Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Trusting The Word of Wisdom

The word of wisdom says, "Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: in consequence and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation--"
I love this verse because it tells me the Lord knew, way back when the revelation was given, what we would be up against when it came to feeding our families in 2009. We have food pyramids, fad diets, a billion dollar supplement industry, a processed food industry cranking out garbage, a factory farming industry wreaking havoc on our health and the environment, USDA dietary guidelines, pyramid schemes peddling nutrition in a bottle, cleansing regimens, and nutrition science throwing out information faster than we can digest it. It is confusing.
When I first started cutting out meat I was terrified that we wouldn't have enough protein. I stressed about it. I fretted. I thought we needed a huge hunk of meat to provide protein. The meat industries have lobbied the USDA for so long that the USDA tells us we need meat. "Beef it's what's for dinner!" would haunt me as I passed up the meat aisle. I had to let go of my worries and realize the Word of Wisdom was the best dietary advice out there. It's advice renders anything a "food scientist" or a food pyramid tells me null and void. I had to learn to trust that if I ate meat sparingly, increased my vegetable, fruit, and grain intake I would be fine. The Lord knows what my body needs, he has provided me with a brilliant guideline and I need to trust it. I think that is part of why the creation story is such an important part of our religion. It shows that the Lord was thoughtful of us and provided us with everything we would need for happiness and health.
Michael Pollan made the point in a lecture I heard on his In Defense of Food book tour, that food science in the twenty-first century is akin to surgery in 1400 A.D. They are onto something, will make brilliant discoveries along the way, but they are so far from being an actual science that we should be very wary of anything they tell us. He calls nutrition an ideology, not a science. We are fed a lot of crazy information: Carbs are evil. Fiber is the only important nutrient. All fat is bad. Omega-3's will save our lives. Avoid trans-fats. Butter is bad, margarine is good. No wait. Margarine is bad, butter is good. Mediterranean diets are the only way to go. No wait, the Japanese have a superior diet. Anyway, it can get confusing.
Pollan talks about a carrot. Carrots are very good for us. We don't know why exactly, we just know they are. But scientists tried to figure it out and decided it was because of the beta carotene. They thought beta carotene would prevent cancer. So they isolated beta carotene, put it in a pill and people took it to prevent cancer. But they got cancer. In fact in some cases, the cancer risk increased. What "nutritionism" did was take a complex carrot and turn it into a simple nutrient. A carrot is grown in soil, which is a complex system in and of itself that we don't fully understand. A carrot is packed with nutrients, some discovered and some not, that work in concert together in ways we don't even vaguely comprehend. That complex carrot is then eaten by a person with a complex digestive system. No one understands exactly how those 3 complex systems work together to provide a health benefit. You see the point? We don't know why a carrot is good for us, we just know it is.
So, in my journey to eating better I have had to learn to let go of every study, and to let go of my fears that my children's hair will fall out if they don't eat chicken every night. I'm not saying there is no benefit to reading up, but there is just a better authority. I try to avoid the trendy health claims and try to trust that the closer I stick to the Word of Wisdom's guidelines the better off I will be. The Lord knows all about the complexity of soil, carrots, and digestive systems, and I will leave it up to him to guide me. The beauty of trusting the Word of Wisdom is that the more we try to follow it the more the Lord will guide us in very personal ways. It is a beautiful revelation, isn't it?


  1. Yes, and luckily for us, it's a revelation that's completely apolitical! Looking forward to your future posts!

  2. I went to the same lecture- it really was great. But with the WoW couple with that information it is really eye opening. How lucky we are.

  3. this was beautifully written. and powerful.

    thank you so much.

    I think I really needed to hear what you said. I don't ever read to know what is good for me in the world, because the Lord has made that very clear. I do have a tendency to research things on the flip side. I read up on aspartame because my diet coke addicted friend can't get pregnant and I read up on processed meat when my son threw up violently after eating chicken nuggets and meatballs at a wedding once.

    I think you are right that when we follow what the Lord has told us, we can trust that our bodies will be fine. After all, he designed them. He knows. It is truly a beautiful revelation.

  4. Likely, I think it is totally fine to read up on aspartame and processed meat. I do it. In fact I think it is important. I just love that the WofW gives us a final authority and a context in which to understand all the trends and discoveries. I love reading all the links you post and mulling them over and gaining an even stronger testimony of the WofW.

  5. Great post Anna! You had some really great points in there - it IS wonderful that we can trust in the counsel we've received from the Lord to keep us healthy and safe. One point in particular that I appreciate is the advice you've given here and in the past on your blog - to eat real food. Don't worry about the whole counting calories/margaraine vs. butter debate/ fad diet stuff - just eat real food in moderation and stay away from the other stuff.

  6. You know, don't have to cut meat totally out of your diet. The word of wisdom never said that, in fact it says it is good to eat meat "sparingly." Judge wisely!


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