“I’ve reclaimed my connection with God and his Son”

Janet-Carter_before-afterBy: Janet Carter

I am a 46-year-old mother of six children, and during each of my pregnancies I was close to 100 pounds overweight. Living life as an overweight person and raising six children took a toll on my body.

When I was 34, I tried the Atkins Diet in hopes of losing weight; just one of the many diets I’d tried over the years. I lost 45 pounds on Atkins, but my inability to sustain the weight-loss over the long-term—due to how bad I felt most of the time from eating all that meat and dairy—was frustrating. Part of my frustration also stemmed from knowing that eating mostly meat, cheese, eggs, and butter was poor health logic.

While I was on the Atkins diet, I developed sinus allergies for the first time in my life. It started out with what I thought was just a bad cold; except the cold didn’t go away. So I went to an allergist for testing, and the results indicated that I was allergic to almost all plants and animals.

Given this new information, I set out to purify my home of toxins and other allergy sources, and I also began taking antihistamines daily to lessen my suffering. But I remained sick. My doctor’s suggestion was that I lose weight and exercise more. He said the way I ate likely added to the inflammation in my body, but he made no dietary recommendations other than to choose a good weight-loss program and adhere to it, noting that while this would increase my health, I would likely suffer from allergies the rest of my life.

Exercising wasn’t difficult for me since I had always played sports in my youth and knew how to work hard. I went to the gym and lifted weights, and I walked and jogged. But I just couldn’t stick to any weight-reduction program for very long. I came to see over time that I didn’t simply lack willpower to adhere to a diet; I had an intense addiction to food, with little idea how to overcome it. I ended up gaining more weight in time, eventually reaching a high of 275 pounds. My allergies remained as bad as ever.

Soon I began having other symptoms of ill health. I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic, with the warning that within a few years I’d have full-blown diabetes. I had regular bouts of tachycardia (faster than normal heart rate), which was scary. If I couldn’t get my racing heart rate to stop within a minute or two, I felt like I’d run a marathon. A few years later, due to my nearsightedness, I had a detached retina and rapidly developed cataracts in both eyes. Seven eye surgeries later my eyesight was restored. But the misery of trying to lose weight, hoping it would cure all my ailments, went on for eight more years.

In January 2012 I took a microbiology class at our local university. We spent four weeks studying the immune system and how allergies develop in the body. I remember thinking, “If that’s how they develop, the body must also be capable of reversing them.” I started researching online about the treatment of sinus allergies. Luckily I came across a YouTube video of Dr. Alan Goldhamer, founder of TrueNorth Health Center in Santa Rosa, California. I listened to him talk about how “health comes from healthful living” and what that meant exactly. My gut feeling was he had some important truth for me, so I called him.

Dr. Goldhamer reviewed my current health status and suggested that I might be a good candidate for water-only fasting and adopting a whole food, plant-based diet. What intrigued me most was when he said, “If you come here and learn how to eat this way, it is very likely you won’t suffer from allergies anymore.” So off to TrueNorth I went. Even though I had woken up every morning for eight years with severe sinus allergies, within five days of fasting I had zero symptoms.

I was taught that if I continued to eat plant food until I was full at every meal, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep every night, I’d consistently lose one to two pounds per week until my body had reached its natural weight. Sure enough, within 10 months I’d lost 105 pounds. I’ve maintained that for a year and a half now. All symptoms of diabetes are gone. I no longer take any medications, and I have zero allergies. My tachycardia went from twice a month to twice a year.

But best of all, I wake up every morning free of cravings for salty, sugary, fatty foods, and I no longer caffeinate myself just to get through the day. I now live with an abundance of energy every day to take better care of my family and really enjoy being a mom.

When I began eating again after my fast, I discovered that whole plant foods tasted great! I learned that one of the many benefits of water fasting is that the taste buds are cleaned out and reset, in a sense, and that foods that didn’t used to taste that good now tasted great. The first food I ate after fasting was a mushroom. It just looked wonderful and tasted divine. Baked mushrooms are still a favorite. I love that a potato can taste wonderful all by itself. I love that you can take just about any combination of fresh plant foods and combine them to make a delicious meal.

Janet Carter FamilyMy amazing husband never once commented about my weight or health over the years, only to say how beautiful I was to him. When I decided to go to TrueNorth and make this change, he fully supported me by just allowing it, without resistance or criticism. He was raised on a cattle ranch and yet was open to hearing all my rants about the beef and dairy industry. The only thing I asked my family to give up when I got home was dairy. Surprisingly, they did it and with very little trouble.

