Overcoming Challenges on a WFPB Diet

By Jane Birch

While some people find it relatively easy to switch to a WFPB diet, most people should expect a challenge. Big change is usually difficult, and we should expect it to require dedication, persistence, a willingness to suffer some temporary discomfort, and a determination not to give up until we succeed.

Most things in life that are worthwhile take effort: getting an education, building a home, establishing a career, and raising children. Taking care of our bodies and feeding ourselves appropriately is one of the important tasks of earth-life and is essential to our well-being, both physically and spiritually. Trying to figure this out is worthwhile, even if it takes some struggle and trial and error. Since Satan has a vested interest in our continuing to eat unhealthy foods that deaden our sensitivity to the Spirit, expect and prepare for some opposition. But remember that the Lord cares even more what we eat, and He will help us if we are determined and reach out to Him.

Once you are convinced that a WFPB diet is worth a try, you will face a number of challenges. These are probably the three biggest. They are discussed individually on separate pages:

  1. Figuring out what to eat
  2. Giving up certain foods (overcoming food addictions)
  3. Dealing with other people (handling social situations)

Not every person faces all three challenges, but many do. Each challenge is difficult, and each takes time and effort to work through, but all can be overcome if you are willing to do what it takes to make it work.

Remember, Remember

If making the switch is not easy, it is definitely worth it. Look at all the sick people around us. What is your health worth? Yes, eating this way is not always easy, but living with cancer or heart disease is not easy either. Believe me, if you get heart disease, you’ll learn to live with it because you’ll have no choice. I would rather freely choose to eat in a way to prevent heart disease in the first place.

I believe the problem is not knowledge; it is commitment. All the scriptures implore us to “remember.” It is right there in the Word of Wisdom, “remember to keep and do these sayings” (D&C 89:18). We know what to do to take better care of our bodies, but it is easy for us to not “remember” to make the best choices. Perhaps one reason is that we feel we are only hurting ourselves. We don’t remember that we are not our own, that we were “bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). And what a price that was. “Therefore,” Paul admonishes, “glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20). If we believe this, what will it take to help us remember?

Ultimately, health reasons may not be enough to help us remember. I do believe our ability to commit ourselves to eating well is greatly strengthened when we see it in light of our religion and commitment to God, when we do it because we have a testimony that it is pleasing to Him. Gandhi, a life-long vegetarian, wrote:

Forty years ago I used to mix freely with vegetarians. . . . I notice also that it is those persons who became vegetarians because they are suffering from some disease or other—that is from purely the health point of view—it is those persons who largely fall back. I discovered that for remaining staunch to vegetarianism a man requires a moral basis.

Fortunately, we have the ultimate “moral” reason for eating a wholesome diet: an amazing revelation from God called the Word of Wisdom.

Last Updated: February 14, 2015


  1. Great suggestions. I was at Los Hermanos (Mexican restaurant in Provo) last Wednesday night. Nothing on the menu was vegetarian. I talked to the waiter, who was very accommodating. My wife and I ended up ordering one large fajita plate and sharing it. The chef prepared it with no meat, gave us corm tortillas instead of white flour tortillas, and provided vegetarian refried beans. The plate came with cheese and white rice, but I didn’t eat them. The food was delicious and our friends were not offended by our WFPB approach.

    • Scott, Thank you for sharing! Learning to eat at restaurants has been, for me, one of the most challenging parts of changing to eating whole foods. I have been learning by doing and making lots of mistakes. The first time we ate at a Mexican restaurant, I ordered a burrito with refried beans and no rice. Turned out that the burrito came smothered in cheese sauce. I ate it, but was physically miserable the next day, coughing throughout the day. The next time we ate at the same restaurant, I decided I would get fajitas and give the chicken to my son. However, I discovered on the menu a vegetarian section which I had totally missed the first time. However, I remembered to ask them to hold the cheese. At a barbeque restaurant, I ordered a baked sweet potato. My husband actually wished he had ordered the same! It was delicious. I did not feed deprived at all. There is one restaurant that our friends love that only serves one vegen dish, a small side dish of steamed broccoli, which made it impossible to “hide” the whole foods diet I have chosen, so I shared the benefits that I was experiencing: six inches off my waist measurement, weight loss, less congestion, more energy, etc.

  2. Jane, Thank you for sharing this information! I am going to copy it and read over it often. My original reason for changing my diet was to improve my health, which is pretty good for my age. However, gradually increasing weight and upper respiratory congestion have been a concern. That is why I stopped drinking milk several years ago. So, it is especially helpful to know that I need to seek more help from the Spirit and make the commitment spiritual as well as physical. For me, it has been easier to say “no dairy” and “no meat”. If I start making exceptions, it becomes more difficult.

  3. I without any doubt know that this is the correct way to eat, both physically and spiritually. I struggle with going 100% mainly because my husband and 5 children are not on board. I make my own meals, they have theirs, and it is very exhausting to not cook and eat together. Our house is filled with sugar filled cereals, snacks, white bread, etc. The time it takes to make 2 different meals is killing me. I do get exhausted and go to the emotional fix of chocolate or a Diet Coke. I just need more will power, but it is HARD when you don’t have a team effort.

    • Wow, Michelle! You are right. Fixing two meals can definitely be exhausting. Bless you! I wonder if you can counsel with your husband and then children about how to make this more manageable for you. Some women, for example, prepare WFPB meals and then add animal foods to just part of the meal (or even just put cheese and/or meat on the table for those who wish to add them). Your husband doesn’t need to eat this way for you to be successful, but what if you asked for his help in supporting you by working out more manageable arrangements? How old are your children? If they are young, perhaps they should not be offered so many choices about how they eat. If they are older, perhaps they can take more responsibility for fixing some of their own meals (or adding unhealthy ingredients to their own meals).

      Consider also joining some WFPB Facebook groups where women discuss other strategies for living family members who are not on board. I’m happy to help in any way I can!

    • I raised my kids in the way you are describing, with cereal every morning, cookies, sweets, snacks, etc. Now I know better, but my 5 kids are young adults and no longer live at home. If I could do it over again, I would NOT have this stuff in the house. You are the shopper. Just do not replace this stuff when it runs out. Do not buy any more processed, packaged stuff. There will be war at first. People may go hungry, of their own choosing. But if you start, it will become the norm after awhile. Unfortunately a lot of the load is on MOM when it comes to food in the house and what the family eats. And it is a heavy load.

      My daughter, who is a health coach, recommends replacing unhealthy food with the healthy. The more you do this, the less unhealthy your family will eat. Baby steps.

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