Archive for allergies

“It was like a huge light bulb going off in my head”

cheri-and-david-meinersBy: Cheri J. Meiners

When I was about six years old, it was determined that I had an allergy to wheat, chocolate, strawberries and several other foods. I broke out in hives when I ate them. It was hard to cheat since my mother was careful about eliminating those foods, and all the lunch ladies at school knew what I couldn’t have on my tray!

As a teenager, I tested positive for several environmental allergies, which required weekly shots. On my mission in Italy, I gave myself the weekly injections. After my mission, I saw an alternative doctor who recommended a diet that was very close to the Word of Wisdom. I eliminated processed foods and sugar, and I ate meat and cheese only as condiments. I also took various food supplements. With these changes, I felt that my health greatly improved.

I tried to live this lifestyle when I married and had my family of six children, although we had much more “junk food” in the house than I used to eat. My greatest health challenge was during a period of great stress in my life. People asked if I had been under a heat lamp because the skin on my face and upper body spontaneously burned and peeled. My eyes, especially, were often painfully swollen and burning, and during flare-ups it was difficult to maintain my rigorous schedule with six young children. During this time I was extremely diligent about following the eating regimen I had followed earlier. After several months, the condition eventually cleared up. I also lost 45 pounds and was at my goal weight.

As time passed and I felt better, I didn’t feel the urgency to be so strict with my diet. I gained back weight, and I started to have various joint and other aches that seemed to be a part of aging. At age 49, I began going to the gym 3-5 times a week to improve my health. I never lost weight over this seven-year period, but the exercise did stabilize my weight during this time.

In November 2014, I read an article by Jane Birch in Meridian Magazine. The first article I read was a bit shocking to me. Even though I had previously tried to avoid meat and dairy (and was allergic to eggs), I had never really considered it feasible or healthy to totally eliminate animal products, much less oil. The next time I read one of her articles, however, I was convinced by the logic, and it felt right. I decided to try it.

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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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“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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“The inspiration I received was to read the Word of Wisdom”

Candice BithellBy: Candice Bithell

For over 20 years I have struggled with stomach issues, asthma, and horrible seasonal allergies. My stomach issues and severe allergies both began when I was about 17 years old. I struggled with nausea, bloating, reflux, and diarrhea. I would get horrible hay fever every year that lasted from about April until October. I would get sinus infections. I was put on two allergy medications, including a sinus spray that I used for 26 years to prevent the sneezing, sniffling, watery eyes, and sinus infections.

I saw my first gastroenterologist at the age of 24 because I was having severe pain in my chest and food felt like it was coming back up when I ate. The gastroenterologist ordered a series of tests including an endoscopy, colonoscopy, barium swallow, nasogastric testing, etc. When I went in for my results I was told that every test was POSITIVE. I was diagnosed with H. pylori, reflux, esophageal spasm, esophageal stricture, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-D). I was put on a handful of pills everyday, but I still struggled with stomach problems. It was during this same time that I was diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma and began taking an inhaler everywhere I went.

I lived this way for a long time, always looking for something to help my stomach. I discovered I was lactose intolerant and stopped eating dairy, which helped a little, but not enough. Over the years I have taken pills for nausea, pills for diarrhea, pills to slow down my digestive process, pills, pills, pills. About seven years ago my doctor discovered that I had hyperinsulinemia and was pre-diabetic. I stopped eating sugar, but I replaced it with sugar-free stuff, which hurt my stomach a lot. I felt like I couldn’t eat anything!

Because I was active, I thought I was healthy, but I was very thin and my diet was lousy. I took up distance running four years ago and struggled with what is known as “runners gut.” I would run with a feeling of nausea almost everyday.

Then about two years ago, I had a powerful spiritual experience in the temple. I felt the love of my Savior very, very strongly. I was going through some difficult things, and I really needed that feeling. It got me through that time, but I wanted that feeling all of the time, so I began to pray about what I needed to change. This led me to a path that included trying to do the will of my Heavenly Father and following the promptings for changes that needed to be made.

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“I knew I never needed or wanted to eat animal products again”

Paul & Jenni BroomheadBy: Jenni Broomhead

In high school and college I tried every diet under the sun, but ever since I’ve been married I have always eaten a normal western diet.

I became aware of plant-based eating when my friend had cancer and we read The China Study in our research to find a good diet for her. It made sense to me, but I wanted to compare it with the Word of Wisdom. I noticed a statement in D&C 89:13 that I hadn’t thought about before, which completely supported a plant-based diet:

“And it is pleasing unto me that they [animal flesh] should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.”

