For as long as I remember I have struggled with body image issues and a never-ending battle to maintain a weight without struggling to do so. My heaviest weight was 35 pounds over my personal ideal. While seemingly not a huge amount overweight, I will say that I am a petite 5’2 and that as little as 5 pounds gained will affect my wardrobe, believe it or not! For someone of my stature eating the standard American diet is a CONSTANT struggle not to gain. I felt hungry most of the time, and when I did listened to my hunger cues, I put on 10 pounds in an instant. I could not understand why it was such a struggle.
In 2009 I decided to go vegetarian for just a month out of a dare. My brother did not think I could do it and said I was all talk and no game. Naturally I stuck out my chin and clenched my jaw, sibling rivalry at its best. Not only did I prove him wrong, I surprised myself by staying on the diet after a month was up. Something in my mind had triggered. I was looking for real answers now, not just what diet could do for my outward appearance. Questions like “Is there one diet for humans?” “Can diet cure cancer and prevent heart attacks and Alzheimer’s?” and “Did God want us to struggle this much with food?” arose. I was now on a quest. I read everything I could get my hands on to find my answer but found myself reading in circles. There is SO much conflicting information out there that at one point I felt like I had hit a dead end.
In this quest, I HAD concluded that there had to be a diet that ALL humans could thrive on because I felt that God did not want us diet obsessed, fat and sick. Life is so much more. These bodies are gifts and it just did not make sense for there to be this much struggle. Yet I could not seem to find the answer.
Soon after my husband and I got married, we decided to try and start a family. After a year of no luck, even after being on hormone treatment, we went to see a fertility specialist. In 2013 I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). I had irregular periods, as long as 60 days and sometimes none at all. Overall I was hormonally imbalanced. Yet again, I was frustrated with my body and hated that I had to be medicated in order for my body to function properly. Luckily for me I was already on a path that would not only heal my body, but heal my relationship with it as well.
I slowly starting to cut out dairy, and I slowed the consumption of processed foods. I started to differentiate between real food and non-foods. Even though Oreos and chips were technically vegetarian, even vegan, did they really do the body good?
After years of not being able to answer my questions about the human diet, I felt pulled towards reading the Word of Wisdom. The first verse that hit me like a ton of bricks and sent goosebumps up and down my arms was verse four:
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 made an instant connection and thought of all of the conflicting information that left me stumped. Could the men and women driving these “perfect” lifestyles have a motive? The answer is yes. Non-foods are a multi-billion dollar industry!
I read the all-too-familiar verses about what we ought to abstain from and then found myself reading verses 10-21 over and over in disbelief. I remember laughing out loud and jumping for joy. My quest was over; my quest was a success! Not only had it had been under my nose this whole time, it was so simple. Grain is to be the staff of life, and we are to eat fruits and vegetables in season! After this discovery, it took me about a week to break it to my husband that I was basing my diet on starches with added fruits and vegetables. After all, he had taken a risk by marrying a vegetarian! His response was humorous as he said it was only a matter of time.
Verses 13 and 15 seem to be non-existent in the minds of many.
And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.
And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.
These two verses are practically identical and refer to the animals that are ordained for our use, only in times of food scarcity or cold. Why had this not been taught? The word “scarcity” seemed to be clearly defined! And for a good reason as the term could be defined differently if you ask 100 different people! My thoughts turned to a saying I had read somewhere by Dr. John McDougall, “People love to hear good news about their bad habits.” Another connection made.
Verses 18-21 are promises that are made to those who adhere to that which is pleasing unto the Lord. Great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures and the ability to run and not be weary. Even going as far as promising that the destroying angel shall pass by them? How many illnesses plague our country? Are these not the destroying angels? It’s the food!
We are divinely designed and function in such a way that even the brightest of doctors and scientists cannot imagine. It makes sense that our Maker knows our bodies and their functionalities best.
As the Word of Wisdom came to light, so did all of my research. I was finally able to sort through the misinformation and go about collecting books that rang true. I learned that our spiritual, emotional, and physical bodies are all connected. When one fails, the others suffer. As I eat the diet humans are all meant to eat, I have greater spiritual clarity, am physically robust and energized, and am emotionally stable. My stomach irritability is resolved, and I am able to trim down to my ideal body composition with ease, even finally being able to listen to my hunger cues without worry! My body has been able to heal from the inside out.
Last year I purchased the book Discovering of the Word of Wisdom by Jane Birch. Her book solidified my testimony even more and gave me something that I could refer all my friends and family to. It also gave me the courage to be bold and share my experience because I knew I was not the only one . . . that I was not crazy, in fact.
I am so grateful to have found the hidden treasures of the Word of Wisdom and that it was made for even the weakest of the weak to be able to follow (D&C 89:3) because this ensures that even I can be successful in living life to it’s fullest and reaping the many blessings that are promised. I love that I can share this knowledge and raise my daughter to know how to best treat her body so that she too may live the life that God intended her to live, one full of purpose and strength.
Cara Mapp, 27, lives with her husband and daughter in Texas. She loves to run, play basketball, and do just about anything involving the outdoors. She is a self-proclaimed bookworm and loves reading any stories that could not happen in real life, so as to truly escape into another world. What brings her the most joy is watching her daughter grow and being married to her best friend.