Responses to Meridian Comments

Note: When Meridian Magazine updated their site in Nov. 2014, some of the responses I had written to comments from readers were lost. For convenience, I’ve posted the comments below. See also links to all the articles in the “Discovering the Word of Wisdom” series.

I so appreciate all of you who take the time to read my articles on Meridian! Thank you also for the comments. I enjoy reading your insights and responding to your  questions.

Mason Redd, MD makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: Discovering Joy! [LINK TO ARTICLE]
Tuesday, 17 June 2014
I like your articles. Did you know that the comma after not was not in the D&Cs originally? That changes the meaning of the sentence. Also there are at least two verses in scripture that speak against people who forbid the use of meat. which I know you are not doing. Also the China Study has a serious flaw in it.

Response from Jane
Dear Mason Redd: Thanks for your interest in my article! I have written an extensive analysis demonstrating that the comma added to D&C 89:13 did not “change” the meaning of the verse. You can read the details in the published article, “Questioning the Comma in Verse 13 of the Word of Wisdom,” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 10 (2014): 133-149. (http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/questioning-the-comma-in-verse-13-of-the-word-of-wisdom/). Yes, I agree that the scriptures say we should not forbid “meats” (note that the scriptural definition of the word “meats” is “food” and not animal flesh as we define it today). I’m glad you recognize that I am not forbidding anyone from eating any type of food, including meat! We are all free to make our own choices. Last, as to critiques of The China Study, I’ve seen several unpublished reviews floating around the Internet but none in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. As you may know, the author of The China Study, T. Colin Campbell, spent his career as a nutrition researcher, publishing literally hundreds of articles in peer-reviewed journals. I’m sure as an educated man you would agree that any serious critique would need to go through the same process to be worthy of our attention. You may be interested in reading The China Study, where Dr. Campbell cites several hundred peer-reviewed articles that support his thesis that a whole food, plant-based diet can indeed prevent and reverse chronic disease. Bless you! Jane

Joyce makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: The Flesh of Beasts, Part I [LINK TO ARTICLE]
Tuesday, 03 June 2014
I don’t like to eat lots of meat but I love it. I believe that 100 years ago that meat couldn’t be preserved or kept cold like it can in modern times, so people didn’t eat in the summer. I also believe that we should listen to our prophet today and not just what Prophets said years ago. I haven’t heard Pres Monson tell us to stop eating meat. I don’t feel I need t be a vegan to be a good member of the church. I believe all foods created by Heavenly Father are good. It’s man made foods that can be harmful. Thanks

Response from Jane
Joyce: Love your comment! But please consider that human beings figured out thousands of years ago how to eat meat in the summer and not get sick. Our Mormon ancestors were as well acquainted with healthy meat handling practices as their neighbors, and there were no large epidemics of people getting sick eating meat in the summers! D&C 89 is clearly meant for us, in our day, as the Lord stated, it is “showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of ALL saints in the last days” (D&C 89:2, emphasis added). Bless you!

General response from Jane Birch to all the posts on this article:

I love the comments! Thanks everyone!! Just to be clear, I have eaten meat all my life (LOVED it!), but I stopped in 2011 when I realized (1) the health hazards of eating meat; and (2) that forgoing this pleasure is pleasing to the Lord (D&C 89). Surprisingly, I don’t miss it at all! Both the physical and spiritual blessings have been so great, that I love sharing this message with others. 1 Timothy 4:3 and D&C 49:18 suggest we should not forbid others from using meats, which I have never done, of course (“meats” in the Bible means food, BTW). The Lord does not forbid us from using meats, but He does say that it is “pleasing” to Him if we don’t use the flesh of animals when it is not needed. Relax, people, it is not a commandment. As Joyce points out, President Monson has not commanded us to do this (see 1 Timothy 4:3 and D&C 49:18), but we can read the scriptures ourselves and reap blessings as we try to do those things that are pleasing to our Savior. The blessings of the Word of Wisdom are very clear, and I hope more of us will desire to seek them. We need these blessings!

Wayne Walker makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: The Flesh of Beasts, Part II [LINK TO ARTICLE]
Tuesday, 10 June 2014
Unfortunately, this article assumes that the comma in verse 13 should be there. It was not in the original. Joseph Smith did not put it in there. It was inserted in 1920. And that comma completely changes the meaning. (Read verse 13 with and without the comma to see what I mean). Now look at the word “these” in verse 15. What does it refer to? Grains. Taken together, these verses in the Word of Wisdom imply that meat can and should be consumed throughout the year. Grains should only be eaten in times of hunger, famine or cold. Those specified times are referring to grains, not meat. There is much science that supports these conclusions but this is is merely a comment, not a full article. Moreover, modern nutrition science is highly supportive of these conclusions when the meat in question is totally chemical free grass-fed beef. Radical perhaps, but these are totally logical conclusions. By the way, vegetables are really great vehicles for butter. Better still, for butter from grass-fed dairy cows.

Response from Jane
Dear Wayne Walker: Thanks for your interest in my article! I have written an extensive analysis demonstrating that the comma added to D&C 89:13 did not “change” the meaning of the verse. You can read the details in the published article, “Questioning the Comma in Verse 13 of the Word of Wisdom,” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 10 (2014): 133-149.  You might also be interested in this clarification of what the “staff of life” means as it refers to grains: “The Staff of Life” (D&C 89:14)

Bobbi Snow makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: The Flesh of Beasts, Part II [LINK TO ARTICLE]
Tuesday, 10 June 2014
What is your take on the altered grains that are not good for you, even whole wheat grain. Also, corn and beans……grain brain etc.

Response from Jane
I have since published an article that addresses your question. Please see: “Wheat for Man.” You may also be interested in the companion website.

Joseph Gayan makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: The Flesh of Beasts, Part II [LINK TO ARTICLE]
Wednesday, 11 June 2014
This is a nice opinion on the Word of Wisdom as expressed by a vegetarian, not church doctrine or practice. The Word of Wisdom regarding meat consumption can just as easily be understood from the perspective of not being wasteful of our animals. Context and culture are always important things to consider when reading scriptures. At the time the Word of Wisdom was written refrigeration did not exist, leaving limited means of preserving meats (dried and/or salt cured). During times of famine the animal would likely be consumed quickly by family and friends, avoiding any waste. During cold the meat can be left outside, frozen, to be consumed at a later date, also preventing waste. It can also be useful to look to our modern day prophets and apostles regarding this issue. Meat is served at all church cafeterias and church sponsored schools and consumed regularly, but sparingly, by our prophets and apostles. You may also notice a lack of obese General Authorities in the church. Bridling our passions and controlling the natural man when it comes to food consumption is what the Word of Wisdom is all about.

Response from Jane
Thanks for your comments, Joseph Gayan! I agree that context and culture are important when interpreting the scriptures. I have used this framework to analyze the idea that the Lord asked us to eat the flesh of animals only during winter because the early Saints had no refrigeration. I think if you look carefully at the evidence, it does not support this conclusion. I refer you to my article, “Getting into the Meat of the Word of Wisdom,” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 11 (2014): 1-36. Thanks too for pointing out the importance of “bridling our passions and controlling the natural man when it comes to food consumption.” I very much agree!

