This article is part of a series on Discovering the Word of Wisdom. To view all the articles in this series, see Featured Author Jane Birch.

I’ve been addressing some of the discouraging thoughts that can dissuade us from trying a Word of Wisdom diet. Below, I’ve linked to the four topics I’ve already discussed:

  • Taste: These foods won’t be yummy, and I’ll be unhappy.
  • Convenience: It takes too much time to prepare healthy foods.
  • Nutrition: A whole food, plant-based diet will be deficient in vital nutrients.
  • Social Pressure: No one else eats this way, so this will be too hard or awkward.
  • Comfort: I love my current diet and can’t imagine life without the foods I love best.
  • Procrastination: Great idea, but I need to wait until I have time or energy to do this.

In this article, I’ll address the question that springs to most people’s minds when they think about eating a healthier diet: Will I have to give up foods I love?

The Costs and Benefits of Eating the Word of Wisdom Way

We all love food. Most of us do not want to give up the foods we love even if we know they are not good for us. But what happens when one or more of the following occurs?

  • We are ill and realize we can enjoy much better health on a better diet.
  • Our family tree is full of people with chronic disease, and we don’t want to end up like them.
  • We need to lose weight, and we want to keep it off this time.
  • We are tired of feeling sluggish, moody, or having no energy.
  • We become convinced of the importance of our body temple.
  • We believe the Lord would be pleased if we ate a healthier diet.

When these things happen, we have to weigh the costs and benefits of changing our diet.

The costs of eating a Word of Wisdom diet

  • We have to learn new ways of doing things.
  • We have to give up some of the foods we really love.
  • The new foods may not taste as good . . . at first.
  • The new foods may take longer to prepare . . . at first.
  • It can be very inconvenient to eat differently than other people.
  • Some people may get upset if we change our diet.

The benefits of eating a Word of Wisdom diet

  • The new foods taste wonderful…once your taste buds adjust, and you experience:
  • Dramatically better health
  • Protection against many serious diseases
  • A healthy weight
  • Much lower food bills and dramatically lower medical costs
  • More energy and mental clarity
  • Great spiritual blessings
  • Confidence that your diet is pleasing to the Lord

Health in the navel, marrow in the bones; wisdom and great treasures of knowledge; run and not be weary, walk and not faint; and the destroying angel shall pass you by and not slay you. (D&C 89:18–21)

Both the costs and benefits are very real, so, when it gets right down to it, each of us has to decide whether the benefits outweigh the costs. Would you rather eat delicious unhealthy foods and risk all the costs that go with them? Or would you rather make the difficult changes to eat delicious healthy foods and enjoy the blessings that go with them?

I’m confident God loves us the same whatever we choose. I don’t believe eating a nutritionally poor diet will prevent us from reaching the Celestial Kingdom. I know that whatever choices we make in life, God can use the lessons we learn to bless us.

Here is our choice:

  • We can eat a healthy diet and enjoy the precious blessing from the physical and spiritual benefits that inevitably follow, OR
  • We can eat a poor diet and learn precious lessons from the challenges that inevitably follow. (And our loved ones can learn precious things while helping us bear the burden of those challenges.)

As we can see: It’s all good! No matter what we choose, we can experience precious blessings!

Which blessings do you prefer?

God’s Wholesome Foods are Delicious!

In this society, we are so used to foods rich in meat, cheese, fat, sugar, and salt that we have lost touch with the delicious natural flavors found in the wholesome foods God created for us. Here are typical testimonials from average people who are eating only the wholesome foods:

