allergies be a non-issue if the communion bread has truly been completely transformed into Christ’s body? Christ’s body certainly doesn’t contain wheat.”

    That’s my Lutheran pastor husband’s question, I’m stumped for an appropriate answer but I need a good one 🙂 Anyone want to help this Catholic wife win a theological argument with her DH?

    • SteveG

      Let’s see if I can take a stab without mangling this.

      In natural philosophy, objects have what is called substance (what something is) and accidents (the things that are ‘said’ about something…i.e. color, taste, quantity).

      So, my substance is that I am a human being named Steve. I AM Steve.
      My accidence are that I have dark hair (what’s left of it 🙁 ), I have a muscular build, I have brown eyes, etc. Now, you could change any number of my accidence (i.e. losing my hair 🙁 ), changing my weight, etc., but you won’t not change my substance…who/what I am. I am Steve, the human being.

      Typically, changing something’s accidents without changing it’s substance (what it is) is not difficult and we see it all the time. But changing something substance without changing its accidents (what it ‘looks’ like, or its qualities) is not something we typically see.

      The Catholic understanding is that what happens in transubstantiation is that Christ utterly changes the substance of the bread and wine (what it is…it is now His body and blood), but does NOT change the accidence (it’s qualities…what it appears to be). Therefore, even after the consecration, while the substance of the elements is changed, the accidence (qualities..appearance, taste, touch, etc.) remain.

      This means that the qualities/accidence of ‘wheat-ness’, and likewise the quality of ‘alcohol-ness’, remain. If you were to drink a bottle of consecrated wine, you would get intoxicated. Same as if you are a celiac and eat a consecrated host, the quality of wheat would still interact with your body.

      I realize this may be difficult to accept for some, but is it really any more difficult, miraculous or mysterious than saying that God became man, than to say bread and wine can become part of the body/blood of Christ? Or that the God/Man was risen from the dead? For my part, I don’t think so.

      Incidentally, I don’t believe it is true that there are gluten free hosts available. The recommendation that I have always seen is that if you cannot consume the host, one can take the cup only. Both elements are fully the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ, so you wouldn’t be receiving ‘less’ Christ by taking from the cup only.

      Hope this helps. God Bless

      • Manda

        Thanks so much SteveG! That does help clarify things, I’d never learned about the accidents aspect of the theology of the eucharist, which is why I found it hard to properly explain it to my husband.

        Of course he still thinks his Lutheran view of the eucharist is better, but that’s an argument I may never win, lol! Maybe I should have him make a blog like Jen and you all could work on bringing him into the Catholic church for me 🙂

  26. Nayhee

    I like the point about bread being food for the starving, but I agree with pp who pointed out that bread is also a foundational part of a meal in the Middle East (then and now). Christ in the Eucharist is both: an abundant and rich feast, and essential nourishment for the hungry.

    Keep up the series, Jen, it is wonderful!

  27. Sara Grambusch

    Super interesting! I love that this is being looked at from this angle!

  28. Telzey

    I used to eat the “biblical” commercial-brand bread mentioned in your article; it was delicious, but I’m abstaining from grains entirely these days. It is important to note:

    1. When you look at anthropological skeletal evidence, when tribes moved from herding to an agricultural/grain-heavy diet, they shrank in height by 4 to 6 inches and their teeth began to show signs of rotting/falling out, plus we see signs of calcium loss in the bones of the elderly.

    2. Most people did not live long enough to become elderly, so the accumulated physical damage a grain diet causes were not experienced to the fullest extent by most people: they simply died before the diet started to take its toll. I’m in my late 50s, I probably would not have been alive at this age 2,000 years ago, having succumbed to an infected cut or animal bite, or an infection in a tooth, bacterial infection being a death sentence back then. Or, you know, dying due to giving birth to 10+ kids, of whom 2 or 3 might survive their first year.

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