Word of Wisdom Health Challenge

I believe the key to fully embracing the Word of Wisdom is to prayerfully read D&C 89 with a sincere willingness to hear the voice of the Lord and to do the things we feel are right for us to do at this time. I feel confident that if we do the things we feel prompted to do, we will learn what we most need at this time and soon receive even more light and knowledge from the Lord. By following this pattern, we can grown “brighter and brighter until the perfect day” (D&C 50:24).

This page is designed to help people who wish to join a “Word of Wisdom Health Challenge.” If you are interested, there are two Facebook groups you can join for social support:

Public Facebook Group: Word of Wisdom Health Challenge

Private Facebook Group: Discovering the Word of Wisdom Support Group

Choosing Your Goal for the Health Challenge

As you prayerfully read D&C 89, note the three dietary principles in this great revelation:

  1. All “wholesome herbs [plants] . . . in the season thereof” should be used with “prudence and thanksgiving.” (D&C 89:10–11).
  1. Animal flesh is ordained for human use, but it should be eaten sparingly, and it is pleasing to the Lord if it is not used, except in times of need (“times of winter . . . cold, or famine” and “excess of hunger”) (D&C 89:12–13, 15).
  1. “All grain is good” and is ordained to be the “staff of life.” (D&C 89:14, 16).

Study the introduction to the Word of Wisdom where the Lord gives His reasoning for sharing this wisdom with us. Why is this dietary counsel important to us in our day?

Study the promises in verses 18–21. Which are most important to you? What are you willing to do to claim those blessings?

Keep a journal of feelings and impressions that come to you. When you discover something you think you should do, ask the Lord to confirm your decision. Write your goal down, post it where you will see it daily, and decide how to keep yourself accountable.

Consider Going 100%

Of course it would be great if we all could choose to have as our goal to keep the Word of Wisdom 100%. The problem is, most of us (including myself) do not understand the Word of Wisdom 100%, nor have we developed the ability to keep it 100%. Developing that ability takes time and effort. It is like lifting weights. As much as you may want to lift the maximum weight, you need to work up to that point over some time with some effort.

Nevertheless, I always encourage those who are willing to give it a try, to attempt a 100% Word of Wisdom diet to the best that they know how, even if it is for a limited time period. Why? Because total commitment is actually easier in some ways:

  • You have to figure out what to eat because you are committed to not eating things that are not good for you, and you can’t let yourself starve.
  • You see results quicker, and that is extremely motivating.
  • Your taste buds change quicker, so you learn to love the food quicker.
  • Your get over your addictions quicker because you quit eating addictive foods.

See also: Why Go 100% and Why Start Now?

What does it mean to go 100%. For me, it means committing to a diet that is completely (or almost completely):

Principle #1: Whole food

Principle #2: Plant-based

Principle #3: Centered on grains

For a description of each principle from a whole food, plant-based perspective, see “Getting Started on a Word of Wisdom Diet.”

Goals Based on the Word of Wisdom Principles

On the Getting Starting page, you can find various options for getting started under “Choose an Approach to Changing Your Diet.” I will add here a list of concrete goals that may inspire some ideas.

Principle #1: Whole food

  • Increase the number of servings of whole fruits or vegetables each day.
  • Give up soda pop.
  • Reduce or eliminate refined sugars.
  • Give up all junk foods.
  • Reduce or eliminate all vegetables oils (including olive and coconut oil, which are NOT “whole foods”)
  • Eliminate highly processed soy foods (often used for “fake meats”)
  • Cut back on high fat plant foods (even if they are “whole” they may not be “prudent” to eat them in large quantities)

Principle #2: Plant-based

The less animal foods, you eat, the more plant-based your diet becomes. Here are some foods you could give up:

  • Red meat
  • All meat
  • Cheese
  • Milk (super simple! Just use a non-dairy milk)
  • All dairy
  • Eggs

Principle #3: Centered on grains

A whole food, plant-based diet includes beans and starchy vegetables with grains. Here are some ideas.

  • Reduce refined flours.
  • Make sure at least half of all grains you eat are whole grains.
  • Use only whole grains.
  • Make sure at least half of what you eat at each meal is a whole grain, bean, or starchy vegetable.
  • Eat more wheat (most people have no problem with it, and the Lord seems to favor wheat)

McDougall Approach to Eliminating the Worse Offenders

For those not ready to go 100%, Dr. John McDougall has compiled a good list that prioritizes dietary goals by starting with foods that are the most hazardous to our health. In “The Relative Hazards of Foods,” he puts foods into these categories:

Category 1 — Dangerous Foods (foods that are so dangerous, no one should ever eat them) 

Category II — Feast Foods (foods that should eaten rarely, if ever, but that you might reserve for special occasions)

Category III — Rich Plant Foods (rich plant foods may account for a small portion of your daily food intake (less than 10 percent of your calories per day) but only after you have attained the level of health you are striving for.)

Category IV — Health-Supporting Foods (foods are health-supporting, the ones the Lord ordained for our “constitution, nature, and use” see D&C 89:10)

Other Possible Goals

There are so many other things we can do to eat better and enjoy the experience more. Here are more ideas. Feel free to add more in the comments below!

