Archive for spiritual blessings

“I walked out of the doctor’s office completely crushed”

olga-maletina-and-dan-almeidaBy: Olga Maletina

I’m from Russia; my husband is from Brazil. We were attending BYU-Provo when our health reached its lowest point. I had started getting alarmed a few years prior to that when we were getting our first life insurance and my husband was placed in the “smoker” category due to his high cholesterol even though he had never smoked in his life. We knew he had a history of heart disease in his family, but at that time we didn’t know what to do about it and just continued our lives as usual, hoping for the best. We didn’t know that it was the food we were eating that was making us sick.

Since our arrival to the United States, we had gradually moved away from the simpler, mostly homemade foods we had in our home countries (mainly rice and beans for my husband, and buckwheat, potatoes and vegetables for me). Years went by and our blood test results were coming out worse and worse. Our weight, cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar were gradually going up, while our energy levels and the quality of life was slowly going down. Finally, my husband’s cholesterol reached an alarming 263 points when he was only 26!

My cholesterol was not as high as my husband’s, but I started having other health issues that were even scarier. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and was put on thyroid medication. Aside from my hypothyroidism symptoms (terrible night sweats, lack of energy, loss of hair), I also had ovarian cysts and an overactive bladder. I was overweight and started wearing prescription glasses. Time was passing by, and my health was not getting much better. The thyroid medication helped with the night sweats and constant chills, but my energy and the other symptoms still remained.

I cut out the soda and decided I’d try to watch what I eat: count calories, switch to low-fat dairy foods, and try to eat less carbs. In order to lose weight, I tried the low calorie diet, the hCG diet, exercise, the Paleo diet and the Jorge Cruise diet. I even met with a dietitian, but nothing helped my symptoms and the weight kept going up. I remember feeling so powerless. Why couldn’t I get any results? I was trying so hard!

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“My wife and I felt a yearning to know God better”

josh-wagner-familyBy: Josh Wagner

A little over a year-and-a-half ago, my wife Jamie and I felt a yearning to know God better. We began praying for help to make significant changes to be closer to Him and experience more of the gifts of the Spirit. We had no idea the Lord would answer those prayers by telling us to change how we eat.

This is how it happened: a little after Jamie and I started praying for this, we were reading scriptures with the kids while we ate dinner (we’ve learned that combining meal and scripture time reduces the chance that the kids will run off while we read). As was typical in our house (and most American houses), we were eating a protein-centric dish named for the meat it was built around.

On that particular day, I chose to read this section of holy writ which says the Lord wants us to joyfully use the things of the earth—plants and animals—to sustain and enrich our lives. But then comes this stern warning: “For unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion” (v. 20). A clear message from heaven pierced my mind to the core, “The way you eat meat is excess and extortion.”

This freaked me out. Read More→

“I got a very clear answer”

Carolynn SpencerBy: Carolynn Spencer

Healthy eating has always been one of my favorite topics and a lifelong passion. I went on my first diet at age 7 by deciding to forego desserts; by the time I was a teenager, I already had plenty of experience in trying all sorts of will-power tactics and diets in order to achieve my “best” body.  It was easy to see that everyone had a different, and sometimes very intense, opinion on the latest and greatest way to stay healthy and fit. I now feel that it makes sense to add eating plans to the list of topics to avoid (along with politics and religion) in social settings because people feel so strongly committed to their own ideas. I am reminded of a scripture that I feel is as applicable to our diets as it is to our religion:

“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” (Ephesians 4:14)

Switching our diets based upon the latest and greatest fad, not to mention the “cunning craftiness” of diet companies and others trying to make a profit on our desire to have a perfect body, is literally to be tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine.

In 2010, my brother-in-law shared with me a book he had just read, Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman. He and my sister both said, “Don’t read it unless you’re ready to change your life.” My brother-in-law even testified it was the most life-changing book he’d ever read, other than the Book of Mormon. Intrigued, I read the book and was instantly convinced of the truth and wisdom found in eating only plant-based whole foods. This book, and many others like it that I also read, meshed completely with my study of the Word of Wisdom. I became vegan overnight and was committed . . . for a year or two.

However, as much as the information resonated with me and felt right, and as much as I could see the positive impact on my body, I still struggled. I was discouraged that I didn’t notice much weight-loss. I was the only vegan in my immediate family, and it was hard to have to make two different meals every night. Most often, I’d make what I had always been used to making (and my family was used to eating), and I’d only eat the plant-based half of the meal (such as the salad and steamed veggies, without replacing the meat with anything else). This left me feeling deprived and hungry.

