Archive for doing WFPB alone

“I felt so great I never looked back”

April AshcroftBy: April Ashcroft

My mother passed away when I was 5 years old, so my brother and I went to live with our paternal grandparents. Grandma had diabetes at that time, and Grandpa was diagnosed shortly thereafter and then died suddenly of a heart attack in his early 70’s. Throughout my adolescent and teen years, I witnessed my grandmother suffering greatly with the consequences of her disease. She was in and out of a rest home in her later years and during my many visits with her, I saw not only her suffering but the suffering of others in the rest home. This made a huge impression on me as a young child.

I’ve also seen the suffering of many others in my family. My mother had died of cancer at a very young age. My father had heart disease and was eventually diagnosed with diabetes. He died about a year later from pancreatic cancer. My maternal parents both had diabetes and heart disease and suffered strokes. One of my mother’s brothers had diabetes, heart disease, and eventually kidney failure, so he went on dialysis. After 5 years, he took himself off because of the great suffering he had experienced. My mother’s sister was diagnosed with diabetes in her early 40’s. She also has heart disease and has suffered a stroke. She continues today to live with the impact of these diseases.

Over the years I’ve thought about family members plagued with chronic diseases and wondered: Are these diseases and their suffering my destiny? Am I doomed because of my genetics? I was concerned about this at an early age. I did not want to go through what I saw my family and others going through. So I decided in my early 20’s that I was going to do everything in my power to avoid what many would say is my genetic destiny.

I now find it a blessing that I began to battle my weight after high school because I went from being sedentary and a bit lazy to being very dedicated to exercise. I thought that was going to keep me healthy. Unfortunately, my commitment to exercise turned into an obsession, and before I knew it, I was on a vicious cycle of dieting and exercise in my early 20’s. Worse, it was discouraging to see women in their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s who were still struggling to maintain their ideal weight. I hated the mental madness of the dieting game, and I did not want to still be dieting when I was 40! I firmly believed that Heavenly Father didn’t want me spending so much time and energy worrying about my weight. Along with being consumed about my weight, I felt terrible. At 21 I was fatigued and tired all the time. I couldn’t understand why at this young age I felt so bad. I wanted to have energy and be active and healthy. I believed that Heavenly Father wanted that for me as well.

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“There is nothing I want more than to please the Lord”

Marsha BurdickBy: Marsha Burdick

One evening when my children were quite small, as I put the lamb chops on the table, I thought to myself, “I can’t eat this. This is someone’s child.” A picture of a frisky little white fluffy lamb by its mother’s side came to my mind, and I knew that eating it was wrong.

In the nearly thirty years since that day, I have had no desire to consume meat. I couldn’t have told you then where the thought came from, and I didn’t explore the source of that inspiration, but there was no question in my heart that my life changed in that moment and there was no going back.

Perhaps the seed of the idea was planted when I was but a toddler. As the youngest child of four, during my early years I was my mother’s shadow on a small family acreage in Idaho. She adored animals and each spring would quietly sit in the pasture watching the newborn calves until they would approach her and allow her to pet them. I learned how to gain their trust as well, but she warned me not to give them a name because she knew that would form an attachment leading to problems on the day they were sent to butcher. It was not uncommon to see her sitting near the trough and talking to the pigs while they ate, or clucking to the chickens as she gathered the eggs. I am sure this example of love for animal life contributed to my sensitivity to consuming flesh later on.

My mother was not blessed with strength; she could not run without becoming weary, in fact, there were many days that she did not have the power to even hold up her head above her shoulders because she was burdened with a terrible disease. At the time of my birth, the doctors did not expect her to be able to raise me, giving her three years at best. Nevertheless, her life, though weak, extended well into my teenage years.

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“I am more in tune with what my body needs”

Michael AndersonBy: Michael Anderson

Almost a year ago, I decided to stop eating meat. I have stomach issues— problems with digestion that run in the family. When I eat meat or diary, I end up in the bathroom about an hour later. My mother heard about a plant-based diet from her hairdressing clients (Debbie Christofferson and Ilene Christensen), so we decided to go the vegetarian route.

About a year before deciding to go vegetarian, I started to be very interested in health and taking care of my body, so this decision felt like a natural next step. I felt it would help me. Then as we did some research, and I learned what it really means to be vegetarian and what it really means to be vegan, I decided why not go the extra step and be a full-on vegan? So I’ve been doing that the past year, and it has helped me a lot with my stomach. I don’t have stomach issues with food any more, which is a big thing.

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“This diet matches the advice given by the Lord”

Neil BirchBy: Neil Birch

My daughter, Jane Birch, introduced me to her new whole food, plant-based diet in 2011, a few months before I turned 80 years old. Many years before this, I had changed my diet and lost over 70 pounds to get off medication for Type II diabetes. I thought I was eating a healthy diet, and I was exercising regularly. But as I learned about this new diet, I could see the reason in it. This was confirmed the more I studied the Word of Wisdom and realized this diet matches more perfectly the advice given by the Lord. I felt it would improve my chances of avoiding medical problems as I continue to age, so I started to change my diet, with help from my dear daughter.

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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

An Answer to a Question I Did Not Ask

Jane-wing-smBy: Jane Birch

It was Saturday, August 20, 2011. I woke up much earlier than usual to find the TV on and tuned to CNN where Dr. Sanjay Gupta was previewing a program called “The Last Heart Attack.” Dr. Gupta’s investigation of a “heart-attack proof” diet initially sounded very strange. I thought he’d be debunking some quack idea because it seemed impossible that a person could become literally “heart-attack proof,” but I soon realized Dr. Gupta was serious. Based on his research, he believes a “whole food, plant-based” diet can prevent heart disease. This was interesting to me, not because I had any risk factors for heart disease, but because I knew it is the #1 killer in America.

That very morning I started researching the diet on the Internet. I quickly learned what a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diet means. “Whole food” means very limited or no processed foods (including refined oils) and “plant-based” means meals based on plant rather than animal foods (meat, dairy, and eggs). It includes four food groups: vegetables, fruits, legumes (beans and lentils), and whole grains. In other words, whole plants, packaged as God (or nature) designed them.

I found plenty of solid evidence in favor of the diet and was surprised that it looked much more compelling than I had expected. I learned that the evidence demonstrates that a WFPB diet doesn’t just reduce our chance of getting heart disease, but actually eliminates it. This impressed me. It isn’t easy to make big lifestyle changes, and I don’t feel motivated when it only reduces my chances of having problems; it feels like a gamble. Eliminating my chances of getting a disease, especially the #1 killer, felt very motivating to me.

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