Rebecca Stone makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: Where Do You Get Your Protein? [LINK TO ARTICLE]
Tuesday, 17 June 2014
Another good scripture on the Word of Wisdom regarding meats is found in D & C 49:18 & 19: “And whoso forbiddeth to abstain from meats, that man should not eat the same, is not ordained of God; For behold, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which cometh of the earth, is ordained for the use of man for food and for raiment, and that he might have in abundance.” I agree, “sparingly” is the guiding principle.

Response from Jane
Hi Rebecca! I love that scripture! You may be interested in what I’ve written about it. See http://discoveringthewordofwisdom.com/about/the-word-of-wisdom/wow-faqs/command-to-abstain/

Margaret makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: Where Do You Get Your Protein? [LINK TO ARTICLE]
Sunday, 22 June 2014
I read your book and followed a vegan diet for three weeks. I felt great until I was overcome with weakness. After 3 days dragging I begrudgingly added meat back in and the weakness was gone in a few hours. Do you have any ideas? I would really like to be vegan.

Response from Jane
Hi Margaret: If you felt better in a few hours after consuming meats, my guess it means one of two things: (1) you were not consuming enough calories, or (2) the weakness you felt was mostly (or even totally) psychological. As to (1) as you know, this is not a “vegan” diet; it is a “whole food, plant-based” diet (see guidelines here: WFPB Guidelines). Anyone trying this diet should make sure to make plenty of grains the foundation of the diet and to eat enough calories. As to (2) We are so brainwashed in our society to believing that we must have meat, that it can have a definite physiological effect on our bodies. I encourage you to not eat a vegan diet but a whole food, plant-based diet, using the guidelines listed above. There is nothing magical in meat that gives us energy. Calories give us energy, and we can get calories from plant foods as well as animal foods. A “vegan” diet is not necessarily a healthy diet. I recommended checking out the guidelines for a whole food, plant-based diet here. On a whole food, plant-based diet (as any diet) you need to be sure to get enough calories to not feel weak. The way to do that is to make grains “the staff of life” as admonished by the Lord in the Word of Wisdom. Grains provide plenty of healthy calories that can give you strength and energy. I wish you the best. Feel free to contact me if you have addition questions: http://discoveringthewordofwisdom.com/contact-me/

Bryce makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: Where Do You Get Your Protein? [LINK TO ARTICLE]
Wednesday, 25 June 2014
I agree but I also disagree. I agree that the majority of us are not adhering to the eat meat “sparingly” council in the WofW, and are therefore eating WAY more than we should. However, you forgot one very key point. B12. Man cannot survive without B12 and it is only found in meat. Now you only need a very little bit of meat to get the necessary amount BUT you have to have it and it only comes from meat, so the concept that man can survive without any meat at all is flawed. That is why the Lord also added the scripture mentioned in a previous comment above in D&C 49. I get bothered with vegitarians only because they usually act as if they are living a higher law, yet I have tripped every single one of them up with the B12 problem. They claim they have gone years without any meat, yet once I press them, they admit they are taking B12 supplements that are derived from meat products. Eat mead, not only just in emergency, or you won’t be healthy without the B12.

Response from Jane
Hi Bryce! You make a very good point. I agree that anyone on a whole food, plant-based diet should take a Vitamin B12 supplement. As you probably know, Vitamin B12 is created by bacteria, not animals. Many people who eat animal foods still need a Vitamin B12 supplement. In earlier times Vitamin B12 accompanied more of the plant foods. We wash it off now in our ultra-hygienic society, but in our day we have a very reliable, cheap, clean way to get all the B12 we need: supplements. I don’t see any problem with that. I personally would much rather do that than to eat animal foods (that contain lots of things that harm our bodies) just because they contain some B12.

I’ve written more on B12 here: “What About Vitamin B12?”

Julie makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: Food Addiction
Tuesday, 01 July 2014
I’ve enjoyed your articles educating and reminding us about the word of wisdom, but I am surprised that you are so adamant about avoiding dairy/ eggs as well as meat. Elder Widtsoe, in his book “The Word of Wisdom” clearly teaches that though meat should only be eaten sparingly (winter, famine), dairy and eggs are good foods for our daily diet. I know you base your health philosophy on the word of wisdom, but where in the scriptures or teachings of the prophets (the word of God) do you find the counsel to abstain from dairy and eggs? It’s something I’ve wondered about as well, so if you have sources I haven’t seen I’d be glad to know about them. Thank you!

Response from Jane
JULIE: I posted “What About Dairy and Eggs?” here: http://ldsmag.com/article-1-14710/. My argument is based on the spirit of the law rather than the letter of the law. The Word of Wisdom does not mention narcotics, for example, but even if they were legal, the spirit of the Word of Wisdom certainly suggests we should not use drugs that are harmful to our bodies. I’ve been convinced by the scientific evidence that dairy and eggs are not wise choices, and therefore we are better off without them. Others may come to different conclusions. If you are interested, I provide information and links to additional evidence in the article, “What About Dairy and Eggs?” AJ: Love your insights! Thanks for sharing! CC: The vegetables, fruits, legumes and every other food we eat have also “changed,” along with the grains. I can understand why the authors of Grain Brain/Wheat Belly are confused. They don’t know about the Word of Wisdom, so they don’t realize that the diet they recommend totally contradicts the word of God. They may not even care, but we should. DSC: I sympathize with your frustrations! But there is a better way than moderation in most things. I encourage you and all readers to prayerfully study D&C 89.

Jim Jenkins makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: Healthy Fats & Vegetable Oils
Tuesday, 08 July 2014
As Golden Kimball said in response to those who added foods to the list of prohibitive items in the Word of Widsom, “!!%&@!! !!%#&!!, soup will be next!

Response from Jane
JIM JENKINS: Thanks for making me laugh!! Yes, I definitely felt that way when I first learned about some aspects of this diet. It has become easy and delicious now, but I still sympathize with how some newcomers feel!!

Janet G. makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: Healthy Fats & Vegetable Oils
Friday, 11 July 2014
This is perfectly logical. All one has to do is to be aware of how they feel after eating the different foods. Unfortunately I just had an egg salad sandwich on a white roll and feel yucky. But it would help if you could tell us how to fix those delicious meals with a whole food plant based diet. I haved done it, but it is very different than the way we are used to eating – how about some more ideas of how to fix the food, simply. We are all so busy. Thank You!!

Response from Jane
JANET G: Great question! Here is a site I put together that might be helpful, http://discoveringthewordofwisdom.com/wfpb-guidelines/wfpb-made-easy. I also reference easy techniques by others on this site, but if this is too simple, try these recipes: http://discoveringthewordofwisdom.com/wfpb-guidelines/links-to-recipes/.

Janet Kent makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: Healthy Fats & Vegetable Oils
Sunday, 13 July 2014
Great, thoughtful article. Any comments on our hybridized, GMO wheat that has caused my serious gluten intolerance (nausea, bloating, muscle aches)? I like you analysis of all refined oils. Thanks again for a thought-provoking and informative article.

