“I can’t really explain the excitement I felt”

Alena JohnsonBy: Alena Johnson

For the past 10 years or so, I have had a hard time maintaining or losing weight. I tried a lot of different methods, but didn’t have much success. I have always been good about exercising, but I couldn’t seem to find the right eating plan. In January of 2013, my sister found a diet that seemed fairly healthy, so my husband and I tried it. We were both able to lose weight, but we didn’t feel like we could live that way. Also, I didn’t like eating the amount of meat that it included, and I always felt less than satisfied because of the lower carb content.

Once in a while I would look through the Word of Wisdom to see if I could pick out something that I had missed before. When I would do this, I would often end up feeling discouraged. I could see that it said to eat meat sparingly and that grains should be the main part of our diets. But I felt like I had to choose between eating that way and being in a healthy weight range. It made me sad. Also, I felt like I didn’t know what to cook for meals that would fit into those guidelines.

In December of 2013 my husband and I were looking at returning to the diet that my sister found that had worked for us. I’m sure my husband wasn’t looking forward to it and started looking online for alternatives. On December 23, he sent me a link to an article by Jane Birch with the words, “This seems like the right approach.”

I read the article and immediately wanted to learn more. I can’t really explain the excitement I felt over learning how I could possibly eat like the Word of Wisdom suggests, lose weight, and avoid a wide range of disease, all at the same time! I didn’t want to wait to get Jane’s book in the mail so I ordered the ebook version of Discovering the Word of Wisdom. I couldn’t put it down. My husband and I decided to give it a try. Through the holidays we tried a few recipes here and there. On January 14, 2015, we went 100% (at least as far as we had learned at that point).

Besides wanting to follow the guidelines in the Word of Wisdom, I was really drawn to whole food plant-based eating because of the diseases it could help eliminate. I already have low bone density. My dad has had bypass surgery. I’m really in a bad spot for breast cancer with my mother, grandmother, and great grandmother all having had it. For the first time in my life I feel empowered to do something to prevent breast cancer. That is really exciting for me!

There are many other things I love. The food is wonderful! I eat so many healthy, delicious, satisfying complex carbohydrates. And no worries about not knowing what to cook. I bought a few cookbooks and may never get through all the wonderful recipes. I can grow and preserve a lot of food, and I can store a lot of what we eat. Even though it was not a motivating factor at first, I do like that we are eating in a way that is good for the environment. For the first few months I sometimes felt so happy about this turn of events, I could hardly keep from giggling.

As I share the joy of whole food plant-based eating with people (and I do all the time) they ask, “But don’t you miss ________ (fill in the blank)?” I tell them, as long as I’m eating lots of satisfying, delicious food all the time, which I am, I don’t miss it! At age 54 I weigh what I did when I graduated from high school – 123 pounds. I never thought I would see that weight again. My cholesterol dropped from 200 to 160. I feel great, have more energy, and my mind is clearer. I have felt SO blessed that my husband stumbled upon that article and decided to send it to me.

Alena C. Johnson and her husband live in Smithfield, Utah. She is an Accredited Financial Counselor, a Senior Lecturer at Utah State University, author of Money Management booklets, and water aerobics instructor. Alena’s greatest joy comes from being a wife, mother, and grandmother.


  1. I resonate with Alena’s joy at finding this diet. It makes me sad that Mormons read the Word of Wisdom and can’t trust in its counsel because it contradicts popular advice. Should we not trust the Lord over the media?

    I’ve enjoyed emails with Alena since she first ordered a book from me. I think her enthusiasm is a reflection of the promises in D&C 89. Thanks for sharing your story, Alena!

  2. Lovely story. I was raised in Smithfield, my parents still live there. They are both eighty and need the diet desperately. But they won’t cook it. Do you happen to know anyone in Smithfield or the area that I might be able to hire to cook WFBPNO for them?
    Thanks for sharing your story!
    I will wait any response you might have for me.

    • my daughter lives there I will give her your name. I have desires to eat this diet too. and look forward to doing it.

  3. Hi! I’m so happy for you both. I wish I had “full compliance” from the both of us. There is so much to learn and understand. We are moving to a place with a large garden area. I am hoping to live off the fruits of our labors as much as possible, but wonder about preservation. What do you think about the “in season” part of the section? How do you do your preserving? I certainly don’t want to have sugar-laden foods.

    Open question: What do you spread on toast? I just LOVE toast.

    Thanks for sharing with all of us. I really love reading these success stories. They are truly inspirational and motivating.

  4. Alena, I appreciate your your sharing with the rest of us about the struggle you had in trying to eat in a more healthy manner. I’m really glad you found Jane’s book on line and read it and then followed the counsel she has given us. I also enjoyed your telling about how you enjoy having found the Lord’s counsel to each of us about eating which is right there in verses 10 through 21 of Section 89 of our Doctrine and Covenants.

    You have happily found the answers to solving your struggle in trying to eat in a more healthy manner. I especially enjoyed your expressions of joy in having found the answers you had been searching for when you wrote the following: “I can grow and preserve a lot of food, and I can store a lot of what we eat. Even though it was not a motivating factor at first, I do like that we are eating in a way that is good for the environment. For the first few months I sometimes felt so happy about this turn of events, I could hardly keep from giggling.” The Lord bless you and your husband as you continue in your happiness!

  5. I enjoyed your story very much Sister Johnson. I started laughing at the giggling comment. I do it too! In my mind I could see how we might act if we discovered a chest-full of a jewels and gold coins type of treasure. We would be acting silly for sure! I go from being awe-struck, to giggling, to feeling reverence. How can all that be? But it’s true. There are a lot of wonderful emotions this releases; foremost among them seems to be gratitude.

    Congratulations on that you and your husband made the journey together. Not everyone gets to have a willing companion. I happy for you both!

    • Wow, Penny, I can definitely relate to your comment, in every way. I told Alena the same thing: the joy of eating this way makes me feel like giggling. I have also often felt like I’ve found an amazing treasure field, one that is out in the open, with enough precious jewels for everyone to enjoy freely! I too feel so full of gratitude. It fills me with even more gratitude that I can share this wonderful feeling with others. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Jane

  6. It’s as if we have had this hidden treasure right in front of our eyes, the 89th Section of the Doctrine & Covenants, but as Jane said, popular (trendy and always changing!) advice wins out over quiet, true principles. I think those who genuinely seek are led to the long-standing healthy way to eat and more and more people I know are gravitating towards a whole foods, plant-based diet. Alena, thank you for sharing your story and your enthusiasm.

  7. I too feel like giggling! I go to bed each night with a radiant glow and a smile on my face, just bursting with gratitude for my healthy and delicious food. It really is like a precious treasure. And now, instead of being confused by the Word of Wisdom, I am awestruck with reverence at the clarity and peace it gives me in the whirlwind of fads and even vicious opinions about diet and health that surround us. Peace and joy!

  8. Jeff and Alena,

    You are like a second or third witness to us. Thank you for sharing your experience and joy with this testimonial. We are currently having the same experience. It is exciting. It is like a light has gone on. My sister Lynne told me to read your story. They have been eating whole foods and plant based for several months. We have felt the frustrations of sorting through all of the different voices of the experts and LO and BEHOLD the treasure and hidden knowledge was right there all along! The biases and attachments to the non foods are just melting away. We are feeling better and our list of ailments are decreasing. No starving. No feeling of deprivation. No deciding over and over about what we should eat. Where never going back. Thanks again. I love the picture of you guys. You look great! The king in Daniels day would say ‘wow, what a great countenance!’ 🙂

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