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.
There are hundreds if not thousands of diets for weight loss to choose from, but there is only one diet revealed by God to His Saints for the last days, the only diet found in modern-day scripture. In the last four articles, I’ve been exploring the Word of Wisdom way to weight loss by emphasizing three key principles:
- Focus on low calorie dense whole plant foods.
- Abstain from foods that trigger cravings.
- Rely wholly on the Lord.
Meals on this diet can still be fancy and elaborate! They can also be as simple as:
- oatmeal with bananas and blueberries
- brown rice, pinto beans, and veggies in a tortilla with salsa
- baked potato with veggies and enchilada sauce
- sweet potato and corn with a black bean sauce
Whether fancy or simple, if everyone ate this way, we would not have the weight problem that we do. But we know it is not that easy for most people. This brings us to the third principle in the Word of Wisdom way to weight loss: rely wholly on the Lord.
Obstacles to Embracing the Word of Wisdom
As we know, there is opposition in all things, and Satan is very invested in our eating an unwholesome diet. He knows that eating an unhealthy diet can result in:
- lack of energy
- brain fog
- weight gain and obesity
- lack of self-control
- low self-esteem
- chronic disease
- loss of spiritual sensitivity
Satan is doing all he can to prevent us from embracing the Word of Wisdom, and so we should not be surprised that there are plenty of obstacles. Here are the main challenges:
- 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.
Do any of these sound familiar? It is clear Satan is doing a very good job!
Rely Wholly on the Lord
In the face of the obstacles to adopting a healthy diet, the third principle of the Word of Wisdom way to weight loss is critical. To overcome these challenges, we need to have faith that the Lord’s way is the best way and that with His help, we can follow His counsel. In short, we need to “rely wholly on the Lord.” Here is the scripture that I think best expresses this principle:
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)
To rely wholly on the Lord is to trust in Him completely, to know that His counsel is the best for us, even if it does not appear wise to our own understanding. We know this objectively, but we tend to have trouble applying it in practice. Here are some of the doubts we might have as we lean unto our “own understanding” instead of faithfully trusting the Lord’s counsel in D&C 89:
- It may have been fine for the Saints in Joseph Smith’s day, but things are different now.
- It is not clear what it is saying.
- It doesn’t mean what it seems to mean because . . .
- We only have to obey the prohibitions and abstain from alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and tea.
- None of the Mormons I know do this.
- This is too hard.
This way of thinking has led to a Church full of people who are overweight and experiencing serious chronic diseases, much of which might have been prevented by trusting in the word of the Lord.
In this article, I’ll briefly address the main obstacles to embracing a Word of Wisdom diet and ask how trusting in the Lord can help us to overcome each one. In future articles, I will go more in depth as to how we can overcome each obstacle with faith in the Lord.
Taste: These foods won’t be yummy, and I’ll be unhappy.
The first reaction many people have to a Word of Wisdom diet is: boring!! But would our God really recommend a diet of foods that are tasteless and boring? That is not the God we worship! He delights in our enjoyment of the food He has created for us.
Can we trust in the Lord that He does not want us to suffer by eating boring, tasteless foods? Can we trust that by following His food plan, our tastes can change, and we will enjoy the foods He has created for our health and well being? Let us not lean unto our own understanding and refuse to believe we can enjoy the Lord’s wholesome foods!
Read more here: “Figuring Out What to Eat”
Convenience: It takes too much time to prepare healthy foods.
We live in a world where we expect things to be QUICK and CONVENIENT! There is no doubt but that eating the Word of Wisdom way takes more time, especially at first. Does that mean the Lord’s food plan is not of value in a fast-paced world, or might that mean we need to re-evaluate our priorities?
What might it mean to trust in the Lord’s way in terms of our time and convenience? Does not our time belong to the Lord? If He would like us to spend more of it chopping vegetables, is this not His prerogative? Could we not find joy in doing that? Might the time we save by regaining our health more than make-up for any extra time in the kitchen?
Read more here: “WFPB Made Easy”
Nutrition: A whole food, plant-based diet will be deficient in vital nutrients.
