The Word of Wisdom Cycle
By Carolyn Allen


Have you had a chance to look at your new August Ensign ?  There is a most insightful article on healthy living entitled: “Cancer, Nutrition and the Word of Wisdom” by Dr. William T. Stephenson, a physician at the Kansas City Cancer Center.  ( Ensign, August 2008, pages 42-47. 

Dr. Stephenson discusses the power of the Word of Wisdom (D&C Section 89) regarding tobacco, hot drinks, alcohol, dietary recommendations, cancer prevention and modern standards for temporal health. 


Though as a people the Word of Wisdom has surely helped us set ourselves apart from the world as far as alcohol, tobacco, coffee and tea, it does not appear that our sugar consumption or the modern-day propensity to obesity is any different from the regular population.  (Here is a link to the recent Meridian Article “Are Latter-day Saints Getting Fatter?”.)

Dr. Stephenson prefaces his article with D&C 29:34:

Today’s Scripture:   “All things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal.”  (D&C 29:34)

What vision and perspective is required to apply this to something as physical and desirable as food and eating!  Dr. Stephenson emphasizes, “Although members of the Church often focus on aspects relating to avoiding smoking, alcohol consumption, coffee, and tea, the Word of Wisdom provides further direction for blessing Latter Day Saints.  Eating a diet consisting primarily of wheat and grain products, fruits and vegetables as outlined in the revelations is being shown scientifically to be the best possible way to eat” ( Ensign , August 2007, age 47).


food iStock KlaudiaSteinerComponents of a healthy diet. Steiner

A lot of things have changed since The Word of Wisdom was given to Joseph Smith nearly 175 years ago.  Even as other counsel given to Joseph Smith throughout his life was prophetic and established guidelines for not just the early days of the restored gospel, but also for the future, the dietary laws presented in the Word of Wisdom establish a wise standard as protection against modern foods and a lifestyle that Joseph Smith and the early Saints could never have imagined.

Even as the early saints would no doubt be shocked and amazed by the technology and tools we now use to share the gospel (the cover article on this August’s Ensign ) I’m sure they would be dumfounded to see the range of so-called “foods” with very little nutrition that are readily available to virtually all Americans and throughout the world. 

Can you imagine pioneer moms choosing cereal for their children on today’s grocery aisles?  A McDonalds in Kirtland, or a Dunkin’ Donuts in Nauvoo?  How about a string of 7-11 stores for the pioneers to get a Slurpee on those brutally hot summer days?  How good they may have tasted, but how even more drained their bodies would have been because the sugars, coloring and preservatives in those drinks tax the body to the limit, draining precious nutrients and fluids as the body tries to eliminate the overload and restore balance. 

In actuality, we are thirstier after carbonated sweetened drinks.  (Those that are 0-calorie and artificially sweetened are even more difficult for the body to process.)

In Hebrews 12:7 we read:  ” But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. ”  To me, the popular, over-processed, fat-laden, sugar-laden foods of our day are foolish things.   Though it may be an extreme thought, these non-nutritious foods of our day may even be considered to among Satan’s tools to destroy us – for they do destroy our bodies, and the habits centered around eating them taxes our spirits.  

Knowing and loving the Lord as we do, witnessing the miracles throughout the scriptures, among the pioneers and in our own lives are proof that He can do anything!  Those trials could have been eliminated for the Saints if it had been his will.  Yet, he wanted a tried and proven people to usher in the last days. 

It is no different with us!  Our temptations are different, yet equal.  The ability to pass up foods that do not build our bodies, (when our bodies are already weakened by extra pounds) may be one of our tests.   These foods are often delicious, easy, habit-forming and inexpensive.  More nutritious foods may often call for a bit more effort to buy, choose, prepare and enjoy.  Yet the benefits – and pleasures – cannot begin to be measured. What a cycle it is – as well as a principle and a promise (D&C 89:3) – the wisdom and strength to live the Word of Wisdom is found in living the Word of Wisdom. 

For more information on foods and creating an eating lifestyle conducive to the Word of Wisdom, please go back to “Are Latter-day Saints Getting Fatter?“.

Yet, it’s easy enough to know these truths, but much harder to live and do!  Which is why President Spencer W. Kimball asked that the words in the chorus of “I Am A Child of God” be changed from “Teach me all that I must know ” to “Teach me all that I must do.

So what’s the weight-loss-made-easy answer to detouring the tempting trappings of the convenience foods of the day?  Follow not only the prophets, but the pioneers!  Ask yourself, Is it something they would have grown in their gardens?  Though not called upon to preach, fresh (or next best is frozen) fruits and vegetables boldly testify of God’s way to true health and vitality.  Just take a look at what they contain as far as nutrients, then compare to the wrapper of most prepared foods.  The freezer is a modern convenience the pioneers would have been thrilled about that we can make the most of!

Next question – is it something they would have found in their stores?  Yes, there was sugar, but it was used sparingly!  I’ll never forget the activity done for a ward Pioneer Day where we used authentic pioneer recipes.  The one for a Johnny Cake called for so little sugar that we could not even taste it!  We upped the amount required to make it palatable for today’s tastes, which was a revelation in and of itself. (If you’re in doubt about this one, even the cookbooks of 50 years ago call for much less sugar, yet yield a larger number of servings for cookies and cakes.) 

Then, of course, the scriptures always have the answers!  How about Proverbs 17:28: “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted as wise, and he that shutteth her lips is esteemed a man of understanding.” 

We can pray to be wise instead of foolish, then, with a pleasant smile and closed lips instead of excuses, have the wisdom to live the cycle of the Word of Wisdom and in turn be blessed by it, to further increase both our personal power, physical strength and spiritual maturity.

Yes indeed, the wisdom and strength to live the Word of Wisdom is found in living the Word of Wisdom itself.

Once again, here is the link to the article, “Are Latter-day Saints Getting Fatter?“.

Today’s Empowerment :  “The Word of Wisdom is for me!  As close to nature as possible’ is how I choose what I eat.

Today’s Recipe:
  Jamileh’s Cucumber and Yogurt Lunch
(4 servings @ 76 Calories)

A roommate who had joined the church in Iran , truly a pioneer there, fixed the most wonderful yogurt dishes.  She’d serve them in tall chilled ice cream dishes with fresh parsley. I’ve never forgotten her, or her cooking. I hope you’ll enjoy this. 

Make sure you leave time for the flavors to blend in the refrigerator before serving.

Cucumbers and Tomatoes in Yogurt
(6servings @ 76 calories)


  • 2 medium cucumbers
  • 2 green onions (with tops), chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. snipped cilantro or parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • Dash of freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup plain yogurt


Cut cucumbers lengthwise into halves.  Scoop out seeds and discard. Chop cucumbers. Mix cucumbers with green onions and salt; let stand 10 minutes. Add tomatoes.  Mix in remaining ingredients, except yogurt.  Cover and refrigerate at least one hour. Drain thoroughly and fold in yogurt just before serving.

2 g Dietary Fiber, 76 Calories, 0 g Fat