After I read that, I knew I never needed or wanted to eat animal products again.

It was a relatively easy change. I have always liked vegetables, beans, and legumes, so I didn’t have to learn to eat many new foods. I only had to cut out some of the old ones. With Pinterest, blogs, and other social media at our fingertips these days, it is very easy to find recipes and ideas for plant-based eating, even while travelling, and I have found that restaurants are very willing to accommodate my way of eating and provide me with delicious food ideas to try at home.

I didn’t demand that my family change. Although they think I’m weird, they don’t care what I eat or don’t eat. I hope that as my kids get older they will learn that plant-based eating is best for them and they will know how to do it because of watching me. Once my last two kids have left the nest, I don’t intend to buy or prepare meat at all. My husband will just have to eat healthier at home by default!

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“I’ve reclaimed my connection with God and his Son”

Janet-Carter_before-afterBy: Janet Carter

I am a 46-year-old mother of six children, and during each of my pregnancies I was close to 100 pounds overweight. Living life as an overweight person and raising six children took a toll on my body.

When I was 34, I tried the Atkins Diet in hopes of losing weight; just one of the many diets I’d tried over the years. I lost 45 pounds on Atkins, but my inability to sustain the weight-loss over the long-term—due to how bad I felt most of the time from eating all that meat and dairy—was frustrating. Part of my frustration also stemmed from knowing that eating mostly meat, cheese, eggs, and butter was poor health logic.

While I was on the Atkins diet, I developed sinus allergies for the first time in my life. It started out with what I thought was just a bad cold; except the cold didn’t go away. So I went to an allergist for testing, and the results indicated that I was allergic to almost all plants and animals.

Given this new information, I set out to purify my home of toxins and other allergy sources, and I also began taking antihistamines daily to lessen my suffering. But I remained sick. My doctor’s suggestion was that I lose weight and exercise more. He said the way I ate likely added to the inflammation in my body, but he made no dietary recommendations other than to choose a good weight-loss program and adhere to it, noting that while this would increase my health, I would likely suffer from allergies the rest of my life.

Exercising wasn’t difficult for me since I had always played sports in my youth and knew how to work hard. I went to the gym and lifted weights, and I walked and jogged. But I just couldn’t stick to any weight-reduction program for very long. I came to see over time that I didn’t simply lack willpower to adhere to a diet; I had an intense addiction to food, with little idea how to overcome it. I ended up gaining more weight in time, eventually reaching a high of 275 pounds. My allergies remained as bad as ever.

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“I feel Heavenly Father is pleased that I am trying to live better”

Leilani GómezBy: Leilani Gómez

I decided to be a vegetarian in the summer of 2011 before joining the LDS Church. I had already given up red meat because of all the information I had heard and read about it being bad for our health. As I slowly began being exposed to more information on the meat industry, I decided to give up chicken as well. I decided I would eat fish and shrimp on occasion, but then I stopped eating that too.

Prior to becoming vegetarian, my family and I began making changes in our diets, such as not buying cookies and other processed foods, not buying sugar, not drinking soda or sugary fruit juices, and not drinking coffee, etc. Being vegetarian was part of my newfound interest in being healthy. I was still not eating an ideal diet, though, and I found myself constantly lacking energy and not feeling my best.

When I started investigating the Church a few months after becoming vegetarian, I felt great about the Word of Wisdom and the way it seemed to perfectly support my ideas about an ideal diet (including not drinking coffee and vegetarianism).

After joining the Church, I had lots of up and downs with my diet. I struggled because I didn’t always replace meat with nutrient-rich foods. I’ve been through phases of eating lots of meat and dairy substitutions, junk-food binging periods, and even periods of skipping meals because of lack of hunger (I need to gain, not lose weight). The Word of Wisdom and the Church’s emphasis on physical health (and how it affects our spiritual health) has kept me happily struggling through it all, though, and I am making changes as I go.

Now, in 2014, I feel like I have finally reached a stable point in my diet and my lifestyle in general. I strive to eat plenty of raw fruits and vegetables. I avoid processed foods, and I try to make sure that I am meeting my daily nutritional requirements as well as eating enough calories. I had been eating cheese and eggs occasionally since going vegetarian, but I’ve recently decided to become fully vegan. I was starting to develop some kind of allergy to eggs and dairy, which is another reason why I went vegan. Not eating those has definitely eliminated discomfort and itchiness.

