Author Archive for Jane Birch – Page 2

“I walked out of the doctor’s office completely crushed”

olga-maletina-and-dan-almeidaBy: Olga Maletina

I’m from Russia; my husband is from Brazil. We were attending BYU-Provo when our health reached its lowest point. I had started getting alarmed a few years prior to that when we were getting our first life insurance and my husband was placed in the “smoker” category due to his high cholesterol even though he had never smoked in his life. We knew he had a history of heart disease in his family, but at that time we didn’t know what to do about it and just continued our lives as usual, hoping for the best. We didn’t know that it was the food we were eating that was making us sick.

Since our arrival to the United States, we had gradually moved away from the simpler, mostly homemade foods we had in our home countries (mainly rice and beans for my husband, and buckwheat, potatoes and vegetables for me). Years went by and our blood test results were coming out worse and worse. Our weight, cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar were gradually going up, while our energy levels and the quality of life was slowly going down. Finally, my husband’s cholesterol reached an alarming 263 points when he was only 26!

My cholesterol was not as high as my husband’s, but I started having other health issues that were even scarier. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and was put on thyroid medication. Aside from my hypothyroidism symptoms (terrible night sweats, lack of energy, loss of hair), I also had ovarian cysts and an overactive bladder. I was overweight and started wearing prescription glasses. Time was passing by, and my health was not getting much better. The thyroid medication helped with the night sweats and constant chills, but my energy and the other symptoms still remained.

I cut out the soda and decided I’d try to watch what I eat: count calories, switch to low-fat dairy foods, and try to eat less carbs. In order to lose weight, I tried the low calorie diet, the hCG diet, exercise, the Paleo diet and the Jorge Cruise diet. I even met with a dietitian, but nothing helped my symptoms and the weight kept going up. I remember feeling so powerless. Why couldn’t I get any results? I was trying so hard!

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“I am getting younger instead of older”

lily-sparksDo you have a story to tell? Inspire others by sharing it. Please contact me. Thanks! Jane

By: Lily Sparks

In the late summer of 2010, I went onto the web to look up something to help me. I was overweight and obese, with high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and high cholesterol. My glucose blood test had inched out of the average range and into the prediabetes range. Everything hurt . . . my joints, my muscles. Getting out of bed in the morning hurt so bad if I did not take lots of grape seed. My knees were helped by glucosamine and chondroitin. I spent quite a bit of money every month buying the supplements so I would not hurt or at least reduce the aches and pain. I just accepted it as part of growing older even though it started in my late forties. I received enough relief with the supplements that my life just went on, and I accepted it.

Being overweight was the biggest fight. I had lost weight using Atkins, hCG, and counting calories. I would successfully lose weight, but those diets are not sustainable so when I went back to my regular eating, which always happened, I would gain the weight back and more. I tried to watch what I would eat, but I liked food and even after I ate a full meal I would be hungry in an hour and a half. I could not understand how I could be hungry again after a full meal. I think that happened because of the lack of good nutrition in the meal. I think my body was saying, “You gave me bulk but no nutrition.” Sometimes I just ate what I wanted because I was tired of fighting it.

I got so I would not weigh myself because I was afraid to know how much I weighed. I think I got to 220 lbs and wore a size 20 or 22.

I was not happy. Read More→

“My wife and I felt a yearning to know God better”

josh-wagner-familyBy: Josh Wagner

A little over a year-and-a-half ago, my wife Jamie and I felt a yearning to know God better. We began praying for help to make significant changes to be closer to Him and experience more of the gifts of the Spirit. We had no idea the Lord would answer those prayers by telling us to change how we eat.

This is how it happened: a little after Jamie and I started praying for this, we were reading scriptures with the kids while we ate dinner (we’ve learned that combining meal and scripture time reduces the chance that the kids will run off while we read). As was typical in our house (and most American houses), we were eating a protein-centric dish named for the meat it was built around.

On that particular day, I chose to read this section of holy writ which says the Lord wants us to joyfully use the things of the earth—plants and animals—to sustain and enrich our lives. But then comes this stern warning: “For unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion” (v. 20). A clear message from heaven pierced my mind to the core, “The way you eat meat is excess and extortion.”

