Archive for children

“Eating the way I do brings me joy”

Manda Dangerfield FamilyBy: Manda Dangerfield

Growing up and into in my late twenties, I ate what the USDA food pyramid said I needed to eat daily: grains, milk and other dairy, meat, fruits, and vegetables. I really liked ice cream, milk chocolate, and other candy and processed foods. Grains were cold cereal, bread, and pasta that wasn’t whole grain.

My journey to a whole foods plant-based diet probably began in 2007. My husband and I had been married for three years and were new parents. Our baby girl was ready, at five months, to eat “solids.” My stepmom had given me a recipe book for baby food, and I liked it. I understood that we would save money by not buying baby food if possible. I made our daughter a variety of foods by steaming foods and using a mini food processor, or just mashing if it was banana. Some of the foods were vegetables that I personally didn’t grow up eating, or didn’t remember enjoying, including spinach and some kinds of squash. I know I had tasted cooked spinach but didn’t like it. I discovered that I didn’t hate cabbage, I only hated the ingredients in coleslaw sauce! I loved the ratatouille, other simple combinations, and the plain steamed cauliflower that I made for her. I did get pre-made jars or containers sometimes for convenience. The ones with meat in them didn’t smell so good, and I knew there was a difference between the pre-made veggies and my freshly-made veggies. I remember thinking one day, “Why am I feeding her a jar of lamb? We don’t eat lamb.” (And now I wonder why anyone would want to eat a baby sheep.) But we did eat a pretty typical American diet with other meat in it.

When our daughter was almost a year old, and not quite done breastfeeding, we started having her drink whole cow’s milk, like we thought we were supposed to in order for her to be healthy. By the time I took her for her twelve-month doctor appointment she had pretty bad eczema. Eventually — I wish I would have kept a journal of all this! — I read that dairy has been shown to be connected to skin problems, and I realized that her eczema had started at the same time as her introduction to cow’s milk. However, the doctor had said nothing about diet, only to bathe our daughter in plain water and put a specific ointment on her skin. Later, when I stopped giving her cow’s milk, cheese, and yogurt, the eczema went away. A few times it seems that her arms have gotten a little eczema again, after she has chosen to eat some dairy when away from home.

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“He was not hiding it”

Katie Johnson FamilyBy: Katie Johnson

Since becoming a new mother in 2003, I began to develop a passion for nutrition and healthy cooking. I tried hard to teach and feed my family good and healthy things. Over the years, I learned to make homemade wheat bread and enjoyed taking healthy recipes and adapting them to make them even healthier. I didn’t, however, fully adopt all the things I was learning and often fell back into the S.A.D. (Standard American Diet). Through much of my own personal study, as well as trial and error, I learned many good nutritional principles but with this also came “the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture.” While I see that I’ve been guided line upon line, I can see more clearly that it all was meant to come together to ultimately teach me light and truth.

Health trials

During the time of having our family, I began to develop anxiety and post-partum depression. I soon found that having a family was taking its toll on my body and my emotions. Pregnancies were accompanied by weight gain and hormone changes. Weight gain called for dieting and weight loss, finances caused stress, motherhood brought time constraints, and being a support to my husband through school taxed my mind, body, and spirit. I spent many years struggling with whether I should take medication to help alleviate the stress and just put up with the accompanying side effects. I decided that I was not willing to deal with those side effects and preferred to seek more natural ways of coping, such as yoga and vitamin supplements. Throughout the years, I also rode a giant roller coaster of different fad diets, including several versions of the oh-so-loved “high-protein, low-carb” diets.

In early 2011, I was 29, had born three children, had struggled through years of schooling for my husband, and we were now embarking on opening our own law practice in the worst economy since the Great Depression. It was then that I discovered a lump on my right breast. Shortly afterwards, my OBGYN also discovered that I had an ovarian cyst. I was terrified and knew some things with my health just were not right. I received a breast exam, and I was told I needed an ultrasound to check for cancer.

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“I charged boldly ahead into a beautiful new wonderland”

Lindsay MaxfieldBy: Lindsay Maxfield

In the summer of 2014, on a night much like every other night, I carried one of my three children up the stairs for bed. It felt like the 100th time that day that I carried someone up or downstairs, and it very well might have been — just a few months earlier, our family of three grew to a family of five when I gave birth to identical twins.

