Though we all know the Word of Wisdom has the “what to do”, to live healthfully, in three little words, it also provides the “how to do it!” Two very interesting self-tests will help you make this the best summer ever.

Summer is here! It’s the best and easiest time of the year for living healthfully and losing some weight.

No Other Way

A number of years ago Dear Abby printed a series of wise and wonderful letters from parents about sharing the facts of life with their children. One mother wrote that an older neighborhood boy had given a very mixed-up version to her young son. As a result, she had no choice but to tell him more than she wanted to in order correct his understanding. Surprised and shocked, he had hurried off to his room. She followed him, and founding him at his bedside earnestly pleading in prayer, “Please, God, is there no other way????”

I hope you’re laughing! Oh, how often have we all felt the same way about things that seemed impossible, including the laws that govern a healthy weight. One of the responses to my last article “Your Own Ten Commandments” hit the nail on the head: She wrote: “We don’t need ten commandments. We just need one: to live the Word of Wisdom!” As I went back and reviewed D&C 89, the Spirit whispered to me again, “She’s right! And there is no other way.” Threre are lots of stories to prove it, including Meridian columnist Dian Thomas and here are two more of my favorites:

Well over a year ago in the late winter of 2009, a lovely young teacher at the school where I work several hours each day had a sports-related accident. Easily 30-50 pounds overweight, she painfully struggled on crutches for several months after corrective knee surgery. Summer came, her schedule changed and I did not see her until Thanksgiving time. When our paths crossed again I hardly recognized her. She was no longer on crutches and she was much slimmer. “How did you do it?!” I asked, impressed.

“Oh, the only way that works! I’m down nearly about 22 pounds! After my accident, I knew things had to change. So I changed what I was eating and started walking as much as I could every day to rebuild my strength. I ate a whole lot more fruits and vegetables, less meat and bread. And a whole, whole, whole lot less of the other stuff and junk food. I decided I needed to focus on changing my lifestyle rather than losing weight, so I’m only losing about to pound per week, but I feel a LOT better!” She didn’t have to tell me. It showed in every possible way.

I did not see her again for another six months, until this past week. She’s lost another 15 pounds and has morphed into a tall, slender, very fit and attractive young woman. Her skin glows, her eyes sparkle. “I don’t need or want to lose any more,” she said, “I just want to live like this for the rest of my life. I feel so good!”

There was so much energy in her voice and in the way she moved! It was fun and inspiring to be with her. “Really,” she finished, “people try a lot of things, but there is no other way than to change your lifestyle, and concentrate on the foods your body really needs.”

My other story is of an LDS friend, a mom of five very active children. After gaining a lot of weight while having her children, she carried at least 50-75 extra pounds for a very long time. Her physical exhaustion and difficulties were impossible to hide. Her family moved, then we moved and we didn’t see each other for several years. I barely recognized her when our paths crossed at a wedding reception. The extra pounds were gone. She was in a beautiful fitted dress, dancing with her husband. Having so much fun!

Her response to my question, “How did you do it?” Was exactly the same. “Fruits and lots of veggies without sauces or butter. Way less of everything else, as far as meat and carbs. Then lots of exercise and water. That’s about it! When people find out that it took me a year to do it, their eyes glaze over and they’re not interested.

But really,” and she said the same words again, There is no other way.”

No Other Way

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, our code for health is the Word of Wisdom.

It’s easy to zero in on the don’ts: we do not drink coffee, tea, alcohol or use harmful substances. However, there’s an entire eating plan as well, focusing on the things our bodies need for optimal health and functioning, herbs (meaning plants or fruits and veggies), and limited meats and grains, with no mention of a lot of things that are common for most of us.

Am I Living the Word of Wisdom?