This freaked me out. Read More→

“I hoped it would help with the IBS”

joseph-peterson-familyBy: Joseph Peterson

I always thought I ate a fairly healthy diet. Coming from a larger family, my mom always cooked homemade meals, and I just assumed that if it was homemade, it was healthy. After going off to college, I had to begin cooking for myself, which was usually just whatever was easiest, which was anything from spaghetti to frozen dinners. Then on my mission in Monterrey, Mexico, we would either eat at the homes of Church members or buy tacos on the street. The food where I served in Mexico always contained lots of meat and lots of grease. At one point in my mission, my health got so bad because of the food there that I had to be hospitalized. At the time, however, I thought it was just one bad meal with lots of bacteria. I didn’t stop to think that how I ate everyday affected my life so much.

When I got married, my wife and I were just never motivated to cook for ourselves very often since it was just the two of us, so we would usually go out to eat or cook some kind of frozen meal. After a while of that, my wife got better at cooking homemade meals just about every night, but we would still eat meat and lots of cheese and things like that.

Then just last year, I heard my parents talking about a diet they were starting that they were very impressed with. It was the whole food, plant-based diet. At first, I didn’t really think I needed anything like that, since I have always been a pretty skinny, healthy guy. At most I weighed 165, and I’m 5’9’’, so about average. However, my whole life I’ve also suffered from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). I have been to many doctors who would just tell me to experiment with different pills, but none of them really worked.

After several months on their new diet, my parents were saying they lost around 40 pounds each and were feeling much better! I was shocked! I have always followed my parents example my whole life and seeing how much this new diet had changed their lives, I wanted to partake of the blessings too. While I didn’t need to lose weight, I hoped it would help with the IBS.

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“I used to think people that LIKED running were strange”

elisabeth-barlowBy: Elisabeth Barlow

My food history could be summed up by the phrase “meat and potatoes,” as long as we were talking about fried potatoes. I liked meat, dairy, chips, cookies, white bread, sugar, etc. and was a generally picky eater. As a teenager, I remember opening a bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos after school and eating most of the bag by myself. I am shocked I didn’t end up with more health problems, but I was a typical teenage girl who didn’t want to eat her veggies.

Once I was married, the pounds started to creep on. By the time I was pregnant with my first child, I was 10-15 pounds heavier than when I got married. After the baby was born, I had a lot of weight to lose, but I didn’t do anything until my baby was almost two years old and I realized I was as heavy as I was when I was full-term pregnant. I joined Weight Watchers online because I thought it was a safe and effective way to lose weight. I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight after a few months, but I quit once I reached my goal and wanted to stop paying a monthly fee and obsessively track everything I ate. I went through the same cycle with each successive pregnancy until after my fourth baby which is when I found a better way!

I started thinking about my relationship to food after watching the Overcoming Addiction series that was put out by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. One of those videos was about a woman that overcame food addiction. I had never thought I had a food addiction, but I often felt like if I started eating a package of cookies or chips, I could never stop with just one or two! Many times I felt like the only thing that would relieve my stress was chocolate or a bakery item high in fat and sugar. I craved meals heavy in cheese and bacon. Although I knew I wasn’t eating the healthiest foods every day, I was resistant to anything that said to stop eating meat. I had read the Word of Wisdom before and knew that I could eat meat sparingly and that animals are for our use.

However, I was also worried about my health. I had a yearly blood draw coming up as part of our insurance requirements, and I wanted to be able to improve my numbers and not have to pay a surcharge if I had worse results than the year before. My post-baby weight loss had stalled, and to top it off I got sick with a horrible stomach virus or food poisoning and had to take two days off of work to recover. So, in March of 2016 when I found Forks Over Knives on Netflix, I was determined to try a whole food, plant-based diet. Now that I have been eating that way for 6, going on 7 months, I want to recap everything that has changed for me.

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“I had the good fortune to get food poisoning”

claron-twitchellBy: Claron Jon Twitchell, Sr.

I grew up with a standard American diet typical of the 1950s and 60s—certainly better than what most people eat today. It was home cooking, not fast food. There was not a focus though on how to apply the Word of Wisdom to our diet.

I remember when I first read Doctrine and Covenants Section 89, probably when I was a twelve-year-old deacon, I thought, “We have bacon for breakfast, sandwiches with lunch meat for lunch, and chicken or beef for supper. That doesn’t seem like eating meat sparingly to me. Where is the famine?” That was in the back of my mind, but I didn’t do anything about it until I was in my forties.