We are constantly bombarded by media messages telling us we need plenty of animal foods for protein, iron, calcium, “healthy fats,” and so on. The food industry tries to convince us that it is OK that they’ve stripped most of the nutrients out of the food because they have “fortified” them with others. Despite the fact that a wholesome plant-based diet is not only nutritionally sufficient but nutritionally superior, we also hear threatening warnings about the so-called risks of a plant-based diet.
Would the Lord recommend a diet to us that is insufficient for our nutrition? Did He not make our bodies, and does He not know exactly what we should eat for our well being? What would it mean to trust in the Lord’s advice, even if it contradicts the commercials on TV, on-line blogs, and even some of the voices in the USDA?
Read more here: “Where Do You Get Your Protein?”
Social Pressure: No one else eats this way, so this will be too hard or awkward.
If you eat the Word of Wisdom way, you’ll definitely be eating a diet that is quite a bit different from other people. We Mormons already stand out in social situations because we don’t use alcohol, coffee, or tea. This sets us apart, and it can be uncomfortable, both for us and for others. Others may feel judged. They may even get angry. Why would the Lord recommend a diet that might do this? For that reason, why would He ask us to abstain from the alcohol, coffee, and tea that everyone else is using to socialize? Does He not realize that this might cut us off from some social opportunities and make us and others feel awkward?
What might it mean to trust in the Lord in this area? How might His wisdom turn out to be a greater blessing for us and for those we associate with? How might He help us to eat differently and still get along well with those we love and spend time with?
Read more here: “Dealing with Other People”
Comfort: I love my current diet and can’t imagine life without the foods I love best.
Many people find comfort in the foods they eat and can’t bear the thought of giving them up, even if they are damaging their bodies. Of course, in a similar way, people find comfort in tobacco, alcohol, drugs, and any number of addictions. Addicts can’t imagine life without them, but we all know what a trap that is! Food addiction is no different.
The challenge here is not our understanding of this principle, but our implementation of it. Perhaps more than any other obstacle I’m addressing, this is the one where we truly need to “rely wholly on the Lord.” Most people cannot overcome addiction on their own. What role does trusting in God play in overcoming addictions? What does it mean to put our faith in Him rather than relying on substances to comfort us or mask our emotional struggles? What might it mean to rely wholly on the Lord?
Procrastination: Great idea, but I need to wait until I have time or energy to do this.
I suspect most of my readers are already convinced that the Word of Wisdom is the way to go in terms of diets. I also suspect that many readers hope to do this “in the future” sometime. Of course, by procrastinating action, we are postponing blessings. The longer we eat the standard American diet, the harder it can be to change, especially because this diet creates health issues that make changing one’s diet all the more difficult.
What might it mean to trust in the Lord and take the plunge? What might it mean to rely wholly on the Lord and embrace His counsel now, rather than in some distant future? It may not mean going 100% today, but might it mean making definite plans to get there in the coming weeks?
We Can Rely Wholly on the Lord
I testify that the Lord provided us the greatest diet in the world in D&C 89, the Word of Wisdom. It is specifically designed for our day and provides answers to the very challenges we are facing! With the Lord’s food plan:
- The food is delicious.
- Food preparation is manageable.
- You’ll get more nutrition than you’ve ever gotten from a diet.
- Your friends and family will be blessed.
- You’ll find greater peace in foods that do not enslave you.
- You’ll gain confidence by ending procrastination.
- You’ll lose weight and feel great!
The Word of Wisdom way to weight loss is not necessarily an “easy” or “quick fix,” but it works. And you don’t need to believe my promises. God explicitly tells us that the Word of Wisdom itself is a “principle with promise” (vs. 3). Open to D&C 89:18–21. Read the Lord’s promises, and then remember: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).
Ready to give this a try? See “Getting Started.” For more on weight loss, see:
Next Time in “Discovering the Word of Wisdom”
Next time I’ll explore the challenge of “taste” more in depth. Why might a whole food, plant-based diet sound tasteless and why is this thinking wrong?
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.