For over 20 years I have struggled with stomach issues, asthma, and horrible seasonal allergies. My stomach issues and severe allergies both began when I was about 17 years old. I struggled with nausea, bloating, reflux, and diarrhea. I would get horrible hay fever every year that lasted from about April until October. I would get sinus infections. I was put on two allergy medications, including a sinus spray that I used for 26 years to prevent the sneezing, sniffling, watery eyes, and sinus infections.
I saw my first gastroenterologist at the age of 24 because I was having severe pain in my chest and food felt like it was coming back up when I ate. The gastroenterologist ordered a series of tests including an endoscopy, colonoscopy, barium swallow, nasogastric testing, etc. When I went in for my results I was told that every test was POSITIVE. I was diagnosed with H. pylori, reflux, esophageal spasm, esophageal stricture, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-D). I was put on a handful of pills everyday, but I still struggled with stomach problems. It was during this same time that I was diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma and began taking an inhaler everywhere I went.
I lived this way for a long time, always looking for something to help my stomach. I discovered I was lactose intolerant and stopped eating dairy, which helped a little, but not enough. Over the years I have taken pills for nausea, pills for diarrhea, pills to slow down my digestive process, pills, pills, pills. About seven years ago my doctor discovered that I had hyperinsulinemia and was pre-diabetic. I stopped eating sugar, but I replaced it with sugar-free stuff, which hurt my stomach a lot. I felt like I couldn’t eat anything!
Because I was active, I thought I was healthy, but I was very thin and my diet was lousy. I took up distance running four years ago and struggled with what is known as “runners gut.” I would run with a feeling of nausea almost everyday.
Then about two years ago, I had a powerful spiritual experience in the temple. I felt the love of my Savior very, very strongly. I was going through some difficult things, and I really needed that feeling. It got me through that time, but I wanted that feeling all of the time, so I began to pray about what I needed to change. This led me to a path that included trying to do the will of my Heavenly Father and following the promptings for changes that needed to be made.
fAbout a year after I started earnestly following promptings from Heavenly Father, my running partner suggested that I try a popular fad diet where you eat almost no carbs but lots of meat and fat at each meal. I decided to give it a try. Almost instantly I had a guilty feeling inside. It perplexed me. Why should I feel guilty about eating this much meat?
I began praying about the fad diet. The inspiration I received was to read the Word of Wisdom. My first thought was, “The Word of Wisdom? I live that perfectly.” Well I couldn’t have been more wrong. I read and re-read the passages, and they screamed out to me. Eat whole fresh vegetables in their season! Eat fruit in their season! Grains should be the staff of life! Eat meat so sparingly that you only eat it in times of famine or extreme cold. Wow!
I immediately began researching a whole foods, plant based (WFPB) diet. I honestly believed WFPB was an unhealthy diet until I started researching it. I felt prompted that living the Word of Wisdom more fully was another thing that I needed to do differently in order to feel the love of Heavenly Father more fully.
I slowly transitioned from a diet high in fat, meat, and processed foods to a diet of whole, organic, plant-based foods, and the most amazing thing happened. I FELT FANTASTIC. THE BLESSINGS WERE REAL!
Fast forward to nine months later, and I am off all of my stomach pills because I no longer need them. I eat without nausea; I run without nausea; I no longer need to run to the restroom every ten minutes. Just to live without nausea from day to day is such an incredible blessing. To live without worrying about going to the bathroom so much is an incredible blessing. I no longer need my asthma medications. I am off all four of my allergy medications. ALL FOUR! My allergies were to the foods I was eating, not the environment. I had high cholesterol, and my doctor had mentioned that I was probably getting metabolic syndrome; now my levels are normal.
I now run everyday, and I feel healthier than I have ever felt. I feel lighter and cleaner somehow. I have a clean conscience that I am no longer adding to animal suffering and the horrible destruction of this beautiful planet that Heavenly Father blessed us with. To be able to eat and eat and not worry about how it’s going to make me feel because the foods I’m eating are healthy and fresh and don’t make me feel bad is such a blessing.
SLEEP! I was on sleeping pills to help me sleep and caffeine to help me wake up, and I now don’t need either one. Oh what a blessing to be able to sleep and not take a pill! What a blessing to not be addicted to caffeine. Now I have the energy to manage three children and a husband and a house and having ENERGY is so huge. It’s more time spent on spiritual things and less time spent on the temporal. And because I spend less time worrying about my physical health, I can spend that extra time learning and growing in the gospel and in my profession.
Because I have changed a lot of the way that I live in the past two years, I feel different spiritually. I feel I receive more promptings from the Spirit about the things I need to do, and I’ve tried to have trust and faith in this process. For example, I quit my job last month to become a full-time photographer. Sure enough, everything has fallen in line beautifully as I have followed what the Lord wants me to do. It’s as though the message that has always been a little tough to hear is coming in loud and clear and that I’m more “in tune,” like a radio—I finally found a frequency where the Spirit is more clear and there is less static.
The sad part of this journey is that everyone seems to be asleep to these issues. I talk about them, and I post about them, but very few people actually want to hear what I have to say. That aspect of the journey is very difficult because I wish that I had discovered all of this so long ago! I don’t think that there is any coincidence that the current fad diet is so far away from what Heavenly Father wants us to eat; it’s the exact opposite! He wants us to be healthy and happy and when we are sick we feel depressed, and we wonder why this is happening to us. I felt many times in my life that my body had turned against me. In truth, I wasn’t living the commandments of our Heavenly Father, and I wasn’t receiving any of His blessings. I thank Him everyday in prayer for my new knowledge that was right in front of me all along.
Candice Bithell, 43, lives in Sandy, Utah and is a wife and mother of three children. She is a professional photographer and distance runner who competes in races and triathlons.