First of all, thank you for your time. There are billions of websites competing for your time, and I am honored that you chose to take a moment and share this journey with me.
Since my last post, I gave birth to a happy, healthy little boy. Our family grew from 3 to 4 children, and I have been busier than I could have ever imagined…doing what exactly, I am still not sure, but each day is filled to overflowing.
My passion for food and nourishing our body and soul through food have not changed; if anything it has grown stronger. I created this blog to help busy families cook healthy food from real, budget friendly ingredients. I had to take a break from posting because I was so sick during my pregnancy and too exhausted after giving birth to consider doing one more thing. Over the past year and a half I have learned more about nutrition and myself. After much thought, I decided that it was time to share my personal story and relationship with food with you. The following story is very personal to me, and I don’t often open up about my struggles, but I want to be honest and show that I am not perfect (nor ever will be). Like you, I am doing the best I can with the knowledge I have. When I learn more, I do better. I am excited to share what I have learned with you and continue my mission of helping busy people feed their families healthy food on a budget. I hope that sharing my story will be helpful to you in some small way.
My personal story of how I found healing through food started in 9th grade. I was diagnosed with PCOS and Insulin Resistance. I was overweight and had little self esteem. I felt very alone as I didn’t have many friends. It was one of the lowest times in my life. After I was diagnosed I was prescribed Metformin and changed to a low carb diet. The weight fell off quite quickly, and by the time I was a junior in high school I was at a healthy weight and looking and feeling great about myself. I learned that what I eat can profoundly affect my health. In college I continued to cook what I thought were healthy meals until I got married in 2006. Busy with school, work, and my new role as a wife I admit that our meals were not the healthiest. The weight crept back on. Then, in May of 2008 I found out that I was expecting our first child. I was overjoyed, but I was miserable with morning sickness. Cooking was out of the question, and I relied on high calorie processed heat and eat meals. By the time I gave birth to our beautiful daughter I was back to the weight I was when I was in 9th grade. I was embarrassed and ashamed. I vowed to never let my weight get away from me like that again. Over the past 9 years I have been more careful with my diet. Mostly, I watched my sugar and carb intake. This was the way my mother ate, and I learned to prefer “sugar free” things from her.
Over the years there were several times when my thoughts about food and weight became obsessive, and I struggled with anorexia. After my third child was born a friend started a Facebook group challenge to cut out processed food. I jumped on board with that, started to eat more fruits and vegetables, and switched from cow’s milk to almond milk. That started a slow descent into another bout of obsession and anorexia. My weight dropped to 102 pounds. My periods (which were few in number to begin with due to PCOS) became non-existent. I was losing hair, and my skin took forever to heal. I still have scars on my legs from simple scrapes. At the same time I felt that the Lord had another child waiting for our family. Since I couldn’t get pregnant on my own, I did what I had done with my second and third babies and started taking Clomid. Other than becoming hormonal and cranky, the medicine did nothing for me. I was devastated. After trying for more than a year to get pregnant I resigned myself to the fact that I would be a mother of 3 and not 4. Then, in December 2016 I had a terrible pain in my back. I had herniated a disc in college when I worked at the bookstore, and I thought that I was having a flare up from that. It turns out that I had ovulated. A few weeks later I had some tell tale signs of pregnancy, and I took a test, actually 3 tests just to make sure, and to my surprise, I was pregnant!
The pregnancy was a blessing in many ways. At the beginning I was so sick with morning sickness that all I could do was lie on the floor and doze off and on while trying to keep my toddler entertained. My obsessive thoughts about food and calorie restriction took a backseat to my all consuming nausea. I was hungry all of the time and gave myself permission to eat because I knew that my body needed fuel to grow this baby. Becoming pregnant broke the most recent cycle of anorexia, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the mental relief.
