“The Spirit confirmed to us that we were on the right track”

Mantlo FamilyBy: Leslie Mantlo

My daughter Meg, now 11, has struggled with bellyaches, headaches, stiff achy joints, and troubled sleeping for many years. I have taken her to the doctor time and again, but there have never been any real answers. It has been so frustrating. When I have taken her in, the doctor would attribute her bellyaches to constipation, which was partially true, but she wouldn’t really take the problem seriously. Her “solution” was to prescribe the regular use of laxatives (to a small child?) and give her gummy fiber supplements.

We tried everything the doctor suggested, hoping for results, but we never got lasting results, maybe a day or two of relief was all. It was very trying, especially for our daughter. No matter what she ate or drank it ended in a bellyache. She wasn’t sleeping well at all. It got to the point where she was not able to concentrate during learning activities so schooling was incredibly challenging.

I finally heeded a friend’s advice to contact a doctor in Colorado Springs that she’d had great success with. I counseled with him on our daughter’s symptoms, and he immediately suggested that she likely had an intestinal yeast infection. He made many dietary recommendations that, initially, I found pretty heavy. He pulled us off of white flour, white sugar, cow’s milk, artificial colors and flavors — all five days before Halloween 2013. I was like, “What are we supposed to eat if we can’t eat any of that???” He also prescribed particular supplements, including probiotics, and asked us to faithfully keep food diaries.

For me this was “experiment upon the word” and “come and see.” We were at a point where we just needed solid answers and solutions. We needed for our daughter to get better. We needed a medical professional to take the situation seriously. It was affecting all of us. So we jumped on board, supplements, food diaries, and all, faithfully! It was very challenging, but I was amazed at how our whole family rallied around our daughter. We all did this new diet together.

Meg was definitely motivated to stop eating any of the offending ingredients and follow the doctor’s advice because she was desperate not to hurt. Luke, our youngest, and six at the time, was pretty willing to make the changes because he too struggled with some belly pain, and being so young, he wasn’t so addicted to processed foods! But for the adults and teenagers in our house this wasn’t quite as simple—until… the Spirit confirmed to us that we were on the right track, and every one of our family of six adopted this new lifestyle that very day. That could not have happened so seamlessly without that spiritual confirmation and witness. I was amazed at the faith every member of the family exhibited at this time of need.

Meg noticed a difference within days of the change, which was such a relief to me! The distended belly that she’d had for a couple years began to recede, and her pain and discomfort was much alleviated in a matter of six weeks. She lost twelve pounds and was feeling much more energetic and happy.

As the weeks turned into months we gradually made more changes. We started by cutting out all highly processed foods (chips, cereals, pretty much anything packaged). Still searching for answers, we switched over to a whole food, plant-based diet in July 2014. We stopped consuming meats of any kind, and we keep all other animal product consumption to less than 5% of our dietary intake.

We want to be self-reliant in matters of health, not dependent on the medical community. So often doctors and other health professionals lack information or knowledge regarding how what we eat affects our health, even giving misinformation. We’ve studied things out in many scientific journals; we’ve consulted with others who live this lifestyle, including doctors and other health professionals; and we’ve made subtle adaptations along the way as we’ve learned more and more.

Our yardstick is the Word of Wisdom—the science must agree with the Word of Wisdom. I am amazed at what we’ve learned over the past year about nutrition, the food industry, exercise, chronic illness, clarity, etc. I am so very grateful for the Word of Wisdom, for continuing and personal revelation, for prophets, and for the privilege of getting to “experiment upon the word.” The Lord will answer our prayers. Often it takes lots of effort and study on our part to receive those answers, and often a great deal of sacrifice, but they come.

My thoughts about the Word of Wisdom have changed a lot this past year. I’m no longer skirting parts of the revelation, knowing the choices I was making were not the best and not in accordance with the Word of Wisdom. Now I am following through with all I know and keep learning to make educated and healthy food choices and to teach my family these principles. I feel the Lord has truly blessed my family to be able to make such drastic changes so rapidly. I am gaining greater appreciation and love for God’s creatures, and I am recognizing how diet affects me physically, but also spiritually. I notice the promptings of the Spirit more readily. I’m more outgoing and confident so I can focus more on serving those around me. I feel more in tune with my husband and children.

