Our journey began in 2004 when I read a book by Roger K. Young. In chapter six, which is about the Lord’s antidote for the scourges and plagues of the last days, it had a lot of quotes from Elder John A. Widtsoe’s book The Word of Wisdom. After reading that chapter I told my wife that I thought we should change our diet. As we looked into it we found Dr. Kenneth E. Johnson’s book, The Word of Wisdom Food Plan, and read it. We also found the book The Mormon Diet: 14 Days to New Vigor and Health by Earl F. Updike.
During this time we were occasionally going to a vegetarian restaurant in St. George, Utah. One night there was a book at the table we sat at called The China Study by T. Colin Campbell. I read a little while we were there, then I bought a copy for myself.
When I found information in the book about Dr. John McDougall, we bought a copy of his book and tried the recipes in it. After going fully plant-based, in just two weeks I received an increase in energy, just like it said in 14 Days to New Vigor and Health. We followed that diet pretty strictly for quite a while but gradually we got a little lax about dairy and things with oil in them.
Fast forward to our mission call to Mexico City as welfare missionaries. We served in a Church employment office near the airport in the city. We slacked some more because the other senior missionaries ate all the dairy and chocolate they saw. We still did not eat meat at our apartment but occasionally in group settings we ate a little. We also ate eggs once or twice a week. As a diabetic, I did not behave myself as I should have.
Just a few weeks before we returned home in February 2014 my wife had some problems that made it impossible for her to go to the office with me for about a week. She got a little better but is still bothered by it a little now. I believe it is because she is still not strictly following the plant-based diet.
When we returned to Utah, we stayed with my wife’s daughter’s family in Murray before traveling to visit other family. They live across the cul-de-sac from Neil Birch who is in my High Priest group. Not too long after we arrived, I was out in the street working on some things on my truck when Neil stopped on his way to exercise and said hello. He left, but in about five minutes or so he was back. He asked how I stayed so skinny, so I told him a little of our story. He then told me about his daughter’s book, Discovering the Word of Wisdom (by Jane Birch), and asked me if I would like to read it. I told him that I was always interested in learning more about that subject. He loaned me a copy, and I proceeded to read it and ask the Lord some questions about the subject. On receiving spiritual feedback I determined to return to following the plant-based diet as strictly as I could while we traveled.
We left on February 24th and traveled south to Henderson, Nevada where we stayed the night. The next morning we headed south and about an hour down the road we stopped at a rest stop to use the restroom. After I came out, and as I stood there waiting for my wife, I was given a feeling that I cannot really describe but to say it was a feeling of joy and a confirmation that I was on the right track in my diet. If I could feel that way all the time I would be really happy.
When we came home from our mission, I went in for a doctor visit to refill my prescriptions. He checked my A1C and it was 7.1. Before we left it was 7.6 so he was happy. Several months later I went back after being on the whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diet, and the doctor checked my A1C again. It was 6.1. He told me I was just barely diabetic, which was music to my ears and a confirmation that I was on the right track. At this point I asked him if he was familiar with the WFPB diet. He said that he and his family are following it, and he had seen the documentary Forks Over Knives. He has lost 23 lbs in the last four months. I gave him the website for Discovering the Word of Wisdom, and he said he would check it out.
Prior to my doctor visit, I had some feelings one day that made me think that my blood sugar might be elevated. When I came home I checked my blood sugar and was surprised to find it at 86. I determined that it was low blood sugar symptoms that I was having, so I cut my Metformin in half. Later I stopped taking it completely, and my blood sugar has remained in good control at around 103 to 107 in the morning.
This morning at the doctor’s office they checked my weight. It is 148 lbs. My BMI is 23.53. I am 71 years old, but I weigh what I weighed when I came home from basic training in 1965. My blood pressure is 112 over 78. My heart rate is 55. The doctor said it is the heart rate of an athlete. I am grateful to be healthy and to be able to do physical work on a regular basis.
I remember President Packer speaking about the Word of Wisdom in General Conference. He said that the main purpose of the Word of Wisdom is spiritual. Following it makes us more sensitive to the spirit. As I have tried to live it fully, the truth of this teaching has been fulfilled in my life. We have to choose to follow the whole law if we want all the blessings promised in the Word of Wisdom. I thank the Lord for teaching me the laws of health.
UPDATE on 9-17-14: I went to the doctor yesterday and my A1C was 5.8. For those non-diabetics, that means my blood sugar levels are normal after six months following a WFPB diet!
Roy Barnes lives in Murray, Utah. At age 71, Roy is still working full-time at a fairly physical job. He enjoys searching the scriptures and gardening. He and his wife like spending time with their family, especially grandchildren.