  • Read D&C 89 regularly and search the scriptures with your Word of Wisdom questions in mind.
  • Develop your WFPB cooking skills.
  • Help family members develop WFPB cooking skills.
  • Experiment with herbs and spices.
  • Learn to eat with “prudence” and/or “thanksgiving” (D&C 89:10).
  • Invite others over for a WFPB meal.
  • Study more of the WFPB Resources.
  • Work on planning all meals in advance.
  • Establish a WFPB Food Storage
  • Join a Food Addiction group if you struggle with food addiction.
  • Study and pray about challenging social situations and what you can do to overcome them.
  • Turn off the TV and other media and focus on preparing and enjoying your meals consciously.
  • Implement some of the “Maximum Weight Loss Ideas.”
  • Set a goal to get off medication.
  • Commit to eat healthier today or this week.
  • Don’t beat yourself up when you eat something you know you shouldn’t. Simply make the needed changes and move on.
  • Eat one salad with oil-free dressing.
  • Stocked your pantry with all plant-based items.
  • Get your biomarkers tested so you can measure progress.
  • Take monthly photos to track your progress.
  • Help your children get excited about plant-based eating (grow a garden; help them learn to cook; teach them about diet and health; explain why you are doing this and ask for their help)
  • Make one new recipe a week.
  • Save money by focusing on grains instead of animal foods and processed foods.
  • Share your enthusiasm in plant-based eating with someone.
  • Stop obsessing about your weight. Throw away your scale.
  • Try a new vegetable.

Is this Word of Wisdom Health Challenge for Everyone?

Everyone is invited to study and embrace the Word of Wisdom! But please note that this website, “Discovering the Word of Wisdom,” and the accompanying Facebook pages are best designed to support those who see a strong relationship between a “whole food, plant-based” (WFPB) diet and the Word of Wisdom. If you are following a different approach, I hope you’ll check out this perspective to see if there is something useful for you.

Last updated: July 20, 2015

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  1. I am so excited to find your YouTube film, Facebook page, book, and this website! Tomorrow marks 5 years that I’ve been a vegan. I discovered and converted to this lifestyle when my sister was dying of a terminal cancer. I researched options that might possibly save or improve her life and found The Cancer Project sponsored by Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and Dr. Neal Bernard. I jumped in with both feet with the 21-Day Kick Start. Living in California, I’ve found a progressivly more supportive environment. I now have 3 vegan restaurants and an organic farmer’s market within a mile of my front door. Whenever someone makes a negative comment about my eating choices, I smile and say, “Eating this way has allowed me to live free of medication and to maintain a cholesterol under 100.” I’ve offered to teach some WFPB cooking classes at Relief Society, but the sisters laugh and tell me they’re not interested; they can’t give up their meat, cheese, ice cream… In time, I think more members will see the wisdom in a more strict adherence to these principles.

    • Thank you so much! I was just talking with 2 members of the bishopric yesterday about it & they laugh & mention that they are going to die of something..! My children, too, “can’t live without meat”. And many want to die happy. Some want to live with their allergies & enjoy food. This has been very hard for me, but I am grateful for Lori above who left a comment. Thanks!

  2. Like most herbalists, we don’t discover the real Word of Wisdom, till after we solve our own pressing health crisis, turning away from man’s learned doctors and toward God’s wholesome herbs and foods for health and healing. Then and only then do we read the WoW again and see for the first time that by its true meanings is how we solved our health crisis, not by 4 don’ts, not by food alone, but by food AND herbs which combined make God’s eternal medicine. Brigham and Joseph told us this many times, we just have to dig up that bit of history about staying away from men’s chemical medicines and turning to God’s wholesome herbs and foods for health and healing.

    As warned of in verse 4, Gadiantons have long been taking over all of our medicine – herbs and foods for health and healing. If we still worship at the alter of the FDA, AMA, APA (verse 4 – our new saviors of health, a new holy trinity?) maybe it is like praying to Bale to ignite our pile of timber?

    How can we expect the wonderful blessings of health AND wisdom in verses 18-21 if we think the WoW is just a highly refined 4-don’ts commandment when thousands of refined, synthesized and toxic foods and “medicines” face us today, far more harmful than the 4-don’ts?

    Heresy, or listening to the words of Christ first, starting with verse 2 (not by commandment nor constraint – force, coercion, guilt, shame…) and really understanding His warning in verse 4 (the whole reason it was lovingly given by Him) which can’t possibly be so limited (as highly refined as our foods have become?) as just 4-don’ts.

    The WoW has a very interesting history with lots of infighting to make it into a refined commandment, complete with warnings by all 5 prophets of the 1800’s, to other leaders and saints, to not make the real WoW into a commandment lest it “become a stumbling block to the saints.” Has it ever, and in how many ways? So many sick and afflicted around us in church every week, telling of their, cancer, surgeries, doctor visits, ailments… Where do they turn? To those warned of in verse 4? Those darned blinding 4-don’ts?

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