When I was only 8 years old, my maternal grandmother died of heart disease. She was 51. My grandpa died of cancer in his 70’s, and my other grandpa has had three heart attacks, a triple bypass surgery, and now wears a pacemaker. We do not have good “genes.” Subsequently, I exercised and fad dieted throughout my childhood and teenage years.
My interest in health continued into college where I studied fitness and wellness. A week after I graduated, my husband and I welcomed our first child into the world. She was perfect, except for one thing: she was a colicky baby. She would scream and cry and her little body would writhe in pain, night after night. By the early morning hours I was usually crying with her. After trying anything and everything to try to ease her discomfort, the only thing I could do was pray to God for help. I was nursing my baby and had several women tell me certain foods could cause colic. Around that time my Grandma Johnnie Belle gave all of her children and grandchildren a book entitled The China Study for Christmas. Out of respect for my grandmother and a feeling of desperation, I read the book. It was very overwhelming, but I felt impressed to at least cut out milk at that time. It was an attainable goal, and I began to see subtle changes right away; the irritable temperament of my fussy baby began to diminish, and, much to my surprise and delight, the little bumps that covered my upper arms began to disappear. I was beginning to learn what Hippocrates had said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
Although five more children would bring joy and continue to bless my marriage, I unfortunately suffered bouts of anxiety and depression in varying degrees. I have always been able to maintain a consistent exercise regimen, but my weight fluctuated as I struggled to know “what” and “how” to eat. I also suffered recurring yeast infections. I felt I had more love and patience to give and felt sorry and guilty all the time. I pleaded for help in knowing how I might more fully serve my Heavenly Father and his children. One day I read Alma 38:12: “See that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love.” I was guided to understand that my relationship with food and the food choices I was making were limiting my potential by affecting my mood and energy levels. But, book after book, conversation after conversation, scripture after scripture, article after article, it was very clear that when it comes to food choices and getting healthy, it can be very confusing and contradicting.