Since becoming a new mother in 2003, I began to develop a passion for nutrition and healthy cooking. I tried hard to teach and feed my family good and healthy things. Over the years, I learned to make homemade wheat bread and enjoyed taking healthy recipes and adapting them to make them even healthier. I didn’t, however, fully adopt all the things I was learning and often fell back into the S.A.D. (Standard American Diet). Through much of my own personal study, as well as trial and error, I learned many good nutritional principles but with this also came “the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture.” While I see that I’ve been guided line upon line, I can see more clearly that it all was meant to come together to ultimately teach me light and truth.
During the time of having our family, I began to develop anxiety and post-partum depression. I soon found that having a family was taking its toll on my body and my emotions. Pregnancies were accompanied by weight gain and hormone changes. Weight gain called for dieting and weight loss, finances caused stress, motherhood brought time constraints, and being a support to my husband through school taxed my mind, body, and spirit. I spent many years struggling with whether I should take medication to help alleviate the stress and just put up with the accompanying side effects. I decided that I was not willing to deal with those side effects and preferred to seek more natural ways of coping, such as yoga and vitamin supplements. Throughout the years, I also rode a giant roller coaster of different fad diets, including several versions of the oh-so-loved “high-protein, low-carb” diets.
In early 2011, I was 29, had born three children, had struggled through years of schooling for my husband, and we were now embarking on opening our own law practice in the worst economy since the Great Depression. It was then that I discovered a lump on my right breast. Shortly afterwards, my OBGYN also discovered that I had an ovarian cyst. I was terrified and knew some things with my health just were not right. I received a breast exam, and I was told I needed an ultrasound to check for cancer.
As I sat in the women’s center of the hospital waiting for an ultrasound to check the lump, I struggled with filling out the medical form. The age section of the form had a “3___” for me to fill in the blank. As I crossed the 3 out and wrote “29” in the blank spot, I thought to myself, “I am too young to be having issues like this!” Thankfully, between my first breast exam that prompted the ultrasound and the ultrasound itself, the lump had disappeared on its own. I took a deep sigh of relief and said a prayer of gratitude for the miracle. Life went on, but as far as our diet, it became more, well, S.A.D.
In August of 2011, I became pregnant with our fourth child. I was attending my 15-week doctor checkup on November 17 when we discovered the baby no longer had a heartbeat. On November 22, 2011, we delivered our first son, Samuel Joseph Johnson. I was devastated. After having three daughters, I had prayed to Heavenly Father for a son. Even though the experience was one of the most difficult events in my entire life, Heavenly Father helped us deal with the loss in a very peaceful way. I knew we would see our son again, that we were meant to have another child, and that there was another son for us. I knew my health was not where it should be, however, if I wanted to have a successful pregnancy. I started to recognize a growing dependence on junk food to deal with the stresses of motherhood and life. It hurt, knowing how much I loved health and nutrition so much, to still see myself give in to things that would not help me or my goals for good health.
I began to seek help from heaven through prayer and I was guided to a holistic nurse practitioner at a clinic in my area who was able to help me balance my hormones. While at this clinic, I again turned to a high-protein, low-carb diet to “restore” my health and to prepare my body to have another pregnancy. It worked. I lost all the weight, all my health numbers looked good, and in August 2012, we became pregnant with our fifth child.
During the pregnancy, my body was depleted of carbs from past diets, and I craved them for all the work my body was doing to grow a baby. I used that excuse to eat more of what I wanted because my body “needed the extra calories.” I had no self-control and went right back to the S.A.D. diet to ease the stresses of pregnancy and just survive. The weight came right back. Along with it came more anxiety and a lack of the energy that I so badly needed to function for my growing family. Regardless of diet, the pregnancy progressed well enough and in May 2013, our son Andrew, was born. After I was done nursing, and was looking for a quick and efficient way to lose the baby weight, I turned back to my “faithful” high-protein, low-carb diet. Surprisingly it did not work the same as before. While I lost weight, it was much harder and put more stress on my body. I struggled to gain true health and shortly after reaching what I believed was a healthy weight on the scale, the weight immediately started to creep back on. Then…came illness.
Illness and confusion
By October 2014, I started to become sick. I went through two bouts of the flu in a month, as well as laryngitis. The body aches and tiredness consumed me. I developed psoriasis on my scalp, and my hair became thin and brittle. I went to see my holistic nurse practitioner who found unbalanced hormones, low thyroid and adrenal gland function, and systemic yeast throughout my entire body. She also said my stress levels would go up and not come down as they should but would stay elevated. That explained my high levels of anxiety. She helped me all she could, and I was able to improve, but not fully feel better. I continued to feel exhausted and my body held onto weight no matter what I did. I also visited with my health coach at the clinic who continued to try diet after diet to see which one my body would respond to. It seemed that the illnesses would hit hard and last a couple weeks and then hit again before I could fully recover.