Twin pregnancy is not for the faint of heart. It is a grueling, physically demanding task that left me nearly unable to walk by the end of those nine long months. Of course giving birth to two healthy and beautiful baby girls made it all worth it, but being able to finally reclaim my body as my own was the icing on the cake. What’s more, I gained a newfound appreciation for my body that no other experience could have given me. I was fiercely proud of what I had accomplished and realized that my body is indeed miraculous, incomparable, a divine gift, and capable of a herculean task given to few.

But despite this newfound respect, my body still was not quite able to do all the things I needed it to do as a mother of three young children. At least not comfortably. I realized this that summer night as I paused at the top of the stairs, ever so slightly out of breath, and had this sobering thought: My babies would keep getting bigger, and I’d still need to keep carrying them up and down the stairs.

I knew that if I wanted to be able to accomplish the physical tasks yet ahead, I needed to treat my body much better. Since my life already felt like a never-ending marathon of child wrangling and laundry basket hauling (among other countless household duties), I wasn’t about to turn to exercise to improve my health. Instead, I turned to diet.

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“I was thrilled with how smooth the transition was”

Ashley ParkinsonBy: Ashley Parkinson

I have loved nutrition and healthy eating for years. I have tried so many eating styles because I was curious to see if they felt right for our family. My driving force in searching for a healthy diet was really all about my children. I wanted to make sure that I was nourishing them with the best nutrition. I researched a lot of different eating philosophies, each one promising to be healthier than the last. We would test these eating styles out to see if we felt they were truly impacting our family for the best. We tried vegetarian, raw food, vegan, and of course lapses into the standard American diet in between. As we tested each eating style, we felt that they bounced from one extreme to the other. Our home base for nutrition was always the Word of Wisdom, and though some eating styles came close, none quiet meshed with the revelation given in the 89th section of the Doctrine and Covenants.

I studied the Word of Wisdom with a lot of effort, trying to make heads or tails of all the information within the scriptures with all the contradictory eating habits so prevalent around us. I wanted something that was modern, current, and avoided large portions of meat, eggs, dairy, etc. I was impressed when I learned of The China Study because it was more in line with the expectations I had for an ideal explanation of a balanced diet. In his extensive research, Dr. Campbell describes a direct correlation between health and nutrition and sheds a lot of light on the value of plant-based eating. I started looking for a book that merges the principles of The China Study with the revelations in the 89th section of the Doctrine and Covenants.

I came upon Jane Birch’s amazing book, Discovering the Word of Wisdom, when I was doing a search for any new books on the topic that I hadn’t seen before. I was curious after seeing so many positive reviews and checking out her beautiful website, and I wanted to read her take on some questions I had about milk, eggs, and things of that nature.

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“My stirrings as a child were correct”

Julie BealBy: Julie Beal

My journey to plant-based eating started when I attended Brigham Young University at age 17. I was not a member of the Church at that time. Although I lived several states away, I was drawn there due to the clean living and purity I had noticed among new LDS friends I’d met while in a beauty pageant. Another contestant felt I had a happy glow and invited me to church!

I loved learning the Lord’s teachings at BYU. I was particularly proud of earning an A in my college Book of Mormon class, as it was all new to me. I had been intimidated by that class and tried really hard to do well. I was also a serious student of the gospel. Reading the New Testament on my own the previous year had prepared me for all I would later study in my quest for truth.

The knowledge I gained of the doctrine at that time has blessed me immensely through the years. As an investigator, I was able to take any doubt or concern that my family expressed and study it out, make inquiries, and then gain a testimony of all of the details prior to baptism. I respected my parents enough to do this, and it has given me an even greater foundation in my faith and beliefs.

I took the same approach to the beautiful latter-day revelation of Doctrine and Covenants Section 89, the Word of Wisdom, which is instruction from God for our health. I took the Word of Wisdom literally, believing it means what it states. I loved knowing that God is not some mythical, magical entity, but truly a loving Father in Heaven who teaches his children how to live in the happiest and most joyful way.

