Archive for Word of Wisdom

“In order to be the best doctor I can be, I follow a plant-based diet”

Ernest SevernBy: Dr. Ernest Severn

I switched to a plant-based diet so long ago, and I have so many reasons, it is hard to know where to start so I will just jump in. I would have to say for me there are seven main reasons I follow a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diet, but there are really even more than that. It’s more like seven categories of reasons.

I was a missionary for the Church in the early eighties. I served in New York City among the Greek immigrants there. I walked every day, usually over 10 miles a day. When I returned from my mission, I gained 10-15 lbs. so I decided to lose it. I started running and doing some other exercises. I was exposed to Dr. John McDougall, I think on a radio program. I got his book, The McDougall Program: 12 Days to Dynamic Health and read it. I decided to follow it, and I lost the weight I had gained in a month pretty easily. In his book, Dr. McDougall talked about all the other benefits of this way of eating so I learned about that as well. Initially, I used the diet to control my weight so I went back and forth, sometimes being strict and sometimes not.

In 1987 my father died suddenly. He was 54 years old and had a history of high blood pressure. He died of a dissecting aortic aneurysm. I also had an uncle die while I was on my mission of a heart attack. He was only 45 years old. I decided to have my cholesterol checked and found that it was high, so I went back to following the WFPB diet strictly, and it went down. So then I had two health reasons to follow that diet. As I stayed on the diet longer, I found that other health problems improved or went away. My allergies got better, my energy improved, my stomach cramps and constipation were gone. I had less oily skin and less acne. This is when I decided to make this a long-term lifestyle choice and not just a temporary diet to lose weight. Over the years my extended family has continued to have numerous health problems, but I have not. These health problems include heart disease, Parkinson’s, ALS, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity, and stroke. I’m 54 years old now and still going strong. I still run and have a normal weight and enjoy lots of activities. So my first “category” of reasons I follow this diet is for better health.

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“I vow to never take my beating heart for granted”

judy-morse-thurberHave you ever been inspired and motivated by reading the story of someone on a whole food, plant-based diet? If you have, please share YOUR story! Contact me —Jane

By: Judy Morse Thurber

My mother and I were alone for 3 1/2 years while my dad served in WWII. I remember rationing with stamps to limit purchases and eating pretty basic, low budget, comfort foods. We ate mac and cheese, chipped beef on toast, cream of chicken on toast, oatmeal, and toasted cheese sandwiches. Milk was always the drink with every meal. One distinct memory from my youth was when margarine was first introduced to the world. As a child, I loved adding the yellow color to make it look more like butter. After Dad returned from the war, we had roast beef on Sunday and used the leftovers to make sandwiches for Sunday dinner. I never felt deprived . . . until I got old enough to evaluate the fake butter. Then I began to rail against that and vowed that there would always be real butter on my table as an adult (little did I know!).

I was married and the mother of five children when my husband and I were involved in a business that purchased one of the first supplement companies in the nation. We had to quickly learn the importance and value of food supplements. This enlightened me to the fact that we were not getting the full value out of our food. At the time, I suffered with night blindness and complexion problems and a few other issues that were nutritionally based. The supplements helped me overcome those issues and started to direct my attention to the need for better nutrition. (I now love to help people eliminate supplements by eating whole food, plant-based!)

While raising a family, I was a music teacher, organist, choir director, and soloist. I kept very active as a mother (now seven children), business partner with my husband in the supplement business, and as a musician. In all of my busyness, and above all, I have been a “Truth Seeker,” which is what led me to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in my thirties.

The Word of Wisdom fit perfectly into my views of life. After we joined the Church, we refined our eating habits considerably, but not sufficiently. My first husband died at a young age of cancer. I cared for him for two years, trying to overcome the cancer naturally. This added to my knowledge and determination to know, understand, practice, and teach alternative, natural healthcare methods. I studied and became a Naturopath, and discovered special healing gifts.

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The Wisdom in the Word of Wisdom

wisdom-literatureThis article is part of an occasional series called “Word of Wisdom Reflections.” You can also read Randy Campora’s personal story about overcoming cancer.