I gave birth to our little Noah in August 2017. He has been a joy, and I have loved giving him as many snuggles as I possibly can. To my satisfaction, I also gained the least amount of weight during that pregnancy as I had my other pregnancies because I mostly ate nutritious food. I wasn’t too worried about losing the baby weight because I had done it 3 times before. This time, though, I didn’t want to descend back into my spiral of obsessive thoughts and calorie counting.
I longed to find a solution to my health challenges and make peace with how I nourish my body. I turned to prayer. I believe that God hears and answers our prayers, no matter what we are praying about. God wants to share His wisdom with us. How many scriptures teach “Ask and ye shall receive. Knock, and it shall be opened unto you?”
I remembered that the Lord has given us a code of health to live by. It is called the Word of Wisdom and was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Along with things that we are admonished to avoid (tobacco, recreational drugs, tea, coffee, and alcohol), the Lord prescribes good things for our bodies:
“Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.
Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;
And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.
All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth;
And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.
All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground—
Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.” (D&C 89:11-17).
I read and reread those lines over and over until I have come to a better understanding of what the Lord is saying: our bodies do best when we feed it whole plant based foods. I also read articles from General Authorities about the Word of Wisdom. About the same time I read a book by T. Colin Campbell called, “The China Study.” I was fascinated with the depth and breadth of research in that book citing the detrimental effects of increased meat and dairy consumption on our bodies. Then I read “How Not to Die” by Dr. Greger. Again, the amount of research that affirms what Dr. Campbell found was astounding. Basically, our standard American diet is killing us. The top 12 causes of death can all be linked to our consumption of meat, dairy, and saturated fat. All of the evidence that eating a more whole food plant based diet can prevent and even reverse some of the most common diseases known to us was hard to ignore, and the evidence supports what the Word of Wisdom has been teaching for over 185 years!
Since February I have been following a mostly whole food plant based diet. I have been hesitant to share my thoughts and feelings about my lifestyle change because some might think I have gone to an extreme, but I don’t feel good about keeping the blessings that have come to me because of my choice to eat a whole food plant based diet to myself. Whenever the Lord gives us a commandment, He also gives us specific blessings when we obey. The blessings of obeying the Word of Wisdom are these:
“And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shallreceive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;
And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;
And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.
And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them.”
I have experienced many of these blessings by following a Whole Food Plant Based diet. My body feels so much better. I have energy and my mood has definitely improved. My cystic acne has also improved, and I have lost all of the weight that I gained during pregnancy. I believe that I will more fully realize the Lord’s promised blessings as I continue to follow the counsel in the Word of Wisdom.
Has it been easy? Not always…I often have to cook separate things for me than for my family because they still want meat and dairy. At times it can feel a little lonely. Our culture revolves around food, and most of it is unhealthy junk! It can be difficult to find food to eat at restaurants when I travel, but I don’t have a desire to go back to the way I was eating before. My tastes have changed, and I love the taste of fresh fruits and vegetables! All the sugary, fatty, meaty food has for the most part lost its appeal, but eating is also influenced by our culture, and sometimes I find myself wanting to “celebrate” by eating something that I know would not make me feel good afterward just because that is what we do when we “celebrate.”
Being “Vegan” or eliminating animal products from our diet is becoming more acceptable, but it can still be viewed as going to an extreme. I don’t really see it that way. What is extreme to me is neglecting the beautiful body that the Lord gave me and abusing it by what I feed it. If I can avoid diabetes (which I am predisposed to now that I have had Insulin Resistance and PCOS), heart disease, high cholesterol, chronic headaches, cancer, and depression (all of which plague one family member or another), why wouldn’t I do everything in my power to do so? I also abhor the thought of having to spend money on medicine instead of something that I would enjoy a lot more-traveling and making memories with my family.
So, with my newfound energy, the passion that I have always had for cooking and showing love through feeding others, and my love for teaching and sharing knowledge with others, I am resuming this blog. I hope that you will find helpful recipes and tips for wherever you are on your journey of health and happiness.