By: 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.
I wish I could say that I have lost all the weight I want to lose (maybe that will come with more time), but I will tell you what has changed: 1) I had my annual physical last month, and my blood work and blood pressure are better then they have been in years—shockingly better. 2) For years, a number of fingernails on my hands have constantly split down the middle; since changing my diet, the splitting has completely stopped, and my nails look healthier than they have in a long time. Those may seem like little things, but they have shown me that there are definitely health promises we receive when we try our best to follow the Lord’s prescribed way.
Now, one final story: my father, who knows my family and I have been eating a whole food diet based on the Word of Wisdom, called me the other day to tell me about his experience with my mother at her visit with the cardiologist in Colorado where they live. My parents eat a processed food diet. Although my mother’s diabetes has changed some of their eating habits, they do not follow a plant-based, whole-foods diet. At the visit with the cardiologist, my mother was encouraged to lose weight. My father asked the doctor how he proposed she do that since she has a hard-time walking and exercising because of arthritis. The cardiologist’s response was, “Eat broccoli.” My dad looked at the doctor and asked him what exactly he meant by that. The cardiologist responded by saying, “Have you ever seen a ‘heavy-set’ person who eats mostly vegetables, like broccoli?” Then the doctor said, “If your diet consists of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and grains that are not heavily processed, then it is good to eat.” Then he added, “The first thing to ask yourself in choosing your food is, ‘Does it come from a plant or tree and is it in a whole-natural state?’ If so, then eat it. If not, don’t. That is how your wife can lose weight.”
My father’s story was another witness to me regarding God’s law of health, especially since the doctor is not “religious” by nature. It is not an easy task to change from the status quo, but following God is always worth it.
Brent (49 years old) lives in Utah. He is a high school teacher, a husband to a wonderful wife, and father of five super children.