Author’s Note: I’m continuing my quest started the day after October General Conference: to spend the next six months (until April General Conference) seeking inspiration in the Book of Mormon for healthy living and applying them. I’m recording this experience (including checking off exercise and what I’m eating) in a simple composition notebook. Who knows what the next six months will bring?! I’m excited to find out and hope you’ll consider doing the same. Six months is the perfect amount of time to make some truly significant changes in our health. Since my last article, I’ve added a weekly weigh-in buddy and hope to keep you up to speed with her too, as she loses weight for an upcoming hip replacement. She’s down 11 pounds in five weeks with the Weight Watchers program.
What have I discovered in the past two weeks?
1) Fruit is God’s idea of a great reward. It’s interesting that in Lehi’s vision of the tree of life, (I Nephi 8: 11-12 … “ I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy … that it was most sweet, above all that I before tasted … ) it’s not a cookie, a doughnut, cheese cake, chips or a candy bar that he was rewarded with: it was a delectable piece of fruit that he couldn’t wait to share with his family. From Lehi and God’s perspective, it’s clear I need to up my personal opinion on fruits as a true dessert and reward!
In my mind’s eye, I’ve created a vision of that beautiful tree covered with glowing fruit, then juxtaposed it with a mental image of a tree (think the Candyland game board here) loaded with wrapped candy bars and asking myself “Which does Heavenly Father want me to choose?” This simple visualization has made choosing the fruit over the candy much easier and more, in Lehi’s words, “desireable.”
It’s fascinating to me that the less processed sugar I eat, the less I want. This is such a relief, to have these cravings which were out of control from May through the end of August with more family celebrations than I can count, greatly reduced. Thank you, Lehi, for sharing your vision of the tree of life! The tree of life creates a better life (… even just a better day with no sugar blues!) for me when I choose fruit as God’s candy, instead of man’s. This visualization is especially helpful with the candy that surrounds us at Halloween time. Although I usually write every other week, with next Monday being Halloween (the Candy Day of the Year), I’ll have an additional column that will make the Halloween a snap, and prepare us for healthy living throughout November and December.
2) Three little words: “Plain and Precious” To build on this principle, among the doctrine and fascinating adventure that constitutes First Nephi are three simple words that have also made a big difference in my pleasure with food choices: Go to I Nephi 13 and count: the words “Plain and Precious. ” They are repeated eleven (eleven!) times. “Plain and precious” in this chapter refers to the true gospel doctrines that have been lost and contaminated throughout history. However, the phrase repeated itself so often, that I found it spontaneously repeating in my mind throughout the day … “plain and precious … plain and precious …” My mind massaged it. It sounds like a delightful country craft store or a line of organic health foods! It’s more than obvious that there is a lot more nutrition in eating a plain apple than there is in eating apple pie. Nor is it rocket science to acknowledge that the marketing of eating processed foods for the material gain of the food and snack industry is at the expense of our own health. (You may be interested in my past articles about conspiring men and today’s foods: CLICK HERE
“Plain and precious” …. I have to say that my gala apples, bananas, legumes, baked sweet potatoes and simple vegetable soups tasted much better when I attached this three word thought to them. I also discovered this week that in a sweet little way, I feel a little more connected to Heavenly Father and nature when eating these foods. It just feels spiritually good and right to eat “plain and precious” foods. With eating more plain and precious foods comes another truth: a serving or two of them goes little goes a lot further that processed snack foods or desserts. Although I would not admit in public how many cookies or sweets I can (and have) eaten at once, one or two apples is plenty! It is the same for a big salad, or any “plain and precious” food. You can only eat so much, and then you’re done.
One of my goals for the next six months is to explore more plain and precious recipes and simpler cooking to share with you. In the family’s travels in I Nephi, they did not even have to cook! At least that’s how I read “we did live upon raw meat in the wilderness.”
(I Nephi 17: 1-2) Just between you and me, I’ll bet I’m not alone in wishing there was some way to get around preparing dinner every night and wish I had some of their recipes. Now what a cookbook that would be! I’m sure they consumed a lot of grains, fruits, vegetables and seeds in addition to meat. This was not a group of women needing just salad for lunch as there were also men, living vigorous outdoor lives who must have had huge appetites. All of them, men, women, babies, teens and children of all ages were clearly extremely strong and healthy. Their diet, without cooking, clearly supported pregnancies and the needs of nursing mothers as well. “Plain and Precious:” It’s something to consider in our eating!
3) Family life is challenging! Even the families of great prophets struggle with communication, dysfunctional family issues, extreme sibling rivalry and little support for each other. Have you ever noticed that both the Bible and the Book of Mormon start out in the first few chapters with brothers actively seeking to kill each other? Though their dads are prophets who have walked and talked with God, and their mothers worthy companions in every possible way, these brothers make life miserable for everyone. In an odd way, this is somewhat comforting: to know that family life, even for the greatest of families, is often difficult, with conflicting values and styles that can make daily life difficult. Nephi, inspired and directed by his own father and God, was mocked and openly rejected time and again by his own brothers.
To liken this to ourselves, many of us are alone in families where our health needs and desires to eat wisely are not the same as other members. Our desires and needs may not be respected or supported as well as they could be by loved ones. Once again, Nephi is our man! He found a way to fulfill his duties, despite the obstacles created by his brothers, by being close to the Lord, by knowing who he was, and by standing firm in what he knew was right for him.
What an inspiration he can be for us in standing alone, when necessary, to make the right health choices for ourselves! Although we can never make eating choices for anyone else, we can and must make them for ourselves.
I’m thinking I need a little picture of Nephi to carry in my wallet or in the kitchen to remind me of his great example in finding the courage to stand alone when necessary.
What we really need, is not a picture of Nephi, but a true picture of ourselves: not the one that is marred by earth life, relationships and distorted perceptions of experiences, but our Heavenly Father’s picture of us and a reminder of who we were before we came to earth. We were perfect and healthy in every way – physically, spiritually and emotionally. It can be so now!
And this will be the start of my next article, with thoughts, a life-changing book, and an interview with its LDS author that has made an enormous difference for me and many thousands of others. See you next Monday!
Carolyn Allen has been providing weight loss inspiration since 1999 both online and in community venues in the Washington, D.C. area. Her book, 60 seconds to Weight Loss Success, is available at Amazon.com Her favorite food is steamed broccoli (lots of it!) with a little butter and lemon-pepper. Learn more about her herbal health tonic at www.MyMiracleTea.com