The Eden Diet Newsletter
June 2010
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Dr. Rita Hancock

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In This Issue
Hunger and Happiness
NEW! Dr. Rita's MP3
The Eden Diet in the Media
Dr. Hancock's Blog
Hunger and Happiness
Dr. Shannon Jung, PhD, Vanderbilt University | STM, Yale University Divinity School | BD, Union Theological Seminary, Virginia | BA, Washington and Lee University

"This month, I am very privileged to interview Dr. L. Shannon Jung, Professor of Town and Country Ministries at Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Missouri. Dr. Jung is the author of Food For Life, The Spirituality and Ethics of Eating (2004), Sharing Food: Christian Practices For Enjoyment (2006), and Hunger And Happiness: Feeding the Hungry, Nourishing Our Souls (2009). Dr. Jung is here to help us find ways to find true happiness and satisfaction through the sharing of resources.
Q - Dr. Rita: Welcome, Dr. Jung. I understand you are on sabbatical now, yet you agreed to allot time for this interview! Thank you so much!

A - Dr. Jung:
It is wonderful to be talking to the author of The Eden Diet and a kindred spirit.

Q- Dr. Rita: Dr. Jung, I just finished reading your book, Hunger and Happiness and was amazed at the statistics you quoted. I think you said we're the 23rd happiest country, in spite of being one of the richest countries on the planet. Since many Eden Dieters came from a background of eating for emotional reasons (looking to food for happiness and satisfaction), I think we need to learn more about what makes us happy, since, apparently, money isn't the answer. Can you tell us how to become happy so we no longer look to food to fill our empty spaces?

A - Dr. Jung:
There is an incredible amount of information on happiness at this point.  The Hunger & Happiness book looked at a great deal of it, and I will try to answer briefly.
First, it is clear that, in order for people to be happy, they must have a minimal amount of income.  What is surprising is just how low that income floor is - in effect, it is equivalent to having a decent subsistence standard of living. Once that is achieved, then the amount of money one has seems to make very little difference in the degree of happiness.
What quite a few studies have discovered, however, is that there are two things that are strongly associated with happiness. One is the strength of your relationships with others: a happy marriage and family or life with friends makes for greater happiness. The other, interestingly, is the degree to which one's life is of service to others.  So, for youth and middle aged and seniors, the ability to volunteer and to be of service to others matters a lot. Perhaps it is the ability to give and to share that contributes to happiness in both cases.

Q- Dr. Rita: Can you talk about the relative excess of food production in the USA per capita, as well as our growing problem with obesity? Do you think we're medicating unhappiness with food?

A - Dr. Jung:
As a nation we are eating 300 calories a day more than we did 20 years ago.  Our production of corn and especially corn fructose syrup which finds its way into many kinds of processed food means that we are eating far more than we did.  Twenty years ago we had more states than not where obesity was more than 20% of the general population.  Today most states have that many, and four states have more than 30% obesity rates.  These statistics can be cited for adults, for kids, and for the population as a whole.

Q - Dr. Rita: What can we do to remedy this situation? What truly satisfies the soul? If the answer is not money, corn syrup, or gorging ourselves at buffets, what is the answer?

A - Dr. Jung:
  I speak as one who has always struggled with food.  So my own battle informs my opinion.  But it does seem clear that sharing with other people, having satisfying relationships, eating intelligently (real food), and being active physically makes a difference.  Obesity rates vary with television watching and poverty. 
We tend to be cut off from our neighbors; just as it is more important to share what we have with others (and to share ourselves), I think it is becoming more difficult.
Biblically, it is clear that God created us both to enjoy food and to share it.  There are countless instances where neighbor-love flows from the love of God.  Not only are we instructed to give to others, it is the way we were created:  as Mom used to say, sharing makes us happy.  And there are many movements these days that are designed to assist others - the social entrepreneurship program which offers microcredit, for example
Q- Dr. Rita:I get it. You're saying that "sharing" and "good relationships" are the keys to happiness. Do you have any specific suggestions for how Eden Dieters can become EVEN happier?

A - Dr. Jung
: One of the traditions around fasting was to give the money that was saved to the hungry or the poor.  It might be that Eden Dieters could divert the money they save from eating less food to organizations such as Joyce Meyers' Hand of Hope and also Samaritan's Purse.  There are also microcredit movements like,  organizations that are designed for youth like or advocacy groups like Bread for the World ( Most churches are addressing hunger issues globally and domestically as well through their Hunger Programs.

Dr. Rita:I agree! I read in your book Hunger and Happiness that people who give of their resources and time to help others score higher on happiness ratings, so what you're proposing is a win-win situation. We become healthier (because we're slimmer) and happier (because we share), and the people we're helping also benefit physically and spiritually. They get nourishing food for their bodies and the Word for their souls. It is a win-win situation.

Praise God for your excellent advice, Dr. Jung. Thank you so much for joining! It has been a real honor to interview you.

Note to our readers: If you would like to take Dr. Jung's advice and find happiness through sharing your resources with others, such as in donating to the either Samaritan's Purse or Hand of Hope, you can visit the news page of and follow the links to donate to those organizations. Or, research the organizations that Dr. Jung mentioned. Either way, both sides win. You become happier by taking care of "the least of these" in other countries, and, as a side-benefit, helping others gets you out of your own head, where you might tend to get "stuck" ruminating on your own problems. It breaks the cycle of obsessive or negative thinking.

Just as you can "eat to the glory of God," as Paul said in 1Corinthians 10:31, you can also "NOT eat" (as in discipline yourself to wait until you're hungry before you eat) and you can also "eat less" to the glory of God. The choice to NOT eat when it's inappropriate is like a worship act or an offering. When you do that, you will likely have an extra $20 or $30 a month (from smaller grocery bills) that you can divert (in the name of God) to those who are less fortunate.

This is not just a "theory," it's something we, at the Eden Diet have already put into practice. In the past month, we funded the $4800 for the drilling of an entire well for the "Water For Life" ministry of Life Outreach International. Praise God and thank you, Eden Dieters, for helping this come to fruition!


~Dr. Rita

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~The Eden Diet in the Media~

  • June 7 - WGRC radio, Pennsylvania - 11am ET
  • June 7 - ABQ Connect Radio Show - Peter Benson - Albuquerque: 2 pm CT
  • June 15 - Spirit 105.3 Seattle (Scott and Sam Morning Show) - 11:30 am CST
  • June 16 - WBGL Morning Radio Show - Champaign, IL - 9 am CT
  • June 22 - Debbie Chavez Radio Show - 11:10 am CT
  • August 2010 - WATC TV 57 - Atlanta, "Friends and Neighbors"
  • Summer 2010 - Daily Oklahoman - Two-part interview, online reporter Sonya Colberg
  • Summer 2010 - Family Life Radio - Reporter Amy Phillips


 In Upcoming Eden Diet Newsletters:

  • Video link to Dr. Rita's latest TV appearance on The Harvest Show.

Other News:
  • Dr. Rita was a featured speaker at the annual meeting of the Christian Medical And Dental Association in Asheville, NC!
  • Check out Dr. Rita's new video on Yahoo video!
  • The Eden Diet gets rave reviews: SEE REVIEWS

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Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in your quest to 'thin-ness'.
May your QUEST be BLESSED!

Rita M. Hancock, M.D.