For a powerful personal experience, with a prayer in your heart, go to D&C 89 and ask yourself “Am I living the Word of Wisdom beyond not smoking or consuming harmful beverages or substances?” No guilt trips or pointed fingers here, let the Spirit guide your thoughts as you read:

“… all wholesome herbs (plants) … every fruit in the season thereof … flesh of beasts and fowls to be used sparingly in times of winter, cold or famine …grains in time of famine and excess hunger … fruit of the vine above and below the ground”

Well, I’m saying “Yay! Potatoes!! … and once again recognizing that a lot of the non-nutritious, over-sized portions and health-robbing foods that surround us fit quite nicely into the “evil and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days” phrase in D&C 89:4. I loved Dian’s thought in her last article. “If Grandma did not eat it, do not eat it?” Well, I don’t know about your Grandma, but mine would definitely have eaten it if it had been available! For most of us, there’s no denying that these foods are at our fingertips, taste wonderful and are very hard to resist.

In the Word of Wisdom, there is no mention of dairy products, fats, or sugar, which are almost daily food items for most of us. Fats are actually required as it provides energy; essential fatty acids, helps us absorb vitamins, provides insulation and gives us a “full” feeling. That it also makes food taste good is obvious, but necessary since food programs with no fat are boring and are destined for failure.

Interestingly, however, fats and sugars ARE included within the Word of Wsdom when you consider that the best fats are plant based (safflower oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, vegetable oil, peanut oil) rather than animal based (lard and butter) and natural, unprocessed fruit is loaded with sweetness that comes from natural sugars. And we really don’t need or process dairy products past age three.

Hmm. As always, our Heavenly Father has provided all the guidance we need. It’s all taken care of! Dr. Stan Gardner’s articles and website, Dian’s program, and favorite books that bring the Word of Wisdom to life (Fit for Life by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond and Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman) are good ways to learn more and get started.

A Hidden Truth

I’ve always been intrigued by the familiar promise in verse 18-19 (all saints who remember and keep these sayings in obedience shall receive health in their navel, marrow in their bones, wisdom and great treasures of knowledge and hidden truth …) What are the great treasures of knowledge and hidden truth? As I prepared this article and re-read D&C 89, and pondered Dian’s article on how we all walk around with the knowledge of what to do, but often lack the strength and ability to apply the knowledge to action, hidden truth with divine sparkling highlights around it jumped out for me:

Our wonderful Heavenly Father not only provides the “what to do” he provides the “how to do it!” Go back to verse 11, It reads: “Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.

Prudence: How Perfect! For me this means you don’t have to change your whole life at once! One day at a time! Don’t be too hard on yourself or anyone else! Don’t quit and don’t throw out the whole set of china because of one broken cup! Persistence rather than perfection! Moderation in all things and “just don’t get, as my teenagers would say, WCO: weird, compulsive, or obnoxious!” Instead, prudence means we can wisely, quietly choose the foods that are best and right, and just like a muscle gets stronger with exercise, so will our abilities and desires for smart eating.

You might want to take the quiz I’ve added at the bottom to see where things are for you.

Thanksgiving: Oh, how life and even an eating plan falls into place when we start counting our blessings! Count your many blessings, and it will surprise you not only what the Lord HAS done to make health possible, but it will surprise you what he WILL do as you exercise your free agency for healthy living.

BLESSINGS PRESENT! Make a list of ten things that eating healthfully provides for you, and carry it with you: (i.e., more energy, being a good example to dear ones, etc. , the blessing of being able to buy healthy food that we don’t have to grow ourselves, etc. Truly the list is endless! What a great way to detour unhealthy choices.

BLESSINGS FUTURE! Count your future blessings too! My son Spencer who served in the London Mission said that President Clayton Foulger would often say “That’s one more day on the ski slopes with our grandchildren!” when he ate the healthy meals that his wife prepared. I love that.

More ideas: A happy doctor! Clothes that fit! Physical ease and comfort. Once again, it’s endless! Make a list and carry it with you.

Another Quiz

Well, it’s always fun to do self-tests. I really like this one! It’s a quiz from CSPI (The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit watchdog and consumer advocacy group.

The 42 questions below will help you focus on the key features of your diet. The ( ) or (-) numbers under each set of answers instantly pat you on the back for good habits or alert you to problems you may not even realize you have. (Sorry.)

The Grand Total rates your overall diet, on a scale from “Super” to “Arghh!”

The quiz focuses on fat, sodium, sugar, fiber, and vitamins A and C. It doesn’t attempt to cover everything in your diet. Also, it doesn’t attempt to measure precisely how much of these key nutrients you eat. (For that, we recommend Nutrition Wizard, the IBM-compatible program we developed just for CSPI members.)

