“I became a convert for life”

By: Patricia Haney

For the first 42 years of my life, I ate your typical American diet: meat, dairy, and loads of sugar! I cooked everything in oil, and covered everything with cheese, cream cheese, and/or sugar. I ate candy or sweets when I drove, read, watched TV. . . I even had candy in my pockets at work so I could pop some in my mouth here and there. I was an addict! I was overweight (bordering obese) and starting to have medical problems.

I am one of those people who don’t trust doctors. I had some bad experiences in the past, so I have avoided them at all costs most my life. But eventually I could no longer ignore the things that were happening in my body, and I went to the doctor. It was 2012, and we were living in Georgia, when I went to the OBGYN who diagnosed severe endometriosis. Two surgeries later, I had no more female reproductive organs left. If only I knew then what I know now!

Fast forward through years of vertigo and strange happenings to 2015. I was sitting down with my family watching a movie when I got a strange sensation. I tried to stand up, but I couldn’t . . . I fell back down to the couch. I tried to speak, but it came out slurred. Everyone, including me, thought I was stroking like my mom who had had 5 strokes. I was rushed to the ER where they quickly came to the same conclusion. The results of the MRI came back . . . no stroke. Well that was good news right? “Then what happened to me?” I asked. There was zero explanation.

I am not a hypochondriac, and I know I did not imagine what happened. I knew something was wrong even though the doctor couldn’t explain it. As I was leaving with my “clean bill of health,” he said, “You might want to follow up with a neurologist. You had some lesions on your brain, but a few lesions are normal at your age.” I left the hospital and thought, “Whatever.” And my trust in doctors plummeted even more.

In 2016 when we were living in Alabama, I finally went to another doctor where I was told I had high blood pressure and should go on medication. I ignored him and finally went to a neurologist. After tests, tests, and more tests, my doctor showed me my MRI, put her hand on my knee and said, “It looks like we are dealing with multiple sclerosis. Even though there is no cure, don’t be afraid, we have lots of new drugs to slow down the advancement of the disease.”

I did NOT want to be dependent of medications the rest of my life for MS and high blood pressure. So I went home and prayed and prayed that if there were another way, could I please be led to it. I also prayed for an open mind to what I found. Then I went to the temple and prayed some more. I decided medications would ONLY be my very last desperate option.

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“I have discovered the Fountain of Youth”

By: Jamie Douglass

My whole life, since I was 16, I have yo-yo dieted. I had a boyfriend tell me that I could lose a hundred pounds and I would still be fat. Even though I knew he was exaggerating on the amount, his message was very clear to me, you will never be skinny enough. So, I turned to the world in telling me how I should eat to look good and feel good. I have tried every diet out there, and I could never stick with any of them.

This last summer, I ordered a new diet supplement. I felt so crummy and was desperate to try anything. I had been dealing with years of chronic fatigue, chronic sinus infections, and chronic headaches. My new supplement came in the mail on a Thursday but on Friday I was starting a fast over a personal struggle and decided to wait to start the new supplement.

During my fast, I became surprised when I got an overwhelming feeling that I should not start the new diet supplement. Confused as to why I was getting these feelings when I wasn’t even thinking about that, the words entered my mind, “Jamie, the Lord has provided a Law of Health.” It was if a light bulb when on in my head, and I remember thinking, “Duh, the Word of Wisdom.” I went to D&C 89 and immediately gained greater insight into the diet portion of the Word of Wisdom and specifically the instruction on the use of meat. I was blown away that this portion of the Word of Wisdom has never really been discussed or talked about.

I grew up on a dairy farm and meat was a staple in our home. I love my parents, they are wonderful examples to me and I wouldn’t trade anything for my upbringing. There are so many benefits to growing up on a farm. Learning hard work was one of them. Anyway, two days later I was at a good friend’s home and as I was walking out the door she said, “I feel you need to read this book” and gave me the book Discovering the Word of Wisdom. I got halfway through the book and didn’t even finish it. I knew it was true and immediately transitioned over to a plant based diet. I have since been on a journey of diving deep into the doctrines and teachings of this part of the Word of Wisdom. I am a nurse and so I have also been studying the science side of a whole food, plant-based diet, as well as the benefits.