Response from Jane
JANET KENT: Regarding GMO foods. I feel some truths are more important than others. I personally feel the question of GMO is less important than WHOLE FOOD and PLANT-BASED food. People were getting sick on the standard American diet long before GMO’s. Likewise, there are lots of people who are getting well and healthy on this diet even if they continue to eat GMO foods. I encourage people to study GMO’s and related issues and decide what they feel is right, but to not get distracted from the main problems!

Audrey makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: Healthy Fats & Vegetable Oils
Tuesday, 15 July 2014
There is another viewpoint to this issue that you haven’t presented. The newest information about heart disease is that fat isn’t the enemy, it’s SUGAR that increases heart disease. – See more at: http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2014/05/22/Big-Fat-Lie-Weve-Been-Fed-About-Our-Diet#sthash.aXihXfEZ.dpuf This article also addresses your most quoted author, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, and his findings. “Everything You Know About Fat Is Wrong” http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/05/07/everything-you-know-about-fat-is-wrong.html “Now Saturated Fat Is Good for You?” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christiane-northrup/saturated-fat_b_4914235.html Please read the many critiques of T. Colin Campbell’s work: http://rawfoodsos.com/the-china-study/ Also read books written by Gary Taubes.

Response from Jane
AUDREY: Thanks for sharing! I’ve read all of these and many more like them. I recognize there are many competing voices out there. That is why the Word of Wisdom is so precious to us as Latter-day Saints. The low-carbers like Gary Taubes seem to make a lot of good points, but so do those who demonstrate the flaws in their arguments. Who do we believe? Here is where the Word of Wisdom gives us insight: the diet Gary Taubes and other low-carbers recommend totally contradicts the Word of Wisdom. I encourage readers to read the citations you’ve provided, then read the Word of Wisdom and read my articles in Meridian. Study and pray about it. Best wishes on your journey!

L Chapman makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: All Grain Is Good
Tuesday, 15 July 2014
I am diabetic and have to limit the amount of starch/grains I eat at each meal. Is it possible for me to eat the way you suggest?

Response from Jane
L Chapman: Good question! A whole food, plant-based diet is the ideal diet for diabetes. You can indeed eat a diet high in grains, in fact, if you follow all the admonitions in the Word of Wisdom, you can do nothing better for your diabetes. I recommend the book, Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes: The Scientifically Proven System for Reversing Diabetes without Drugs. Bless you!

John von Kistner makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: All Grain Is Good
Tuesday, 15 July 2014
I have to disagree on one point, olive oil is indeed healthy and good for consumption. It’s part of the Mediterranean diet that leads to many people living past the standard dying age.

Response from Jane
John von Kistner: Thank you for your comment. Olive oil is part of the Mediterranean diet, but not necessarily a healthy part (though it is surely better than lard, for example). No doubt the Mediterranean diet is MUCH better than the Standard American Diet. But the Mediterranean diet still led too many people to heart disease and stroke when these diseases are actually totally preventable on a whole food, plant-based diet that excludes all oils. You may want to read Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure by Caldwell Esselstyn. See also: http://hpjmh.com/2013/02/27/mediterranean-diet-more-confusion-over-clarity/. Best wishes!

General comments about wheat

Response from Jane
As for those “who encourage one food group over another (ex. Grain over meat),” I think it is safe to say you can add God to this group (see D&C 89). God tells us that ALL grain (not just wheat) is good for humans. I am not an expert in animal feeds, but I do know that grain is good for humans. Wheat is singled out. It does not say wheat is “best” for humans, though we tend to interpret it this way, and I assume it does have some special qualities. Perhaps God knew wheat would come under special attack in the last days and so gave it an extra commendation.

Gale T Boyd makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: All Grain Is Good
Wednesday, 16 July 2014
I have been experimenting with Einkorn (also called Farro and Emmer) wheat, which is what was grown in the ancient Middle East. It’s nothing like modern wheat, which has been engineered beyond belief and is probably responsible for most of the wheat sensitivities many people are experiencing. What if the wheat Heavenly Father is talking about is no longer available to us?

Kary makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: All Grain Is Good
Monday, 21 July 2014
Some people “function best without wheat”?? Well, yes. Those people who are celiac can have absolutely NO gluten whatsoever or they will suffer severe health consequences. My husband and his brother (and at least two of his cousins) and my daughter are all celiacs. It is not just a question of functioning better, it is a question of functioning at all. Medical doctors (and dietitians) are woefully inadequate at diagnosing celiac disease–it takes an average of 11 years for a person to receive an accurate diagnosis–and most doctors (& dietitians) tend to discount the possibility of gluten causing the wide variety of problems that it does cause. To glibly say that “certain people are sensitive to specific grains” shows a lack of understanding of how debilitating a gluten allergy actually is. Not to mention how common it is–the statistic that is widely quoted is one person in 133 is celiac, however I have been seeing that same statistic for over 15 years and I’m guessing that the percentage diagnosed is far higher than that now. And that is only those who are lucky enough to be diagnosed. Is grain a poison? Of course not. But to those who are allergic to gluten it is absolutely toxic. I know several LDS people who have all the symptoms of celiac but who refuse to consider that they might have the disorder because the Word of Wisdom says ‘wheat for man”. The wheat we eat now IS significantly different than the wheat grown for the millennia prior to the Green Revolution of the 60s and 70s. That is fact. We are just beginning to understand that there may be some adverse effects on our health because of the changes we have introduced to the staff of life. You will always be able to cite studies that agree with any position you take, but I think we will see a great increase in the future of people who have gluten allergies. We are already seeing it as better-trained doctors begin to consider it a possibility and test for it.

Gwen makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: All Grain Is Good – Page 2
Tuesday, 22 July 2014
Genetically modified foods are of great concern among those of us who are health-conscious. In a recent study I read, it said most American-grown corn, much of the soybean and wheat crops are genetically modifed as well, along with other foods, not all grains. I am hoping you will address this issue in a future article; I don’t think we can just ignore it.

Response from Jane
Gale, Kary, and Gwen: Thanks for your helpful comments! I’ve responded to most of these topics in the article, “Wheat for Man” and the companion website. Kary: I have friends and family who are Celiac, and I am well aware of what a devastating illness this is and how careful they must be to avoid all gluten. Thanks for pointing out the importance of proper diagnosis.

[General questions about wheat]

Response from Jane
Thanks so much for all the kind comments and thoughtful questions! My article, “Wheat for Man” discusses my view on several of these questions, but I’ll respond to a few specific ones here.

Laura makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: The Danger of Displacing Grain
Tuesday, 22 July 2014
I very much enjoyed your thoughts and the comparisons between cultures, as well as the historical insights. I also have a question, which may be the result of my not comprehending a basic premise! Here goes… What does the phrase “staff of life” actually mean? Your comments seem to indicate that grains should be the main focus or the starting point of our diet. However, the definition of the word “staff” refers to something used as a SUPPORT for the “main” focus. A staff is used to ASSIST–while hiking long distances or, as seen in Scripture, a tool in handling an animal herd, as with sheep and shepherds. Also, most business owners or managers have a support “staff” to bolster their effectiveness. With this interpretation of the phrase, what would be the main focus of our diet, which would be SUPPORTED by grains?

