By: Stacey Peterson
My journey to a whole food, plant based diet was a gradual process that began in 2010 and took six years to fully implement. Nights home alone plus a Netflix subscription led me to watch several food and diet-related documentaries over the years such as Hungry For Change, Fed Up, Food, Inc., and one of my favorites, Forks Over Knives. For the first time in my life I started to actually think about what I was putting into my body and how it was affecting me. I’d never struggled with my weight, but I knew that weight wasn’t the only indicator of health, and I did suffer with frequent and debilitating sinus infections and migraine headaches. I didn’t feel right about the powerful medications and their frightening side effects that doctors were prescribing for me. I really felt strongly that my body wasn’t designed to be sick and that my ailments would benefit more from prevention than from questionable medications to mask the symptoms.
As I read and researched for my own health, I couldn’t help but think about my babies—the loves of my life who I would do anything and everything to protect. When I set plates of food in front of them, I wondered if what I was putting into their bodies was helping or hurting them. What was I teaching them that “food” is? How was I training their taste buds? Since I was choosing their food, did that mean I was also choosing health consequences for their little bodies that could possibly last a lifetime, without their say in the matter?
I continued reading books on nutrition, studying, learning, and gradually replacing harmful ingredients with better choices one at a time as my knowledge increased. I think high fructose corn syrup was the first thing to go. Hey, we all have to start somewhere! One change led to another, and by the time 2016 rolled around, I couldn’t remember the last time the inside of our fridge had seen a gallon of cow’s milk, a carton of eggs, a block of cheese, or a piece of meat. They had been replaced by a wide variety of whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, fruits, and vegetables, and we were enjoying our meals more than ever before. We sure had come a long way since the high fructose corn syrup ban!
Animal products were no longer part of my diet, and I found myself not missing or craving any of them one bit. Now that I knew about the health, environmental, and ethical implications of eating animal products, I just couldn’t bring myself to be part of it anymore. And then to re-read Section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants and realize that the Lord was pleased when I did not eat animals when it wasn’t necessary sealed the deal! I couldn’t believe I hadn’t caught that verse earlier!
Recently I finished reading How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger and have been particularly moved by the information in his book. It was so interesting that I couldn’t put it down! It makes me happy to see modern medical science prove that all of the guidance we had already been blessed with in the Word of Wisdom is healthy and correct. It has been absolutely fascinating to learn about the incredible nourishing and healing power that is housed inside plants. I’ve realized that eating isn’t just what I do to fill my belly for the sake of not being hungry, it’s a chance to bathe my cells in nutrition that will give them the necessary tools to fight disease and do all of the things that they were designed to do. The power found in plants keeps me strong and healthy so I can live the life I’m meant to live! It is no wonder that the plants in which these miraculous nutrients are found have been ordained for our use. Not just here by chance, but ordained! The Lord knew what He was doing when He created them and placed them on the earth for us, and I’ve enjoyed learning to cook with as many of them as I can.
I have enjoyed a number blessings from following a whole food, plant based diet. The health of my family has benefited tremendously. I feel great knowing that what I place on our dinner table is not going to contribute to diet-related chronic diseases in my children. Not only that, but everyone (except my three-year-old) loves what I prepare! (She is determined to survive solely on blueberries. :)) My weight stays constant; I haven’t had a single migraine headache in years; my pet and seasonal allergy symptoms have been greatly reduced; my chronic sinus infections have diminished; and I no longer feel gross, heavy, and like I need a nap after every meal.
I also have been blessed with a greater compassion for animals and a greater sensitivity to both spiritual and temporal learning. Sometimes I wish that I had discovered the power of more fully following the Word of Wisdom earlier, but I realize that the Lord led me to these truths during a time of my life at which I would be most receptive to new information and open to change. We all learn at our own pace and in our own way. I’m thankful for the truths in the Word of Wisdom that prompt and guide me to know how best to care for the health of my family.
Stacey Peterson is 30 years old lives in Lehi, Utah with her husband and two children. She has a degree in Human Resource Management from Utah State University and more recently graduated from photography school. She is a full-time mommy and a part-time newborn photographer. She loves crafting, reading, learning, cooking, and spending time with my family.