By: Randy Campora

Recently my wife and I celebrated our-year anniversary of eating a whole food plant based diet. For me this also was the one and a half year mark of being diagnosed with esophageal cancer, having surgery, losing 80 pounds, and becoming totally cancer free. We have had so many wonderful blessings come about from these trials, and I want to share some things with you.

I want to give you a spiritual hug, something to ponder as you contemplate your life at present. I know you would not be reading this unless you are contemplating big changes in your life, or have recently undertaken them. At this point in your story you very well may have forgotten just how loved you truly are in the councils of heaven.

However, one crucial caveat: please don’t think I am presenting the following as an outlier fancy-pants hidden-silver-bullet doctrine, or that I’m a person who thinks if only our leaders would preach of such things in General Conference. No. I am giving this to you as something to ponder and lift your spirit, that perhaps it might lead you to think of the great love your heavenly parents have for you, and how much they want you to follow their holy pattern to find happiness while you grow also through trials.

Not so Dire Straits 

Ever notice that the biblical phrase “strait and narrow” is not straight, but strait? This actually means: narrow and narrow. Interesting. Narrow gate, narrow way. That’s a lot of narrow!

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“I am getting younger instead of older”

lily-sparksDo you have a story to tell? Inspire others by sharing it. Please contact me. Thanks! Jane

By: Lily Sparks

In the late summer of 2010, I went onto the web to look up something to help me. I was overweight and obese, with high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and high cholesterol. My glucose blood test had inched out of the average range and into the prediabetes range. Everything hurt . . . my joints, my muscles. Getting out of bed in the morning hurt so bad if I did not take lots of grape seed. My knees were helped by glucosamine and chondroitin. I spent quite a bit of money every month buying the supplements so I would not hurt or at least reduce the aches and pain. I just accepted it as part of growing older even though it started in my late forties. I received enough relief with the supplements that my life just went on, and I accepted it.

Being overweight was the biggest fight. I had lost weight using Atkins, hCG, and counting calories. I would successfully lose weight, but those diets are not sustainable so when I went back to my regular eating, which always happened, I would gain the weight back and more. I tried to watch what I would eat, but I liked food and even after I ate a full meal I would be hungry in an hour and a half. I could not understand how I could be hungry again after a full meal. I think that happened because of the lack of good nutrition in the meal. I think my body was saying, “You gave me bulk but no nutrition.” Sometimes I just ate what I wanted because I was tired of fighting it.

I got so I would not weigh myself because I was afraid to know how much I weighed. I think I got to 220 lbs and wore a size 20 or 22.

I was not happy. Read More→

“Max told me to go home and read the Word of Wisdom 20 times”

ryan-egbertBy: Ryan Egbert

My health journey started when I was 13. My best friend and I challenged each other to go one month without carbonation. After succeeding I realized there was no point in starting again when everyone knows it is healthier to not drink carbonation. It was a small challenge for me but before long I had fully adapted, and I had no desire to drink carbonated drinks.

Around the same time a school teacher showed us a video of the ironman triathlon held in Hawaii. I remember seeing people in their 80’s accomplishing this amazing physical challenge. For weeks after I thought to myself, “I want to be that healthy when I am a grandpa.” I wondered how someone became that healthy. I thought mostly about the exercise program and hadn’t considered that diet might be the primary issue.

At the age of 16, a friend’s father mentioned meeting someone who competes in the Ironman. I jumped all over the opportunity and arranged a meeting.

Max Burdick (known as IronMax) was a 76-year-old man who didn’t just shake your hand; it became a tug of war to pull you over. Max started our conversation by telling me his story. He was dying of cancer around the age of 40. An acquaintance from his high school came to visit him in the hospital. He told Max that his father had been diagnosed with cancer. His father prayed and fasted and went to the temple. He believed that God knew how to cure his cancer. Finally he had a spiritual experience in reading that “the destroying angel will pass them by” (D&C 89:21) and knew that the Word of Wisdom was God’s answer to how he could overcome his cancer. Max’s friend had used the same diet to overcome his cancer and now he was telling it to Max. He told me he realized what an “outrageous” claim he was making, but that he was living proof that it is true.