Response from Jane
LAURA: I like the reply by Nadine (above). See also “Wheat for Man.” Joyce

Erika makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: The Danger of Displacing Grain
Tuesday, 22 July 2014
I liked this article but find one fault with it. It is not specific on how much to eat. I love grains and vegetables and eat them on a regular, daily basis. The problem is that I gain weight and almost weekly develop an unstoppable appetite for everything sweet. Lately I learned that that is a sign of protein deficiency. Instead of talking so much about the why, focus should be on the how. Put out lists that show height/Weight and the recommended grain calories when combined with vegetables. Maybe through age into the mix as well. Teaching people these basic things would be much more successful than all the dissertations and books combined that just point out the need. I hope to get a list like that from you. Erika

Response from Jane
ERIKA: The thing that works best to lose weight and to stop overeating is to eat only the foods that are nourishing to your body and none of the foods that provoke addiction. See my article on “Food Addiction” (http://www.ldsmag.com/article/1/14553). Also check out this book: The Starch Solution by John McDougall.

Beatrice makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: The Danger of Displacing Grain
Tuesday, 22 July 2014
Why have so many people become gluten intolerant in the last few years, myself included. I would love to know which grains I can eat without the side effects of becoming ill from gluten.

Response from Jane
BEATRICE: Google “gluten-free grains,” and you’ll find lots of them. My favorite is brown rice. GF: Yes, definitely whole grains without all the added fat/sugar is the way to go!

Marie makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: The Danger of Displacing Grain
Tuesday, 22 July 2014
Thanks for the articles. Can hardly wait for the next one as I have 600 lbs of winter wheat that I am slowly using. All the “gluten free’ talk and articles is driving me crazy. How can I use all those lessons I took and gave on wheat gluten meat substitutes with a clear conscience. (LOL eventho I haven’t made it in years!) Anyway I always trust the Lord to know what he’s talking about. I think I will make some this wkend. Enjoy your article and taking it to heart (literally)

Response from Jane
MARIE: No worries, for the vast majority of people, gluten is MUCH healthier than meat.

RLT makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: The Danger of Displacing Grain
Tuesday, 22 July 2014
An LDS Cardiologist suggested for me to try gluten free diet since I have had 3 auto immune diseases – showing a gluten sensitivity. The basis of his suggestion was from research that is coming out on hazards of GMO (genetically modified organisim) wheat that practically is all the public eats now. Our bodies are turning against this man made genetically modified wheat by producing illnesses. The symptoms of my auto immune diseases have disappeared since I’ve been GF. This GMO wheat is NOT Heavenly Father’s original wheat. I’m thankful a wise LDS Dr had been reading the research that has only been coming out these last 5 years and many Drs don’t know the research. The research is just now coming out for the public to read about.

Response from Jane
RLT: There is no GMO wheat sold in the U.S., but if you do better without wheat, that sounds like a good idea. All the food on this planet has changed since God first made it. Change is an inherent part of life: part of God’s plan for this world.

mm makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: The Danger of Displacing Grain
Wednesday, 23 July 2014
I wish you had specified that Type-2 Diabetes is the one that can be controlled with diet. 3 of my very little grandchildren suffer from Type-1 Diabetes, which CANNOT be changed or cured with dietary changes.

Response from Jane
MM: Yes, there is an important different, but even children with Type 1 can be helped on a whole food, plant-based diet: “In Childhood Diabetes: These patients will usually drop their insulin needs by 30%, and their blood sugar levels will be more stable (less “brittle”) on a starch-based diet. Most important, their risk of complications is markedly decreased with a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet. Insulin adjustments are made as usual, with the aid of urine-sugar, and blood sugar tests, under a doctor’s supervision.” (see https://www.drmcdougall.com/health/education/health-science/common-health-problems/diabetes-adult-onset-and-juvenile/).

charliebrown2292 makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: The Danger of Displacing Grain
Thursday, 24 July 2014
Dear Sister Birch: Being 61 and concerned about keeping a better health than my LDS father, who died at 68, I fully support your fi ndings about what the Word of Wisdom is truly teaching us. I may only suggest that you probe futher into the carbohydrate issue in order to better explain why some Doctors advocate a low-carbohydrate diet. The big issue here is that carbohydrates made out of refined flour, whether white bread or pasta, trigger the production pf vast amounts of insulin, which lead to a series of cardiovascular issues, as well as Type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, I do not believe that this “low-carb” trend includes whole-grain based foods because of their high-fiber content. I hope that the above comments will prove helpful in making the difference between good and bad carbohydrates, including those described as “complex”. Kind regards.

Response from Jane
CHARLIEBROWN: Yes, whole grains are far superior to refined grains. Please see my previous articles “Wholesome Herbs and Every Fruit” (http://www.ldsmag.com/article/1/14522).

Kary makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: Wheat for Man
Wednesday, 30 July 2014
Interesting. It seems to me that you are also indulging in not a small amount of speculation when you assume that problems people have with whole grains are because they are accustomed to a processed-food diet. What about those who have problems but never eat processed foods (including fast food) and haven’t for years? I have several in my family in that category and find it way too convenient to blame “processed food” for anyone who has a problem with gluten. You are correct–far more research needs to be done, and medical science has historically had precious little curiosity about the role of nutrition in human health (beyond the obvious need to have sufficient calories). Doctors are not taught about nutrition much in their course work, and the science has a long way to go to catch up. They are beginning to pay attention, which is great. There is a great deal we do not understand. But not everyone who has a problem has it because their previous diet consisted of frozen pizza and Big Macs, and if that is the mindset, we will not be asking the right questions.

Response from Jane
Hi Kary! Not everyone has sensitivities due to an unhealthy diet, but an unhealthy diet is not just one of fast food and other processed foods. Meat, dairy, eggs, and most high-fat/salt/sugar foods are not healthy. Most people eat a diet that is not very healthy, but we can choose more wisely by following the guidance in D&C 89!

Shelley Hitz makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: Wheat for Man
Monday, 04 August 2014
I have given much thought on this topic as well as well because of some of the many health issues in our day and wondering how to make sense of it all. My understanding is that the verses in D&C 89:14, 15, and 16 are all talking about grain. Verse 15 “and these ( talking about grain) hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger. ” Is it possible that Grain is good for man in this instance, only if we are starving or nutritionally depleted? Grain can be stored easily with out going bad, which makes it a perfect “good” food in times of famine. As to the staff of life…We don’t always use a staff…We use one when we are struggling…or doing something hard, for instance when I use a stick or pole to climb a mountain, but not all the time. Is it also possible to have too much of a good thing with consumption of grain vs other perhaps healthier choices?

Response from Jane
Hi Shelley: Kathy Cotton explained the word “these” in vs. 14 well (above). I’ve written a bit on “the staff of life” as many people seem confused by this term. I invite you to read this: http://discoveringthewordofwisdom.com/about/jane-birch-writings/staff-of-life. Bless you (and all others who are reading and commenting!).