I now exercise about four days a week consistently. I sleep a regular six to seven hours each night. I’ve actually never struggled with falling asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. The biggest change in sleep comes from not needing to take naps every day because of exhaustion. I put in a good day’s work because I have the energy to do so and sleep well at night.

I saw my doctor in September of 2013, and he hardly recognized me. He asked what I did to change my life. I told him that I had gone to TrueNorth Health Center and adopted a plant-based diet. He congratulated me, and said he knew that a vegan diet worked, and that he would recommend it to everyone if he thought they would actually adhere to it. Well, now he knows someone who actually adhered to it, so hopefully he is recommending it more!

Was this transformation easy? Not at all. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I gave it everything I had. I had to admit that my life had become unmanageable. I found hope in a higher power, trusting God to restore me to complete spiritual, emotional, and physical health. I took a fearless, written, moral inventory of my life. In essence, I was becoming entirely ready to be done using food for all the many reasons I used food, aside from it being neurologically and chemically addictive.

All my life I’ve been trying to figure out how to live the Word of Wisdom in the way I knew God intended . . . but actually I didn’t know. I needed to find out for myself what He meant. I believe I understand that now. I eat only plants. I’ve reclaimed my health. More importantly, I’ve reclaimed my connection with God and his Son. I understand the Atonement now. That is how huge the Word of Wisdom is to me.

My advice to anyone considering a similar journey is to take your transformation as seriously as you’ve ever taken any large undertaking before. Get honest. Lean into the pain. Ask for help. Concentrate your energy. Do the work. It will yield your desired outcome. . . . I am proof that health really does come from healthful living.

Janet Carter is 46 years old and lives in Idaho. She is currently studying for a biology and health education degree at BYU-Idaho. She and her husband have six children.

Comments

  1. What a wonderful transformation, Janet! You should be very proud of yourself. Congratulations! I really enjoyed your story and it gives me encouragement in my journey, as well.

  2. Congratulations. I enjoyed reading your story and learning of your success! “Health comes from
    healthful living” what a simple – powerful truth. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Janet, what I particularly appreciated what you did that surely was a key to your being able to turn your life around health-wise was the expressed in the following that you wrote above:

    “I just couldn’t stick to any weight-reduction program for very long. I came to see over time that I didn’t simply lack willpower to adhere to a diet; I had an intense addiction to food, with little idea how to overcome it. I ended up gaining more weight in time, eventually reaching a high of 275 pounds.”

    Your awakening to the fact that the foods you were eating were actually ruling your life because of your addiction to them was a huge step forward health wise. From my own health history and from my work for many years as a therapist for LDS Family Services I came to professionally realize that there are no magic tricks to overcoming addictions of any kind. Actually, they are best overcome by our exercising faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and His Restored Gospel! He is actually there, waiting to help you overcome your addictions!

    Each person who discovers that they are addicted to their foods has to first realize that food addiction is very prevalent and persistent and doesn’t just leave us because we want to be rid of them! After identifying those specific foods to which you are addicted, you must then do all you can to exercise and develop your will power and really focus on getting rid of your addictions, and then just stop eating them!

    Then, most importantly, we each need to plead with our Heavenly Father in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ for the help you need to overcome those specific addictions you suffer from! This isn’t usually just a one time event but most often takes repetitive action over and over again! Their Heavenly power will become the most significant part of your recovery from specific addictions. Developing very strong will power is a very important part of the process!

    What I’ve written above was not just for you because you appear to have done very well in overcoming your addictions, but I’m sure you will have to agree to the process I outline above as being what you actually have gone through!

    I’m sure the Lord will continue to help you and others who may be reading all of this. Best wishes to each of you!

    Neil Birch

    • Neil, I began my journey 4 years ago in an LDS addiction recovery 12 step meeting. I worked the steps for a year and pleaded for my Father in heaven to show me the plan of abstinence he wanted me to adhere to. I was so addicted I could not get free on my own. Over a few months time, he led me to find what would be best for me. Almost 3 years abstinent now! In our 12 step group we like to call it our “plan of best interest” rather than a plan of abstinence.

      I love everything you wrote. So true. So thankful to know there are people like you out there facilitating healing. The 12 steps give us access to the enabling power in the atonement to become entirely ready to have a change of heart. I needed a change of heart about food. Food has the power to harm or heal us. Plants heal us. But what I love most about what I learned from this journey is that aligning ourselves with true principles also aligns us with God and our Savior. Having an addiction requires us to come unto them to get free. It is dang hard when you are as prideful and willful as I was. I am so thankful to have learned what it is like to live daily at one with them. Peace that passeth all understanding.