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“I felt inspired to give my class ‘The Daniel Challenge'”

Christina McIntyreBy: Christina McIntyre

I thought I was living the Word of Wisdom well enough, however I knew I ate too much sugar, almost daily, and for years I have thought about the part of eating meat sparingly. More specifically I have pondered often why the Lord said it would be pleasing to Him if we didn’t eat meat except in times of famine. I was teaching Daniel in the Old Testament at seminary 10 days ago. I felt inspired to give my class “The Daniel Challenge,” not knowing there was a true Daniel challenge that already existed in its fullness.

On my 5th day of eating only what was prescribed in Section 89 of Doctrine & Covenants, my friend Kristin Myres sent me the link to a modern “Daniel’s Challenge.” I had never seen such support for the Lord’s law of health. I was so excited I started the fasting portion to lose weight, eating only between the hours of 12 noon and 6 pm and drinking 8 glasses of water from morning until 8 pm. I have lost 6 pounds in 10 days and I am full and more than satisfied. I have had blessings, miracles, daily. The promise in the Word of Wisdom is real, health in the naval, marrow to the bones, and I have found wisdom and great treasures of knowledge which are truly hidden from the world. For one must follow exactly for all of these promises to be fulfilled. And the Lord says in D&C 82:10, “I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say, but if ye do not what I say you have no promise.”

I wish to share a couple blessings from the past 10 days. The first day I started I had the worst migraine headache I have ever had in my life and I had committed to take no medication. By the end of that day I was so nauseous I threw up twice. I haven’t thrown up in 20 years. It was almost like Joseph Smith in the grove when he was seized upon by some being from the unseen world. I felt in utter despair, and I see now the adversary was very much a part of it, for he knew what blessings awaited me if I could change my eating.

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“Our health is in our hands”

Annalise Jones before and afterBy: Annalise Jones

I grew up in a health conscious family. We used natural health care as much as possible. We never had soda or sugary cereal; desserts were rare. For a family home evening treat we would have almonds or apple juice. Almonds were a treat because they’re too expensive to eat regularly (with a family of ten!), but that same economic factor also meant that we relied more on cheap processed dinner foods such as Ramen noodles, macaroni and cheese, and hot dogs.

Things changed when I was a teenager. My parents became better informed and decided to give up animal products. Our dinners switched to couscous, whole wheat veggie pizza, and potatoes. I don’t remember anyone complaining much, but there was always the back up option of PB&J.

I was familiar with my parents’ reasons for making this change; I even did a presentation on the dangers of dairy products for my speech class. However I did not have personal conversion to the Word of Wisdom at this time. Pretty soon I was sneaking foods away from home and, once I got my drivers license, stopping at fast food places as much as possible. I have always been a big food addict, you see, and freedom just opened up a big world of possibilities!

A word on my health at this point in my life: I had depression, chronic yeast infections, hypoglycemia, parasites, acne, and serious fatigue. I also had an impulsive problem picking my skin, and I was covered in open sores. I played on the tennis team but had trouble doing the drills, and would always come in last when we jogged for warm-up. I was also insecure about my weight. I was heavier than all the other girls. My best friends were super skinny, and my cousin teased me about having extra jiggle.

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“I love eating this way. It makes life so simple.”

Perpetue RobertBy: Perpetue Robert Pardieu

All my life my legs and feet have felt really heavy, sometimes swollen, but I never knew why. I remember ten years ago I was praying and asking the Lord for help and He sent me to D&C 89. At that time I learned that meat was to be eaten sparingly, during winter and famine. It was summer, and it was difficult, so I did not follow it. So, I remained with my swollen feet.

In January 2012, I was hit by a car and my kneecap, tibia and femur broke. I had three surgeries and still was having inflammation even though I was taking anti-inflammatory medication. I hit my head during the accident, and I was having panic attacks and anxiety. I felt depressed and overwhelmed often. So, I started doing research because I did not want to be taking pills and become dependent. This is how I heard about alkaline and acid food. I started researching and changed my diet by eating more alkaline, non-hybrid foods. But I got so anxious about everything I was eating that I could not sleep. So, I went to the Lord with that and felt that that kind of anxious spirit doesn’t come from him.

By researching on the Internet, I discovered Jane Birch and the Word of Wisdom diet she writes about. When I read this, I remembered that ten years earlier the Lord had sent me to D&C 89. I automatically knew that what she was saying was a confirmation of what the Lord had told me ten years ago. I stopped eating meat, dairy, eggs, sugar, and most processed food. I now eat extremely little fish and use only a tiny bit of olive or coconut oil once in awhile. Now, the spirit I feel is one of peace instead of being anxious or stressed about food.

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“A distinct thought came into my mind, ‘You can do better.’”

