“I hoped it would help with the IBS”

joseph-peterson-familyBy: Joseph Peterson

I always thought I ate a fairly healthy diet. Coming from a larger family, my mom always cooked homemade meals, and I just assumed that if it was homemade, it was healthy. After going off to college, I had to begin cooking for myself, which was usually just whatever was easiest, which was anything from spaghetti to frozen dinners. Then on my mission in Monterrey, Mexico, we would either eat at the homes of Church members or buy tacos on the street. The food where I served in Mexico always contained lots of meat and lots of grease. At one point in my mission, my health got so bad because of the food there that I had to be hospitalized. At the time, however, I thought it was just one bad meal with lots of bacteria. I didn’t stop to think that how I ate everyday affected my life so much.

When I got married, my wife and I were just never motivated to cook for ourselves very often since it was just the two of us, so we would usually go out to eat or cook some kind of frozen meal. After a while of that, my wife got better at cooking homemade meals just about every night, but we would still eat meat and lots of cheese and things like that.

Then just last year, I heard my parents talking about a diet they were starting that they were very impressed with. It was the whole food, plant-based diet. At first, I didn’t really think I needed anything like that, since I have always been a pretty skinny, healthy guy. At most I weighed 165, and I’m 5’9’’, so about average. However, my whole life I’ve also suffered from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). I have been to many doctors who would just tell me to experiment with different pills, but none of them really worked.

After several months on their new diet, my parents were saying they lost around 40 pounds each and were feeling much better! I was shocked! I have always followed my parents example my whole life and seeing how much this new diet had changed their lives, I wanted to partake of the blessings too. While I didn’t need to lose weight, I hoped it would help with the IBS.

My parents said they didn’t eat meat or any meat products such as dairy or eggs. They also didn’t eat oils. I was thinking to myself, “No meat?! I don’t know if I can do that!” I had grown up on meat, as my wife had as well. I wasn’t sure I could do it, but then I decided I could at least start by cutting out red meat, so that’s what I did. Then eventually I cut out chicken as well. Then I slowly started cutting out dairy as well. My wife also joined me and supported me in making healthier foods.

It was a gradual process, but I saw immediate results even after just getting rid of the meat in my diet. Before my parents changed their diet, I never thought that IBS was caused by the things I was eating, but as my diet started changing, it was evident that that had to be the cause. Because of switching to a whole food, plant-based diet, I no longer have diarrhea and heartburn everyday (I sometimes had it multiple times a day), and I was amazed.

The testimony of my parents has also helped since my mom had some health concerns and my dad had a cancer scare, but once they started this diet, their lives changed as well. My mom doesn’t have to take as much medicine and my dad’s cancer scare simply disappeared. I’ve seen so many blessings in my life and others around me on this whole foods diet, and I hope to teach these things to my 7-month-old daughter as she gets older as well.

The Word of Wisdom has a totally different image in my mind now. I used to think it was only drugs to avoid. We as a family always knew that it said to eat little or no meat but no one followed that. We ate it at Church outings, and all families ate meat and dairy, and they ate it all the time.

I feel as though this diet not only has helped me become healthier but has helped me spiritually to be more aware of the life I need to live in terms of following the gospel. Just as fasting helps us focus on how we can abstain from something, so does this diet. This new diet has given me an awareness of my spiritual well being and has helped me to focus on what other harmful things enter my body, like music, activities, and more.

Joseph Peterson is 27 years old and lives in Chandler, Arizona. He is a software developer currently working for General Motors. He loves to challenge himself, especially in all sports. He is currently into ping-pong and plays a very fast-paced game called SC2 that challenges him to his fullest. He and his wife have a 7-month old daughter.


  1. I’m always amazed at how many young people deal with health issues of various kinds. I’m also amazed when they are willing to give this diet a try. Young people like Joseph and his wife are pioneers in improving their diets. They’ll be examples to many around them! Thanks so much for sharing your story, Joseph.

  2. Joseph, I really enjoyed reading your story and seeing how you went through a number of different twists and turns until you found yourself living in more full accordance with “The Things to Do” Section of Section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants or as we call it: “The Word of Wisdom.” In so doing and then allowing Jane to publish your story you have become a great example to all of the rest of us out there who gone through similar struggles. I really appreciated the photo of you, your wife and your daughter! You all look very very healthy. I’m sure your dear daughter and most likely her possible future siblings will thank you some day for having taught them to eat as our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ teaches us to in Section 89.

    My experience was somewhat similar to yours. I grew up in a family in the Sacramento, California area where my and my two brothers were raised by our mother who was born in Salt Lake City, Utah while her parents and some of her siblings had been born in the Aarhus, Denmark area before joining the Church and migrating to Salt Lake City. Our father was born and raised in Roseville, California and was really blessed by the Lord in meeting my and my two brothers’ mother, and allowing himself to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served in many important positions in the Church including bishop, a member of a stake presidency and even as someone who worked hand in hand with Area Authorities in San Francisco.

    We thought that we were living in accordance with the Word of Wisdom, but finally at age 80 my dear daughter, Jane Birch taught me how the Lord actually wants us to eat. In February of 2017 I will turn eighty five and in the about five years before that I have stopped having medical problems of any kind. I previously suffered from Type 2 Diabetes and a number of other serious medical problems. Now, all of those medical problems are fully in the past. I am glad to say that I can fully identify with men like you who have set a great example for the rest of us!

    Thanks again for the very enjoyable article you allowed Jane to publish. May the Lord continue to richly bless you and your dear family as it continues to grow as very healthy and very happy Latter-day Saints!

  3. Joseph: What a wonderful story! I am so impressed with your humble willingness to follow the example of your parents; that a huge compliment to way you were raised within your family. I know your family will continue to be blessed, and I know you will be an awesome example to all you have any stewardship over. It is amazing how grand the spiritual awakening is as one strives to lives all the precepts of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ; Doctrine and Covenants 89, will bless all who try to follow its wisdom. Thank you for your post. Renée Berry

  4. I am so happy for you and your wife. You are so young and found the truth that will allow you to walk and run with ease. Plus, your daughter can be raised eating properly from the beginning. Thanks for your story.

  5. Thank you, Joseph, for sharing your story!!! My husband and I are still pretty young (I like to think) and are starting our journey as well!! I love hearing orher’s stories. They inspire me to keep going.

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