Archive for Married-1 WFPB

“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.

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“In order to be the best doctor I can be, I follow a plant-based diet”

Ernest SevernBy: Dr. Ernest Severn

I switched to a plant-based diet so long ago, and I have so many reasons, it is hard to know where to start so I will just jump in. I would have to say for me there are seven main reasons I follow a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diet, but there are really even more than that. It’s more like seven categories of reasons.

I was a missionary for the Church in the early eighties. I served in New York City among the Greek immigrants there. I walked every day, usually over 10 miles a day. When I returned from my mission, I gained 10-15 lbs. so I decided to lose it. I started running and doing some other exercises. I was exposed to Dr. John McDougall, I think on a radio program. I got his book, The McDougall Program: 12 Days to Dynamic Health and read it. I decided to follow it, and I lost the weight I had gained in a month pretty easily. In his book, Dr. McDougall talked about all the other benefits of this way of eating so I learned about that as well. Initially, I used the diet to control my weight so I went back and forth, sometimes being strict and sometimes not.

In 1987 my father died suddenly. He was 54 years old and had a history of high blood pressure. He died of a dissecting aortic aneurysm. I also had an uncle die while I was on my mission of a heart attack. He was only 45 years old. I decided to have my cholesterol checked and found that it was high, so I went back to following the WFPB diet strictly, and it went down. So then I had two health reasons to follow that diet. As I stayed on the diet longer, I found that other health problems improved or went away. My allergies got better, my energy improved, my stomach cramps and constipation were gone. I had less oily skin and less acne. This is when I decided to make this a long-term lifestyle choice and not just a temporary diet to lose weight. Over the years my extended family has continued to have numerous health problems, but I have not. These health problems include heart disease, Parkinson’s, ALS, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity, and stroke. I’m 54 years old now and still going strong. I still run and have a normal weight and enjoy lots of activities. So my first “category” of reasons I follow this diet is for better health.

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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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“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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“I love food and it loves me back!”

Kurt DeGrawBy: Kurt DeGraw

I have never really enjoyed meat too much. I grew up on a small family farm. We raised chickens, pigs, ducks, geese and the occasional sheep or cow, and I was the main person to feed most of these animals. Without many other youth my age living near us, the animals became my friends. I had funny names for them based on how they looked or the quirks they had.

Two experiences really sealed my dislike for meat at an early age. The first experience was when we killed the chickens. We hung them upside down on the swing set using twine around their legs. There they were hanging and flapping occasionally when a knife to the throat let the blood run out. After a LOT of flapping and squawking, in about 5 minutes they were all still. I still remember not wanting to play on the swing set for a while after that, but more importantly to me, these were animals I had fed and spent time with. That night, we had chicken and mashed potatoes and gravy and corn. I just could not eat the chicken.

My second experience a few years later was when our pig was butchered. A mobile butcher drove to our house and took our pig from the pen—where I had fed, watered and named him—and took him into the back of his truck and an hour later out popped all these white butcher-paper packages with labels. For dinner that night we had pork chops and rice. Again, I just could not eat the pork chops.

We were a large family living on a public school teacher’s salary and whatever came from the small farm and the animals we raised was definitely needed to feed our family, but after those two experiences my desire for meat decreased dramatically.

My healthy journey started when I was in my mid 30’s. I had started to gain weight from a sedentary office work life style. I did (and continue to) mountain bike and walk multiple times a week and even lifted weights on occasion. But unlike when I was younger, the weight just kept sticking around and more of it started to stick around. I started to do my own research and started to use less white flour and white sugar in my cooking. This worked for a decade or so, but by my early 40’s, I was considered obese by national standards.

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“I got a very clear answer”

Carolynn SpencerBy: Carolynn Spencer

Healthy eating has always been one of my favorite topics and a lifelong passion. I went on my first diet at age 7 by deciding to forego desserts; by the time I was a teenager, I already had plenty of experience in trying all sorts of will-power tactics and diets in order to achieve my “best” body.  It was easy to see that everyone had a different, and sometimes very intense, opinion on the latest and greatest way to stay healthy and fit. I now feel that it makes sense to add eating plans to the list of topics to avoid (along with politics and religion) in social settings because people feel so strongly committed to their own ideas. I am reminded of a scripture that I feel is as applicable to our diets as it is to our religion:

“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” (Ephesians 4:14)

Switching our diets based upon the latest and greatest fad, not to mention the “cunning craftiness” of diet companies and others trying to make a profit on our desire to have a perfect body, is literally to be tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine.

