Archive for Stories

“I had begun getting whisperings from the spirit”

By: Alethea Galke

I first heard of whole food, plant-based (WFPB) eating from a friend who recommended the book How Not to Die. I bought it but didn’t read it. A few months later she encouraged us again, and I took the book with us on our three-day drive to take our son to the MTC. I read it to my husband as he drove. He is a Family Practice physician, and he was impressed with all of the studies the book contains to back up the claims. After reading 1 1/2 chapters on how to cure diseases, we didn’t need to read any more; we believed!

We believed so much that we began on that trip to eat WFPB the very best we could. We arrived home June 5, 2016, and the next day I went out and put together a whole new WFPB menu, and having faith, I went shopping. One year later we are still faithfully eating WFPB; we love it!

I had been working my way up to WFPB over the years; I just didn’t know it. I found that the older I got the less I wanted to eat meat. With four boys, Five Guys was a special treat for the family. I was tired of hamburgers. I didn’t like them. Once or twice I ordered a hot dog, but I didn’t like that meat either. I found I could pile a small burger with jalapeños, mushrooms, lettuce, onions (both grilled and raw), and lots of sauce to hide the taste of the meat. I never added cheese because I wasn’t really a fan. I would eat it, but if I had a choice I would decline. I would serve soups without meat, but my husband complained he was still hungry. I found a compromise by opening a bottle of shredded chicken, warming it up and setting it on the table for “anyone that wants meat” to add to their soup. When we switched to WFPB eating my husband’s palate changed so quickly. He loved the flavors and looked forward to what I would prepare. He didn’t even miss the meat.

We have always been fairly healthy. Even now, in our 50s, we have no aches or pains, no diseases, no pills. We are healthy. I have always had very low blood pressure, but it has been slowly creeping up. I had gone to the doctor shortly before starting WFPB eating and was concerned that it was higher than usual, now up in the slightly high range. Nine months after starting WFPB eating I went to the doctor for a regular check up, and my blood pressure was completely normal. I know it was because of our new eating lifestyle. I am so grateful.

Read More→

“I kept questioning why I was led to this way of eating”

By: Brittney Fairbourn

Ever since college, I have steadily pursued information about healthy eating (all while eating pretty terribly). I started with a small goal to drink more water during the day. Almost anything was better than what I was doing. I got pretty good at drinking water, and it became my primary source of hydration. I slowly changed my diet over time to include whole grains and more fruits and vegetables as I read about the benefits they provide.

While nursing my third baby, who had terrible reflux, I tried quitting dairy to lessen her misery. Letting go of some foods (milk) were easier than others (cheese, chocolate, and ice cream). I wasn’t perfect at it, but this ban on dairy gave me a small success that helped my journey; I proved to myself that it was possible to change my diet in a way that seemed absolutely impossible at the outset.

Around the same time, I started to study the Word of Wisdom. I was struck by all the counsel I had missed. Most of all, my eyes were opened when I learned that God is pleased when we do not use animals for food.

The sanctity of animal life had never crossed my mind before, but now I realized every creature’s life has value. I realized that if I do eat animals, I need to be much more grateful for the life that was given so I could have that meal. I also realized that if I were required to butcher my own animals, you can bet I would hardly ever have meat.

I started to eat less meat and bought less for my family. I didn’t really have a desire to eat it anymore, but I wasn’t sure how to cook without it either. So I started cooking dairy-rich meals to fill the meat void.

About a year ago, I chose to read The China Study for a book club. This book changed me. The strong correlation between consumption of animal products and incidence of chronic illness, especially cancer, really stood out to me. Eating plants to prevent all types of illness made a lot of sense. All those “Milk does a body good” ads came to my mind, and I felt sad that Americans have been lied to for so many years. Everything I read in the book made me think about the Word of Wisdom.

Read More→

“God answers our prayers in his time and not ours”

Alicia JackmanBy: Alicia Jackman

I have always thought of myself as being a healthy person. I enjoy exercising a little each day and eating healthy foods. In 2007, after having my second child, I was having weird bowel issues and was surprised when I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Doctors told me that it happens to some people and might not be a big deal throughout my life. I was prescribed four gigantic pills daily, which the doctor intended for me to take the rest of my life, and I came to terms that this was a disease I had. I took these pills daily and the disease didn’t seem to be bother me after that for years.

Six months after having my third child and being called as the ward organist, my fingers and hands started to swell and be hot. My fingers gradually got so swollen and stiff that it was too hard to keep playing the organ. Eventually I had to ask to be released from this calling, which really saddened me. I couldn’t open jars or button buttons. My knees and hips hurt so bad I couldn’t get on the floor to play with my kids, and I would cry in pain and frustration daily. I also started falling asleep for hours at a time. This scared me as I was home with three little children. When I was awake, I felt like an 80-year-old lady, when I was only in my early 30’s.

