I am a 34-year old native of France, currently living in Austria. I was born into the covenant. I am blessed with a loving and supportive husband, Paul, and we take great joy in rearing our three children in the Gospel: Eva, 13 years old, Jérôme, 11 years old, and Lynn, 5 years old.
For a long time, I believed that my family was eating healthy. I always cooked from scratch with lots of fruits and vegetables. We ate meat once a week, some form of dairy products daily, and I limited our consumption of sweets. I took great pleasure in preparing tasty meals for my family and friends that I thought were nutritious.
In October 2011, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I followed the normal procedures and had it surgically removed a week after my diagnosis. Unfortunately, I experienced surgical complications. My laryngeal nerve was severed (I have now a paralyzed left vocal cord), and I also suffered from “permanent hypoparathyroidism.” As a consequence, I started to experience serious hypocalcemic attacks. The specialists responded by administering massive doses of calcium (12 times the daily recommended dose) along with vitamin D. They told me that it was the only way to avoid the attacks and that I should also eat lots of dairy products to get as much calcium as possible. However, they also warned me that those supplements would eventually damage my kidneys permanently. Nevertheless, they could offer no other treatment.
Then I did what any child of God does in this situation—I went on my knees and asked for His help. I knew our Heavenly Father is the maker of our bodies, and He would know what to do. So day after day I prayed.
The months following my cancer treatment, I was not doing well physically. I was vomiting a lot. I lost the sense of taste (every food I ate had absolutely no flavor), and I was extremely tired and nauseous . . . To add to all that, the tumors came back right were my thyroid was. Since I was in no shape to go through the treatment all over again, I refused it.
Along with my fervent prayers, I decided to educate myself and learn as much as I could on my condition: hypoparathyroidism and cancer.
All my research and prayers pointed towards nutrition.
In February 2012, I decided to take a leap of faith and test for myself this new diet: I cut out all animal products (meat, dairy, and eggs) along with gluten, soy, and sugar, and increased considerably my consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. Within 6 months, I was able to go from 12 supplements a day to none.
As of today, inasmuch as I eat right, I don’t need to take any calcium supplements, which is a real miracle. Also, all the tumors disappeared completely. It’s been three years, and I have absolutely no trace of tumors or cancer.
Today, I am full of energy and feel fantastic. I have a very supportive husband who decided to follow me in my new diet right away and has ever since been converted to this new way of life having also experienced very positive changes in his health. Our children also followed us in our new diet, and they did it willingly having understood the reasons behind these changes. (I am homeschooling my children, and as part of their education, I taught them a course on these new dietetic principles for several weeks.)
This new way of eating made me realize how important our nutrition is and how the average person lacks real knowledge in these essential life habits.
This new knowledge has become so fundamental for me that I eagerly share it with all my family, friends and whomever are interested, many of whom have made considerable changes in their own diet. All of them are now aware that what they eat has tangible consequences for their overall health.
I don’t push my way of eating, but when people ask questions, I am happy to answer them. Since arriving in the Vienna International Ward in May 2012, our family has had a positive impact on our potlucks, without saying anything (example is everything). It used to be that we could only eat what I brought from home; now there is a lot on the table that we can eat! There are so many salads, fruits, and veggie options—it’s great to see. In our last Ward Council, there was only fruit for snacks, and I did not bring them (it used to be only junk food).
I had also the opportunity to organize three firesides on “Healthy Nutrition” in our Church, which impacted a lot of members of our Stake. In addition to adult audiences, I have also addressed the younger generation of our ward on the matter as part of their Duty to God and Personal Progress.
I now host workshops at my home and teach people how to prepare healthy meals while discussing the benefits of a whole-food plant-based diet. They all love it!
I know that many more people are looking for ways to improve their health, but in this era of mass information it is easy to get lost and not know what to do. After three years of following this whole-food plant-based diet, I can tell you that for me and my family, it is for sure the best diet! We all are in great physical shape. We rarely get sick, and if we do it’s usually a day or two at the most.
Like many of you I was amazed at how many “hidden treasures” became apparent when I controlled my appetite and treated my body as a Temple, giving it the best kind of food.
The Word of Wisdom is really much more than don’t eat or drink that. I am truly grateful that my Heavenly Father helped me take care of my body by teaching me what I needed to do. I am also very aware that my cancer was a blessing. One of the reasons is that I am now raising my children in a very different way of eating, and I am giving them a strong foundation for a healthy body.
I know our Heavenly Father loves us and wants our happiness. I know that He listens when we pray, and He answers, but we have to be ready to follow through with the answers we receive. It was very challenging at first to change our eating habits, and I had to learn all over again how to prepare tasty meals with completely new ingredients. It was not an easy road, but it is so worth it. Our health is worth it. It is my belief that when we are eating healthy, our bodies and spirits can fill the full measure of their creation.
I am very humbled by what I went through, and so grateful for my Heavenly Father who directed me, inspired me and helped me when I needed Him. He gave me much more than what I asked for.
I hope that my story will be able to help my brothers and sisters realize that they are the ones in charge of their bodies and that they can help themselves.
Elodie Picard is 34 years old. She was born in France, but currently lives in Vienna, Austria with her husband, Paul, and their three children. Elodie enjoys reading, board games, spending time with her family and friends, preparing healthy meals and practicing yoga. She also loves sunny weather and spends as much time as possible outside when the sun is out. Her best treat happens during sunny weather when she can practice yoga in her garden with her three children. Elodie has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Bordeaux, France and is currently serving in the Relief Society presidency of the Vienna International Ward.