By December 2014, I was feeling hopeless. I remember one day feeling especially frustrated at all the nutrition advice that had sent me back and forth as to what I should eat, I stood in the kitchen having no idea what to cook for dinner. It felt daunting to try to figure out what would give my family something nutritious and delicious, yet fit the dietary needs I felt I was supposed to follow. After expressing my frustration to my husband, I’ll never forget how he looked at me and lovingly said, “Katie, you’ve been on so many different diets, it’s like you’ve forgotten how to eat.” Something in his words rang so true that I knew that I had been spinning in circles with no clear direction. With so much confusion in the world about proper diets, how could I ever find what I truly needed? Joseph Smith’s description of his search for truth describes my feelings perfectly as I waded through the many confusing voices of the world. He said, “In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?” (Joseph Smith History 1:10.) I knew I needed guidance from Heaven.
Search for answers
In February 2015, I cleared my life of extra distractions and set to work on a journey of prayer, fasting, and searching the word of God and His prophets. I received blessings from my husband, whom I had felt prompted to ask to fast along with me. My approach at this time was to ask the Lord to direct me to which of the diets was right. Having tried so many, I wanted to know which one would help me truly gain back my health.
At the end of a second fast, I received a specific and detailed blessing guiding me, ”to continue to seek His will” and that “He was not hiding it.” I was directed that I would “need to open my heart to it and be prepared to receive it, but if I desired His will, He would show it to me.” I was also told that “when I opened my heart completely, I would need to be prepared to do difficult things that I did not expect and did not desire.” I was blessed to “remember my talents and use them to bless myself and others.” I was also blessed that, “I would feel His guidance as I participated in His will and that I would learn the best way to care for my body.” With this guidance, I moved forward determined to find answers, knowing and struggling that it would mean difficulty ahead. It would mean constant humbling on my part and seeking strength from the spirit.
One day in March, 2015, as I was doing my daily studying and inviting of the spirit to help in bringing personal revelation, I took a few minutes break to check my Facebook account. I came upon a neighbor from my youth who bore her testimony encouraging others to pray and ponder the Word of Wisdom. I had run into this neighbor a few months prior and felt a strong prompting to get in touch with her. I had been in touch with her in the past, specifically about the Word of Wisdom; but at this time did not relate the two ideas. After we became connected on Facebook, I now know it was to guide me to this beautiful section of scripture that I have felt a love for in the past, did not fully embrace or understand, and which I had abandoned for fad diets and teachings of the world.
As I took her challenge, thinking that it would be another great thing to study as I sought my answer (again not putting two and two together), I opened D&C 89 and began to read. As I studied the Word of Wisdom, the spirit poured down on me that this was what Heavenly Father had been trying to tell me and wanted me to know. I sobbed as I realized I had just received direct revelation and felt the love of a Heavenly Father who so directly and specifically answered my questions. Just like Joseph Smith was told to join none of the churches the world had to offer so that God could show him the best plan, The Master Physician, through His prophet Joseph Smith, has given us the very best health plan making all other plans pale in comparison. He truly is a God who “giveth liberally and upbraideth not” (James 1:5) as we seek His guidance.
I did not know quite where to begin. My first thought was to find some books or LDS talks on the topic that would expound on what I had just read in D&C 89. The thought that entered my mind was “to start with what I have.” I knew this was not my own thought as my response was, “What I have? What do I have?” I then remembered Jane Birch’s book, Discovering the Word of Wisdom: Surprising Insights from a Whole Food, Plant-based Perspective. I had bought it a year earlier because my husband’s Aunt Orva and Uncle Paul Johnson had been featured in it, along with many of his cousins and their children. They have been amazing examples to us through the years, as well as others we have had the privilege of knowing. We have seen many neighbors and friends who have saved their lives from cancer with this precious knowledge, and it nourished the seed in our own hearts. When I received the book, I had started to read the first few pages but dismissed its knowledge quickly as I was in the midst of my high-protein, low-carb diet and was not open to its truths. I had put the book on the shelf and decided I’d read it “someday.” As I scoured my bookshelves, found it, and started to read, I knew I was being given more help and guidance in how to accomplish the teachings I had just read in D&C 89 through a whole-food, plant-based diet. I knew one of the changes needing to be made would be our consumption of meat. All along I had felt deep down in my heart that the high-protein diets I had been trying were not in coherence with this part of the Word of Wisdom.
Making the change
The next step was to tell my husband that I had received my answer. I was preparing myself to go about this new way of eating alone, as I knew for myself that this was true, but I did not want to push him into anything. That evening when he got home from work and we had a minute to talk, I let him know I had received my answer about which direction to go for my health. As we talked, I was amazed how open he was to it all! He had witnessed my efforts and had even fasted with me. Together we reread the blessing that he had given me, which I had typed up to help me in my search, and he could not deny this was right.
That evening for dinner, I opened the refrigerator to see what we had available. I saw some steaks we had cooked up that week. I rationalized that it had been a cold week and my body had felt cold and that it would be okay to eat the steaks. My husband warmed his up and then I attempted to prepare mine. As I began, the Spirit very strongly stopped me in my tracks. I heard a distinct phrase in my mind, “Do not defile yourself.” I stopped, a bit confused, wondering if this was my own thought and again rationalized it was and moved forward only to be stopped again even stronger, “Do not defile yourself!” Right then I knew it was not me! I backed away and have not had meat since.