Cliff Jones makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: What About Dairy and Eggs?
Tuesday, 05 August 2014
This is an interesting article about nutritional science. Unlike your earlier articles, however, it is not about the revelation from God known as the Word of Wisdom. As you mention early in the article, D&C 89 is silent on these subjects. This revelation is silent on many things, both good and bad, relating to our health. It doesn’t encourage us to drink water or to bathe, sleep or exercise. While there may be many good reasons for making choices about substances and practices not mentioned in this revelation, it’s silly to discuss these reasons under the heading of a revelation which, as you point out, doesn’t deal with them. Interestingly, the only prophetic source you cite in the article is a prophet warning us against using illicit drugs. God has warned us against that evil through his prophets. To my knowledge, He’s been silent so far about the evils of milk and eggs. While it’s wise to consider the voice of science, we should recognize the distinction between that voice and the voice of prophecy.

Response from Jane
Response to Cliff Jones
Thursday, 14 August 2014
Thanks for your insights. Yes, as I note in the article, my reasoning here depends more on the spirit than the letter of the law. But please note that unlike plants or meat, the Lord does not ordain the use of dairy or eggs anywhere in D&C 89. Still, my main motivation for cautioning against the use of dairy is eggs is due to the scientific evidence, not D&C 89.

Dean makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: What About Dairy and Eggs? – Page 2
Tuesday, 05 August 2014
In our efforts to obtain the perfect food, which it appears that the author considers to be something between carrot greens and okra, do we not miss the deliciousness of a cold glass of milk (except for the lactose intolerant or perhaps even the egg/milk/ice cream/whipped cream/barbecued ribs/hot dog ((gasp!)) intolerant) or steamy scrambled eggs with a side of bacon? Let us enjoy our tasty delights in moderation and stop the worrying about lipids and fatty stuffs for just a few minutes so we can enjoy our few tasty nutritional moments on earth. Finally, I have little faith in the findings of any group of nutritionists (WFPBers) who categorically state that the world should abandon eggs and milk because if you eat such, you will someday die from some malady sure to spread from eggs and milk and hamburgers. Food fads rage from decade to decade, and I am certain that the WFPBers will be long gone in 3 decades while the rest of us are still enjoying the occasional scoop of Rocky Road ice cream or egg salad sandwich.

Response from Jane
Response to Dean
Thursday, 14 August 2014
It sounds like you are fearful that a whole food, plant-based diet is not tasty. Actually, nothing could be farther from the truth! Not only is it a healthy diet, it is a very delicious and satisfying diet as well! Give it a try for enough time for your taste buds to change!

Richard W makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: What About Dairy and Eggs?
Tuesday, 05 August 2014
You provide some common sense here, but also a lot of wrestling with the scriptures and stretching of logic. Some recent studies suggest that a vegetarian diet may not be all it is cracked up to be; -Vegetarians visit their doctors more often and are more prone to allergies -They also have ‘a 50% increased risk of both heart attacks and cancer’ -They are also more likely to develop depression and anxiety disorders. On the bright side, vegetarians tend to be more active and less likely to drink and smoke. Having said that, I suspect that a vegetarian diet does not really cause many of the bad things attributed to it by this study. Rather, I suspect the study did not control for those who seek a vegetarian diet as a silver bullet help them cope with other problems. Moreover, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, saturated fats are not as big of a problem as previously thought as sold by the American Heart Association. The real culprit seems to be sugar.. Nevertheless prudence and thanksgiving seem important in all things. Be well…

Response from Jane
Response to Richard W
Thursday, 14 August 2014
Thanks for sharing! I am arguing not for a “vegetarian” or “vegan” diet (which may or may not be healthy), but a “whole food, plant-based diet,” as championed by the plant-based experts I cite. I believe its merits are validated not only by science but also by the word of the Lord.

Alex makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: What About Dairy and Eggs?
Tuesday, 05 August 2014
Unfortunately you are applying man’s reasoning to support your interpretation of the word of wisdom. This causes untold problems. One obvious issue is that the cholesterol found in eggs (specifically) is not ‘unhealthy’ (according to current science) nor are saturated fats necessarily unhealthy (again, according to current science). Butter, for example, if done naturally and not from factory farms, has been found to be one of the healthiest foods that one can ingest.

Response from Jane
Response to Alex
Thursday, 14 August 2014
I’ve read the research you are quoting, but I personally am very unconvinced by those championing these animal foods. Even the science they quote does not support these positions. I realize others come to different conclusions, but my impression is that it is most often because that is what they want to believe. It is hard to be objective about things we love to eat!

Jennifer Walker makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: What About Dairy and Eggs?
Tuesday, 05 August 2014
Several friends of mine break bones on a regular basis. They also do not drink milk. I am not convinced of the writer’s statement that dairy does not make stronger bones.

Response from Jane
Response to Jennifer Walker
Thursday, 14 August 2014
Hi Jennifer. Sorry to hear about your friends! I encourage you to not base your decisions on anecdotal evidence as too many factors go into an individual case. Based on scientific data systematically collected from large studies, people who consume the highest levels of dairy also have the highest levels of weak bones. High diary consumption does not lead to strong bones, I’m sorry to report!

David R VanLangeveld makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: What About Dairy and Eggs?
Tuesday, 05 August 2014
Writer Jane Birch points out (correctly) that you can get calcium without dairy products but she doesn’t specify which non-dairy foods are high in calcium. This does a disservice to those who want to “experiment on [her] word” and try a non-dairy and non-egg diet. I know from a nutrition class I took years ago (and a former landlord) that spinach is high in calcium. But what other foods are?

Response from Jane
Response to David R VanLangeveld
Thursday, 14 August 2014
Good points! Lack of time and space means I can’t cover everything. I recommend you Google “high calcium plant foods.”

Susan Wyman makes this comment
Meat, Dairy, Eggs
Wednesday, 06 August 2014
For many years I have diligently struggled to comprehend the will of the Lord regarding these now controversial foods. There MUST be more to it than this! Otherwise we would not have such a collection of scriptures from all the standard works describing a Good Land of Inheritance as ” a land flowing with milk and honey”. We know the Lord is the same; “Yesterday, today and forever.” Consider that Abraham fed the 3 angels who visited him, butter and milk. In 1 Timothy 4 we read that in the latter days, one aspect of apostasy would be those commanding to abstain from meats which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving… And while perhaps most meat today is tainted and we should be looking for clean sources, still, even in D&C 49:18 the Lord counsels us that a man who biddeth to abstain from meats, the same ” is not ordained of God.” So while you make a very good argument, and many experts agree with you, I still strive to know for sure what the LORD’S will is for His Saints regarding today’s foods. It would be ever so much easier if our Prophets would spell it out, but perhaps since different bodies can tolerate, or are allergic to, different foods, we must all study it out in our minds and prayerfully seek knowledge on what, in addition to vegetables, fruits and grains, is best for our particular family. Respectfully yours, Sister Susan Wyman

Response from Jane
Response to Susan Wyman
Thursday, 14 August 2014
Hi Susan! Please consider that the idiom, “a land flowing with milk and honey” is not meant as a dietary recommendation for the 21st century. In addition, the dietary code God gave the Israelites is much different from what He gave us. God does not command us to abstain from meats, nor do I, nor does anyone else I know! So the caution in D&C 49:18 and 1 Timothy 4 does not apply. The LDS Church has been clear that we are free to eat meat or be vegetarian, as we choose! But let us also pay attention to D&C 49:21 “And wo be unto man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need.” And also D&C 89:13. Finally, I so much agree with you that we must “all study it out in our minds and prayerfully seek knowledge on what, in addition to vegetables, fruits and grains, is best for our particular family.” Thanks for that reminder!