In 2010, my brother-in-law shared with me a book he had just read, Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman. He and my sister both said, “Don’t read it unless you’re ready to change your life.” My brother-in-law even testified it was the most life-changing book he’d ever read, other than the Book of Mormon. Intrigued, I read the book and was instantly convinced of the truth and wisdom found in eating only plant-based whole foods. This book, and many others like it that I also read, meshed completely with my study of the Word of Wisdom. I became vegan overnight and was committed . . . for a year or two.

However, as much as the information resonated with me and felt right, and as much as I could see the positive impact on my body, I still struggled. I was discouraged that I didn’t notice much weight-loss. I was the only vegan in my immediate family, and it was hard to have to make two different meals every night. Most often, I’d make what I had always been used to making (and my family was used to eating), and I’d only eat the plant-based half of the meal (such as the salad and steamed veggies, without replacing the meat with anything else). This left me feeling deprived and hungry.

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“Changing my eating habits has saved me”

Warren TownsendBy: Warren Townsend

I was diagnosed some years ago with pre-diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and a dangerous buildup of plaque in my arteries. If one of these maladies didn’t incapacitate, cripple or kill me another one would.

The doctor prescribed warfarin or Coumadin, which is the main ingredient in rat poison. It thins the blood to the extent veins and arteries can no longer contain the blood and the animal bleeds to death. I was given information on a diet for diabetics and was told it would help stabilize my condition.

Diabetes, heart failure, cancer and obesity have plagued my mother, father, sisters, brother and their mates for many years. Dad died at age 59 of oat cell carcinoma, a type of lung cancer. At the age of 86, Mother died of congestive heart failure, also called myocardial infarction or heart attack. Her life was not easy during my lifetime. When Mother was 37 years old we nearly lost her to uterine cancer, ulcerated colitis, and improper combinations of conflicting medications prescribed by her doctors. She was prescribed Coumadin, refused it, and turned to the natural help of gingko biloba and cayenne pepper capsules, which did indeed thin her blood. As she got older, continually testing her blood sugar she was able to somewhat control her type 2 diabetes through a prescribed diet for diabetics that still allowed meat and dairy products. Mother developed neuropathy in her feet and so got little exercise and was middling obese for many years.

I have put all this down to tell you of my experience.

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“I would never trade this peace for anything”

Brittney MooreBy: Brittney Moore

As long as I can remember, I have been interested in health and fitness. I remember doing aerobic videos in my living room when I was 12 years old. I got my degree at BYU in Health Promotion so I’ve always considered myself a healthy eater and regular exerciser. Health is a topic that I am fascinated with, and I continue to spend many hours reading the latest research, especially as it applies to the Word of Wisdom.

Most of the stories on the Discovering the Word of Wisdom site so far are about the physical changes that happen from following the Word of Wisdom. My story is more about the mental and emotional changes that have happened to me.

I started dieting after my first child was born in 1998. I’ve never been particularly heavy, but I always wanted to lose the last ten pounds, so I would follow whatever diet I found. Low carb, low fat, low calorie, I did them all. They all gave quick results, but then I’d start putting the pounds on again when I stopped following the diet perfectly. I felt like I was always trying to walk up a slippery slope, and I could never get to the top. The bathroom scale started ruling my life, and if I gained a pound or two, I would feel like a failure and start looking for a new diet that I could stick with. I felt like I couldn’t trust myself around food. I felt like my happiness each day depended on the number on the scale in the morning. I felt out of control and hopeless.

During this time I was an avid Crossfitter and was pressured to follow the Paleo diet, which is eating lots of meat, but no grains or potatoes or beans. I knew many LDS people who were eating this way, and I questioned them about following the Word of Wisdom. Most people just shrugged off my question or said they felt they were following the Word of Wisdom since they didn’t smoke or drink. I decided to try it for a month. I felt awful. I had no energy and wanted to lay down all day. I also had huge cravings for cookies, cakes, donuts and anything sweet because I wasn’t getting enough carbohydrates. By this time I had six children and didn’t have the energy to get through the day. This was a huge testimony to me that the Word of Wisdom is true. I would not give up my grains, potatoes and beans, because obviously they helped me “run and not be weary, and walk and not faint.”

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