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.

Despite the fact that fad diets do not work for healthy, permanent weight loss and the Word of Wisdom does, the Word of Wisdom way to weight loss will never be widely popular. Fad diets will always have more fans because they have more flash:

  • Quick!
  • Easy!
  • Painless!
  • No long-term sacrifice!

These benefits are so enticing that even the fact that these diets do not work is not enough to discourage people from embracing them. The Word of Wisdom way to weight loss has only one real advantage—it actually produces the type of benefits most people want:

  1. Get down to a healthy weight and STAY there.
  2. Optimize your physical health and well-being.
  3. Spend less
  4. Eat delicious food and never go hungry.

What’s the catch? The catch is we need to do it the Lord’s way. Think about the way God works. Do any of these enticing adjectives come to mind?

  • Quick!
  • Easy!
  • Painless!
  • No long-term sacrifice!

There may be those who harbor a hope that God works in these ways, but faithful disciples know better. God’s path is not “easy” in the worldly sense. God’s ways are never a “one-time quick fix.” God is not interested in quick fixes, because He wants us for the long haul. His plan is to help us with a complete overhaul, so we can be prepared to live with Him for eternity.

God’s Ways Versus Satan’s Ways

From a worldly perspective, God’s ways are simply NOT enticing! They don’t “sound fun.” They can, in fact, sound downright hard. We all know that voice we sometimes hear that tells us, “Don’t do that. That isn’t any fun. You deserve better!” Let’s remember whose voice that is.


Part of the struggle for us as Latter-day Saints may be that food is our last refuge. While some of us still struggle with things that are forbidden, because they are “forbidden,” most of us don’t struggle with alcohol or tobacco. We don’t gamble. We don’t engage in sex outside of marriage. We shun all pornography. These “pleasures” are the ways people numb themselves when life gets hard. What do we covenant-keeping Saints have to comfort us? Well, we have food: candy, cookies, cupcakes, chips, donuts, ice cream, pie, rich meaty dishes, cream-covered casseroles, pizza thick with cheese, hamburgers, French fries, soda, and the list goes on and on. Of course, used sparingly, these foods may not seriously harm us, but then, they are not used sparingly by most people.

Unlike alcohol, tobacco, extramarital sex, or pornography, there is no “commandment” telling us we can’t enjoy the world’s foods to our heart’s content, even to the point of causing great physical and emotional damage to ourselves. There is only a still, small voice: the Lord’s counsel in D&C 89 and the whisperings of the Spirit in our hearts. This voice is so soft we’ll never hear it unless we want to.

The Paradox of the Lord’s Way

Is the Lord’s way hard? Paradoxically the Lord tells us:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 30:28–30)

Have you experienced this? Have you ever taken the yoke of the Lord’s counsel on yourself and found that with His help it is light? Is Satan’s way really ever easier? Does it bring any long-term joy, peace, or satisfaction? Or is Satan’s way really just a mess of pottage?

When it comes to food and health, is it any easier to struggle with weight than it is to stop eating in a way that is weighing us down? Is it any easier to experience chronic disease? To have no energy? To feel down on ourselves because we are not in the shape we want to be? These are some of the burdens of the easy, fun, yummy Standard American Diet—which truly is SAD.

Come unto Me, All Ye That Labor and Are Heavy Laden, and I Will Give You Rest 

Are you heavy laden with pounds on your body that sap your energy, diminish your self-esteem, and make daily living a burden? If you are, you are in good company. Please don’t be hard on yourself! The fact is, the foe we are facing is gargantuan. And this is exactly why we need the Lord’s counsel.

The food environment here in America (and increasingly around the world) is almost impossible for the average mortal to cope with. Some of our ancestors spent their entire lives in a never-ending pursuit of getting enough food. We have their genes, and yet we live in an environment with an endless supply of delicious, highly addictive, cheap, convenient, ready-to-eat food. On top of that, most of us have lives that allow us to eat at the same time we are doing whatever else we are doing nearly all day long. This is a recipe for disaster.

In this food environment, failure to maintain a healthy weight is almost guaranteed, and a nation where two-thirds of us are overweight or obese is an almost inevitable consequence. Breaking free from the grip of unhealthy, addictive foods would be freedom. So would losing all excess weight and regaining our health. Isn’t the “rest” the Lord speaks of exactly what we all need?

Take My Yoke upon You, and Learn of Me

The Word of Wisdom is the Lord’s way to weight loss and health gains. If you desire the benefits of a Word of Wisdom diet and are willing to take this yoke on yourself, I believe your quest for an answer has come to an end. It has been my experience that people who fully embrace a Word of Wisdom diet experience all these benefits and more:

  1. Get down to a healthy weight and STAY there.

People on a whole food, plant-based Word of Wisdom diet tend to get down to the weight the were around the time they graduated from high school and then stay at that weight. That was my story as well, after I lost 25 pounds in the first 7 months eating this way. Carol Wolf lost 163 pounds. Everyone who posts a story to my website describes losing excess weight and feeling so much better because of it.