Jenny Hatch makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: What About Dairy and Eggs?
Wednesday, 06 August 2014
Jane, My daughter bought your book and I have been reading it along with these Meridian Articles! Good Work! I have been swinging back and forth between Vegan, Vegetarian, and typical Meat based American Diet since I was a student at BYU in 1986… I built my biggest baby eating an 80% raw foods, mostly vegan, grain based diet in 1996. My son is just about to leave on his mission. I would like to toss out the idea that for Moms who are pregnant and nursing it can be challenging to get enough calories just by eating Vegan foods, especially if Mom is up breastfeeding at night and chasing toddlers during the day. When my fourth child was born I tandem nursed him and his older brother for 7 months. I had to eat meat and dairy just to produce the gallons of breast milk I was making every day for two hungry boys. I have determined that if I had had a vegan chef and all that was required of me was to eat and breastfeed, I could have done it vegan. But there simply were not enough hours in the day for me to eat the 5,000 calories and 180 grams of protein needed to make the milk. Mamas who are in their child bearing years make very healthy babies eating eggs and milk. I have known quite a few mothers who were able to make a six pound vegetarian/vegan baby, but they did not have the fat reserves needed to breastfeed. I believe when the Lord promises a land flowing with milk and honey, that an ideal situation is one where Moms know how to nourish themselves to make that liquid nectar called breast milk. I am mostly vegan, but I do eat eggs and butter once in a while. As a childbirth educator, I just had to share my testimonial to the Mamas reading. In health! Jenny Hatch WWW.JennyMHatch.com

Response from Jane
Jenny Hatch: Thanks for your kind words! My grandmother’s maiden name is Hatch, so perhaps we are related! As for a nursing mother, I want to assure you that you can get more than enough calories on a grain-based whole food, plant-based diet. There is nothing magical about calories of meat. But you do need to consume enough grains and starchy vegetables. Millions of women throughout time have borne and nursed babies on a largely plant-based diet, while doing a lot more manual labor than they average modern woman. I know this goes against the prejudice of today, but the scientific and historical facts are clear that this is perfectly do-able! Again, the diet I am recommending is not a “vegetarian/vegan” diet (which may or may not be healthy or provide enough calories). I’m recommending a whole food, plant-based diet (see guidelines here: http://discoveringthewordofwisdom.com/wfpb-guidelines/). I encourage everyone to use science and the scriptures and not rely on anecdotal evidence, like Diane Hopkins experience. I can assure that dental problems are not an issue for the thousands of people who eat a whole food, plant-based diet. Asian consume no dairy and historically very little eggs and eat have strong bones and teeth. Throughout most of history, our ancestors ate a largely plant-based diet out of necessity. It is only in the last few generation where we have made animal foods and processed foods the staff of life. The faster we wean ourselves from the high animal foods, high processed foods diet to a healthy whole food, plant-based diet the better. I personally don’t feel we are doing ourselves or any a favor by doing this slowly, but that is my personal belief. Others have to come to their own decision about how important their health is to them.

Ron Millett makes this comment
Discovering the Word of Wisdom: What About Dairy and Eggs?
Wednesday, 13 August 2014
Elder John A Widtsoe’s (apostle and biologist) comments might be appropriate: “For example: The Word of Wisdom is not a system of vegetarianism. Clearly, meat is permitted. Naturally, that includes animal products, less subject than meat to putrefactive and other disturbances, such as eggs, milk, and cheese. These products cannot be excluded simply because they are not mentioned specifically. By that token most of our foodstuffs could not be eaten.” (Evidences and Reconciliations, 3:155-157)

Response from Jane
Ron Millet: I love the book Elder John Widtsoe wrote with his wife Leah Widtsoe! I even feature it in my book, Discovering the Word of Wisdom. Please note, however, that is was first published in 1937. As good as many parts are, the science is of course very out dated.

Charles B.
September 9, 2014
My favorite verse is verse 12…’flesh of beasts and of fowls…the Lord has ordained for the use of man.’ And to use ‘sparingly’. And to ‘use’ the flesh year-round as stated in verse 13.
karen
September 9, 2014
Charles B makes the above comment, about using flesh year round. His interpretation could be considered correct if there had been no comma after “used”. One could rather interpret that sentence to mean, “only used in times of winter, or of cold, or of famine.” Let’s face it, we as LDS people, for the most part, eat far too much meat. Red meat and fowl that has been tainted with antibiotics, hormones, and fed in feed lots and on conveyer belts, are obviously not good for us.

Response from Jane
CHARLES B and KAREN: You may both be interested in a paper I’ve published recently about the comma in D&C 89:13: “Questioning the Comma in Verse 13 of the Word of Wisdom,” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 10 (2014): 133-149 (http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/questioning-the-comma-in-verse-13-of-the-word-of-wisdom/).

Shane
September 9, 2014
I grew up on a cattle ranch, so I will admit that my view of eating meat is probably a bit tainted. However, Im 99% sure the prophet eats some meat every day. Remember at the time the WOW was received there was not proper refrigeration/freezing. Thus “times of winter” slows for the safe use of meat. “In times of famine” the meat would be eaten quickly to avoid spoil. Anyway, that’s my take on it. In the Temple we are also taught that animals are given for the benifit of man and are to fulfil the measure of their creation. A cow converts pasture and range grass into useful protein for the benefit of man. This is the measure of their creation.

Response from Jane
SHANE: Thanks for sharing your perspective. I’ve researched the idea that lack of refrigeration (or similar ideas) was the reasoning behind D&C 89:13. My work was published this past summer. You may find it interesting: “Getting into the Meat of the Word of Wisdom,” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 11 (2014): 1-36 (http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/getting-into-the-meat-of-the-word-of-wisdom/). I’m grateful the Lord has allowed us to partake of animals in times of need, but I would hope as Latter-day Saints we might see an intrinsic value in God’s beautiful creature that goes beyond our liking to eat them, especially when it is merely for our pleasure and not for nutritional needs.

Helen Spencer Schlie
September 9, 2014
I had my last cup of coffee the morning I was baptized (53 years ago) …I enjoyed that one..and haven’t had one since then

Response from Jane
HELEN SPENCER SCHLIE: I love your post! Yes, many of the things the Lord asks us to give up are delicious to the taste. I’m in awe of people like you who make the sacrifice because you feel it is the right things to do! I know you have been richly blessed.

