Note from Carolyn: If you’re struggling with springtime allergies or hay fever, Meridian readers can get $5 off our herbal aid. CLICK HERE for more info and LDS testimonials!
Need a good laugh? It’s in the photo below:
Don’t read this newly published LDS book if you have health concerns or want to lose weight.
If you’re not ready for a powerful health change, I have an important warning: Do NOT go back and read Jane Birch’s recent article on Meridian Magazine and all 40 fascinating Meridian reader comments below the article. Do NOT visit her website, and especially DO NOT BUY HER BOOK, Discovering the Word of Wisdom.
The personal risks of getting involved with her writing and message are very high, as you may
1) Lose hours of sleep as you read well into the night;
2) Discover you’re not alone with concerns about how it all works, is it really healthy and how on earth do you fit a plant-based diet into “real” living, eating and socializing;
3) Meet some lovely people who were reluctant followers and did it only to support family members, then became enthusiastic followers;
4) Become fascinated by the Church history of how following the Word of Wisdom has evolved since being introduced in 1833.
Worst of all, reading her information may lead you to
4) Lose weight easily;
5) Resolve pesky health issues,
6) Pre-empt diabetes, stroke and heart disease; and
7) Enjoy food and meals more than you ever have before
Yes indeed, if any of these things are hot buttons for you, Jane Birch’s work should be avoided at all costs. Why? Because you might just get up and change yourself – with joy and easily — as she did when she first discovered the value, pleasure and importance of a plant based diet. No, it was not from a Sunday School lesson, but a CNN news report.
Though I scanned her scholarly, well-written Meridian article with interest when it came out several weeks ago and mentioned it in my blog, it was not until Jane sent me an e-mail, then followed up with a copy of the book, that I became immediately hooked! I could not put it down and read late into the night, absorbing the history, information, perspectives and personal life experiences of “real Mormons.”
Furthermore, I found myself immediately bringing it up in nearly every conversation!
It seems odd to me that something we hold so dear, something that so separates us from the rest of the world, is extremely controversial within our own society and membership. Jane makes it abundantly and beautifully clear that there is no reason for disharmony or judging. We are indeed following the Word of Wisdom 100% when we abstain from coffee, black tea, alcohol and tobacco. These are the “don’ts” in the Word of Wisdom (D&C 89:5-9) that help us enter the temple worthily. It’s the “do’s” (D&C 89:10-17) that are the big ticket verses for personally choosing our diets and the source of questions and disagreement. Thankfully we can eat whatever we choose and be temple-worthy without any questions asked.
For many of us, however, personal, prayerful and careful study of the “do” verses will quickly tell us that the Standard American Diet is not described therein. What we “thought” was following the Word of Wisdom is simply and personally no longer so. It’s why we’re overweight, unhealthy, obsessed with foods and portions we know are not good for us and simply can’t stop eating them on our own. We’re anxious to learn more, and when we have started to feel the first few benefits of a plant based diet, we are excited to to share it more effectively with those within our reach.
Enter Jane, Elder John and Leah Widtsoe (The Word of Wisdom: A Modern Interpretation, published in 1937) and several other LDS professionals who examine and compare the Word of Wisdom to our modern diet. (Jane includes references to many of them in her book. Interestingly the Widtsoe book, now 75 years old, is still right on point with modern scientific work on the benefits of a plant based diet.) Jane has documented her LDS perspective with research from many doctors and scientists who explore the value of a plant based diet, and includes sources for all in her appendices. The must read foundation bible of her book is “The China Study”, by T. Colin Campbell. I am currently reading this fascinating book, and it is a life-changer as well.)
Beyond the science, the writing and the documentation how do regular people DO this? Why hasn’t the Church told us more? Do Church leaders follow this plan? Where do you even start? Do you have to do it 100%? Go “cold-turkey?” How do you get your protein and calcium? Do I really have to give up milk? Is cheese really that bad for you? What about children? Socializing? Serving a mission in an international mission where you can’t follow this plan? Does NOT following a plant-based diet make you less “spiritual?” and in tune with our Heavenly Father? Isn’t it “weird” or “extreme” to do something so different if you don’t have any big health problems?
