Archive for headaches

“This diet allows my body to function at its highest capacity”

Gwyneth AllenBy: Gwyneth Allen

I have pretty much grown up being vegetarian/vegan. My mom always hated the idea of meat, so from the very beginning there was no meat in our house. When my twin sister and I were three, our mom discovered that our little sister, who she was nursing at the time, reacted badly to the milk my mom would drink. This prompted my mom to become vegan, and our household became free of dairy and cheese. We have also always eaten really healthy, with very little processed foods. Snacks in our house consist of bananas or apples.

The surprise when people find out I have been vegan for most of my life is normally followed up with, “But don’t you want bacon?” Well, Morning Star makes some dang good vegan sausages so that pretty much fills my bacon void!

Before middle school, and really up until high school, I never appreciated the way we ate. I ate a whole food, plant-based diet because it was the way I had always eaten. In high school I consistently began to work out and started swimming year round for the varsity swim team. I realized the way I ate impacted how I felt and how well I was able to compete. On the days when I had dairy, I felt sluggish in the water and not prepared to swim. I also discovered that when I ate dairy, I would feel sick and get headaches. On the other hand, when I ate healthy and had lots of fruits and vegetables, I felt strong and had more energy. For me, living a whole food, plant-based lifestyle is the best option because it allows my body to function at its highest capacity.

For my first three years of high school, I lived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In some ways living in Southeast Asia was accommodating to a vegan lifestyle. Indian and Thai food were readily available when we wanted to go out to eat. However, the lack of Costco really put a damper on how much fresh fruit and vegetables we had. Malaysia has plenty of fruits and vegetables, but not always the kinds we wanted to buy, and we had to bleach the produce before eating 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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“Multiple sclerosis is not a death sentence!”

Around age 10 when the light sensitivity started

Around age 10 when the light sensitivity started

By: Emily

I’ve always had a love for food (who doesn’t?), but my love affair with food really started in junior high when I was old enough that my mom would let me plan and prepare family dinner. My mom is a fabulous cook, and she always fed our family traditional, “healthy” meals: chicken and rice casseroles, lasagna, turkey sandwiches, spaghetti and meatballs, eggs and toast, etc. We ate basically the standard American diet and what every health professional would say is a normal diet. She fed us the healthiest she knew how. We also had a green salad every night, and in the summer we would eat tons of veggies from our garden.

I remember my health issues starting when I was around 6 (that’s about as far as I can remember—I might have had other issues when I was younger, I just don’t remember). I would get strep throat and really bad earaches about 3-4 times a year, and I would get the flu every couple of months. When I was around 10 or 11 I started developing intense sensitivity to light and the back of my eyes would ache, which would turn into massive headaches. I felt like a vampire, always shutting the curtains, never turning on the lights. These episodes weren’t constant. They would come and go, so it wasn’t predictable. They eventually started going away, and I forgot about them.

Around age 15, very thin

Around age 15, very thin

Throughout junior high and high school, I started having fatigue issues and near the end of my senior year in high school, I developed the chronic headaches and sensitivity to light again, but this time they also came with numbness and tingling in my limbs, adrenal fatigue and a few other nasty symptoms. I was in all the school plays and was always dancing and exerting a lot of physical effort so I just blamed these symptoms on being tired.

Looking back on my high school days, I realized that I didn’t eat very much at all. I was very thin. I never really thought about food and just ate when my mom made meals, and I grabbed an apple for lunch. 

After high school, I tried out for our city’s Miss America Organization pageant and won. I started eating “healthy.” I added more greens and fruits, planned my meals, exercised regularly, and made sure I ate enough to give me the energy I needed. I actually started feeling better. Read More→

“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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“I intend to stay on this path for the rest of my hopefully long and healthy life!”

Carolyn CooperBy: Carolyn Cooper

I LOVE using the fresh food that the Lord has provided for my body’s fuel. Here’s my story:

I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s in a family who ate the standard American diet, albeit a little bit more healthy than most. For example, my parents never bought “store milk.” We were in a co-op that went out to the dairy every week to get the “real milk” (unpasteurized) from the “real cows.” I used to hate being the one to go help my mom pick the milk when it was our turn because of the smell. To this day, all milk smells ‘cow-y’ like that to me.

My dad was a chiropractor who would say things like “sugar is a poison to your body” and “the whiter the bread, the sooner you’re dead.” So although we knew this, and we maybe ate a little bit healthier than some families, it was still the standard American diet. In fact, every Sunday we would have a roast, potatoes, gravy, etc. From the time I was 13 years old, my bedroom was directly below the kitchen so Sundays always smelled like a beef-fest down in my room, which got to be nauseating for me. I remember being about 15 years old in my room one Sunday and saying out loud to myself, “I can’t take this, I’m going to be vegetarian when I’m older!” I don’t know that I was actually serious at the time, but it surely must have planted the seed!