Six months later here are the results Read More→

“I have had easy weight loss without being hungry or having to track any calories”

By: Sarah Gale

I’ve struggled with health and weight for all of my married life. I joined Weight Watchers in 2002 and lost the 35 pounds of extra weight I had put on, but it was very slow going, difficult to do, and I was hungry and unhappy all the time. It also made me feel obsessed with food. I began having periods of binge eating and then starving myself to try and compensate. Five years into marriage, I got pregnant, something I wanted more than anything I had ever wanted. However, I ended up miscarrying that baby, which was horribly devastating to me. I turned to food for comfort, and promptly gained back all the 35 pounds I had lost. A year later, I was able to get pregnant again, and this time, the pregnancy worked out. However, I gained 40 pounds! I went back to Weight Watchers, and lost a lot of the weight, but the old feelings of deprivation came back, and I ended up on a binge and starve cycle again.

With our second child, I gained 30 pounds. I tried exercise, got into P90X and did it faithfully every day for 3 rounds of 90 days. I got strong and felt great, but I only lost 5 pounds!

After another miscarriage, I got pregnant again fairly soon. However, somewhere around the 18th week, I started noticing that I was very short of breath. The doctors and specialists couldn’t figure it out. Finally, I got a blessing from my husband, and he said the doctors would be able to find what was wrong. I soon learned I had a very rare tracheal stenosis, which required have multiple surgeries, ending in an extremely intense resection surgery and a high dose of steroids, which led to a dramatic weight gain.

To get my weight under control, I decided to try to the latest and greatest thing, the low carb diet. This time, I actually got a little nagging feeling in the back of my brain that this was not a good diet, and not what the Word of Wisdom taught, but I brushed it off. After recovering from the surgery, I started low carb, and the pounds just melted off. I lost 65 pounds in about 8 months, and was back to a healthy weight. Then with a fourth pregnancy, I was 100 pounds overweight!

About a year ago, I started getting back to the point where I could think about getting my weight under control and my health back. I didn’t want to do low carb again. I told my husband I just didn’t think it was in harmony with the Word of Wisdom. He rolled his eyes and said that part was outdated, and I shouldn’t worry about it! I decided to count calories with the MyFitnessPal app on my phone. I told myself I would eat three meals per day and no snacks, because snacking seems to be my downfall for binge eating . . . like the potato chips advertise, you can’t have just one! It worked very well, and I lost 65 pounds! But, again, it got difficult to keep it up!

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“I didn’t want the foods that harm my body and defeat my spirit”

By: Julianne Kravetz

Determination, willpower and resolve are all characteristics that help define moral fiber. These qualities often serve us well in life, driving success as we pursue dreams and aspirations – except when they don’t. Despite our greatest desire, determination, our best efforts, and even all the willpower we can muster, we sometimes fail. And some of us fail again and again, leaving us feeling hopeless and alone in a barren desert of despair. This was the place where I eventually found myself.

When I was a young mother, a book was recommended to me written by Dr. John McDougall. He proposed a plant-based diet for ultimate health and weight loss. He claimed that disease, illness and suffering was not an inevitable result of aging. If that were true, we could live with health and vitality – our food choices could help us avoid needless pain. To me, this “diet” was the Word of Wisdom exemplified.

I recognized the evidence of poor food choices which resulted in obesity, complications of which is the leading cause of death in this country. And yet, this was my struggle. My recurring efforts to become a “McDougaller” were taken up, then abandoned again and again. I thought then that it was just too hard, too time consuming, too inconvenient. My never-ending trudging up and down over the dunes of struggle revealed a trail of short-lived success – then failure with pockets full of sand. What would cause people to succumb to a lifestyle that would eventually lead to preventable diseases? I knew I wouldn’t consciously choose that path, and yet there I was.

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“The destroying angel has passed by me”

By: Wendy Hardy

Growing up, my family ate mostly whole foods with little junk food. We rarely had soda, cookies, or potato chips. We did have animal foods, but I hated to eat cheese, eggs, or milk. My health was very good overall. I spent a lot of time playing outside, jumping on the trampoline and riding my bike. I was physically active and involved in extracurricular activities such as softball and drill team.

