“The fact that I don’t itch constantly is a miracle”

Julia and Austin DoutreBy: Julia Doutre

Nine months after our marriage, my husband and I moved for the third time and I started a new job managing apartment complexes. I had to quit another job to keep up with the demand of managing. Our lives were a little chaotic, and I was extremely stressed. Some days it was so stressful that I would get awful stomach pains that lasted all day.

A few months after starting my job, I noticed these terrible rashes on my skin that started to spread all over my body. My skin would itch all day, every day. Parts of my body were so inflamed and raw that it would “weep” and bleed. Because of that, I needed to wear gauze pads every day for about 7 months to keep it from leaking on to my clothes. It was really embarrassing to say the least! I’ve had issues with eczema growing up but never had it this bad before.

Over this period of time, I tried many skin creams and lotions, and I spent hundreds of dollars at the dermatologist with rounds of antibiotics and strong medications, which cleared up my skin until the moment I got off of them. It just wasn’t sustainable, and I felt out of whack. My wise mother suggested I get off dairy as she’d heard stories of people having success with skin problems when they went off dairy, but I told her I couldn’t live without my cheese and milk. I even ignored the prompting one night, when the itching on my skin was extremely painful, that the reason why it itched so badly is because of all the sugar. This was after having my daily dose of chocolate chip cookies and ice cream. Yet I still caved in almost every night and brushed off the thought that all these foods were probably the reason why I wasn’t able to get over this issue.

Because I had graduated just before we got married, I had a little more time on my hands to make meals, and I learned to love to cook. Looking back on it now, I realized I always went with food lathered with oil, chicken, cheese, and a milk cream base. Those seem to be my everyday staples. What also was my staple every night was feeling bloated and sick to my stomach. Sadly, I thought this was normal for my body. My weight went up significantly, and I felt uncomfortable in my own skin. In some photos, I didn’t even look like myself.

About a year after I started developing this skin problem, I was talking to my sister, Alice-Anne, who was telling me that she wanted to get a hold of her health and start eating a whole foods, plant-based (WFPB) diet without any meat or dairy products. I told her what I told my Mom, that I simply could not live without cheese or milk. And wasn’t chicken healthy for you? Deep down inside I felt like she was right, but I just thought that was too hard to do. I didn’t even know where to start.

About a month later, Alice-Anne sent an article to our family about our cousin, Brecklyn Ferrin, who was eating a WFPB diet. Her story really intrigued me. Soon after this, I felt prompted to look at my patriarchal blessing because I knew in there it talked specifically about the Word of Wisdom. I always glazed over that paragraph thinking it didn’t relate to me, but as soon as I read it with a different mindset, the Spirit quickly confirmed to me that eating a whole foods, plant-based diet is what I needed to do. It was like the Spirit was saying, “I knew you would have this skin problem, and I’ve already given you the tools to overcome it on your own.” It was an answer to my prayers.

Looking back on Doctrine and Covenants Section 89, I know for me, my everyday consumption of meat was not “sparingly.” But it also opened my eyes to how I can incorporate more of the “dos” in my diet like whole grains, wholesome herbs, fruit in their season, etc. There isn’t anything specific about dairy in section 89, but from people’s experiences, what I read, and the prompting of the Spirit, I knew I needed to give up all animal products.

Because I was so desperate to get better, I made some drastic changes within a few short weeks. It was a struggle trying to figure out what to eat and what things to buy. But I was determined! I continued to read more articles from the Discovering the Word of Wisdom website, I watched the documentary Forks Over Knives, and I collected many recipes to try.

Meat was pretty easy to give up, mostly because I hated preparing it and worrying about sanitizing my kitchen all the time. Dairy was the hardest for me because sometimes I felt addicted to it. But soon my taste buds began to change, and now I don’t crave cheese like I used to but instead crave rice salads and sweet potatoes.

Reading The Starch Solution by John McDougall changed the way I thought about food and recently finishing How Not To Die by Michael Greger has given me great tips on how to incorporate a wide range of foods in my diet each day. Whole grains, veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, berries, have become more appealing, and I’m surprised that food can taste so good without having to add animal products.