  • “The food is delicious. I’ve tried all sorts of new foods and recipes and learned lots of new things.”
  • “It has been fun, easy, and liberating. I love the food. I haven’t been sick one day since starting.”
  • “I LOVE the food I eat and I weigh less than I did in high school . . . [this is the] first time in my entire life I have not wanted to be thinner.”
  • “It is so cool just how quickly real food tastes so good!!! Being off sugar for just a couple days makes a huge difference, and not just with fruits, but the flavors of all foods are enhanced by having a clean palette.”
  • “When I started this diet, the food tasted bland. Now it is delicious.”
  • “I LOVE the food we eat! Everything tastes so delicious to me. And also, I LOVE how I feel now!”
  • “You get to a place where the food tastes great and you don’t need the high calorie density treats.”
  • “I love this diet plan because I don’t ever have to count, measure, or deny myself anything. . . . the food is delicious, filling, and nourishing.”
  • “I love the food I cook, and I love the fact that my grocery bill each week is as low as it is now.”
  • “After awhile of eating well our tastes change and we very much enjoy healthy food. I’ve experienced longing for my oats and broccoli so I know this to be true.”
  • “I love the food, I love the fact that I never have to restrict calories, and most of all, I love the simplicity.”
  • “I LOVE THIS FOOD!!! What a pleasant surprise it was to find out my taste buds would change and I would find this food to be even more delicious than the old SAD food. I had no idea this would happen! I didn’t know a plain ole’ orange would be soooo delicious . . . or a potato . . . or corn!!!”
  • “I love what I eat, never starve myself and do not eat anything that doesn’t taste good to me.”

While it may take a bit of time to fully appreciate the new flavors, the effort is well worth it. I know the Lord is pleased when we delight in the foods that He created that are also good for our bodies.

This is Not Forever!

While people eating the Word of Wisdom way testify that the foods taste great and that, in general, they do not miss their former unhealthy foods, what if, by chance, your experience is different? What if you switch to a healthier diet and even after giving it a few months you are still not enjoying the food as much as before? What if you are losing weight and feeling better and the food is OK, but you don’t love your food as much as you used to? How big of a challenge would that be to you?

Consider how long this mortal life is compared to the rest of eternity. If we don’t enjoy the foods here as much as we possibly can, how much are we really sacrificing? We have many accounts of people in the Spirit World enjoying what they tell us are MUCH more delicious foods than in this world. Apparently, after this world, the food is MUCH better, and I assume we’ll be able to eat that food FOREVER. FOREVER is an awfully long time! So, what if you ate “less yummy foods” for the 20, 40, or 80 years of life you have left? Would that be all that tragic?

We waited billions of years to receive the physical bodies we have now and to have this mortal experience. This is a special time in our eternal lives, a time of probation, a time of testing. We need all the help we can get from our Heavenly Father, including all the physical and spiritual blessings that come from eating a healthy diet. During this precious, extremely short time of mortality, are not the blessings of eating a diet pleasing to our Father and healthful to our mortal bodies so much more precious than the temporary pleasure we get from some foods, no matter how delicious?

One of the things I thought about when I changed my diet (and still think about today) is this: for most of my life I thoroughly enjoyed all the delicious foods the world had to offer. But now I would rather enjoy different foods and much better health for the rest of my life.

What about you? Each of us gets to choose what we prefer. Are the temporary pleasures of eating unhealthy foods really worth more to you than the physical and spiritual blessings you could receive by giving them up? If so, I’m serious in saying: enjoy the foods!

This is Doable!

No one wants to give up foods they love, but some of us decide the benefits are so worth the costs. While it may not be easy, at first, it is certainly doable! In fact, the Lord tells us it is doable in the introduction of the Word of Wisdom, where He states that this beautiful revelation is:

Given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints. (D&C 89:3)

God adapted this healthy diet for His Saints, including the weakest among us. I think that includes all of us. Let’s show our trust in the Lord by embracing His counsel in faith.

Ready to try the Word of Wisdom way? See Getting Started.

Next Time in “Discovering the Word of Wisdom”

I suspect if you have read this far in this article, you might be persuaded by some of what I have written. I hope so! But beyond being persuaded, are you ready to give it a go? Or are you thinking, “This is a great idea, but I need to wait until I have time or energy to do this.” If so, the article next week is written especially for you!

Jane Birch is the author of Discovering the Word of Wisdom: Surprising Insights from a Whole Food, Plant-based Perspective (2013) and many articles on the Word of Wisdom. She can be contacted on her website, Discovering the Word of Wisdom.