Of course, this diet doesn’t work only for Mormons! There are many others following the dietary principles of the Word of Wisdom and reaping the health benefits. Just check out the before and after photos on the Fork Over Knives website.

  1. Optimize your physical health and well-being.

Before embracing the Word of Wisdom, I felt pretty healthy. But after changing my diet, all of the irritating small health issues I had disappeared, and I realized they were but warning signs of worse to come. On my website, you can read the stories of those who found permanent relief from allergies, cancer, high cholesterol, diabetes, endometriosis, food addiction, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), heart disease, stomach problems, and MUCH more!

Again, non-LDS people on this same diet are also experiencing dramatic changes to their health. Read the stories on the Fork Over Knives website or check out the stories on Dr. McDougall’s website.

  1. Spend less money.

We could pretty much guess that the Lord’s way of eating is not going to cost us a lot of money. In fact, God ordained grains, the cheapest source of calories on the planet, to be the “staff of life” (D&C 89:14). Not only are they cheap, whole grains are also a much healthier source of calories than other calorically dense foods, like animals foods, processed foods, or junk foods. A Word of Wisdom diet can definitely help any family easily cut down their food bill. And food storage is also easier and less expensive.

  1. Eat delicious food and never go hungry.

God intends for us to thoroughly enjoy our food. A Word of Wisdom diet is definitely NOT a diet of deprivation. People eating the Word of Wisdom way LOVE their food and derive tremendous pleasure and satisfaction from it. The Lord’s wholesome foods are both healthy and delicious. Here are a few testimonials the Discovering the Word of Wisdom website:

  • “After the first week or so, these foods started to taste delicious. Flavors seemed stronger. . . . I’ve found some wonderful recipes, and it’s been so much fun trying them out.” — Laura Bridgewater
  • “We couldn’t believe how delicious our meals were! Our food tasted better than it ever had.” — Robyn Rowley
  • “I discovered that whole plant foods taste great! I love that you can take just about any combination of fresh plant foods and combine them to make a delicious meal.” — Janet Carter
  • “[Once my husband] really started to enjoy the food . . . he started saying things like, ‘Wow, this is really great. I really like this one.’ Now, he likes almost every meal I make and wishes that restaurants cooked food like I make!” — Parie Drechsel

My Yoke Is Easy, and My Burden Is Light

As it is with heeding any of the Lord’s counsel, the Word of Wisdom way to weight loss is a path to joy and freedom. Compared to the world’s ways, it is easy and light! I can bear testimony of this. Ever since the Lord led me to this diet three years ago, the light and joy it has brought into my life is indescribable. Of course it feels wonderful to not be carrying around extra weight. Of course I love how every health issue I had completely disappeared. But it is much more than that: it has given me a spiritual peace and joy that I now realize is one of the hidden treasures the results from embracing the Word of Wisdom.

I’m not alone. This is a blessing of which every Latter-day Saint who embraces a Word of Wisdom diet can bear witness. Here are a few testimonials:

  • “As I changed what I put into my body, I could feel my spirit changing too. . . .I gained a clarity of mind that quickly leaves when I don’t pay heed to what I eat.” — Charity Lighten
  • “Not only do I function better mentally, I am able to feel more of the Spirit as I study the gospel, and have been amazed at how the scriptures and the gospel are open to my understanding.” — Winona Davies
  • “The spiritual blessings of the Word of Wisdom are near and dear to my heart . . .the blessings just flow. Your heart is opened and softened. Anger that used to be there is not there any longer.” — Janae Wise
  • “Not only do I feel better physically and mentally, I feel closer to the spirit. I am more sensitive to promptings and to the feelings of others. I feel a reverence for nature that I haven’t experienced before.” Ann Marie Yates
  • “I’ve reclaimed my connection with God and his Son. I understand the Atonement now. That is how huge the Word of Wisdom is to me.” — Janet Carter

Join me in a Word of Wisdom Health Challenge Beginning January 1, 2015

Are you willing to take this yoke on yourself and experience the light and joy of the Word of Wisdom way to weight loss? Plan to join me in a health challenge beginning the first day of the new year. You will set your own goals. Prepare now by prayerfully studying D&C 89 and asking the Lord to help you decide on your personal goals for the health challenge.

If you’d find a support group helpful, you can sign up on Facebook: Word of Wisdom Health Challenge

To prepare, start now to find some recipes that you like: WFPB Recipes. If you want to start right away, here are some tips: Getting Started.

Next Time in “Discovering the Word of Wisdom”

Next week I’ll continue discussing the Word of Wisdom way to weight loss with an overview of the key weight loss principles.

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.