Archive for Word of Wisdom

“I felt prompted to really read the Word of Wisdom”

By: Julie Haws

About four years ago I started experiencing some chest pain. Being a dietitian, I search for nutrition-related answers to health problems. I read The China Study and also Dr. Esselstyn’s book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease and followed this diet very strictly for about a year. Following this diet was an adjustment at first, but I was motivated because my symptoms went away, and I felt wonderful. People told me I glowed. Then I got pregnant with my third child. I experienced nausea and also extreme fatigue for much of my pregnancy. I normally rarely eat fast food or eat at restaurants, but I did during this pregnancy because of my symptoms.

A few months after having my daughter Amy I found I could not stand for more than a few minutes at a time without experiencing dizziness, sweating, and chest pain. After a year we discovered I had a condition called POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome), which is basically a fainting disorder. I never fainted, but I would get close to it. I had days and weeks where I had to spend most of my days sitting or lying down. Anyone who has had 3 children under 5 years old knows what a challenge it was. It was truly debilitating. I couldn’t cook, clean, or shop much for about a year. My husband and family helped out a lot. When I started having these symptoms I did start to follow Dr. Esselstyn’s diet again, but I was not quite as strict with my diet, and I ate meat still a few times a week. My symptoms were about 60% better.

During this time I read my scriptures a lot and prayed and fasted that my body could heal completely. I had to fast with water or my symptoms would get very severe. I still was not able to stand for long periods of time and still had unpredictable spells. Around the time of my 40th birthday, I felt prompted to really read the Word of Wisdom. While reading it the following phrase stuck out to me.

Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly; And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine. (D&C 89:12–13)

This surprised me, and I wondered why before I had only read up to the word “sparingly” and stopped there? What is the definition of sparingly? The Word of Wisdom specifies what sparingly means, “only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.” And then it repeats this counsel again in verse 15, “And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.”

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“Wisdom comes in the righteous use of our agency”

By: Bruce Roberts

Beginning in October of 2015 I had one of those trying years that make you sit back and ask, “Why me?” After the challenge has passed and you have time to analyze what has happened to you, you start to realize that there is a learning process in this life that causes us to be humble enough to receive light and knowledge from Heavenly Father and Jesus. It is kind of, as the old saying goes, “When the student is ready the teacher appears.” In this case, I am the student, and the Holy Ghost is the teacher.

My family and I were out camping at East Canyon Resort. My brother Jeff and I decided to go fishing down at the Lake. The fish were jumping like crazy and in my excitement, I forgot to be extra careful. The way down to the lake from the road was quite treacherous, especially for a guy 73 years old. I slipped and fell, shattering my ankle. It took nine men to carry me out strapped to a board. Then the ambulance hauled me to Ogden Regional Hospital, and they performed surgery. The funny part of all this was that while lying on the banks of the reservoir, the thing that I was afraid of most was that the TV Channel 2 helicopter might be coming, and I might end up on the nightly news. While in the ER, my son Monte told me that didn’t matter because I was already all over Facebook. The family in Denmark had even seen me lying on the banks of the Lake and had responded with sympathy. Well so much for privacy.

The next few months were stressful. I wasn’t allowed to drive for three months so I did a lot of reading and not a lot of moving around except for the physical therapy sessions. Whenever we are inactive in anything we seem to go backwards. In a lot of situations in life we become careless. The inactivity and my lack of paying attention to what I was eating, and the amounts I was eating, apparently took its toll. I really bulked up. I look at it now as an experience that set me up for something to come that was life changing in a big way. After coming back from the Pac 12 basketball tournament in Las Vegas in March 2016, I wasn’t feeling well. Yes, I pigged-out at the buffets (to get my $ worth). It does not take long to send caution to the wind, and your life changes.

I had been considering writing a book on the Word of Wisdom for several years and had done a lot of studying and gathering of information, when in April, I came across a book on the internet I hadn’t seen before. It was called, Discovering the Word of Wisdom: Surprising Insights from a Whole Food, Plant-based Perspective by Jane Birch. My interest was immediately peeked! I ordered two copies, one for each of us, because my wife Helen fills hers with sticky notes. We read the book and were astonished. We both had a spiritual witness. It was many of my very thoughts, and I am sure, written and put together better than I would ever have done. I also believe Heavenly Father got tired of waiting for me to get it done, and the message is critical for our happiness and for our time here in the Last Days.

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“We gained strength from each other’s commitment”

By: Erica Rivera

As newlyweds in the summer of 2014, Heber and I were determined to not die young, fat, or sick. More importantly, we were aware that we had stepped into a potential “fat trap” with marriage: it seemed like so many of the people that we knew put on noticeable amounts of weight in the first year (and subsequent years) of being married. So we got serious. We signed up for a gym membership together, consulted various dietitians, and read numerous articles and websites about all of the best practices to stay fit and healthy. We set goals. We watched carbs. We ate grass-fed beef. We used “healthy” oils. We had so much to learn.

Happy for objectives and goals, I stopped really worrying about whether there was a better way for me to be fueling my body. But of course, the ever-inquisitive Heber was uneasy about some of the conflicting information we were receiving about what to eat. More importantly, previous to our marriage he had been doing research to help his mother’s heart condition and had stumbled upon Dr. Esselstyn’s work Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. This led him to watch Forks Over Knives and read some of the accompanying literature. He was hungry for change, for truth. I was hungry for the pork that we had just purchased.