He told Max to read D&C 89 twenty or so times before he came back to visit him. Max read and upon meeting again Max learned the diet. After a few months on this diet, Max said the doctors claimed it was a miracle because he was cancer free.

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Taking Life

Beautiful Animals Looking at CameraThis article is part of an occasional series on “Word of Wisdom Reflections.” You can also read Steve Reed’s plant-based conversion story.

By: Steve Reed

I wrote most of this back in 2014 but haven’t published it until now. In fact there was a lot more history before and after this, but I feel like this one experience was a big turning point for me. Few people know about this experience, and even fewer know the details which I’m going to attempt to convey. This event happened about 15 years ago while I was a full-time missionary.

After I share this story, I want to wrap up by exploring what doctrine, principles, and applications relate to this subject.

Winter of 2000

My companion and I were trying to reach out to a less active young man on a small Idaho farm. We got on the conversation of animals and he mentioned that they would be cooking some goat soon for Christmas dinner. My companion, who was Fijian, mentioned that he was an expert at killing pigs and could kill the goat in seconds. The young man and I were impressed with the claim and decided to put my companion to the test.

The day came and we met out at the farm, I was anxious to witness this spectacle of my companion slaying a goat with the skill and finesse that he claimed. I came from Texas where hunting is a big deal and I wanted to see how they did things island-style. We walked out to the goat pen and a large goat was selected. I volunteered to take the rope and lasso the goat, and nailed him perfectly right around the horns. My companion had a habit of calling me “Texas Ranger” and my apparent skill with the lasso caused him to excitedly exclaim, “You ARE the Texas Ranger!”

We pulled the goat out of the pen as it struggled against us. I yanked him around like the dumb animal he was while his fellow-goats cowered away.

We pulled the goat down to the ground and my companion straddled it while I held its head to the ground. A medium-sized knife was handed to my companion. I watched as he took a deep breath, while aiming the instrument and sincerely whispering the words, “Sorry, goat.” With a swift jerk, he thrust the knife into the chest of the animal and it let out a disturbing cry of pain while fiercely fighting against us. The cry was jarring, and although this was just an animal in my mind, I couldn’t help but imagine the exact same sound and physical reaction from a person being stabbed in the same way. I held the goat’s head down firmly and looked into its eyes.

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“I love food and it loves me back!”

Kurt DeGrawBy: Kurt DeGraw

I have never really enjoyed meat too much. I grew up on a small family farm. We raised chickens, pigs, ducks, geese and the occasional sheep or cow, and I was the main person to feed most of these animals. Without many other youth my age living near us, the animals became my friends. I had funny names for them based on how they looked or the quirks they had.

Two experiences really sealed my dislike for meat at an early age. The first experience was when we killed the chickens. We hung them upside down on the swing set using twine around their legs. There they were hanging and flapping occasionally when a knife to the throat let the blood run out. After a LOT of flapping and squawking, in about 5 minutes they were all still. I still remember not wanting to play on the swing set for a while after that, but more importantly to me, these were animals I had fed and spent time with. That night, we had chicken and mashed potatoes and gravy and corn. I just could not eat the chicken.

My second experience a few years later was when our pig was butchered. A mobile butcher drove to our house and took our pig from the pen—where I had fed, watered and named him—and took him into the back of his truck and an hour later out popped all these white butcher-paper packages with labels. For dinner that night we had pork chops and rice. Again, I just could not eat the pork chops.

We were a large family living on a public school teacher’s salary and whatever came from the small farm and the animals we raised was definitely needed to feed our family, but after those two experiences my desire for meat decreased dramatically.

My healthy journey started when I was in my mid 30’s. I had started to gain weight from a sedentary office work life style. I did (and continue to) mountain bike and walk multiple times a week and even lifted weights on occasion. But unlike when I was younger, the weight just kept sticking around and more of it started to stick around. I started to do my own research and started to use less white flour and white sugar in my cooking. This worked for a decade or so, but by my early 40’s, I was considered obese by national standards.

