Growing up I always felt like I was a little “pudgy.” When I got to high school I wanted to be on some sort of team. My mother wouldn’t allow me to play football so I decided to try out for the swim team. We didn’t have a very good team (we didn’t even have our own pool), but I made the team and began swimming and also became quite lean. I continued that way for the next few years and enjoyed being more slender.
When I left for my mission to South America I weighed 170 pounds. I maintained that weight for most of my mission except when we lived with an American family. The good brother worked in the oil fields in Venezuela and enjoyed the standard American diet. I had never eaten filet mignon before in my life, but each Friday night his wife would cook it for us, along with potatoes and gravy and all the other good stuff. Soon my weight jumped to 200 pounds! I could hardly fit in my pants any longer! After a few months I was transferred to the other country (Colombia), and my weight began dropping back towards normal.
In my last city I got ill and lost some weight, which got me back to 170 pounds. My mother was so concerned that on my arrival home she decided she needed to “fatten me up” to a healthy weight. My sweetheart Judy had waited for me, and we were married eight weeks after I returned home. They say that newlyweds gain about 10 pounds the first year, and we did! Before I knew it I had gained 40 pounds.
I went up and down a little over the years until the year 2000 when my eldest daughter was taking a nutrition class in college and encouraged us to go on a low-fat diet combined with exercise. We switched to everything low fat or no fat: skim milk, low-fat salad dressing, yogurt, etc. I began swimming again and got my weight back down to my marriage weight of 190 pounds. I also had my body composition tested and was at just 10% body fat. I was feeling pretty good about myself. I ate the low-fat diet Monday through Friday, but on weekends I allowed myself to eat anything and everything! I would typically gain a couple of pounds over the weekend and then start back to my grueling exercise and eating routine (swimming one to two miles each morning and eating only low-fat foods). But I always felt hungry! So I started to allow a little more of the regular foods back into my diet.
That continued until 2005 when I was called to be the stake patriarch and decided that I could no longer go to the swimming pool each morning due to the environment. I returned to pretty much the standard American diet (SAD) and started walking and bike riding, but it wasn’t as effective as my swimming had been, and so for the next seven years my weight slowly increased by just half a pound per month or six pounds per year. By February 2012 I had reached my highest weight ever of 262.5 pounds and couldn’t see an end in sight! I knew that I wasn’t healthy, and even though I hadn’t gone to the doctor for a physical, I knew I had high blood pressure. I had also suffered three bouts with painful kidney stones and had my gall bladder removed due to a blockage with stones. Fortunately no other serious health issues had surfaced.
One evening while my wife was at a meeting I took the occasion to watch the documentary Forks Over Knives followed by Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead on Netflix. Upon her return home that evening, and even though she said she really didn’t want to, she watched both of them with me. At the end of the movies I told her that we needed to change what we were doing with our diet. I had noticed Dr. Joel Fuhrman in the Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead movie, so I researched him and found he had written a book titled Eat to Live. I purchased the book and read it and was very impressed with how closely it followed the Word of Wisdom. My wife Judy had suffered debilitating headaches that would last up to several days at a time. I told her that Dr. Fuhrman said that for those following his diet they would be cured of headaches. She agreed to do this if it would help her (which it did immediately).
Over the next eight and a half months I dropped 80 pounds (or five 16 lb. bowling balls as Phil in the movie Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead would say). It was difficult in the beginning to give up some of the foods I had become accustomed to eating over the previous 61 years, especially cheese, but I have found new flavors and textures in eating from the Lord’s “Garden of Eden.”
I have noticed several things since changing my diet. Former aches and pains and physical issues have resolved themselves. I also believe that my mind is clearer and feels younger. I find that I am a much calmer person. I also have more energy. Whereas I would fall asleep just sitting somewhere and also become drowsy when driving, I am more invigorated now! Another difference in eating this way is that I can get full and never feel hungry because my body is getting the proper nutrients it needs!
I like to call this the “Garden of Eden diet.” I believe this is the way we will eat during the millennium. I have always wondered why people lived so much longer in the beginning and firmly believe much of it was due to the things that they ate (or didn’t eat).
I tell people that even though I may not look younger I feel at least 20 or 30 years younger in some ways and have the blood pressure and cholesterol of a 20 year old!
I have learned so much over the last three and a half years and believe that by following all the recommendations contained in the Word of Wisdom we will not only be able to “run and not be weary and walk and not faint” but also be enlightened by “hidden treasures of knowledge.”
Jeff Sorensen and his wife Judy are 64 years old and live in West Valley City, Utah. They are parents of eight children and 25 grandchildren with two more on the way! He enjoys being in the kitchen and using all the new gadgets and machines they have accumulated since learning to eat this way.