I was looking at the record we started on our bedroom mirror, still there to remind us of where we’ve come from. I’ve dropped fifteen pounds since October 2013 without the express intention of weight loss, and this was the first holiday season that I passed through without gaining 5-10 pounds (and yet I felt completely satisfied and never missed those white chocolate covered Oreos that used to call my name!). I love how that is a natural blessing of WFPB eating! I grew up in a home of yoyo dieting, watching members of my family lose lots of pounds just to gain them and more back, over and over again. I noticed then that “dieting” made me focus too much on food, and I didn’t like that, so I never got into it, though I did struggle with body image for many years. I am grateful for and astounded at the elements of true nutrition I am only now learning as an adult.

Each family member has had their own motivation for changing their diet, but my husband’s was his predisposition toward Type II Diabetes, dangerously high cholesterol, and achy legs. One year ago his cholesterol level was 1,500—you read that right. Not a typo! Scary. It scared him so badly he didn’t even tell me the findings, just that it was “really high.” In October 2013, we quit eating highly processed foods and the doctor put him on cholesterol-lowering medication. By spring of this year his cholesterol had dropped to 260, still 60 points above the 200-ceiling for the normal range, but so much better. But he still wasn’t feeling much better. That was before we gave up animal products. In November, about a year after medication but only four or five months after starting WFPB, my husband told me the latest readings from his blood test. His cholesterol level is now—drum roll please…130…!!!!!!!!! All I can say is … “W.O.W.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Leslie Mantlo is 43 years old and lives with her husband and four children in Grand Junction, Colorado. They enjoy singing and performing, hiking, reading, playing, and anything together. Leslie is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mom, and currently a student in the BYU-Idaho Pathway program with interests in pursuing a study of Nutrition in combination with the eCornell program. Meg, the 11-year-old, is set to see specialists in Denver for her continuing achy joints to determine if this is yet a G.I. problem or possibly rheumatoid arthritis. 

Comments

  1. I’m so impressed with Leslie’s dedication to her children. There is nothing like a mother’s love. Sometimes we will do for a child what we would never do just for ourselves. Perhaps Meg’s sacrifice is turning out to be a blessing for the entire family.

  2. I recently discovered that my HMO (Kaiser Permanente) has a booklet online, “The Plant Based Diet – a healthier way to eat”. It basically reaffirms that we’re on the right track and might be helpful for any friends looking for better health. Worth a look!

    • Wow! I was just at Kaiser this morning. I told him I was now going vegan to lower my blood pressure. He said, “It works.” Only that. I was looking for information on their website about veganism, and you gave it to me here! Thanks, John!

  3. You and your family inspire. I hope and pray more of us will embrace the Word of Wisdom in this way. Just the other day, a woman touted the benefits of a low-carb, high meat diet. When I said that the Word of Wisdom doesn’t say that, she just blinked and ignored me. Still, I am happy for you and all the others who have embraced God’s truth on proper eating. Your children will rise up and call you blessed, Prov. 31:28.

    • Thank you so much. I feel so blessed to have found so much success and answers to our prayers and searching. The Lord is truly blessing us in a line upon line, precept upon precept process.

      • What a thrill to read your story Leslie!! You have always been an inspiration to me and continue to be!!! Let’s hear it for W.O.W.!!

        • Thanks Ginger!!!! I can say the same about you. I’m sure going to miss Jen and the kids when they move it of our ward. When Mick and I were over helping her today she brought us a plate of WFPB amazingness! So yummy! 🙂 Much love to you, and hope to see you soon.

  4. I think the thing that most impressed me about your story was how the ENTIRE family accepted the new way of living because of the feeling of personal revelation to each of you. That shows proper teaching on behalf of the parents and faith in the promptings of each of your children at such young ages. Bravo to you and your husband, Leslie! Thank you for your article. I found it inspiring in my own life. I can definitely relate to your experience with a sister as just today I was at our annual RS Stake Meeting to celebrate our 143rd birthday of the RS and the lunch was a white tortilla stuffed with chicken, tomatoes, and some kind of sour cream sauce with a salad. The sister there was very gracious and went and got me a plain tortilla with tomatoes and I opened it up and stuffed the “side salad” into the tortilla. Of course there was too much Italian dressing on the salad. hahahaha… Oh, well, it was “close” to a good lunch. I usually eat WW tortillas with hummus and veggies for lunch anyway. Oh, dear… I guess we still have a long way to go with our sisters! Fortunately, we had a spiritual feast to uplift us during the meetings. =)

    • Thank you, Phyllis. We are very blessed with the kids taking to this way of eating so quickly. I am amazed by their strength and desire to support each other.