What the quiz will do is give you a rough sketch of your current eating habits and, implicitly, suggest what you can do to improve them.

Finally, please don’t despair over a less-than-perfect score. A healthy diet isn’t built overnight.

Most of all, know that you are LOVED and that the 5 most important words in the scriptrues are … And it came to pass.


* Under each answer is a number with a + or – sign in front of it. Circle the number that is directly beneath the answer you choose.

That’s your score for the question. (If you use a pencil, you can erase your answers and give the quiz to a friend or relative.) * Circle only one number for each question, unless the instructions tell you to “average two or more scores if necessary.” * How to average. In answering question 19, for example, if you drink fruit juice ( 1) and soda (-1) on a typical day, add the two scores (which gives you 0) and then divide by 2. That gives you a score of 0 for the question.

If averaging gives you a fraction, round it off to the nearest whole number. * Make sure you pay attention to serving sizes. For example, a serving of vegetables is 1/2 cup. If you usually eat one cup of vegetables at a time, count it as two servings. * Add up all your scores, and write the total in the Total ( ) column at the end of the quiz. * Add up all your – scores, and write the total in the Total (-) column at the end of the quiz. * Subtract the Total (-) column from the Total ( ) column.

That will give you your GRAND TOTAL.


1. How many times per week do you eat unprocessed red meat (steak, roast beef, lamb or pork chops, burgers, etc.)?

(a) 1 or less 3 (b) 2-3 2 (c) 4-5 -1 (d) 6 or more -3

2. After cooking, how large is the serving of red meat you usually eat? (To convert from raw to cooked, reduce by 25 percent. For example, 4 oz. of raw meat shrinks to 3 oz. after cooking. There are 16 oz. in a pound.)

(a) 8 oz. or more -3 (b) 6-7 oz.-1 (c) 4-5 oz. 1 (d) 3 oz. or less 3 (e) don’t eat 3

3. Do you trim the visible fat when you cook or eat red meat?

(a) yes 3 (b) no -3 (c) don’t eat red meat 3

4. How many times per week do you eat processed meats (hot dogs, bacon, sausage, bologna, luncheon meats, etc.


(a) none 3 (b) less than 1 2 (c) 1-2 0 (d) 3-4 -1 (e) 5 or more -3

5. What kind of ground meat or poultry do you usually eat?

(a) regular ground beef -3 (b) lean ground beef -2 (c) extra-lean ground beef -1 (d) ground round 0 (e) ground turkey 1 (f) don’t eat 3

6. What type of bread do you usually eat?

(a) whole wheat or other whole grain 3 (b) rye 2 (c) pumpernickel 2 (d) white, “wheat,” French, or Italian -2

7. How many times per week do you eat deep-fried foods (fish, chicken, vegetables, potatoes, etc.)? (a) none 3 (b) 1-2 0 (c) 3-4 -1 (d) 5 or more -3

8. How many servings of vegetables do you eat per day? (One serving = 1/2 cup. Include non-fried potatoes.) (a) none -3 (b) 1 0 (c) 2 1 (d) 3 2 (e) 4 or more 3

9. How many servings of cruciferous vegetables do you usually eat per week? (ONLY count kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, greens, bok choy, kohlrabi, turnip, and rutabaga. One serving = 1/2 cup.)

(a) none -3 (b) 1-3 1 (c) 4-6 2 (d) 7 or more 3

10. How many servings of vitamin-A-rich fruits or vegetables do you usually eat per week? (ONLY count carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, spinach, winter squash, greens, apricots, and broccoli. One serving = 1/2 cup.)

(a) none -3 (b) 1-3 1 (c) 4-6 2 (d) 7 or more 3

11. How many times per week do you eat at a fast-food restaurant? (Include burgers, fried fish or chicken, croissant or biscuit sandwiches, topped potatoes, and other main dishes. Omit meals of just plain baked potato, broiled chicken, or salad.)