My health problems didn’t change overnight, but within a couple of weeks I noticed my weight dropped and my skin got better. In a few short months my skin problem was completely gone, and now, almost two years later, it has never come back! Even during harsh winters, my skin does not break out or get rashes like it used to. I don’t get sick very often, but when I do, I notice that I get over it a lot faster. The fact that I don’t itch constantly is a miracle in itself. Overall I just feel great!

These “side effects” of good health from trying to eat this way is a confirmation that this is the right direction for us. Even though we’re not perfect at it, when we make the effort to do our best, we see how the promises are fulfilled of “run and not be weary, walk and not faint.” It’s amazing the control we can have on our health with the tools the Lord has provided through the Word of Wisdom.

Julia is 26 years old and lives in Moscow, Idaho with her husband Austin. She graduated in psychology from BYU-Idaho in 2012. Austin is working on his masters in mechanical engineering at the University of Idaho. They love taking walks together, trying out new recipes, and watching BYU sports.


  1. Too many young people suffer like Julia from any number of health issues. There are very few going through such suffering who would not gladly trade their SAD foods for much better health if they knew how good they’d feel. Sadly, too few discover the power of a whole food, plant-based approach to the Word of Wisdom and give it a serious try.

    I’m thrilled for you, Julia, that you were able to find this answer and to enjoy good health again. Thanks so much for sharing your story!

  2. Julia, the following quote which I copied from what you sent Jane is a super endorsement of Section 89, verses 10 through 21 of the D. & C.:

    “These “side effects” of good health from trying to eat this way is a confirmation that this is the right direction for us. Even though we’re not perfect at it, when we make the effort to do our best, we see how the promises are fulfilled of “run and not be weary, walk and not faint.” It’s amazing the control we can have on our health with the tools the Lord has provided through the Word of Wisdom.”

    May the Lord continue to bless you and your husband!

  3. Julia, I am so impressed with your determination and steady pursuit to find the hidden treasures promised in the scriptures. Thank you for sharing your experience of uncovering relief from some very significant health challenges. I plan to pass this story along to someone else I know who suffers with milk allergies. Your story will help so many others.

  4. I’m happy for you that you found this wonderful way of caring for your body. Eczema is so uncomfortable. Can you even fathom your comments about milk and cheese now that you are well? We food addicted humans are so silly.

  5. I am happy that you have found health through your diet, but please do not repeat the false notion that the Word of Wisdom says all meat is to be used sparingly and in time of famine. The Word of Wisdom says flesh of beasts and fowls of the air are to be used sparingly. Fish, chicken and turkey do not fit either of those categories and the Word of Wisdom makes no mention of them. It is fine if you want to leave them out of your diet but please do not say the Word of Wisdom says to do so.

    • Thanks Sallie for your comment! I should have been more clear in my story that this was my personal interpretation and it was not my intention to suggest that this is what it means for everyone else. I’m sorry that it came off differently.

    • Thanks for your comment, Sallie! You make a wise observation that the Word of Wisdom is not explicit on some topics. I would go further. Nothing is of face value. We need the Spirit of the Lord to understand any of the wise counsel there. That said, when people are expressing their personal stories and ideas, we should understand that they are sharing their interpretation with us, just as you have done in your comment. So, I understand you to be saying that you do not feel the Word of Wisdom prohibits fish, chicken or turkey. I think it is fine for you to share this opinion, just as it is fine for others to say that they interpret the Word of Wisdom to say that the Lord is pleased when we don’t use any animal foods. Everyone has the right and privilege to express their opinion and share their testimony.

  6. Well written, Julia. I have personally seen the dramatic change in your health eating this way. I’m so grateful for what you have learned and now how it is benefitting me as I have adopted a whole food plant base diet. Only wish I had learned about it years ago. Your story will help others.

  7. What a great story, Julia!! Thank you for sharing your experience with us. My husband and I were very inspired by you!

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