When I was in my mid-forties, my main fitness activity was riding my bicycle. I commuted to work two or three times a week when the weather was okay, which gave me a baseline of four to six hours of vigorous activity each week. I threw in some recreational basketball, yard work and a little hiking and such. I still had a standard American diet: meat, a little fast food, dairy, eggs, and so forth.

I felt fairly healthy, however, I was still gaining a few pounds each year after age 37. I started thinking, “I need to do something different or I am going to soon pass 200 pounds.” I drew a line in the sand to stay under 200 pounds and started thinking, “What should I do?” With a job, a family, and church responsibilities, I just didn’t want to spend more time exercising.

I started thinking that I might need to change my diet some way. My diet tended toward a “see food diet.” I pretty much ate whatever was in front of me until I was full. It occurred to me that there were a fair amount of calories in the meat that I ate. Then there was that thought in the back of my mind since my youth, that we weren’t really following the Word of Wisdom with eating meat. Now the stage was set.

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“Max told me to go home and read the Word of Wisdom 20 times”

ryan-egbertBy: Ryan Egbert

My health journey started when I was 13. My best friend and I challenged each other to go one month without carbonation. After succeeding I realized there was no point in starting again when everyone knows it is healthier to not drink carbonation. It was a small challenge for me but before long I had fully adapted, and I had no desire to drink carbonated drinks.

Around the same time a school teacher showed us a video of the ironman triathlon held in Hawaii. I remember seeing people in their 80’s accomplishing this amazing physical challenge. For weeks after I thought to myself, “I want to be that healthy when I am a grandpa.” I wondered how someone became that healthy. I thought mostly about the exercise program and hadn’t considered that diet might be the primary issue.

At the age of 16, a friend’s father mentioned meeting someone who competes in the Ironman. I jumped all over the opportunity and arranged a meeting.

Max Burdick (known as IronMax) was a 76-year-old man who didn’t just shake your hand; it became a tug of war to pull you over. Max started our conversation by telling me his story. He was dying of cancer around the age of 40. An acquaintance from his high school came to visit him in the hospital. He told Max that his father had been diagnosed with cancer. His father prayed and fasted and went to the temple. He believed that God knew how to cure his cancer. Finally he had a spiritual experience in reading that “the destroying angel will pass them by” (D&C 89:21) and knew that the Word of Wisdom was God’s answer to how he could overcome his cancer. Max’s friend had used the same diet to overcome his cancer and now he was telling it to Max. He told me he realized what an “outrageous” claim he was making, but that he was living proof that it is true.

He told Max to read D&C 89 twenty or so times before he came back to visit him. Max read and upon meeting again Max learned the diet. After a few months on this diet, Max said the doctors claimed it was a miracle because he was cancer free.

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“Some days I feel so good, I can’t believe how good I feel”

pattsy-dayleyBy: Pattsy Dayley

I am originally from Oklahoma and am now 77 years old. I grew up eating lots of fried food. We had biscuits made from white flour and gravy. The gravy was made using bacon fat, lard or sausage or hamburger. Whatever we had, mom would fix. We ate plenty of beans and cornbread, but she added lots of bacon fat, ham, or fatback. Whatever little meat we had, she added it. Mom grew a garden and cooked with lots of vegetables, but they were heavy laden with fat. We used canned milk to make gravy. As we had babies, we used it for baby formula.

As a child I had lots of croup and tonsillitis, and my legs hurt all the time. My mom would rub them to give me some relief. She gave me cod liver oil to help my bones and then when we had sore throat, she would swab our throats with Merthiolate. For croup, she gave us a spoonful of sugar with two drops of kerosene added to it. It worked so I was able to breathe.

I had low energy levels even as a child. In my early 20s, I had some lumps removed from both breasts and under each arm. Thankfully, they were benign. At 25 I had a tonsillectomy, at 32 a hysterectomy. In my 40’s, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. My asthma came back about the same time. In my 50’s, I had my gallbladder removed. All this time I was still suffering with leg pain and then I was diagnosed with nerve problems; the doctor called it Morton’s neuroma. He wanted to remove the nerve. I refused. By this age I was tired of being cut on.