  4. Actually, if you fill your body with lots of healthy fruits and vegetables, you soon stop having cravings. Cravings are often caused by such things as nutritional deficiencies, dehydration, and lack of sleep. The type of foods you eat affect your ability to exercise will power.

    • Jan,

      I have found what you said to be true as well. I liken it to trying to stay free of sin. If we fill our lives with doing good things such as prayer, study, fasting, service, etc., we lose our desire for sin. We know that repentance is not just quitting sin, but replacing it with positive action.

      Somewhere I read that the body’s emergency back up for dehydration, exhaustion and nutritional deficiencies is glucose. When we get to a certain low level in meeting the requirements of the body, the brain causes us to crave glucose. It reminds me of the “nature abhorreth a vacuum” saying which Francis Bacon stated as “…and as nature to avoid a vacuum will draw substances contrary to their propriety…”

      Also in William James’ book “As a Man Thinketh” he states that different thoughts attract different types of foods. Do different types of foods affect our thinking? That is fascinating! If like things attract, and we know the Holy Spirit is drawn into wholesome environments, to what type of environment are evil spirits drawn? In reading the Word of Wisdom, we see that the promise for obedience sounds like a greater portion of the Holy Spirit. What are the consequences then of eating contrary to that counsel?

      Jan Miller

  5. Thank you all for your gracious comments. It is a tremendously great work Jane is doing here. It is a pleasure to be a part of it.

  6. Janet, I should have guessed you might have been involved in the Twelve Step Addiction Recovery Program sponsored by L.D.S. Family Services! Back in 1971 to 1973 when I was earning my Masters of Social Work Degree at San Jose State University in San Jose, California as had been required of me by my L.D.S Family Services directors; along with my also working full-time as an L.D.S. Family Services Social Worker. I had also been instructed by my agency leaders there to earn my MSW degree while continuing to serve as an Indian Placement Program social worker along with raising the six children Jane Birch’s mother and I were then raising, with Jane being our oldest.

    As my main project San Jose State’s M.S.W. Dept. required of me, I chose with the help of the Lord’s strong promptings was one that got me involved in finding solutions to addictions using primarily the Alcoholics Anonymous approach which I had already come to realize was inspired of the Lord. However, I soon also came to realize that A.A. could never fully address Latter-day Saints’ challenges in overcoming their alcohol and other addictions.

    As I just happened to run into people attending various L.D.S. meetings who were actually discussing their attendance at A.A. meetings I began suggesting that we L.D.S. members who were interested in the great need to find a way to escape alcohol and other addictions begin holding our own A.A. type meetings. There was immediate and enthusiastic support for that. Before long my L.D.S. Family Service leaders showed strong support for the very successful meetings we were holding in various S.F. Bay Area L.D.S. meeting houses.

    After graduation I was assigned to move my family back to Kansas City, Missouri as their first agency director there. I then lost track of that special addiction recovery program that was beginning to grow and develop in the San Francisco Bay Area. However, several years latter a very kind L.D.S. lady from the S.F. Bay Area wrote me telling me of the successful progress the fledgling program I had been involved in was making and thanked me for my involvement for having played a significant role in bringing it about. I give the Lord full credit in inspiring me in my efforts! How marvelous is the work of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in these marvelous Latter-Days! J. Neil Birch

  7. Janet,

    Thank you for the sharing the hope, direction and example of living the most amazing law of health, the word of wisdom!! You are inspiring.

  8. Janet, I’m glad that my eldest child, daughter, Jane has published that which you wrote a number of years ago. I’m sure you must be continuing to eat the “Word of Wisdom Way” Section 89 of t he Doctrine and Covenants, verses 10 through verse 21. I have also continued to eat the way the Lord advises us to eat in that very special section of the Doctrine and Covenants.

    I will be turning 85 years of age in February, 2017. Because I’ve been very regularly eating in accordance with that counsel the Lord gave us in Section 89 of the D. & C. I am happy to report that since I began eating that way just a few weeks before I turned 80 years of age, that I, I only weigh 135 pounds and am five feet 10 and a half inches tall! I actually never get sick now, but before my dear daughter Jane taught me to eat the Word of Wisdom Way I suffered from a number of difficult illnesses, including Type 2 Diabetes.

    I also exercise very regularly six days a week on a Precore Adaptive Motion Moderator and go the “distance” of one mile each morning six days a week according to a dial on that exercise machine I use at the Murray, Utah Recreation Center. That is a good work out! I never have to ;miss my exercise session because I “don’t “feel up to it!”

    I actually believe that “Eating the Word of Wisdom Way and exercising very vigorously and very regularly” I may even live past one hundred years of age! I pray that the Lord will continue to bless you that through the way you eat and exercise you’ll live a very long and very happy and useful life!

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