The summer before I started 3rd grade I was bucked off of a horse and fractured my wrist. When I had the x-rays done the doctor said that my bones were brittle. I have a family history of low bone density on my mother’s side, and there are many family members on that side with a history of multiple fractures. However, I did not have any more incidents for many years.

When I received my patriarchal blessing as a young woman there were some things that really stood out to me. There are a few references to me receiving a healthy body. There was also instruction for me to “eat and drink only those things that ensure good health, and to abstain from all others.” I thought it was wonderful news that I had been given a healthy body. I didn’t really take the admonition too seriously though. I always enjoyed eating healthy food (although I didn’t really understand what things were healthy), but I didn’t abstain from any foods. I just didn’t have them very often (in my eyes).

As an adult, I’ve always been interested in health and diet. I love learning new things and if I feel like what I learn is beneficial then I will wholeheartedly adopt it into my life. Several years after starting our family I came across the book Nourishing Traditions. It teaches all about eating whole foods and taking time to prepare them for your family and how important that is. I read the book and a lot of it really resonated with me. There was great information about vegetables, grains, and beans. There was also a lot of information about dairy, meat, and eggs. It seemed to make sense to me.

After finding this information I started making changes in the way we were eating. We started using a lot of dairy products. After all, we are taught that dairy is important for bone health and our family had a history of bone density problems. In fact, some of my children have inherited this mutated gene for low bone density. Some of them have had multiple spinal compression fractures, so I wanted to make sure they were getting the best nutrition they could!

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“No food that causes me to be ill is worth it”

By: Robyn Grow

I’d like to share what I have learned through my experience with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Several years ago I began having soreness in my inner-thigh area. At first I thought that I had somehow pulled a muscle because I had been squatting down a lot as I was working with the first-graders that I teach. I decided that I was out of shape and that I should workout more to get rid of the soreness. The pain progressed to the extent that I had sharp pain radiating down my leg, sometimes both legs. I could not stand on one leg (like when I was putting on a shoe). I went to my regular physician’s assistant and was told that nothing was wrong and that people have aches and pains.

Later I noticed that my hands and feet began to feel as if they had been slammed in a door. I went to a rheumatologist and found that I had both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. The x-rays also concluded that I had osteitis pubis (a side effect of RA and osteo attacking my pubic joint). I began needing to use a cane to walk on most days because the pain seemed to be weight bearing. I felt like I was walking around with some kind of fracture (or sciatic nerve down both legs). I had the pain all of the time. I could no longer teach, and I began to feel like my quality of life was slipping away from me. I began visiting an endless succession of doctors and enduring the usual required MRI, X-rays and CAT scans. All the experts agreed that I had a problem, but they didn’t have any healing solutions for me. Instead, they only offered me drugs, mostly biologics (which is mild form chemo) like Methotrexate and steroid injections. Since I am in my early 50’s, these drugs were scary for me because of the long-term dangers associated with them. I chose to take a daily antibiotic (hydroxichloriquin) that kept the rheumatoid under better control and gave me more energy to focus on walking normally again.

I spoke with a physiologist, and she told me that every pound that I lose would take 6-8 pounds of pressure off of my joints. I thought to myself, “That sounds like an easy way to lift some of the immense pain that I am feeling.” So, I began a journey to feel better by losing 30 pounds. Losing 30 pounds is equivalent to 180 pounds of pressure off of my aching joints. The weight-loss did lift some of the pain, however I was still in jeopardy of losing my ability to walk as the pain was still there every time I stood, walked or tried to lift anything.

I went the full route in using homeopathic remedies. Each time I tried a new combination, I stuck to it for 2-3 months. I never really felt like there was any cure or relief in using any of them. I also used several of the miracle cures, drinks, and concoctions. Most didn’t help, and some of them even made me very ill. Through research I learned that if you have a serious condition, some homeopathics can actually block your prescribed medications, so natural remedies should be run by the prescribing doctor first. After about a year and a half of this, the only natural remedies that proved helpful to me were turmeric and ginger.