These questions and many more are beautifully addressed in Jane’s book. Her writing is clear, concise, well-organized, easy and fascinating to read. Although it is self-published, her documentation and indexing are exhaustive and impressive. The information and the examples are often provided through recorded health experiences from active, main-stream members of the Church. The appendices in the back of the book provides you with all the resources anyone needs to get started. She has included fun, smart strategies for motivation, behavioral change, and managing social events.
After reading the book, Jane and I visited on the phone. It was a fascinating conversation. In my mind, her work is a mission that she was sent to the earth to perform. It is important to note that this is a labor of love for her. All profits from the book, (which is briskly selling at both Amazon and from her website) will be used to further her message about discovering joy in the Word of Wisdom.
As we chatted and I congratulated her on her impressive book, she humbly said that she’s “just a small microphone with a very large message.” Jane works at BYU, right in the Wilkinson Center. I mentioned that the BYU Food Court is a collection of America’s favorite fast food franchises, and not particularly healthy. (Subway and finding a salad would be the healthiest option.)
“True,” she replied. “But it’s no different than any other grocery store or restaurant fare than anywhere else – really in anyplace here in the U.S. The do’s of the Word of Wisdom are up for debate even among the dieticians and nutritionists here at BYU, who probably don’t have too much of a problem with the BYU Food Court. For those of us who love and live this way of eating, 95% of the foods in most grocery stores are things that we won’t buy, whether it’s in a Church community or not. Same for many of the popular restaurants.
Honestly, the situation and life-style choices may never be too different, but I am having a grand adventure and a lot of fun sharing the message that has come so powerfully for me.”
I shared with here that, personally speaking, so many health matters can change when you live this I told her that we immediately stopped having colds and constantly clearing our throats once we cut the dairy four years ago. My grown daughters discovered that dairy products are absolutely the heart and center of their adult on-set acne problems. Their skin flares within 24 hours or less with even a small amount of milk, ice cream or other dairy products.
Jane replied, “That’s very true. The other end of it is that you might learn important things about your health concerns when you eat this way. Some health conditions are more responsive to this diet than others, and if your particular health concerns are NOT changed by following this plan, then it’s a good way to check diet’ off the list as a way of finding answers.”
The entire book was absolutely fascinating to me. My copy is already marked up and underlined. I won’t be loaning it out. Furthermore, we’re checking books out of the library and ready for some new recipes! Personally speaking, we’re 85% or even 90% of the way there, having given up nearly all dairy three years ago, the sugar has been (joyfully) gone for nearly 7 months, and meat and eggs are very sparingly served at our house.
Jane’s book has tipped the scales in our desire to further live a vegan life. Will we do it 100%? Will we do it perfectly? Probably not, but the steps we have taken over the past several years are paying huge dividends, and we’re ready to up it several notches.
Jane is fully aware, as are most vegan advocates, that books like hers and articles such as this are “preaching to the choir.”
However, if you’re not in the choir and you have not tried this plan, there are some fun surprises:
Most important is that once you’re past the first few days (even up to a week) of cravings, you’ll be fully satisfied and enjoying your meals immensely. You can eat a lot of food (as in both variety and volume on this program, and often! Unlike eating refined foods or sweets where it’s very hard to stop, there are only so many carrots or apples one can eat before one is simply “done.” By following this plan I find that I am much more easily fully satisfied and that six small meals a day work best for me.
Another fun surprise is that many health benefits will appear almost immediately, with more to follow in rapid succession.
Though I could easily say more, the much better thing to do is to simply visit the website and buy the book, at either Amazon or www.discoveringthewordofwisdom.com, where you’ll meet delightful people and members of the Church that you’ll be delighted to identify with.
But, please, be very, very careful before you start. My strong advice is that you should NOT learn more or buy this book unless you’re ready for a change in your thinking, your weight, your health or your life.
Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success, One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life, available at her website.
She has been providing mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999 presenting for Weight Watchers, First Class, Fairfax County Adult Education and other community groups.
She and her husband Bob are the parents of five children and grandparents of eight. They live in the Washington D.C. area where they are delighted to teach Missionary Preparation for the Annandale Stake CES Institute program.