I tried being a vegetarian, and it helped. I felt better. With my family not doing the same diet, I went back to SAD (Standard American Diet). I also went back to lots of pain. The past two years I spent a lot of time in bed. I wasn’t able to walk far and had horrible stomach pains. The doctor prescribed Omeprazole generic stomach medicine. It didn’t help at all. I changed doctors. He thought I was gluten intolerant. I tried the gluten-free diet, and it helped the swelling in my stomach, but I still had horrible pain.

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“I haven’t had a single migraine headache in years”

Stacey PetersonBy: Stacey Peterson

My journey to a whole food, plant based diet was a gradual process that began in 2010 and took six years to fully implement. Nights home alone plus a Netflix subscription led me to watch several food and diet-related documentaries over the years such as Hungry For Change, Fed Up, Food, Inc., and one of my favorites, Forks Over Knives. For the first time in my life I started to actually think about what I was putting into my body and how it was affecting me. I’d never struggled with my weight, but I knew that weight wasn’t the only indicator of health, and I did suffer with frequent and debilitating sinus infections and migraine headaches. I didn’t feel right about the powerful medications and their frightening side effects that doctors were prescribing for me. I really felt strongly that my body wasn’t designed to be sick and that my ailments would benefit more from prevention than from questionable medications to mask the symptoms.

As I read and researched for my own health, I couldn’t help but think about my babies—the loves of my life who I would do anything and everything to protect. When I set plates of food in front of them, I wondered if what I was putting into their bodies was helping or hurting them. What was I teaching them that “food” is? How was I training their taste buds? Since I was choosing their food, did that mean I was also choosing health consequences for their little bodies that could possibly last a lifetime, without their say in the matter?

I continued reading books on nutrition, studying, learning, and gradually replacing harmful ingredients with better choices one at a time as my knowledge increased. I think high fructose corn syrup was the first thing to go. Hey, we all have to start somewhere! One change led to another, and by the time 2016 rolled around, I couldn’t remember the last time the inside of our fridge had seen a gallon of cow’s milk, a carton of eggs, a block of cheese, or a piece of meat. They had been replaced by a wide variety of whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, fruits, and vegetables, and we were enjoying our meals more than ever before. We sure had come a long way since the high fructose corn syrup ban!

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Taking Life

Beautiful Animals Looking at CameraThis article is part of an occasional series on “Word of Wisdom Reflections.” You can also read Steve Reed’s plant-based conversion story.

By: Steve Reed

I wrote most of this back in 2014 but haven’t published it until now. In fact there was a lot more history before and after this, but I feel like this one experience was a big turning point for me. Few people know about this experience, and even fewer know the details which I’m going to attempt to convey. This event happened about 15 years ago while I was a full-time missionary.

After I share this story, I want to wrap up by exploring what doctrine, principles, and applications relate to this subject.

Winter of 2000

My companion and I were trying to reach out to a less active young man on a small Idaho farm. We got on the conversation of animals and he mentioned that they would be cooking some goat soon for Christmas dinner. My companion, who was Fijian, mentioned that he was an expert at killing pigs and could kill the goat in seconds. The young man and I were impressed with the claim and decided to put my companion to the test.

The day came and we met out at the farm, I was anxious to witness this spectacle of my companion slaying a goat with the skill and finesse that he claimed. I came from Texas where hunting is a big deal and I wanted to see how they did things island-style. We walked out to the goat pen and a large goat was selected. I volunteered to take the rope and lasso the goat, and nailed him perfectly right around the horns. My companion had a habit of calling me “Texas Ranger” and my apparent skill with the lasso caused him to excitedly exclaim, “You ARE the Texas Ranger!”

We pulled the goat out of the pen as it struggled against us. I yanked him around like the dumb animal he was while his fellow-goats cowered away.

We pulled the goat down to the ground and my companion straddled it while I held its head to the ground. A medium-sized knife was handed to my companion. I watched as he took a deep breath, while aiming the instrument and sincerely whispering the words, “Sorry, goat.” With a swift jerk, he thrust the knife into the chest of the animal and it let out a disturbing cry of pain while fiercely fighting against us. The cry was jarring, and although this was just an animal in my mind, I couldn’t help but imagine the exact same sound and physical reaction from a person being stabbed in the same way. I held the goat’s head down firmly and looked into its eyes.

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