Helen B
September 9, 2014
Verse 4 regarding the W ord of Wisdom being given ” in consequence of evils and designs ….in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days…” Is more applicable in our day. tobacco companies are now admitting they have known of the harmful effects of smoking, yet their advertisements have always been to target first men, then women, and now our youth. Manufactures of food take advantage of the lastest trend in dieting. Oat bran was said to be good for our hearts years ago, so products showed up with that ingredient on their label. Now it’s all about gluten free. Products that never had gluten in them have the words on the packaging to sell it. Now more than ever we need to pay attention to what we put into our bodies as we relie more and more on others to prepare it.

Response from Jane
HELEN B: Amen. We may want to do much more of the food preparation ourselves, for the reasons you cite.

James
September 9, 2014
“not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom (D&C 89:2 emphasis added)” It’s sad that so many LDS have made the Word of Wisdom into its’ own form of religion. Perhaps they should stick to the Apostle James’ admonition that , “pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

Response from Jane
JAMES: Good caution. We should not “strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.”

Scott Hinrichs
September 9, 2014
Very nice article. I quite appreciate the fact that Dr. Birch is not in favor of mandating strict adherence to the dietary portions of the Word of Wisdom, allowing instead for prayerful individual customization and interpretation. I encourage readers to consider Dr. Birch’s scholarly articles in the Mormon Interpreter, where she suggests that the greatest blessings that come from obeying the WoW may be spiritual and eternal rather than physical and temporal.

Response from Jane
SCOTT HINRICHS: Thanks for your kind words!

Lisa Croft
September 9, 2014
We should respect our bodies because they are the tabernacles of our spirits. But the Word of Wisdom is just that. It is not the “Word of Good Health.” It is a law of obedience with a promised blessing that the destroying angel shall pass by. It is a law that helps us be in the world but not of it. And every time we are offered coffee, tea, or alcohol (which pretty much happens any time we socialize with those who are not Mormon) we are reminded of our relationship with God. Good health is merely a partial by-product of following the Word of Wisdom. And perhaps it will give us the wisdom to eat healthy too.

Response from Jane
LISA CROFT: Beautifully said! I feel this is an important point, which I hopefully will address more later.

Andrea
November 4, 2014
I wish every single day of my life that there was SOMETHING I could eat (that I’ll ALSO be able to find in my food storage should I need it) that I’m either not allergic to, not super sensitive to….OR, that doesn’t make my diabetes/blood sugars MUCH worse. Since being told I can’t have grains, I was down to eating only meat, eggs, cheese, low carb. salad vegetables and a few low glycemic fruits….on occasion. Now that I’ve found out I’m allergic to all milk related foods, another food group is out of the question too. It depresses me to also feel like the ONE thing that I could eat (meat) is bad and carries diseases too. Fruits seem to be fine and healthy for “everyone else” and supposedly defends against diseases…but even fruit sugars cause me to get candida!! :o/ I’m now down to leafy things, avocados and a few random tasteless vegetables as long as I eat them with no salad dressing (unless I make my own– which I don’t always have time to do) since I’m allergic to Soy….which seems to be in everything!!! (esp. salad dressing!) So, other than downing vitamin and mineral pills daily instead of eating square meals and real food like a normal person, I guess I’m pretty much stuck eating leafy things and avocado’s. In a fair world we might be protected from Ebola by eating foods in accordance with the Word of Wisdom, but I’m seriously so stressed out that meat, which seemed to be one of my few friends because it helped me by keep my blood sugar stable) is on the hit list. I am starving….and wouldn’t you know it, I’m still very overweight! I’m in a constant battle with my conscience because foods that seem to be okay to eat as a member of the church, don’t seem to work for me at all. Am I alone in this or are there others who’s bodies don’t seem to do well adhering to the Word of Wisdom??

Response from Jane
Dear Andrea: There is definitely an answer to your question! I encourage you to prayerful read the Word of Wisdom. Let the Lord know you are willing to do what He asks you to do, and mean it. Be open to new ways of thinking and then when you get a prompting from the Lord, embrace it, even if you don’t have all the answers yet. You might find something of value in these articles and webpage, “Gluten, Wheat, Grain (and other food sensitivities)” (http://discoveringthewordofwisdom.com/qas/food-sensitivities/). You can also contact me if you’d like more resources! http://discoveringthewordofwisdom.com/contact-me/

Richard Jensen
November 5, 2014
I get tired of all the world’s health woes being blamed on animals. D&C 49:19 says ” For, behold, the beasts of the field and fowls of the Everythingair, and that which cometh of the earth, is ordained for the use of man for food…”. Everything in moderation. Meat has it’s place in a balanced diet.

Response from Jane
Dear Richard: Thanks for your comment. I don’t personally know anyone who blames all the world’s health woes on meat. I certainly do not! But there is good scientific data to suggest that up to 80% of the chronic disease we see today is due to poor diet, including overconsumption of animal foods. The Lord ordained the flesh of animals for our use. He does not forbid it, but He also tell it is “pleasing” to Him if we reserve its use for times of need (see D&C 89:13, 15). Since meat is not healthy and it pleases the Lord if we abstain, why not give this suggestion a try and see how much better you feel? I believe D&C 49:18 supports this position beautifully (see: http://discoveringthewordofwisdom.com/about/the-word-of-wisdom/wow-faqs/command-to-abstain/). Note also that the Word of Wisdom says nothing about moderation (we are not, for example, to drink alcohol moderately). Bless you in your pursuit of excellent health!

Terry
November 12, 2014
There are inaccurcies in this article that ar continually perpetrated about meat causing obesity. As a farmer, I fatten cattle and pigs with high concentrate easily digestible starch, ie grain. The FDA food pyramid is in roughly the same proportion of grain to protien as my animal feedlot feeds. Meat is a healthy nutrition packed food that has been a staple of human diets for milennias. As moderation in all things is a prudent philosophy, I would recommend balanced use of grains and meats , fruits and vegetables. We are true omnivores for a reason, to be able to survive and replenish the earth. Each may seek his or her own path but obesity is not merely a factor of over consumption of meat.

Response from Jane
Dear Terry: Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I certainly agree that meat alone is not the cause of obesity. My point was that if we consistently eat an abundance of food (plant and/or animal food) this can lead to obesity. I also appreciate your opinion that “moderation in all things is a prudent philosophy,” but it is interesting that the Lord does not give this counsel in the Word of Wisdom. He does not ask us to use tobacco or alcohol in moderation. Nor does he ask us to use vegetables, fruits, or grains in moderation. While it is true that some cultures have made meat a “staple,” those same cultures suffer from the modern chronic diseases we find here in American. In contrast, the Lord asks us to make grains the “staff of life” (or staple of the diet). He does not ask us to use meat moderately. He asks us to use it “sparingly.” He also tells that it is pleasing to Him if we do not use it, except in times of need (winter, cold, famine, excess of hunger). Why not give the Lord’s counsel a try and see how it goes?

