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Eating with wisdom: Author, blogger put Word of Wisdom into action

By Kevin Whitmer

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, March 15 2011 3:49 p.m. MDT

Pad Thai

Michelle Snow

From gluten free and vegan to lacto-vegitarian and macrobiotic — there seems to be a different option to fit every lifestyle and possible to solve every problem.

While there is no "one-size-fits-all" diet, many religions have dietary perscriptions for their members. For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it's the Word of Wisdom found in Doctrine and Covenants 89.

The Word of Wisdom consists of seven base dietary rules: Avoid alcoholic beverages; avoid the use of tobacco; avoid hot drinks (understood to mean tea and coffee); eat all herbs (understood to mean vegetables) in their season; eat all fruits in their season; eat meat sparingly; eat grains, especially wheat.

An author and a blogger have developed diets and recipes around the Word of Wisdom.

Skip Hellewell, author of wordofwisdomliving.com, points out, "There is a natural link between religion and diet. Spiritual health — the first concern of religion — is linked to physical health, and physical health is most influenced by diet."

Michelle Snow, author of "The W.O.W. Diet" (published by Cedar Fort), says there are obvious advantages to eating better: Losing weight, having more energy and your body having everything that it needs to function properly. But there are things that are often forgotten about eating well like thinking clearer, focusing better and processing information quicker. People naturally have more energy, which helps when supplementing your daily intake with exercise. It's a perpetual healthy cycle. When a person exercises, he or she often wants to eat better, and when a person eats better, they often want to exercise more.

"One of the greatest and unexpected results to tuning my diet (more toward the Word of Wisdom) was mental clarity," Snow said. "Overall, I just felt better. My senses felt so much sharper. Colors were more vibrant, flavors were more distinct. I felt more vibrant, more alive. It was like I wasn't living life to the fullest and didn't even know it. It felt like coming out of a fog."

She then laughed and added, "It even helped my relationship with my husband. We don't argue as much."

Rich in proteins and fats, the average American diet varies greatly from the concepts contained in the Word of Wisdom. In general, fruits, vegetables and grains are passed over in favor of another steak or more chicken strips.

"In the vegetable wars we’ve each made our separate peace," Hellewell writes. "We listen to the food nannies carry on about five daily servings of vegetables and nod our heads in agreement. Then we eat French fries. (We eat less than two daily servings of vegetables, excluding French fries and ketchup)."

"When food is processed, there is something that is lost. Even though white flour is often enriched with the nutrients that are lost, it doesnt quite reach its full potential. There is a lot to be said for eating as closely to natural as possible," Snow says.

Hellewell explains that though it is not explicitly written, he believes the spirit of the Word of Wisdom implies people should eat the whole grain, not just the sweet white flour or rice. Bran, germ and starch are all important to the nourishment of our bodies. This becomes much easier with experience and variety. Quinoa, flax, barley and lentils are all whole grains and can offer a wide variety of dishes and tastes to keep meals interesting.

Snow and Hellewell have seen remarkable changes in their lives by attuning themselves with the Word of Wisdom. Similar results can happen to anyone willing to put in the effort. Ultimately, it takes effort to change.

Snow advised, "(People) need to value the outcome more than convenience. They have to have faith that it will work. People have to want to change."

PAD THAI

2 cups cubed chicken breast

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