  5. Dear Leslie, I’m inclined toward quoting that which particularly impresses me each time I read one of these submissions made by one of the readers Jane invites her readers to make. This time the following paragraph you wrote really impressed me:

    “My thoughts about the Word of Wisdom have changed a lot this past year. I’m no longer skirting parts of the revelation, knowing the choices I was making were not the best and not in accordance with the Word of Wisdom. Now I am following through with all I know and keep learning to make educated and healthy food choices and to teach my family these principles. I feel the Lord has truly blessed my family to be able to make such drastic changes so rapidly. I am gaining greater appreciation and love for God’s creatures, and I am recognizing how diet affects me physically, but also spiritually. I notice the promptings of the Spirit more readily. I’m more outgoing and confident so I can focus more on serving those around me. I feel more in tune with my husband and children.”

    Your faith in what the Lord has told us in Section 89, verses 10 through 21 of His Word of Wisdom is very impressive! I hope that many of those who will be reading that which you submitted, will have the courage to forge ahead and follow your very great example!

    I’m glad that you included the following statement: “I am gaining greater appreciation and love for God’s creatures.” So many people who are eating in accordance with the Standard American Diet are just like I used to be before Jane taught me how to eat in the Lord’s way just a little over three years ago! I thought I really loved animals then, but I came to realize as I began eating in accordance with the Word of Wisdom that eating meat is not necessary and that doing so actually robs animals of happiness they deserve to experience! I’m sure the Lord also wants them, as well as each of us, to live happy lives!

    Thank you for your very great submission! I really enjoyed reading it! I pray t hat the Lord will continue to greatly bless you and your husband as you continue raising your children.

    Neil Birch

  6. Hi Neil. Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comments. When we were first starting out my husband and I watched some documentaries that really opened our eyes to these precious creatures, as well as how much water it requires per pound of beef raised, etc. It was amazing! It made me realize how powerful the food industry is and how effective their marketing is. I feel the Lord has truly blessed us to lose all taste for meat. Even the smell of it cooking, and sometimes the sight of it in an ad, I find repulsive now. I’m grateful for that. And it has made cooking so much easier! 🙂 I love whole foods, plant based eating!

  7. Dear Leslie,

    I have a 14 year old daughter with the same symptoms as your daughter. Have all of your daughter’s symptoms gone away except the achy joints?

    • Morgan, my daughter’s main issues are with her joints now, but even those are improving as we take oils out of our diet. She isn’t having the bellyaches and headaches anything like she used to, although she still struggles with sleeping soundly. We’re still working toward full healing, but part of that is how far her pain put her back as we sought those solutions, so physically she is doing probably 90% better than she was in Oct 2013. That’s pretty amazing. I wish you the best with your daughter, and hope you can find solutions in diet changes as well. Please feel free to contact me for support at any time.

  8. Hi Leslie,

    Loved your story:) My daughter has very similar symptoms as your daughter. We are just beginning our journey and I am thrilled to have come across your families journey (article). I am a bit nervous where/how to start. Would you mind sharing a “How to start” with me? (What you did first? Books you read? Etc) I believe in networking and you seem to be a wonderful resource and guide…if you wouldn’t mind:)

    Thanks!!!

    • Hi Becky. I’m glad you contacted me. I felt so lost and alone for so long when we were trying to find answers. Our first step in the right direction was when I called the naturopath doctor over in Colorado Springs; we had several phone consults over a period of about three months. He had us drop all refined sugars and flours, dairy, artificial colors and flavors. Working through it as a family really made the difference in our success.
      I have a friend who is super healthy and vegetarian. She helped me make the next steps along the way. When we decided to drop meat I went to her and took notes as she talked. I refer to those notes still. She shared recipes that were kid-friendly, as well as websites that she uses. Then I went and found recipes that we had ingredients for, and we just experimented until we found things we really liked.
      Some websites I use are: helynshealthykitchen.com which is a nutritarian diet, meaning no oils and that is important for keeping Meg’s inflammation down.
      NutritionFacts.org.
      OhSheGlows.com
      We eat a lot of oatmeal with fresh banana and cinnamon and almond milk for breakfasts; fresh fruits; smoothies; fresh fruit sorbets homemade; rice bowls, beans, burritos, …
      Some books that helped:
      Joel Fuhrman’s “disease-proof your child”; The China study; happy herbivore cookbooks, engine 2 cookbooks; Forks Over Knives DVD and cookbooks…
      If you have more questions or if I didn’t answer something specific, please contact me again. You can also PM me on Facebook if you’d like. May the Lord guide and bless you.

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