“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.

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.


  1. I’m always impressed by those who change their diet based on what they read in the Word of Wisdom. These are humble, teachable people. I know the Lord is always pleased when He finds us willing to accept His counsel. Thanks for your good example, Brent!

  2. Always impressed with anyone who will consider that sticking with eating real food exclusively is at least worth an experiment in their own life.

  3. What a great story! Your parents have been blessed with a miracle in their cardiologist. Send that man a thank you note and edible fruit flowers.

  4. I continue to be amazed that the blog entries here consistently express the same sentiments, reference the same scriptures and echo the confirming messages of medical professionals and dietitians, regarding the (eternal) benefits of the whole food plant based diet. The Lord has always had a plan for us to follow, and it’s eternal in nature. He began teaching us in Genesis as He revealed the creation, with references throughout the succeeding scriptures. This writer reminds us of what Daniel knew and lived, as well as what the Lord revealed later to Joseph Smith in the Doctrine and Covenants, after restoring the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have spent the last 25 plus years (convert baptism February 9, 1991), reading and pondering scriptures, giving special attention to the Word of Wisdom on occasion of a related Sunday school lesson, or something other in my life that turned my attention to the Lord’s law of health. I viewed the documentary, “Forks Over Knives”, a well as other videos teaching what medical science has discovered about diet and nutrition, in addition to reading books, research papers, and other health and nutrition blogs, searching for eternal truth. Just like there are pieces of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ in many different world religions, there is truth to be found in many places about how to thrive and not just survive. I have even spent a good amount of time listening to infomercials that while specifying the benefits of eating a plant based diet, transition with a statement like, “but who has the time to eat like that?”, offering instead to sell a product that promises to do everything a plant based will, without having to eat a plant based diet; in fact don’t even worry about what you are eating. Doesn’t that sound like the “evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days”? I have been taught the Lord’s way in all things temporal and spiritual, requires everything we can put on the sacrificial altar, before we can receive the blessings prepared for us. I thank the Lord for helping me to see with my eyes, study with my brain, and discern by the spirit what it true and how it apply it in my life. I thank Jane Birch for following the path the Lord provides for her, and I thank my friend, Lizanne Poland, who kindly asked me to look at the punctuation in verse 13 of Doctrine and Covenants section 89; specifically the placement of the first comma: “And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.” Just about a year ago, Lizanne and I were discussing what the Lord meant in that verse referencing His ordination of the use of the flesh of beast and fowls of the previous verse (12). After re-reading verse 13, paying attention to the punctuation, especially the first comma after “…not be used,…”, the proverbial dots were suddenly all connected for me. For the past 10 or 11 months, I have been following this entreating by the Lord; I want to please Him in all that I do. In these past 12 months or so, my younger sister has received a diagnosis of type II diabetes, and in about six months has reversed the trend of high blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, as well as losing (still losing) about 50 lbs., by eating more fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, less meat, processed foods, dairy and sugar. Actually she is not specifically tracking weight loss, but I have witnessed the physical and spiritual change in her countenance; she is not yet a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Her son, my nephew, knows his diet is responsible for his being overweight, and is now limiting his physical activity like biking and swimming. Just this past week he told me he wants to begin eating a whole food plant based diet. And I know he is not making this change only for his personal benefit, he has two young sons, ages 4 and 6 years; I know he wants to be an example for them. He is not ready to sacrifice all meat at this time, but he recognizes the need to change something. My niece, his younger sister, just gave birth to her first child. She added to brother’s statement about eating a plant based diet, that maybe our family could act as a support group towards this effort. Again, even though I shared Jane’s book, “Discovering the Word of Wisdom” with my sister after her type II diabetes diagnosis, I am the only member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to date in my family. It’s amazing how the Lord works, we only have to do our part. I love pleasing the Lord, and He is blessing me and my family. Over the last year I have developed some recipes, relatively simple ways to partake of whole food plant based nutrition on a daily basis. I have never felt better at almost 65 years of age, than I do right now. Please email, text of call if I can be of help to anyone in this forum or outside of it. Renée Berry reneeberry33@yahoo.com 408-569-0458

  5. Congratulations! Sometimes it takes a tremendous amount of courage to change something as basic as how we approach our food. Even the simple rethinking of what we regard as food. But, the progress in this experiment or change is undeniable. Thank you for sharing your happy progress. I do hope we hear from you again as you continue on this path.

  6. I really appreciate reading your courageous moving ahead in eating a Whole Food Plant Based Diet which I usually refer to as the “Word of Wisdom Diet.” Your move to begin eating the way the Lord advises that each one of us should eat, is most likely one of the most courageous things you have done. In many ways what you did is similar to what you would face if you had been a smoker, a drinker of alcohol or used drugs and then became convinced that stopping the use of those things will really improve your life.

    However, stopping the use of those things takes a lot of courage, but, in some ways beginning a Whole Food Plant Based Diet takes more courage for a Latter-day Saint like you because although all of your friends who are also members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints don’t drink or smoke, very few of them are eating the way our Dear Lord actually advises us to eat and they may have already told you that they think it is strange that you would eat that way.

    I deeply admire the courage you have shown by eating the Word of Wisdom Way! You have become a great example to many! It is not an easy task to change from the status quo, but following God’s counsel is always worth it. May the Lord continue to bless you!

  7. Great story. I am struggling to get back to a plant based diet. I do not cook a lot of food. I have read that when you cook food and the temperature exceeds 120 degrees the value in what you are cooking diminishes. Then there is the issue of coking oil. Canola oil has to be the worst type to cook with. Its smoke point is almost 300 degrees.I have to ask myself how much of the food I ingest has residual oil and the body will store it as fat. I am a healthy 67 year old male, who takes no medications and visits a doctor when I can’t fix “what’s broken.” I am one donation away from my ‘7 gallon’ pin in blood donations. I try to eat reasonably well 6 out of 7 days. The other day is eating with my 95 year old mother who loves pizza, sweets, etc. I strongly believe in juicing for nutrient dense foods, and it also takes an average of 15 minutes to get to to work in the body.

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