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“I am 110 pounds lighter”

By: Brad Clark

In March 2013 I was 43 years old, 281 pounds, eating the standard American diet, working long hours, and generally not taking care of myself. My wife and five kids (aged 5 to 15) were used to my low levels of energy and high levels of frustration. I had recently given up on yet another diet program sponsored by my work which “worked” because I’d lost 20 lbs on it, but it was also a failure because just like the dozens of times I’d tried to lose weight before I’d put the weight back on. And that is when I started to notice some discomfort when I’d try any activity more than casual walking.

At first I just thought it was a new low in my level of fitness and that if I stuck it out and got on a treadmill I could raise my fitness. But no, the pain persisted. It took more than a month for me to get the guts up to make an appointment with my primary care physician. The day I called to make the appointment the receptionist asked why I wanted to visit. The alarm in her voice as I explained my symptoms—and the fact that she made an appointment for me to see him the same day—scared me even more.

I worked in the middle of San Francisco, so leaving for the doctor mid-day meant having to walk almost a mile to the BART (transit) station. On the walk I was alarmed that the pain I had been hoping to brush under the rug was now intense enough that I was relieved each time I got to stop at the crosswalk. The reality of my situation was finally sinking in, and I knew I was in trouble. That was Wednesday, May 22, 2013. By that Friday I was on my cardiologist’s treadmill and though the official diagnosis took a little longer to receive, that Friday is also the last time I’ve eaten any animal products and the day I started on my return journey to health.

Having lost both parents to heart disease I had previously researched preventative programs. Years earlier I had even followed the Ornish program for about six months before falling off of it. But because of that experience, the day I was diagnosed with heart disease I knew exactly what I needed to do and was finally motivated enough to do it.

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“You no longer need to be on insulin!”

By: Helen Bileen

All of my adult life my health has had its ups and downs. I’m sure many factors contributed to the lack of consistency with my health. During my annual visits to the doctors, they wrote in their reports that I was managing my pre-diabetes with diet and exercise. I’m a full-blooded Native American of the Navajo Nation. Type 2 diabetes is running rampant among my people. I know too many people who were diagnosed with this disease and eventually died. I used a low carb diet and walking to control blood sugar level and weight. It worked for a short period of time, and my numbers (i.e., blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.) would always plateau. Then with a busy lifestyle, I reverted back to eating comfort foods.

After I retired from my career, I served a full-time mission for the LDS Church. One day I was complaining to a missionary friend about my lack of sleep, feeling tired, and my craving for more food. She invited me to her whole food plant-based support group which included missionaries and local people. My first impression was that it was too restrictive. I knew I was addicted to food, and I just couldn’t imagine limiting my diet to whole food plant-based. I needed a brownie or chocolate chip cookie at least once a week. Where I served there was always food everywhere: in the Zone office, the cafeteria, potluck dinners, and dining out. I strived to limit myself to eating comfort foods in smaller portions. Even though I had good intentions, I was not always successful!

After serving two and a half years, I temporarily moved in with my son and his family. Naturally, I ate what my family ate. Also, people in the community drove to their destinations. Therefore, I naturally walked less. It was different from serving a mission in downtown metropolitan city where I walked everywhere.

After five months, I began feeling symptoms of type 2 diabetes that previous doctors had taught me through the years. Finally, in March I made an appointment to see a health care provider at a Public Health Service. Since I was new to their clinic they took my blood and urine samples for tests. My new health care provider was astonished to see my numbers. At the time, my weight was about 147 pounds. He was surprised that my A1c was 14 (normal is below 5.7)! The other numbers were also not within normal range. He didn’t tell me I was pre-diabetic which is what I was expecting to hear. No, this time I was full-blown diabetic! He gave me a choice of taking insulin or Metformin to control my diabetes. Years ago I had my gallbladder removed and the doctor prescribed Metformin for me to begin taking on a regular basis. It had side effects that made me feel sick. Therefore, I told him I would try the insulin, and he assured me that there would be no side effects. At the time, I was totally naïve. I trusted my health care provider.