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There is No Way I Can Do This! and Other Lies

Apple with a HeartThis article is part of an occasional series on “Word of Wisdom Reflections.” You can also read Randy Campora’s personal story about overcoming cancer.

By: Randy Campora

If you have found your way to this page, you are probably looking for inspiration as to how to make the dietary and health changes that you really need in your life right now. I would like to address you personally and give you an idea of why you should make changes, why you should listen to the promptings you are receiving from the Lord, and what you might expect to happen when you do.

I have seen you in my mind as I have contemplated writing this. I have seen you in myself, and in the friends, work colleagues, and ward members that I have talked to about these physical and spiritual changes in relation to the Word of Wisdom. I know that you have great burdens of many types. I did not think mine could be lifted, but they have been, by the grace of a loving Father and a Savior, through the gifts of the Spirit.

Here are a few observations from the least likely person on the planet to adopt a Whole Food Plant Based diet, after doing it for one year.

This Will Be Easier Than You Think

On paper, the Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB) way of living looks like the most severe regimen a human could dream up. My wife, Olga, and I have been consistently surprised that once we committed to it, it has been much less challenging that we predicted. There are challenges, many of which will be common to everyone who makes the change, but there will be some that are individual to you. The biggest difference we’ve found is simply planning: you need to have the right foods in the house at the right times. And, make sure you don’t have the wrong foods in the house at any time.

You can’t wing it nearly as much, though we have found a few go-to places that work well in our neck of the woods when we need to eat on the move. Please let this sentence sink in to your mind: This will be easier than I think.

Your Personal Cravings Will Be Exposed

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“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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“The fact that I don’t itch constantly is a miracle”

Julia and Austin DoutreBy: Julia Doutre

Nine months after our marriage, my husband and I moved for the third time and I started a new job managing apartment complexes. I had to quit another job to keep up with the demand of managing. Our lives were a little chaotic, and I was extremely stressed. Some days it was so stressful that I would get awful stomach pains that lasted all day.

A few months after starting my job, I noticed these terrible rashes on my skin that started to spread all over my body. My skin would itch all day, every day. Parts of my body were so inflamed and raw that it would “weep” and bleed. Because of that, I needed to wear gauze pads every day for about 7 months to keep it from leaking on to my clothes. It was really embarrassing to say the least! I’ve had issues with eczema growing up but never had it this bad before.

Over this period of time, I tried many skin creams and lotions, and I spent hundreds of dollars at the dermatologist with rounds of antibiotics and strong medications, which cleared up my skin until the moment I got off of them. It just wasn’t sustainable, and I felt out of whack. My wise mother suggested I get off dairy as she’d heard stories of people having success with skin problems when they went off dairy, but I told her I couldn’t live without my cheese and milk. I even ignored the prompting one night, when the itching on my skin was extremely painful, that the reason why it itched so badly is because of all the sugar. This was after having my daily dose of chocolate chip cookies and ice cream. Yet I still caved in almost every night and brushed off the thought that all these foods were probably the reason why I wasn’t able to get over this issue.

Because I had graduated just before we got married, I had a little more time on my hands to make meals, and I learned to love to cook. Looking back on it now, I realized I always went with food lathered with oil, chicken, cheese, and a milk cream base. Those seem to be my everyday staples. What also was my staple every night was feeling bloated and sick to my stomach. Sadly, I thought this was normal for my body. My weight went up significantly, and I felt uncomfortable in my own skin. In some photos, I didn’t even look like myself.

About a year after I started developing this skin problem, I was talking to my sister, Alice-Anne, who was telling me that she wanted to get a hold of her health and start eating a whole foods, plant-based (WFPB) diet without any meat or dairy products. I told her what I told my Mom, that I simply could not live without cheese or milk. And wasn’t chicken healthy for you? Deep down inside I felt like she was right, but I just thought that was too hard to do. I didn’t even know where to start.

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