Alicia Jackman-Husband's Ring Doesn't Fit

Husband’s wedding ring doesn’t fit, and I can’t wear my wedding ring for over 9 months

I finally saw my family doctor, then specialists, and it took months for them to figure out what was wrong. In 2010 I was diagnosed with a type of rheumatoid arthritis that the doctors determined must be related to my ulcerative colitis. Doctors told me that I had an autoimmune disease and that my body would continue to attack itself in my joints, then could move to other organs, which would eventually kill me. My doctors prescribed medication to suppress my immune system which they said was the only way to lessen these attacks.

Alicia Jackman-Feet

Weird hives/rash on feet

Read More→

“I have learned that our bodies are remarkable!”

Yessenia OrnelasBy: Yessenia Ornelas

My journey started when my husband and I were living in Provo, Utah. I was getting ready to finally bring my little premature baby home from the hospital four months after he was born. I remember wanting to take so many pictures of him, but I despised the idea of taking any pictures of myself with him because of how I felt about myself. I was very overweight, and I somehow felt that my being overweight and not healthy had played a hand in my preterm labor.

Like most people, I love eating out and trying new places. Growing up, I was told to eat all the food on my plate and not to be picky or wasteful. As a result, I ate as much as possible, and, as you can guess, the weight piled on quickly. I knew it was wrong for me to have such negative feelings about myself and that I needed to make changes if I wanted to see myself more positively. I became determined to do better. I wanted to only do this for health so I was not going to worry how fast or slow I got results.

I didn’t know much about eating healthy, just what you mostly hear, which is eating more vegetables. So I started there and then figured that perhaps I was eating too much meat and started to cut down my intake to only twice a week and just fish and chicken. My Pinterest board became filled with some vegetarian meals and lots of chicken and fish meals that I looked forward to each week. I was consistent with exercising and managed to lose 45 lbs with my own efforts.

During this time of learning about health, I talked with a good friend of mine, Olga Maletina, who was also living in student housing at BYU. I had heard she was a vegan and thought it was interesting so I was intrigued to learn why she had made a switch to that way of eating. She told me about her health benefits and how good she felt. At the time I felt that perhaps it would be too extreme for me and that I would continue to do what I was doing.

Read More→

“I am free!”

Cristie CarterBy: Cristie Carter

While I was a child growing up my father was in the produce business so fruits and vegetables were in abundance at our home. My dad would say, “The whiter the bread, the sooner you’re dead,” and mean it. But, we consumed all of the whole milk anyone could want. I remember always reaching for a glass of milk when I was thirsty, preferring milk to drinking water. I grew up healthy and active. It was when I went to college and then got married that I ate more convenience foods.

To be honest I have not been a moderation kind of girl and that has been my eating downfall. When it comes to sweets in the house, no matter what room I’m in they beckon me to come and enjoy. If I were bored or wanted some variety to my day the list of sweet indulgences is long and quite varied with all of the delicious concoctions I would come up with and consume. Epictetus wrote, “No man is free who is not master of himself.” This out of control compulsion was bondage to me.

If you were to visit my library you would soon see that I have been eagerly learning all that I can throughout the years about food and nutrition from the Diamond’s Fit for Life to The China Study by Campbell and numerous books in between. I knew much of this information was important, and in my quest for better eating and health I have experimented being raw vegan off and on for the past sixteen years. I felt great and the physical results were impressive, but because that regimen of eating was so restrictive I found it impossible to adhere to permanently.

This time last year I met up with a friend for lunch. As we were eating I mentioned how wonderful she looked. She told me about a new eating plan she had been following, and when I asked her about it I soon learned that it was very heavy in meat consumption. I asked her if she had any qualms about eating that much meat since the Word of Wisdom states quite specifically that little to no meat is better. That afternoon I went home and did a web search for “MOST HEALTHY FOOD DIET” which resulted in a plethora of varied information. It was then that I found Jane Birch’s blog, Discovering the Word of Wisdom, and began reading all of the inspiring testimonials found there.

Read More→

“Heavenly Father was gently guiding me in this direction”

Scott

By: Scott

Middle school seems to ravage people in a variety of ways: physically, socially, mentally, even spiritually. For me it was probably every single one of them, and, looking back, I can see that nearly all my unhappy experiences were related to my physical health. I wasn’t obese. I wasn’t that kid. But I was within that realm; I was one of those kids. I was chubby. I like to use a term that I stole from a friend: chub scout.

