Like most Mormons, I grew up thinking I knew exactly what the Word of Wisdom said. My life was half over before I realized there is SO MUCH MORE to this precious revelation than I ever imagined!
My passion for the Word of Wisdom was sparked by discovering a “heart-attack proof” diet, otherwise known as a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diet. Careful study of the scientific literature convinced me that this diet not only prevents heart disease but also most of the other common chronic diseases rampant in our society (like diabetes, strokes, obesity, kidney disease, arthritis, and many types of cancer). I became so convinced that this is that way humans should be eating that I decided I better start eating this way myself.
As my diet changed, I quickly lost weight. Within seven months, I lost 25 pounds, which was ALL of the remaining weight I had gained since graduating from high school over 30 years earlier. I discovered that not only was I losing weight but literally every health issue I had disappeared. And I was feeling great—full of energy and vitality. As I read about the experience of others on this diet, I learned that they all had the same experience: they eliminated disease, reached their ideal weight, gained energy, and felt fantastic!
It was only after I discovered this magnificent diet that I realized EVERYTHING I was now learning was already contained in D&C 89, the revelation known as the Word of Wisdom. It was then that I realized that this diet is not only key to helping us reach our highest physical potential, but it is also key to helping us achieve our highest spiritual potential. As Elder Russell M. Nelson said in the October 2013 General Conference, the decisions you make in how you care for your body will “determine your destiny” because “your body is the temple for your spirit. And how you use your body affects your spirit.”
As I began sharing my experience with other Mormons, they too found interesting connections between the WFPB diet and the Word of Wisdom. Eventually my exploration of the relationship between this diet and D&C 89 spurred me to write more about the Word of Wisdom. As I shared my writing with friends and colleagues, many of them encouraged me to turn it into a book.
The book is now a reality: Discovering the Word of Wisdom: Surprising Insights from a Whole Food, Plant-based Perspective. This book is my journey, and the journey of many other Latter-day Saints, in discovering the Word of Wisdom. It is an exploration of the verses of D&C 89 that we often skip over in our discussions of the Word of Wisdom, even though these verses are just as important to receiving the promised blessings as all the “don’ts” with which we are so familiar.
More About Me
I’m the oldest of nine, four brothers and four sisters, and the aunt of lots of beautiful nieces and nephews. My parents and siblings are all supportive of my whole food plant based (WFPB) lifestyle, and some of them are giving it a try!
I live in Provo, Utah and have served as Assistant Director of the Brigham Young University Faculty Center since 1996. As a faculty developer, I work with all of the faculty at BYU, but I have worked most extensively with new BYU faculty. We support them in every stage of their career, over a wide spectrum of their professional responsibilities. The best part of my job is helping faculty explore the relationship between the gospel of Jesus Christ and their work as teachers and scholars.
I have a PhD, but it is not in nutrition. I’ve discovered we do not need advanced degrees to learn how to eat the way God intended for us to eat. In fact, given the current academic prejudices, having a PhD in nutrition can be stumbling block.
Through my work in faculty development at BYU I associate with literally hundreds of professors, most of whom have PhDs, so I know from personal experience that having a PhD, even being an expert in nutrition, does not necessarily mean a person is more enlightened about the meaning of D&C 89 or understands the optimal diet for human beings.
Intelligence does not necessarily make a person more wise about what they eat or how disciplined they are. Believe me, I know. As part of the seminars and workshops we provide to faculty, we often serve meals, and I’ve been to literally hundreds of food events with BYU professors. They are welcome to give us special food requests, but it is rare for anyone to ask us if they could please have food that is actually the most nutritious for our bodies. Some complain about the rich desserts we sometimes serve, but hardly anyone fails to consume them.
What I bring to this effort is my testimony of the gospel, my love for the Savior, my passion for the WFPB diet, and my joy in helping others discover the Word of Wisdom. I have researched both the Word of Wisdom and WFPB diets meticulously. I know the literature well. I have now discussed this diet with hundreds of people, mostly through one-on-one exchanges and have been delighted to find so much interest.
I love the plan of salvation and the opportunity each of us has to participate in something as grand as building the Kingdom of God on earth. I sincerely believe that “waking up” to the Word of Wisdom is a critical part of preparing the Saints for the last days and the coming of our Savior.
Jane’s Writings on the Word of Wisdom
Jane’s Whole Food, Plant-based Story
Presentations by Jane Birch
I love speaking on the Word of Wisdom. Check this out if you’d like to invite me to speak to a group.