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“The Spirit confirmed to us that we were on the right track”

Mantlo FamilyBy: Leslie Mantlo

My daughter Meg, now 11, has struggled with bellyaches, headaches, stiff achy joints, and troubled sleeping for many years. I have taken her to the doctor time and again, but there have never been any real answers. It has been so frustrating. When I have taken her in, the doctor would attribute her bellyaches to constipation, which was partially true, but she wouldn’t really take the problem seriously. Her “solution” was to prescribe the regular use of laxatives (to a small child?) and give her gummy fiber supplements.

We tried everything the doctor suggested, hoping for results, but we never got lasting results, maybe a day or two of relief was all. It was very trying, especially for our daughter. No matter what she ate or drank it ended in a bellyache. She wasn’t sleeping well at all. It got to the point where she was not able to concentrate during learning activities so schooling was incredibly challenging.

I finally heeded a friend’s advice to contact a doctor in Colorado Springs that she’d had great success with. I counseled with him on our daughter’s symptoms, and he immediately suggested that she likely had an intestinal yeast infection. He made many dietary recommendations that, initially, I found pretty heavy. He pulled us off of white flour, white sugar, cow’s milk, artificial colors and flavors — all five days before Halloween 2013. I was like, “What are we supposed to eat if we can’t eat any of that???” He also prescribed particular supplements, including probiotics, and asked us to faithfully keep food diaries.

For me this was “experiment upon the word” and “come and see.” We were at a point where we just needed solid answers and solutions. We needed for our daughter to get better. We needed a medical professional to take the situation seriously. It was affecting all of us. So we jumped on board, supplements, food diaries, and all, faithfully! It was very challenging, but I was amazed at how our whole family rallied around our daughter. We all did this new diet together.

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“I like the foods my mom makes”

Sophie Drechsel

Three months ago, I featured the story of my beautiful sister, Parie Drechsel. Today, I’m happy to feature her daughter (and my sweet niece), Sophie!

By: Sophie Drechsel

After my Aunt Jane came to visit our house, my mom read her book, and then our family started eating a plant-based diet. Now, we don’t eat any meat or dairy, and we don’t use very much oil. We also don’t eat any eggs.

I felt fine about changing our food. Before this, we didn’t have meat very often. For a second thing, I hate cheese and eggs. So it was fine with me. I don’t like even the smell of cheese!

Before changing our diet, I didn’t like cupcakes, but I did like candy like suckers. Now my mom makes treats like baked apples and bananas with cinnamon and maple syrup.

I like the foods my mom makes. I like mushrooms, rice and beans, and grapes and vegetables.

One time when I was shopping with a friend and her mother, we went to a noodle place. They had lots and lots of meat, but I told them I don’t eat things with meat. My friend asked me, “How can you get all the stuff you need?” I told her I get it from fruits and vegetables.

I think it is sad that people eat animals because sometimes they’ll just kill a baby animal, and they don’t get to live their life.

I like to eat this way because it can help others to eat this way. That will help them so they don’t get sick. And it will help more animals to live.

Sophie Drechsel is 8 years old and lives in Columbus, Indiana. She loves to read, play piano, dance, and make crafts.

“Hodgkin’s Lymphoma made me the perfect student”

Katherine ScottBy: Katherine Scott

One of the most liberating pieces of knowledge I have learned is that the human body has the ability to heal itself. It has the power to heal any ailment or disease. Changing the diet is the ticket. If we continue to feed our bodies the same foods that made us sick in the first place (the typical dead American diet), then the body will not have the vitality it needs to heal. Changing to a vegan, living food diet provides the vitality for each cell in the body to detox and heal. This information is the hidden treasure that has been buried and most of us never find it, but “when the student is ready the teacher appears.” I WAS READY!

Nine months of chemical onslaught from conventional treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma made me the perfect student. I was ready to soak up everything I needed to know to get out from under the grip of fear. The fear of the cancer reoccurring was with me every moment of every day. I held a negative vision of a dire prognosis during my first check-up scan after I had finished treatment. I thought to myself, “I can’t live like this, fearing the worst.”

I wanted a day without fear. Ann Wigmore did more than that. She opened the door for me to the knowledge of green juices, living foods, and a way of eating that restores the body’s ability to heal itself. The information that is contained in her book, The Wheatgrass Book, inspired me so much that I immediately followed the instructions on how to grow wheatgrass. I don’t recall it being difficult. I obtained trays, organic soil, organic seeds, and a set of shelves, and set them up in my kitchen. I was living in London at the time and had no problem growing it. I took delight in seeing how quickly the grass grew.

