“I feel so good!”

Laura BridgewaterBy: Laura Bridgewater

When my husband’s cholesterol crept above 200, his doctor cautioned him to take better care of himself, so we both started working to lose weight. After losing 10 lbs, he had his cholesterol checked again. It was still 204.

A few weeks later, I happened to sit next to Jane Birch at a meeting. When I commented on how lean she was looking, she promptly introduced me to whole food, plant-based eating. After reading The China Study at her recommendation, I talked my husband into trying the diet with me. Six weeks later, we were both down about 15 lbs He got his cholesterol checked again. It was 131. Amazing!

His cholesterol came down so fast and easily, though, I guess we weren’t really convinced of the importance of continuing to eat that way. Over the next several months we gradually went back to old patterns, especially during the holidays, and his cholesterol began creeping right back up. We realized that in order to avoid heart disease, we’d have to get the cholesterol down and keep it down.

My cholesterol has never been considered high, although it did climb from the 120s to the 170s over the past couple of decades of fast-food living. More important to me, though, was the way I was feeling overall. I used to feel smart, but now my mind felt foggy, and it was hard to remember things and to come up with creative ideas. My stomach hurt every day. I was always tired and couldn’t sit still for more than about 30 minutes without falling asleep. I started waking up with nagging headaches that would last most of the day. Joints and muscles hurt randomly for no good reason. After work I felt worn out with no energy left for anything else.

We decided to make a new beginning with the whole food, plant-based lifestyle, and this time stick with it. I knew the hardest part would be the first few days when my body craved the kind of junk it had grown used to: sugar, fat, salt, and, for me, constant munching. After the first few days (which were pretty rough), the cravings went away, and I started feeling really good. We weren’t hungry—we ate huge portions of vegetables, fruits, and greens at every meal. After the first week or so, those foods started to taste delicious. Flavors seemed stronger. Sweetened foods became less appealing than before because it seemed like the sugar was just covering the real flavors. I’ve found some wonderful recipes, and it’s been so much fun trying them out. I now have no headaches, no stomach pains, and enough energy left to go do something fun after work each day.

The whole food, plant-based way of eating isn’t a “diet” in the short-term sense of the word. It’s a lifestyle. You have to approach it that way to be successful. I’ve tried diets before, trying to combat the slower metabolism that arrived with middle age. I’m embarrassed to admit how many: Atkins, cabbage soup, weight loss shakes, SunChips and Diet Coke (I invented that one), McDonalds for breakfast and then little else all day long (also my invention). Some of them made me lose weight, for a little while. None of them made me feel good. While I was eating that way, I knew I was violating the advice given in the Word of Wisdom, but I always told myself I would only do it for a little while until I lost the weight. It sounds so foolish, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who tells myself things like that.

I am thrilled to see how perfectly this diet fits with the Word of Wisdom. Doctors and scientists who have no connection to the LDS Church are now giving people the same advice God gave us through Joseph Smith nearly two centuries ago. That, together with the way I feel now, has me firmly convinced that a whole food, plant-based lifestyle is the way to live a healthy and productive life, with enough energy to accomplish everything I want to do while enjoying every day along the way. I feel so good!

Laura C. Bridgewater, PhD, 46, lives in Provo, Utah and is a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Biology at Brigham Young University. She and her husband have four adult children. She enjoys bicycling, snow skiing, water skiing, cooking, reading, and being in the mountains.


  1. I compliment both you and your husband’s success in following the Word of Wisdom Whole Food Plant Based Diet. I am Jane Birch’s father. As she recorded on pages 146 and 147 of her book, the Lord has greatly blessed me through my eating the way He suggested in Section 89 of His Doctrine and Covenants! I am so very pleased with the way my dear oldest child handled this very important subject. What we eat is so much more important than most of Heavenly Father’s children realize! Many people actually suffer from addictions to foods which will end up eventually making them very sick if not killing them! Best wishes as you and your husband continue to eat the way you described in that which I read which was forwarded on to me by Jane.

    PS I earned my B.S. from BYU, while majoring in Human Development and Family Relations. It was President David O. McKay who actually handed me my B.S.diploma on June 1, !960.

  2. Thank you for your story, and to your father for his well-articulated reply. I am an RN, interested in natural medicine, and have read The China Study, as well as other corroborating materials, and went from being tired all the time and catching ‘every virus that came along’ to feeling healthy, energetic, and extremely well *consistently*. It is sad to me though how few people give credence to a plant-based diet, considering it to be ‘restrictive’. I actually eat a much wider variety of healthy foods than anyone I know, including grains, fruits, veggies, seeds, nuts, legumes, beans, herbs, spices, and on occasion (perhaps once a month), a few bites of meat.

  3. Marilyn, thank you for labeling my reply “well articulated.” I strive hard to express myself well either when I’m speaking or writing, but it doesn’t always come as easily as I would prefer, but whenever I’m writing about eating “the Word of Wisdom Way” as I greatly enjoy always doing, I feel a driving impulse to express myself well.

    I’m glad you mentioned grains in your list of foods. I actually eat about nine different grains at each breakfast and dinner. I happen to emphasize cooked corn cobs along with Baby spinach and other green leafy vegetables, along with fresh fruit for lunch.

    I have to admit that although I prefer not to do so when having family dinner with my wife’ Melva’s family members, I eat, at times, a tiny piece of meat so as to not offend the family member who provided that.

    When I, along with Jane’s mother, was raising our nine children we all, including Jane, ate meat fairly regularly. Then I really paid for that by contracting type 2 diabetes, diverticulitis, along with high blood pressure and at one point in time during those years I had to have a cyst removed from my intestines and at 5’9″ I weighed as much as 230 lbs.

    Now after having been totally committed to eating the way the Lord advises us to eat in Section 89 of the D & C. for almost three full years, I now weigh 131 lbs. each and every morning and never miss doing my full six day a week fifty minute exercise on a very challenging to use Precor Adaptive Motion Trainer on which just late this afternoon a dial on it indicated to me that I had just “burned off 484 calories during my usual fifty minute exercise! I’m not even sweating like those who use, just occasionally, the one other identical exerciser which is located right next to the one I always use. When I finish working strenuously in our very large back yard I’m actually not sweating noticeably either.

    I still feel very energetic after exercising and working hard in our year, and I’m almost “eighty three!” I attribute that to my heavy emphasis on eating a very good variety of grains (the Staff of Life) according to the Lord, each day along with lots of green leafy vegetables, potatoes and yams along with delicious vegetables of all kinds along with fresh fruits for my dessert! I haven’t even suffered from a cold or headache at all since my dear oldest of nine children,daughter, Jane, taught me to eat in the Lord’s way three years ago! I’m eternally grateful for that great happening!

    I pray the Lord will continue to bless you, Marilyn, and others who may be reading this, with the marvelous health that comes from eating the Lord’s way! Neil Birch

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