I was a chub scout. I “earned” that rank somewhere between eleven and twelve years of age, and I miserably maintained it until I was about fifteen-and-a-half years old, which is when I was the heaviest—215 pounds and about 5′11″ tall. I wasn’t even “fit fat.” You know, when you’re fat but there’s some muscle underneath? I was just fat. None of those 215 pounds was muscle (at least not much if it). Just bones, organs, macaroni and cheese, and fat.

Halfway through my sophomore year of high school I just was fed up. Fed up! With myself. I hated looking at myself in the mirror. I hated feeling weak and unattractive. That was probably the worst of it: I didn’t like thinking about what girls thought of me. I don’t know why, but I just decided that I wasn’t going to take it anymore. I was going to do something about it.

I knew next to nothing about health and wellness, but I had enough common sense to know that I was eating way too much food. It was a simple yet critical conclusion. And I came up with an equally simple solution: don’t eat after dinner, aka put the fork down. I was prone to having snacks, especially in the evening. My family usually ate dinner between 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., so I simply stopped eating food after about that time. After a week of doing this, something amazing happened: I stepped onto the scale and found that I had lost five pounds!

I was astounded. Utterly astounded. Dumbfounded. At a loss. Flabbergasted. The light bulb above my head flickered on—nay, it blazed like the fires of heaven from whence the epiphany came, a stark contrast to the fires of hell I had been feeling for the last four years. I couldn’t believe how easily five pounds vanished. All I did was stop eating as much. “Just put the fork down.” It was just so crazy it actually worked.

Read More→

“All these amazing physical blessings began to unfold”

Erik and Wendy Jensen Before and AfterBy: Erik Jensen

Three years ago I was feeling that my health was beginning to slowly decline. I was not happy with the way I felt but accepted that it was probably part of growing older and that there was probably nothing that could be done. I was 60 lbs overweight, cholesterol was about 220, blood pressure 140/90, and I was taking drugs for high blood pressure and high cholesterol. My feet developed neuropathy, painful arthritis was spreading in my fingers, and I had restless leg syndrome for years (about every 15 seconds during sleep my leg would twitch). I also had an autoimmune disease in my eye that would flair up regularly, my knees and ankles would begin to hurt if I ran or hiked regularly, and every morning I woke up exhausted. I had a scary episode hiking in the Sierras when my body just quit.

My wife Wendy has suffered for years with fibromyalgia symptoms. She also suffered with terrible acid reflux, diverticulosis, kidney stones, and allergies. The only way she could control the acid reflux was to take a calcium blocker that would eventually weaken her bones. Her blood sugar was at pre-diabetic level, and she had difficulty with exercise and knee problems.

We were discussing the new stage of life we were entering as our children are growing up and will soon be on their own. We began to include in our prayers our desires to prepare ourselves spiritually, financially, and physically so that we could serve missions and be useful as we enter into the last third of our lives. The answer to our prayers for physical preparation began at Costco one day as we were looking at a product called a Nutribullet. A lady next to us remarked that her brother had bought one and had been able to lose a lot of weight. We bought it and for the next few weeks it sat on our kitchen floor unopened until two of our sons decided to unpack it and see how it worked. We read the smoothie recipes and started to have them for breakfast. Our energy levels increased, we lost a little weight and found that our appetites were somewhat decreased during the morning. I continued to occasionally read about nutrition on the Internet, but it was difficult to figure out what to do since there are so many opinions.

Read More→

“For the first time in nearly 20 years I am medication free!”

Sara FosterBy: Sara Foster

I grew up in the backwoods of Tennessee in a family of eight kids with a stay-at-home dad and a mother who is a physician. Dad was raised in the country on a farm, so our plates were filled with meat, dairy and lots of fried and processed foods. That was the norm, and I knew nothing different at the time. If we ate vegetables, they were mostly fried.

Beginning when I was 12 years old, I had very painful menstrual cramps. They were so severe that I had to take pain shots and narcotics on the days of my menstrual cycle, and I would often have to be checked out of school. One day when I was a little older, I landed in the ER and had to have morphine given to me through IV. That day the Elders of the LDS Church gave me a blessing. They blessed me that I would find a way that I would never have to take medication again for this. I took that blessing to heart and did not let up in a search for the reason why I was having such intense menstrual cramps. I knew there must be a remedy other than medications.

Some years later I found out I had endometriosis. This is a condition where the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus (the endometrium) grows outside the uterus. It is often extremely painful and can result in infertility. This helped explain the problems I had.

