Weight loss was not a driving factor in my change of diet. Just under 5’8″ my top weight was 155 pounds, but I typically kept it in the mid 140’s. It was my belief that as we age, our metabolism slows down and weight gain is inevitable. I was married to a dairy/cattle farmer (he has since gotten out of the dairy business, but still raises a few cows) so those foods were a huge part of our family diet and we loved the foods we ate.
There were two reasons I was searching for a better way of eating. Firstly, in my early forties, my doctor began talking to me about my unfavorable lipid count. For two or three years I tried to get my cholesterol under 200 and lower my lipids without prescription medications, trying many different “low fat” diets. None were successful. In years past, my father had a quadruple bypass surgery in his mid fifties after suffering a mild heart attack. Father took a regimen of pills for the remainder of his life and suffered the side effects of them. I began to believe bad genetics had sealed my fate and was fearful that ill health would limit my ability in future years to serve a senior couple mission, which had long been my desire.
Secondly, I was very troubled with the idea of being reliant upon prescription medications to sustain life. I worried that a time might come when I could not obtain medications. What then? I find it paradoxical in our LDS culture of preparedness that we spend a great deal of money and effort to store food and other necessities, yet may have only a three month supply of life sustaining drugs at any given time for conditions brought upon us by consuming the “king’s meat” (see Daniel 1:5) and other rich foods. So of what personal value is our home storage beyond that? I am satisfied that self-reliance not only includes gathering and storing, but decreasing/eliminating the need for prescription medications. I believe that after having done all we can do, we might more confidently call upon the Lord’s healing power for conditions beyond our control.
It was in 2006 that two of my sisters came upon T. Colin Campbell’s book, The China Study and learned he would soon be speaking at UVU. They attended and became convinced to pursue a WFPB diet. In October of that year they approached me with the book as well as The Word of Wisdom by John and Leah Widtsoe. After reading these books, I was very confused. The things I read contradicted what our public health officials teach us. For years I had prayed for a solution to my health problem if one could be had and promised Heavenly Father that I would do whatever He asked of me if only I could be healed without the constant need of modern day drugs. The following Sunday was the first one in November, Fast Sunday. I decided I would fast and pray to know if this was the way. Not trusting my own emotions, I asked the Lord for a definitive answer to come by way of a speaker who would mention the Word of Wisdom during church services.
I sat through Sacrament meeting that Sunday and nothing happened; nothing was said to answer my query. Next I attended Sunday School where we were studying Isaiah. I was engrossed in the topic at hand, which had nothing to do with the Lord’s law of health, when the teacher suddenly paused. She said something like, “You know . . . it’s really interesting how the Lord asks us to do something and then the truth behind it is confirmed some time later.” She continued, “It’s like . . . [pause] . . . it’s like the Word of Wisdom. It was given to Joseph Smith so long ago and now new information is coming out all the time that confirms how true it is.” The teacher promptly went back to the text of Isaiah, but my mind was reeling. I had my answer.
One might think I was overjoyed, but when I got home, I cried. I liked the way I ate. I didn’t want to change, but how could I not? I had made a promise to Heavenly Father and His answer could not be disputed! That very moment I began to eat a whole food, plant-based diet, but I didn’t understand just yet all that I could eat and mostly I ate raw foods. It was not very satisfying, and I felt cheated watching others eat foods I could not. I told myself that on Thanksgiving I would eat turkey, and I kept my sights on that day when I would splurge. Interestingly, three weeks later, when I did take a bite of turkey, I didn’t care for it. As I lived up to my commitment with God, He blessed me with a desire for healthy foods. In just a short time my tastes had changed.
One challenge I faced was that I began dropping excess weight to the tune of a pound per day. Within three weeks the scales leveled at 120 pounds. It happened so quickly I think some of my neighbors and co-workers worried that I had an eating disorder and made comments to me about eating. Actually, I was eating a lot of food, but I too was a little worried. I couldn’t do this much longer without wasting away. I needed to re-learn how to cook because eating mostly raw foods was not adequate for me. Adding lots of oatmeal and nuts sustained my weight as I began learning more about how to cook a meal not centered around meat and dairy. I started preparing meals high in corn, beans, whole grains, and potatoes with raw fruits and vegetables and have settled into a comfortable weight and satisfying eating pattern.
I was elated the first time my cholesterol level came in at 154—and without medications! I also found my energy increasing, and I began running. I’m not a racer, but for the past nine years, I manage three miles, five days a week and I often go on Saturday morning hikes with my husband in the mountains that surround our home.
My family eats the whole food, plant-based dishes I serve in my home, but my children have given in to the standard American diet as they have gone off to college. I am hopeful that they will change as they face life’s challenges and grow spiritually. As for me, I have an increased desire to study and learn Gospel teachings and have experienced the Lord’s guidance in many ways. I feel greater assurance in becoming more self-reliant and increased energy to serve my family, the Lord, and to enjoy life.
Mignon Probst is 52 years old and lives in the beautiful Heber Valley in Utah. She graduated with a BA in Elementary Education, but has spent most of her life as a mother and homemaker. She and her husband have been blessed with five adopted children. She enjoys sewing quilts, gardening, and reading.
Find Mignon’s sister’s story here: “The windows of heaven opened up for me”