Though I was convinced that we had to ingest animal protein (and massive amounts of it) to properly build muscle and stay fit, I was not happy about the part of my brain that was constantly fixated on food and worried about calories and gaining weight. To me it was clear that my body was a machine and relied on exactly calculated proportions to function properly. For years I had been obsessed with labels and eating just enough to have all of the bodily functions in order. I went through phases of exercising obsessively in order to make sure all of those extra calories were put to good use in my body. One of the petty reasons that I had been reluctant to serve a mission (though I eventually did and was so happy to have served) was because I could not control my diet, or my companion’s desire to exercise, with the same precision.

Heber himself had gone through some issues with weight and nutrition. He is a chef, and besides the need to try the fine-dining dishes he made, for many years he worked long hours. There was no time to worry about “healthy” eating, let alone exercise. After some challenges with weight, he committed to himself that he would not let himself go down that same path. Moreover, he knew better than I did that food not only is a joy to eat, but is the life source of our bodies. He was aware of the different kinds of fuel available and the effects, including how his mother felt differently when she cut out animal foods for a time. Because of his conviction, I was more open to learning alternatives to my own carnivorous lifestyle.

One evening, Heber and I watched Forks Over Knives. I felt really moved by the film, almost as if my eyes had been opened to what seemed obvious all along: our diet and lifestyle were killing us! Both of us felt overwhelmingly like this was something good and promising for us and our future family. That same night, we committed to give up all animal products and start eating whole-food plant-based (WFPB).

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“Heavenly Father was gently guiding me in this direction”

Scott

By: Scott

Middle school seems to ravage people in a variety of ways: physically, socially, mentally, even spiritually. For me it was probably every single one of them, and, looking back, I can see that nearly all my unhappy experiences were related to my physical health. I wasn’t obese. I wasn’t that kid. But I was within that realm; I was one of those kids. I was chubby. I like to use a term that I stole from a friend: chub scout.

I was a chub scout. I “earned” that rank somewhere between eleven and twelve years of age, and I miserably maintained it until I was about fifteen-and-a-half years old, which is when I was the heaviest—215 pounds and about 5′11″ tall. I wasn’t even “fit fat.” You know, when you’re fat but there’s some muscle underneath? I was just fat. None of those 215 pounds was muscle (at least not much if it). Just bones, organs, macaroni and cheese, and fat.

Halfway through my sophomore year of high school I just was fed up. Fed up! With myself. I hated looking at myself in the mirror. I hated feeling weak and unattractive. That was probably the worst of it: I didn’t like thinking about what girls thought of me. I don’t know why, but I just decided that I wasn’t going to take it anymore. I was going to do something about it.

I knew next to nothing about health and wellness, but I had enough common sense to know that I was eating way too much food. It was a simple yet critical conclusion. And I came up with an equally simple solution: don’t eat after dinner, aka put the fork down. I was prone to having snacks, especially in the evening. My family usually ate dinner between 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., so I simply stopped eating food after about that time. After a week of doing this, something amazing happened: I stepped onto the scale and found that I had lost five pounds!

I was astounded. Utterly astounded. Dumbfounded. At a loss. Flabbergasted. The light bulb above my head flickered on—nay, it blazed like the fires of heaven from whence the epiphany came, a stark contrast to the fires of hell I had been feeling for the last four years. I couldn’t believe how easily five pounds vanished. All I did was stop eating as much. “Just put the fork down.” It was just so crazy it actually worked.

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“Following God is always worth it”

Brent and Penny JohnsonBy: Brent Johnson

A couple of years ago my sister-in-law introduced me to a low-carb, high fat diet. She and I both suffer from migraines, and her doctor had suggested the diet to see if it would help, which it did. I was intrigued, so I started the diet also. It did help alleviate my migraines, but I started to notice other health issues that I had not had before. As I prayed about my situation, I felt impressed by one single phrase, “What do the scriptures say about health?”

I immediately turned to Doctrine and Covenants Section 89 and re-read the Word of Wisdom. It was very clear to me that the diet I was following was opposite of what the Lord teaches us. I was particularly drawn to verse 4, which reads:

“Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation—”

I had always thought of this verse in relation to alcohol, tobacco, and other harmful drugs. I had never thought of it in terms of food. That night I suddenly realized that there are “conspiring men [and women]” (so to speak) who teach false information regarding diet. Some may mean well, but they actually take us away from the Lord’s proven way. The story of Daniel in the Old Testament came to my mind regarding his (and his friends) refusal to eat food that was contrary to what the Lord expected of them under the Law of Moses.

I found myself re-evaluating food and how I was eating. Interestingly enough, my wife followed a whole food primarily vegetarian Word of Wisdom based diet when we were first married. As we added children to our family and life became a bit more hectic, we started buying processed foods and moved back towards the mainstream, American way of eating (speaking generally). After the experience of being directed towards the scriptures to address my eating habits, I asked my wife if we could return to our earlier whole foods eating habit. She agreed. So, five months ago we started our journey.

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“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-sparksBy: 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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