(a) none 3 (b) less than 1 1 (c) 1 0 (d) 2 -1 (e) 3 -2 (f) 4 or more -3

12. How many servings of grains rich in complex carbohydrates do you eat per day? (One serving = 1 slice of bread, 1 large pancake, or 1/2 cup cooked cereal, rice, pasta, bulgur, wheat berries, kasha, or millet. Omit heavily-sweetened cold cereals.)

(a) none -3 (b) 1-2 0 (c) 3-4 1 (d) 5-6 2 (e) 7 or more 3

13. How many times per week do you eat fish or shellfish? (Omit deep-fried items, tuna packed in oil, shrimp, squid, and mayonnaise-laden tuna salad–a little mayo is okay.)

(a) none -2 (b) 1-2 1 (c) 3-4 2 (d) 5 or more 3

15. How many times per week do you eat cheese? (Include pizza, cheeseburgers, veal or eggplant parmigiana, cream cheese, etc. Omit lowfat or “lite” cheeses.)

(a) 1 or less 3 (b) 2-3 2 (c) 4-5 -1 (d) 6 or more -3

16. How many servings of fresh fruit do you consume per day?

(a) none -3 (b) 1 0 (c) 2 1 (d) 3 2 (e) 4 or more 3

17. Do you remove the skin before eating poultry?

(a) yes 3 (b) no -3 (c) don’t eat poultry 3

18. What do you usually put on your bread or toast? (Average two or more scores if necessary.)

(a) butter -3 (b) cream cheese -3 (c) margarine -2 (d) diet margarine -1 (e) jam 0 (f) fruit butter 3 (g) nothing 3

19. Which of these beverages do you drink on a typical day? (Average two or more scores if necessary.)

(a) fruit juice 1 (b) water or club soda 3 (c) diet soda -1 (d) soda or fruit drink or ade -3

20. How many servings of caffeine-containing beverages do you drink per day? (One serving = 1 cup of 12 oz. of cola.)

(a) none 3 (b) 1 1 (c) 2 -1 (d) 3 -2 (e) 4 or more -3

21. Which flavorings do you most frequently add to your foods? (Average two or more scores if necessary.)

(a) garlic or lemon juice 3 (b) herbs or spices 3 (c) soy sauce -2 (d) margarine -2 (e) salt -3
(f) butter -3 (g) nothing 3

22. What do you eat most frequently as a snack? (Average two or more scores if necessary.)

(a) fruits or vegetables 3 (b) sweetened yogurt 2 (c) nuts -1 (d) chips -2 (e) cookies -2
(f) granola bar -2 (g) candy bar -3 (h) pastry -3 (i) nothing 0

23. What is your most typical breakfast? (Subtract an extra 3 points if you also eat bacon or sausage.)

(a) croissant, danish, or doughnut -3 (b) eggs -3 (c) pancakes or waffles -2 (d) nothing 0
(e) cereal or bread 3 (f) yogurt or cottage cheese 3

24. What do you usually eat for dessert?

(a) pie, pastry, or cake -3 (b) ice cream -3 (c) yogurt, ice milk, or sorbet 1 (d) fruit 3 (e) nothing 3


How many times per week do you eat beans, split peas, or lentils?

(a) none -2 (b) 1 1 (c) 2 2 (d) 3 or more 3

26. What kind of milk do you drink?

(a) whole -3 (b) 2% lowfat -1 (c) 1% lowfat 2 (d) 1/2% or skim 3 (e) none 0

27. What dressings or toppings do you usually add to your salads? (ADD two or more scores if necessary.)

(a) nothing, lemon, or vinegar 3 (b) reduced-calorie dressing 1 (c) regular dressing -1 (d) croutons or bacon bits -1 (e) cole slaw, pasta salad, or potato salad -1

28. What sandwich fillings do you eat most frequently?

(Average two or more scores if necessary.)