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Gluten, Wheat, Grain (and other food sensitivities)

By  Jane Birch

This page is an addendum to three articles published in Meridian Magazine. Before reading this page, I recommend interested readers first study these articles  (including the footnotes):

Here are other articles I’ve written on carbohydrate and low-carb diets:

Addendum to Meridian Articles

I will not be going through the “evidence” presented against grains point by point. This evidence inevitably includes truths, half-truths, and incorrect ideas, along with a lot of suppositions. Science has not and will not investigate every claim since the burden of proof is on those who propose new theories that challenge the established claims backed by the current weight of evidence. So far, no one has produced scientific proof that any grain, including wheat, is harmful to the widespread population. It is therefore most reasonable to include “wholesome” (not highly processed) grains (including those with gluten) in one’s diet (unless you are part of the small minority of people who don’t do well with wheat or some other type of grain).

No doubt science will slowly shed light on many topics related to grains, but those who believe grains are fundamentally harmful will continue to come up with new theories as to why they are harmful. This issue will continue to be hotly debated long after all of us have all left this earth. In fact, it is likely not possible for science to conclusively prove that gluten, wheat, and/or grains are either good or bad for humans. The topic is too broad, too complex, and contains far too many variables for a complete resolution. But this is true for most topics in nutrition. Nevertheless, I believe the scientific evidence (which is certainly backed by the Word of Wisdom) suggests that the vast majority of people do very well on grains. While a small minority of people will continue to have problems with some grains, others could become partly or fully tolerant by allowing their bodies to heal on a whole food, plant-based diet.

Below I include the following:

1. Points to consider

2. Answers to frequently asked questions

3. Suggestions for what to do if you are sensitive to wheat or other foods

4. Helpful references for further study

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“I believe every verse in the Word of Wisdom”

Rogan TaylorBy: Rogan Taylor

I grew up in the 1960’s, and I can still remember the television commercials for cigarettes. I remember seeing the man on the horse in the great outdoors, smoking and promoting his brand. It wasn’t long after viewing those ads that the science proving smoking is bad for us resulted in cigarette commercials being banned. As a child, I would read the Word of Wisdom, and I remember thinking, “Wow, the Word of Wisdom taught these principles almost 150 years ago, and now science is just figuring it out.” Over the last 20 years, as I’ve studied diet and diet-related research, I’ve come to believe that the Word Wisdom goes beyond warning us against addictive substances—giving us knowledge, for example, that it is pleasing to God that we do not eat animals unless it is necessary. This too is now being confirmed by science.

My mother was the first person who introduced me to the idea that eating a meal without a meat entrée was okay. She made a wonderful garden skillet full of vegetables, and then served us a small handful of almonds as a side dish. We loved it! I also have a memory of my bishop and his family being vegetarians, though, I thought maybe this was a little extreme. But not long after, when I was married and started studying medical research, I came across a study that linked red meat to breast cancer. I remember talking with my wife and suggesting to her that we probably should stop eating beef to avoid any chance of her developing breast cancer. Even though both our grandfathers were cattle ranchers, that did not deter us from making changes to our diet.

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“I am awed at how the ‘destroying angel’ has passed me by again and again”

Winona DaviesBy: Winona Davies

In 1989, I was 50 pounds overweight (it could have been much more, but because my genes are good, it was “only” 50 pounds). I had gotten divorced a year earlier. I was depressed and struggling to care for my large family. We relied heavily on government help to buy food and ate a pretty “standard” diet. I’d been exposed to some herbal and alternative health experts in my teens, so I knew, for example, that sugar wasn’t good for me or the kids, but it seemed too hard to avoid, so as a single mother, I just didn’t try. I had numerous health problems, though I was only 31 years old, including not being able to sleep because I woke up several times a night to take antacids. I also had gall bladder problems and allergies.

By June of 1989, things had gotten pretty desperate for me, and my bishop decided I needed a break before I broke. He arranged for my children’s father and new wife to care for the kids while I took a bus to my parent’s home 350 miles away. On the bus, I read a book about co-dependency which suggested that if I identified with the book (I did) I was probably a drug addict, an alcoholic, or a compulsive overeater. I was active in the Church and had never used either drugs or alcohol, but I had to take an honest look at my food. I came home and joined a 12 Step group for my problem and realized that my main addictive foods included meat and dairy. I gave up meat then, but I struggled for another 15 years before I could face the idea of giving up dairy, and then only because my compulsive eating was again out of control, and it was absolutely clear that the only foods that were really serious problems for me were dairy-based.

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