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“I felt prompted to really read the Word of Wisdom”

By: Julie Haws

About four years ago I started experiencing some chest pain. Being a dietitian, I search for nutrition-related answers to health problems. I read The China Study and also Dr. Esselstyn’s book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease and followed this diet very strictly for about a year. Following this diet was an adjustment at first, but I was motivated because my symptoms went away, and I felt wonderful. People told me I glowed. Then I got pregnant with my third child. I experienced nausea and also extreme fatigue for much of my pregnancy. I normally rarely eat fast food or eat at restaurants, but I did during this pregnancy because of my symptoms.

A few months after having my daughter Amy I found I could not stand for more than a few minutes at a time without experiencing dizziness, sweating, and chest pain. After a year we discovered I had a condition called POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome), which is basically a fainting disorder. I never fainted, but I would get close to it. I had days and weeks where I had to spend most of my days sitting or lying down. Anyone who has had 3 children under 5 years old knows what a challenge it was. It was truly debilitating. I couldn’t cook, clean, or shop much for about a year. My husband and family helped out a lot. When I started having these symptoms I did start to follow Dr. Esselstyn’s diet again, but I was not quite as strict with my diet, and I ate meat still a few times a week. My symptoms were about 60% better.

During this time I read my scriptures a lot and prayed and fasted that my body could heal completely. I had to fast with water or my symptoms would get very severe. I still was not able to stand for long periods of time and still had unpredictable spells. Around the time of my 40th birthday, I felt prompted to really read the Word of Wisdom. While reading it the following phrase stuck out to me.

Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly; And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine. (D&C 89:12–13)

This surprised me, and I wondered why before I had only read up to the word “sparingly” and stopped there? What is the definition of sparingly? The Word of Wisdom specifies what sparingly means, “only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.” And then it repeats this counsel again in verse 15, “And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.”

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“Wisdom comes in the righteous use of our agency”

By: Bruce Roberts

Beginning in October of 2015 I had one of those trying years that make you sit back and ask, “Why me?” After the challenge has passed and you have time to analyze what has happened to you, you start to realize that there is a learning process in this life that causes us to be humble enough to receive light and knowledge from Heavenly Father and Jesus. It is kind of, as the old saying goes, “When the student is ready the teacher appears.” In this case, I am the student, and the Holy Ghost is the teacher.

My family and I were out camping at East Canyon Resort. My brother Jeff and I decided to go fishing down at the Lake. The fish were jumping like crazy and in my excitement, I forgot to be extra careful. The way down to the lake from the road was quite treacherous, especially for a guy 73 years old. I slipped and fell, shattering my ankle. It took nine men to carry me out strapped to a board. Then the ambulance hauled me to Ogden Regional Hospital, and they performed surgery. The funny part of all this was that while lying on the banks of the reservoir, the thing that I was afraid of most was that the TV Channel 2 helicopter might be coming, and I might end up on the nightly news. While in the ER, my son Monte told me that didn’t matter because I was already all over Facebook. The family in Denmark had even seen me lying on the banks of the Lake and had responded with sympathy. Well so much for privacy.

The next few months were stressful. I wasn’t allowed to drive for three months so I did a lot of reading and not a lot of moving around except for the physical therapy sessions. Whenever we are inactive in anything we seem to go backwards. In a lot of situations in life we become careless. The inactivity and my lack of paying attention to what I was eating, and the amounts I was eating, apparently took its toll. I really bulked up. I look at it now as an experience that set me up for something to come that was life changing in a big way. After coming back from the Pac 12 basketball tournament in Las Vegas in March 2016, I wasn’t feeling well. Yes, I pigged-out at the buffets (to get my $ worth). It does not take long to send caution to the wind, and your life changes.

I had been considering writing a book on the Word of Wisdom for several years and had done a lot of studying and gathering of information, when in April, I came across a book on the internet I hadn’t seen before. It was called, Discovering the Word of Wisdom: Surprising Insights from a Whole Food, Plant-based Perspective by Jane Birch. My interest was immediately peeked! I ordered two copies, one for each of us, because my wife Helen fills hers with sticky notes. We read the book and were astonished. We both had a spiritual witness. It was many of my very thoughts, and I am sure, written and put together better than I would ever have done. I also believe Heavenly Father got tired of waiting for me to get it done, and the message is critical for our happiness and for our time here in the Last Days.

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