My father also had significant health issues. I watched him struggle with weight and high blood pressure almost my entire life. His blood pressure eventually got so high it took his life. It was shortly thereafter that I discovered plant-based eating. By the grace of Our Father in Heaven, I stumbled upon a book about plant-based nutrition. As I was reading it, my mind kept drifting back to the Word of Wisdom. It sounded so similar. That led me to open the Word of Wisdom again and re-examine what I thought I knew. I started seeking out other authors of books that had similar views and decided to give plant-based eating a try.

Read More→

“I am no longer obsessed about food or how much I weigh”

Doug WeberBy: Doug Weber

I’ve been studying nutrition and fitness as a hobby for about 20 years. During this time, my weight has been all over the map. I’ve been very thin at times—when serving in the Air Force, I was on a calorie-restricted diet and doing lots of running and got down to 150 lbs. I’ve been overweight most of the time—up to 230 lbs at one point.

My diet has also been all over the map. I’ve tried the good old calorie-restricted diet many times and succeeded in losing a lot of weight each time, only to gain it all back each time. I also saw success with the Shangri-La Diet (google it) but didn’t have the will power to stay on it indefinitely. I saw success with the Atkins Diet; however, I had the same problem, an inability to stay on it long term. The same with Nutrisystem—I did that for a year and lost 55 pounds, then gained it all back.

In late 2015, I decided to try the Ketogenic Diet where 75% of calories come from fat, 20% from protein, and only 5% from carbs. It is an extreme version of the Atkins diet. During this diet, I was eating a lot of meat, a lot of extra fat (bacon grease on everything!) and was checking my ketones each morning to try to hit the magic range of 2.0 to 3.0 mmol/L. My lab numbers all got better, but in hindsight I believe it was due to my no longer eating highly processed foods.

During this time, I was corresponding with my daughter and her husband in Provo. We had an on-going discussion about nutrition and fitness for a few years. My son-in-law challenged me on my interpretation of D&C 89:12-13. I interpreted verse 13 to mean it’s okay to eat meat sparingly all the time, not just during times of winter, cold, or famine. He forwarded an article to me that included a reference to Jane Birch’s book, Discovering the Word of Wisdom. I read her book and decided I was completely wrong. I now understand those verses to mean that it is pleasing to the Lord if we never eat meat unless we must in order to survive. I was inspired by Jane’s notion that she had eaten more meat during the first half of her life than would ever be pleasing unto the Lord, so she is committed to eating no meat the second half of her life to try to make up for the first half—that has become my desire as well.

Read More→

“When I was 5 years old, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes”

Jennifer Wheeler and daughterBy: Jennifer Wheeler

Being healthy has been a goal of mine since I was very young. When I was 5 years old, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I had an experience in the hospital that made a strong and lasting impression on my young mind. I’ve always been very social, so I was visiting all the kids on my floor while I was in the hospital and trying to get to know them. I went into one young girl’s room who had just had her leg amputated. She was on sitting on top of the sheets, so it was very visible. It shocked me, and I didn’t know what to say to her. After a few moments, I left. This experience stuck with me and became significant to my story a few years later.

My parents were referred to a good endocrinologist shortly after I was diagnosed. At this doctor’s office, I saw a dietician as well. She taught us what the best diet for a diabetic is. One of the first things we were taught is to avoid sugar. The second was to eat protein with every meal because it slows down the metabolic process and helps your blood sugars not spike as easily. We were told that the best form of protein is animal products. They also taught us about the importance of fruits and vegetables, but that fruits should be eaten sparingly because of their high sugar content. (The reason I remember what they taught us is because they reviewed the same things several times a year until I was an older teenager.)

Another thing we were taught was if we didn’t learn to control my blood sugar levels, all kinds of bad things could happen, like having my foot or leg amputated. I don’t remember exactly how old I was when this conversation registered with me, but I remember being very young (maybe 8 or so). Because I had seen the young girl in the hospital without a leg, I actually knew what the doctor and dietician were talking about when they told my parents this, and I determined at a very young age that I wanted to be healthy and keep both my legs and feet.

My parents were diligent about helping me avoid sugar, and eating protein with every meal was no problem because we all LOVED meat! As a teenager, I was counseled several times in various blessings to follow the Word of Wisdom. I felt the main emphasis was to avoid alcohol, coffee, tea, and tobacco, but I recognized there was great counsel as to how we should eat. I tried to limit the amount of sugar I ate. I loved whole grains and ate lots of them. I didn’t love vegetables, but I’d eat some because I knew they were good for me, and I ate fruit sparingly. Even though the Word of Wisdom tells us to eat meat sparingly, if at all, I justified not following this counsel because of my diabetes. I was very active physically and had lots of energy. I thought I was healthy, and I thought I was following the Word of Wisdom.

Read More→