Barry H
November 19, 2014
Along with the other quotes, here’s one to consider from a General Conference talk referenced in one of the November 2014 Aaronic Priesthood Come, Follow Me lessons: “Young people, learn to use moderation and common sense in matters of health and nutrition, and particularly in medication. Avoid being extreme or fanatical or becoming a faddist. “For example, the Word of Wisdom counsels us to eat meat sparingly (see D&C 89:12). Lest someone become extreme, we are told in another revelation that “whoso forbiddeth to [eat meat] is not ordained of God” (D&C 49:18).” Boyd K. Packer, “The Word of Wisdom: The Principle and the Promises,” Ensign, May 1996, 17–19 Read the entire talk here: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1996/04/the-word-of-wisdom-the-principle-and-the-promises?lang=eng It seems to me that most of us need to do better at eating meat sparingly, but, according to Elder Packer, we should not go to the extreme of avoiding meat entirely.

Response from Jane
Thanks, Barry: I love Elder Packer’s words and counsel on the Word of Wisdom! I agree that the Lord’s counsel is that we each find the appropriate place between eating meat sparingly and forbidding the use of meats. Forbidding others from eating meat is not the way of the Lord, but there is absolutely no prohibition against Church members choosing to forego meat for any number of sound reasons. It is helpful to remember that the Lord tells us it is pleasing to Him if we don’t use meat except in times of winter, cold, famine, and excess of hunger (D&C 89:13, 15) and “wo be unto man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need.” (D&C 49:21). The Lord’s counsel is not an “extreme or fanatical” position, nor is it a commandment. Each of us gets to prayerfully study these scriptures and decide what the Lord’s counsel means to us as individuals. Our bodies are temples of God. Let’s treat them with the due respect they deserve and allow others the privilege of deciding what that means to them. Thanks for your comment!

George Thompson
December 1, 2014
Good Afternoon, The comma and D&C89 verse 13 are confusing at best. The eating of meat should be done sparingly, no argument. I still can’t accept abstinence at other times unless you consider the lack of refrigeration issues. I m much more concerned with wheat. Please read and comment on the following: http://links.mp2200.com/preview/113213/49942950/3af114add2004c5453dcac3a8c80c2b88dfe2db7 If this be true, the the wheat that we buy today is totally different from the wheat mentioned in D&C 89. What are we to do?

Response from Jane
Hi George! You be happy to know that I’ll be addressing the “refrigeration issue” next week in Meridian Magazine! As to wheat, I’ve researched and written on this topic at length. You can find my writings here: http://discoveringthewordofwisdom.com/qas/food-sensitivities/. As I note, “Yes, wheat has changed, so have strawberries, apples, tomatoes, carrots, and all other foods. ALL foods have changed. If you insist on eating only the foods as they existed in the Garden of Eden, that might be tricky.”

Jesse Brown
December 16, 2014
After the Mormon Battalion arrived in San Diego they complained about their daily ration of meat–over 5 pounds per day! Back in those times, people ate a lot of meat.Perhaps that was what the Lord was talking about when he advised us to eat meat sparingly. 5 pounds a day is way too much. But the “flesh of beasts” has been ordained for the use of man and I don’t have a guilt problem when I occasionally have a rack of ribs.

Response from Jane
I loved Leanne’s response:
LeanneDecember 17, 2014
@Jesse: I felt the same way for many years, and struggled to understand what “sparingly” meant. In fact, my family raised cattle, pigs, and chickens! I was shocked when I finally found the answer in verse 13 of the Word of Wisdom. It’s not a commandment to abstain from meat, but who doesn’t want to “please the Lord”? And I have to say, in just a month and a half, I have seen some dramatic changes in my health and energy. The proof for me has been the physical and spiritual blessings of eating this way.

DarlaG
December 17, 2014
What about verse 15, which seems to note that grains, like meat, are to be used sparingly, too. So, perhaps excess wheat, corn, oats, barley, etc. is not much better than excess meat consumption.Surely the old food pyramid recommendation of 6-11 servings a day is excessive. I, among many, did nothing but store fat eating that way- even if it was all almost exclusively whole wheat/ whole grain.

Response from Jane
DarlaG: Other readers have interpreted verse 15 as you have. Interestingly, Elder Joseph Fielding Smith gave his opinion that this is an incorrect interpretation. I’ve quoted Elder Smith and written on this topic here: D&C 89:15. Note also that the Lord ordained grains to be the “staff of life,” which means the staple of our diet, or where the bulk of our calories come from. I personally am impressed that the USDA recommendation fits with this aspect of the Word of Wisdom, though of course we should try to make most of these “whole grains.” Where we get into trouble is when we consume refined grains that include lots of added salt, fat, and sugar. If you believe you are getting fat on just the whole grains, may I recommend you take a close look at the rest of your diet? Rather than dropping the whole grains that the Lord ordained to be the staff of life, we might eliminate other parts of our diet that are less healthy: processed foods (including oils), junk foods, and animal foods. See more on this topic here: Gluten, Wheat, Grain.

Heather
December 19, 2014
The articles are interesting and well intentioned but not all people can tolerate wheat or gluten. We have chickens in our yard providing whole protein, organic eggs for our family. We do our utmost to prayerfully live a healthy lifestyle, using wholesome foods in the “season thereof.” We apply wisdom to our food choices so please call this diet a wfpb diet by all means, but to call it the word of wisdom diet implies others views do not comply and is quite off putting.

Response from Jane
Heather: You make a great point! I hope it is clear to everyone that what I write about is my interpretation of the Word of Wisdom. I also try to encourage everyone to prayerfully study the Word of Wisdom and get their own revelation from the Lord. I trust that you have done this, and I applaud you for following the inspiration you have received! What is also true is that (for all of us) God can only reveal to us what we are open and ready and willing to receive. Sometimes we mistake the inspiration we receive for ourselves as God’s final word on the topic when it may be just a step in the right direction for us. Note also that there are many grains we can choose from besides those with gluten.

I draw from the expertise of the whole food, plant-based experts because I feel they help us open our eyes to meanings in D&C 89 that we haven’t seen. I try to tie everything I write about to the actual words in D&C 89. I invite others to do the same. Again this is just my reading, but you’ll note that D&C 89 says something more specific than “wholesome foods,” it actually says “wholesome herbs.” The word “herbs” means “plants” (see the footnote). Note also that D&C 89 says nothing about feeding our families from the animals we raise ourselves, though I’m sure that is better than factory-raised animals. Hopefully we are paying close attention to the actual text in D&C 89, carefully doing our research, and then seeking the Lord’s guidance in prayer. Bless you for doing all you feel is good for your family!

Deborah Bake
January 20, 2015
The author of this article has made an impact on my life. Her articles are always well written and have so much “food” for thought. Thank you for the words of wisdom and practical advice. Can’t wait to share this with my friends and family. I wish someone would make a menu showing an example of what we could eat for 1 day that supplied all the nutrients, protein, and calcium needed for a day. How much plant food do we need to be healthy? What about oils?

Response from Jane

Dear Deborah: Thanks for your kind words! Whole plant foods are so loaded with protein, calcium and the other nutrients you need that as long as you are eating only the healthy whole plants foods and getting enough calories, it is very easy to get all the nutrients you need, except Vitamin B12, which you can get from supplements. You can find some free 10-day menu plans here. Vegetable oils are highly processed foods, not whole foods. Just like we can extract sugar from whole plants, we extract oils from whole plants. Neither are whole foods. Both can be damaging to the body. You can read more about why WFPB experts don’t recommend oils here. Bless you!

Leave a Reply