I have been amazed at how immediately the spirit began teaching me how to approach this new information. I wasn’t exactly sure how I needed to change, and I fought the idea of giving up meat that we loved so much. I know this experience was directly speaking of the “things I did not expect or desire” in the blessing I had received. The miracle? By not “defiling myself,” I believe I was given strength to continue in this path without much desire for meat. I believe that specific part was made easier for me as a gift of obedience to the guidance from the Holy Ghost. I know that eating meat sparingly is ordained of God. I also know that “it is pleasing unto Him if it is not used, only in times of winter, or of cold or famine” and “excess of hunger.” (D&C 89:13,15.) My desires to please my Heavenly Father and gain more fully the promises in the Word of Wisdom were a driving force to learn and study more by the Spirit.
As we moved forward, doubts crept in from the adversary about whether what we were doing was right or not. I continued in prayer, asking Heavenly Father to show me in a way that I would recognize and understand that I was on the right path and whether I should continue or not. I had no doubt my answer was the Word of Wisdom. I only questioned my interpretation of it and if I was doing what I needed to be doing. After that prayer, I jumped on the treadmill for a morning jog and prepared to only jog so far, knowing my aerobic asthma would soon be kicking in. I ran . . . and I ran . . . and I ran. I pushed the speed up and ran some more. When I finished, I thanked my Heavenly Father once again for answering my prayers so specifically and in a way I could see and understand. My aerobic asthma did not manifest, and I was able to “run and not be weary.” I knew I was on the right path.
Around this same time, I went to a checkup with my nurse practitioner. I had not seen her in three months since I was working on my many ailments. I was due to check in to see how things were working out. At the previous visit, she had given me several natural remedies to help with my ailments. Without telling her about my diet changes, I was curious to see if there would be a difference in what she found. After running her scans, she stared at her computer and said, “You are doing good things. You are doing REALLY good things.” Everything looked almost normal, and she said my thyroid was only slightly off and my hormone cream could be reduced to three days per month rather than two weeks. My heart soared as I knew Heavenly Father was again reaffirming to me that I was on the right path.
Praying for others
I began to pray that my husband and children would know for themselves that this was true; that they would gain their own witness. Little did I know, my husband was praying for his own witness, and as we have continued to read and study together, I have watched him making changes on his own. He even lost 20 lbs which has allowed him to better enjoy hiking and other activities that seemed to be getting harder to enjoy with “age.” I have also been so touched by the sweet efforts of my children to live as God wants them to live. They truly amaze me at their understanding. They are so teachable and without guile. They love their Heavenly Father and strive hard to please Him through taking care of their temple bodies.
I’m eternally grateful for the blessings He has given us to be able to succeed as a family. With great hope, we can pass on these blessings to future generations. It is a literal shield I feel is being put around my children. I could not be more grateful as a mother for this protection for my children, who are being raised in the last days. Of course, we are not perfect and we are continuing to stretch and grow as we reach out for more knowledge and tweak and work out the kinks in our old habits. We love this way of eating, and we love the peace and love it has brought into our home. As I continue to read and study these things, always looking to the prophets, the Spirit has brought back to my remembrance the true principles of health He has taught me and continues to teach me even more through new insights into His animals and plants and their purposes. It has been a steep learning curve, but it has been worth it. The process I have had to take to prepare food for my family has become a sacred and thoughtful experience.
My Testimony of the Word of Wisdom
While we only began this journey six and a half months ago, we can already see the many health benefits of living this way such as: more energy, better sleep, and trimmer waistlines. Most of all, we have had the spiritual benefits of having the Spirit direct us more fully and enlighten the minds of our children. I know for myself that this scripture is true: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:” (St. Matthew 7:7) I also am grateful for Joseph Smith and can say with all confidence and true knowledge that I know he was an inspired prophet of the Lord to receive this revelation for us. As we live it, we will be added upon with health, energy and strength, and receive “treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures” (D&C 89:19).
I am excited to continue on this journey and gain more fully the beautiful blessings in the Word of Wisdom and to continue in the peace and joy that comes from living more fully the way the Lord desires us to live. I know this knowledge is sacred. I know it is meant to be a personal revelation to each one of us in the last days to prepare us for our Savior’s Second Coming. We are not meant to be commanded in all things. By discovering it for ourselves, we can get closer to our Heavenly Father and become more like Him. This is His desire and will for us. Because of His deep love for us, He allows us to use our agency and discover it for ourselves! What perfect Love!
Katie Johnson is 34 years old and currently lives in Bountiful, Utah. She and her high school sweetheart, Steve, have been married for 13 years and have 4 beautiful children on Earth: Elizabeth age 11, Madelyn age 9, Molly age 7, and Drew age 2, and one in heaven: Samuel Joseph Johnson. Katie enjoys cooking, nutrition, hiking, gardening, learning and singing. She and her family enjoy being together: hiking, reading, playing board games, and learning about and practicing preparedness through food storage and beekeeping.