What was the Gwen Shamblin Lara diet? Christian weight-loss guru endorsed 'pizza, cheeseburgers'
Controversial Christian diet guru Gwen Shamblin Lara died in an airplane crash along with six others on the morning of May 29. The extreme nature of the tragedy has since been reported widely as her millions of followers, and members of the church she founded mourn her loss. Shamblin Lara, whose life was marred by controversies, shot to fame with her Christian diet program called the Weigh Down Workshop which inspired people towards faith-based eating.
On Shamblin Lara's personal website, the late diet guru describes in detail what she considered a healthy diet. Described as a "registered dietician", she received her Master’s Degree in Food and Nutrition from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. "Gwen was an Instructor of Foods and Nutrition at the University of Memphis for five years, and she worked with the city’s Health Department for an additional five years, helping specifically in the areas of overweight, obesity, pregnancy, and child health," notes the website, touting her countless appearances on "TV programs, consulted thousands of individuals and participated on various speaking panels as a health expert."
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Controversial diet guru
Shamblin Lara was once embroiled in an abuse scandal during the investigation of the death of 8-year-old boy Josef Smith after his parents alleged they used corporal punishment on the child because it was endorsed by the Revenant Fellowship Church, which was founded by her.
But even before that, her 'faith-based' diet program had stirred controversy. Crediting the "medical background" she grew up in, her website's latest update on what makes up for a healthy diet pushes Shamblin Lara's opinion on how nutrition isn't all that complicated, as experts would have you believe. While Lara never explicitly addresses what she herself eats in a day, she does give some insightful details into what the "preferred" food resources should be under her diet program, endorsed by her repeatedly over the years.
Referring to the Bible she reminds her followers "There are man-made rules and there are God’s rules. Oh, how man likes to make up rules and make other men go by them. But they do not work, and it is your job to learn the difference. If you do it God’s way, you will have immediate positive results. If it is man’s rules you are following, you will never lose the weight and you will become larger every year."
Lara then goes on to list a string of food items that are usually perceived as those aiding weight gain. "You will not be undernourished if you eat regular foods or what the body is calling for," claims Shamblin Lara. "God did not give the animals a 'food pyramid' to decode and interpret what foods to eat, and yet they are beautiful and well-fed. It is simply not as complicated as the nutrition world would have you believe. The foods we eat from the grocery store are adequate if we eat a variety."
Endorsing fast food
She included a wide variety of junk and fast food items in her diet program. "The term 'regular foods' includes pizza, cheeseburgers, eggs and pancakes, cereal and milk, ham and cheese sandwiches, chips with cheese dip and chili, Chinese foods, rice and beans, taco pile-up with lettuce and chopped tomatoes, peanut butter and jelly, and deli sandwiches — and everyone gets in the mood for apples, grapes, and carrots or celery with ranch dressing... you get the picture — all from the grocery, and they are America’s most popular foods."
The key, Shamblin Lara notes, is "Too much of anything can make you sick, such as too much fiber or high fiber foods that can cause harm to the intestines. Plant sources of foods are wonderful and will likely always be the major source of our calories, however, it is not wrong to eat animal sources of food. You do not have to be a vegetarian to live a longer life." Her followers are firm believers in trusting their faith. A number of them, reportedly, have seen beneficial results of tending to their cravings with prayers.
Diet program turned church
Shamblin Lara's popularity amplified over the years. Soon she, together with her husband Joe Lara, managed to turn her immense fan following into their congregation for the Revenant Fellowship Church led by them.
The ministry, as mentioned earlier, was embroiled in controversy during the investigation of the death of 8-year-old boy Josef Smith after his parents alleged they used corporal punishment on the child because it was endorsed by the church. The church, however, alleged it was all false accusations, fabricated by former members out of malice, and even funded the convicted couple's legal fees. The scandal never impacted Shamblin Lara's drive or her existing fanbase.
Gwen Shamblin Lara, along with her husband Joe Lara, church leaders David and Jennifer Martin, Jonathan and Jessica Walters, and Shamblin's son-in-law, Brandon Hannah, were presumed dead after a Cessna C501 private plane crashed into the waters of Tennessee's Percy Priest Lake.