Fast forward several years to 1988: I read Diet for a New America by John Robbins and loved it! It validated so many things for me, and made perfect sense. It also matched up perfectly with the Word of Wisdom. I had always believed that when the Word of Wisdom says to “eat meat sparingly . . . ” and “it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine” that it means exactly that. I’ve never understood any other way that could be interpreted; it’s very clear.

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“I dropped 80 pounds”

Jeff and Judy SorensenBy: Jeff Sorensen

Growing up I always felt like I was a little “pudgy.” When I got to high school I wanted to be on some sort of team. My mother wouldn’t allow me to play football so I decided to try out for the swim team. We didn’t have a very good team (we didn’t even have our own pool), but I made the team and began swimming and also became quite lean. I continued that way for the next few years and enjoyed being more slender.

When I left for my mission to South America I weighed 170 pounds. I maintained that weight for most of my mission except when we lived with an American family. The good brother worked in the oil fields in Venezuela and enjoyed the standard American diet. I had never eaten filet mignon before in my life, but each Friday night his wife would cook it for us, along with potatoes and gravy and all the other good stuff. Soon my weight jumped to 200 pounds! I could hardly fit in my pants any longer! After a few months I was transferred to the other country (Colombia), and my weight began dropping back towards normal.

In my last city I got ill and lost some weight, which got me back to 170 pounds. My mother was so concerned that on my arrival home she decided she needed to “fatten me up” to a healthy weight. My sweetheart Judy had waited for me, and we were married eight weeks after I returned home. They say that newlyweds gain about 10 pounds the first year, and we did! Before I knew it I had gained 40 pounds.

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“When God, science, and logic all line up”

Greg WilliamsBy: Greg Williams

It is hard to communicate the love of junk food and meat I have maintained throughout my short 26 years. Because my mom was careful to ensure we had primarily healthy options at home, I frequently raided my cousins’ and friends’ pantry and cupboards when I was invited over for play dates or sleepovers. I relished the white bread and sugary cold cereal. I snarfed down candy bars and gobbled up anything with a hint of sugar. What a great treat after being restricted to whole wheat, home made bread, and oatmeal! For my birthday one year my mom got me a package of steaks, and a year later she gave me some beef sticks. She knew me well and was good enough to indulge me.

As a missionary my love of food grew. Serving in the U.S. I ate as much lasagna, burgers, and whatever I could each night and agreed to third and fourth servings of dessert. The members were always emphatic that “missionaries need lots of food!” and I was quick to agree with them. That was the life! Of course I gained 13 pounds after just 3 weeks in the MTC and nearly 40 pounds in the mission field. When I met and married my wife she often noted my funny way of choosing meals at restaurants. “How big is it?” was (and often still is) my primary question. While I had gained some weight, I wouldn’t say I was unnaturally big. Indeed I didn’t really even feel I had a problem. What I wasn’t as thoughtful about was how this way of eating might be influencing other aspects of my life, including my spirit.

Over a year ago, my wife and I made a drastic change (documented in a blog post, “Our New Diet”). My father had given us a copy of Jane Birch’s book, Discovering the Word of Wisdom for Christmas (2013). After reading it, we agreed to give it a shot for at least three months and see how it went. Remarkable things happened for me physically, including the elimination of headaches that were once prevalent, an abundance of energy, and a newly discovered joy in eating foods I had once considered beyond touching with a fork! I also continued to lose weight and settled down at a point that I was at in probably 8th grade. Often I would wonder, is this a good or a bad thing that I weigh so little?! I consider it a good thing since I have more energy than ever before, continue to exercise each day, and feel wonderful. I finished a triathlon earlier this year and have almost beat my mile time set my freshman year of high school. That is pretty crazy!

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“I am 81, and my wife is 79”

Cy and Pat WelchBy: Cy Welch

My name is Cy Welch. My wife is Pat Welch. I am 81, and my wife is 79.

When I read “Discovering the Word of Wisdom” by Jane Birch on Meridian Magazine, it rang a bell with me. I was struggling with the normal health problems of aging, such as lack of mobility, some arthritis, enlarged prostate (BPH), hypertension, hearing problems, and lack of strength. My wife is diabetic, arthritic, has fallen many times over the years, has hearing problems, and lots of migraine headaches, etc.

After I read a couple of the articles on “Discovering the Word of Wisdom” on the Internet, I bought the book and started the transition to a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) eating. It has been an interesting journey to say the least. I also bought and read The China Study as recommended by Jane. It connected the dots for me on health problems we were dealing with and just made sense. We went on a two-week vacation about this time while making the transition and found out just how difficult it can be to find food which supports the WFPB lifestyle on the fly so to speak. We did the best we could and are now about 90% changed over to WFPB.

One of the first benefits I noticed was my mobility began to return. I used to be fairly flexible, but I slowly lost my flexibility over the years. I am now flexible enough to get in and out of the van without bumping my head on the top of the door opening. I feel almost twenty years younger. I’m also slowly losing weight, although I wasn’t much over weight. I have much greater flexibility, strength and endurance.

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“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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