Arianna ReesBy: Arianna Rees

May of last year, as I was sitting at the kitchen table one morning, a distinct thought came into my mind, “You can do better.” It wasn’t in a tone of chastisement, but rather it came as one stating a simple fact. I sat startled for a moment, but quickly recognized the source of those words as being from the Spirit. I had recently felt prompted to study the effects of nutrition on mental health, a topic close to my heart. The research that I found was fascinating and led to further and further study and discovery of the very powerful effects that food choice can have, not only on our physical health, but also on our emotional and mental well-being as well.

That morning in the kitchen, I had just read several articles on the effects of antibiotics given to farm animals and their documented negative effects on long-term health on those of us consuming those animal products. The truth of those statements and facts, for whatever reason, spoke to me more clearly and more directly that day than ever before. And so I sat and pondered. It was then that the Spirit helped me to see that I could do better, especially since I was the gatekeeper of my family’s general diet and eating habits.

It is often said that when the student is ready, the teacher appears. The teacher showed up in a big way from familiar sources that morning. I was immediately reminded of the Biblical account of Daniel gaining favor and strength due to his firm decision to eat grains and abstain from the king’s meats. I turned to the Bible to re-read the account and found myself reading a well-known story with fresh eyes. Daniel’s countenance shown and was filled with great knowledge and wisdom. What an amazing blessing! I felt so strongly that he was not only blessed for his courage in being obedient to a spiritual law, but he also was experiencing direct effects physically for having obeyed a physical law that had physical consequences. He was living the Word of Wisdom fully and experienced blessings of spirit, mind, and body.

I quickly turned to D&C 89, a section that I was so very familiar with. What was different this time in my reading was that I read each verse more literally than ever before. I no longer focused on the “thou shalt not’s,” but rather read from the perspective of the “thou shalt’s.” I had been keeping the portion of the Word of Wisdom well when it came to abstaining from drugs, alcohol, etc. I had been eating a healthy and well-rounded diet by most standards. But there it was stated so clearly—I could do better in eating meat sparingly, eating more whole foods, and foods in season.

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“I had the sweet feeling that this new baby was a special gift”

Joy and Jane BarryBy: Joy Barry

I was blessed to be raised on a diet healthier than the standard American variety. In the 1970s when most kids were living on toaster pastries, Twinkies, and Wonder Bread, we were grinding our own wheat to make whole wheat bread and cracked wheat porridge. When we made cookies or Kool-Aid, my father insisted on using half the sugar that the recipe called for. As I grew older and moved away from home, I continued to cook most things from scratch, the way I was brought up. I wasn’t too concerned about health or a balanced diet, it was more about saving money and making homemade food that tasted better. Besides, I never had to worry about losing weight as I was always trim and thin as a child and young adult. I never even exercised.

When I hit my mid-20s, I started to put on a little bit of weight. It concerned me enough that I started exercising to try to get in shape. But all my bike-riding just left me worn out and discouraged. It never occurred to me that my diet was to blame. I thought I was doing just fine.

I married at age 29 and had my first child when I was 30. My new role as a wife and mother made me more concerned about healthy eating. It was not just about me anymore, I had a family to feed. The responsibility to not just feed my family, but to feed them well, rested heavy on my conscience. I read everything online that I could find about healthy diets and worried much about how to best feed my family a balanced diet.

Although I read many conflicting opinions from various “experts,” I felt blessed to have the Word of Wisdom as my foundation. If I read anything that said to eat lots of meat and avoid grains, I dismissed it immediately. However, I always wished that the Word of Wisdom had more specifics. I thought it was too vague and didn’t cover all the food groups. I knew it said to eat meat sparingly, and I tried to follow that advice, but what about eggs and dairy products? I also worried much about what kind of oils were the healthy ones, and other hotly debated topics.

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“Having another life grow inside of me changed me”

Stephanie Berglind FamilyBy: Stephanie Berglind

My journey to a healthier way of living started when I became pregnant with my first son in 2004 and started to think differently about the foods I ate and the things that I put into my body. Up to that point, I hadn’t really cared too much. I exercised regularly and tried to limit my calories, but I didn’t put much thought into what those calories were made of and how they were hurting or nourishing my body.

Having another life grow inside of me changed me. I started reading about super foods and clean eating. I cut out most sugary or processed foods but still considered Greek yogurt and chicken as “health foods.” I continued my clean eating for the next few years. I had lost some weight but was suffering with hypothyroidism, gallstones, acne, and athlete’s foot—things that I just thought were a part of life.

Over time, I started to feel a tug towards a plant-based diet. I would read little snippets here or there, or watch things on social media. But it wasn’t until May of 2013 that it really hit me. I was recovering from the birth of my third child when I finally decided to watch the documentary Forks Over Knives. As I watched this show, I was in shock to learn about the health benefits of a plant-based diet, as well as the environmental benefits. But it wasn’t until I got on my knees that night that I started to feel the beginnings of the spiritual benefits of taking care of my body, the animals God created, and the beautiful earth He gave to us.

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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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