The juice didn’t taste all that great, but I knew it was powerful stuff. There were times when just the smell of the grass juice would make me feel nauseated. I remedied that by holding my nose as I drank it! Because I knew it was good for me I religiously consumed 2 ounces of juice every morning. That wasn’t too hard to do for my health and peace of mind. That was way back in 1996, and I am thankful to say I have not needed the service of a physician since that time.

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“We love the food. We love how we feel.”

Michelle Jones FamilyBy: Michelle Jones

Our family was introduced to the whole food plant-based (WFPB) diet on March 23, 2013 when we watched Forks over Knives. My husband walked in the door that night to the exclamations of our elementary-aged boys saying, “Guess what, Dad! We’re vegan!” Boy, was he surprised.

With a host of health problems, including a recent three-year collapse, I was desperate for answers to my health woes and willing to try anything—although I did have reservations about a diet that didn’t include meat, dairy, or eggs. That went against everything I had ever learned in school.

We had always eaten lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, but, at the time, we also had four dairy goats that we milked twice a day. I made yogurt and cheese several times a week, and we drank all the goat milk we wanted. Our ducks provided us with five fresh eggs every day, which I also managed to use with no problem. Meat wasn’t as big of an issue for us. With seven children (six of whom are boys), I always tried to stretch meat as far as possible—frying it and mixing it into our soups, chili, casseroles, etc. But I could immediately see that eliminating not only meat, dairy, and eggs, but also refined flour, sugar, and oils from our diet was going to be a hardship.

And it was. In spite of the four vegan cookbooks that my enthusiastic son ordered online from the library while we were watching Forks over Knives, I was at a loss. I had cooked from scratch for our family for twenty years, yet didn’t know how to cook without those “staples.” The first few weeks were a cooking nightmare. It felt like all I did was stand in the kitchen all day and chop fruits and vegetables. Physically, I felt miserable—tired and moody with lots of headaches.

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“I find so much joy as I prepare nutritious meals”

Anne Marie Yates FamilyBy: Ann Marie Yates

I first heard the term “plant-based diet” a year and a half ago. I was nearing the birth of my fifth baby and was anxious to lose the baby weight and get back into shape. I had successfully lost weight in the past on a high-protein, low-carb regimen, so I visited a body builder web site, ordered protein powders and selected menus and workouts to begin as soon as possible after my baby was born.

In the meantime, my sister told me about a documentary on Netflix called Hungry for Change. I watched it, and then I watched Forks Over Knives. Both films outline the dangers of eating the standard American diet (SAD) and show the benefits of eating a variety of whole, natural foods. Forks Over Knives introduced me to a wealth of information about the danger of animal protein, which was completely new to me.

I knew immediately I should not follow my high-protein, low-carb weight loss plan. I ordered books from many of the experts in the documentaries including Colin Campbell, Rip Esselstyn, John McDougall, and Joel Fuhrman. I read everything I could about a plant-based diet and was impressed with how closely it follows the Word of Wisdom. I had always had a nagging feeling that the “body-building” diet was not in line with the Word of Wisdom, but I didn’t realize modern research so closely backs up the “do’s” in the Word of Wisdom and not just the “don’ts.”

One of my favorite parts of more fully living the truths found in the Word of Wisdom is learning how following a plant-based diet can prevent most, if not all of the commonly accepted diseases related to aging. Last spring, my mom lost her fourth sibling to cancer, my beloved Aunt Wilma. I felt very helpless as I realized that cancer seems to run in my family, and I prayed to know how to eat as healthfully as possible to avoid future illnesses. After watching the documentaries, I felt empowered that I could control my own health destiny. I decided to have my cholesterol tested to get a starting point to go from, and was shocked when the results came back high! I committed to six months of not eating animal products of any kind. I was retested in February and my cholesterol was down 30 points and is now in the “safe” zone. I am striving to lower it even more, and I love how healthy and strong I feel when I follow this way of eating. My migraines, body aches, acne, mood swings and cravings are greatly diminished, if not gone altogether.

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