(a) luncheon meat -3 (b) cheese or roast beef -1 (c) peanut butter 0 (d) tuna, salmon, chicken, or turkey 3

29. What do you usually spread on your sandwiches? (Average two or more scores if necessary.)

(a) mayonnaise -2 (b) light mayonnaise -1 (c) mustard 0 (d) ketchup 0 (e) nothing 3

30. How many egg yolks do you eat per week? (Add 1 yolk for every slice of quiche you eat.)

(a) 2 or less 3 (b) 3-4 2 (c) 5-6 1 (d) 7 or more -3

31. How many times per week do you eat canned or dried soups? (Omit low-sodium, lowfat soups.)

(a) none 3 (b) 1-2 0 (c) 3-4 -2 (d) 5 or more -3

32. How many servings of a rich source of calcium do you eat per day? (One serving = 2/3 cup milk or yogurt, 1 oz.

cheese, 1 1/2 oz. sardines, 3 1/2 oz. salmon, 5 oz. tofu, 1 cup greens or broccoli, or 200 mg of a calcium supplement.) (a) none -3 (b) 1 1 (c) 2 2 (d) 3 or more 3

33. What do you usually order on your pizza? (Non-meat toppings include green pepper, mushrooms, onions, and other vegetables. Subtract 1 extra point if you order extra cheese.)

(a) no cheese w/non-meat toppings 3

(b) cheese w/non-meat toppings 1 (c) cheese 0

(d) cheese w/meat toppings -3 (e) don’t eat pizza 2

34. What kind of cookies do you usually eat?

(a) graham crackers 1 (b) ginger snaps 1 (c) oatmeal -1

(d) chocolate coated, chocolate chip, or peanut butter -3

(e) sandwich cookies (like Oreos) -3 (f) don’t eat cookies 3

35. What kind of frozen dessert do you usually eat? (Subtract 1 extra point for each topping–whipped cream, hot fudge, nuts, etc.)

(a) gourmet ice cream -3 (b) regular ice cream -1

(c) sorbet, sherbet, or ices 1 (d) frozen yogurt or ice milk 1

(e) don’t eat frozen desserts 3

36. What kind of cake or pastry do you usually eat?

(a) cheesecake, pie, or any microwave cake -3

(b) cake with frosting or filling -2

(c) cake without frosting -1 (d) angelfood cake 1

(e) unfrosted muffin, banana bread, or carrot cake 0

(f) don’t eat cakes or pastries 3

37. How many times per week does your dinner contain grains, vegetables, or beans, but little or no animal

protein (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, or cheese)?

(a) none -1 (b) 1 1 (c) 2 2 (d) 3 3

38. Which of the following salty snacks do you typically eat?

(a) potato chips or packaged popcorn -3 (b) tortilla chips -1

(c) light potato chips -2 (d) salted pretzels -1 (e) unsalted pretzels 1

(f) homemade air-popped popcorn 3 (g) don’t eat 3

39. What do you usually use to saute vegetables or other foods? (Vegetable oil includes safflower, corn, canola, olive, sunflower, and soybean.)

(a) butter or lard -3

(b) more than one tablespoon of margarine or vegetable oil -1

(c) no more than one tablespoon of margarine or vegetable oil 1

(d) water or broth 3

40. What kind of cereal do you usually eat?

(a) hot whole-grain (like oatmeal or Wheatena) 3

(b) cold whole-grain (like Shredded Wheat) 3

(c) cold low-fiber (like Corn Flakes) 0

(d) surgary cold low-fiber (like Frosted Flakes) -1 (e) granola -2

41. With what do you make tuna salad, pasta salad, chicken salad, etc?

(a) mayonnaise -2 (b) light mayonnaise 0

(c) lowfat yogurt 2 (d) nonfat yogurt 3

42. What do you typically put on your pasta? (Add one point if you also add sauteed vegetables. Average two or more scores if necessary.)

(a) tomato-based sauce 3 (b) tomato sauce with a little parmesan 3

(c) white clam sauce 1 (d) meat sauce -1

(e) tomato sauce with meatballs -2 (f) Alfredo, or other creamy sauce -3

SCORE YOURSELF! OK! Time to Score: 73-127 YOU’R DOING GREAT! A nutrition superstar.

Give yourself a big (non-butter) pat on the back.

30 to 72 GOOD Pin your Quiz to a wall or bulletin board and know that while there’s room for improvement, you’re doing OK.

14 to 29 FAIR Hang in there. Time to Make some Changes!

-123 to -15 ARGHH!