From gluten-free and vegan to lacto-vegetarian and macrobiotic — there seems to be a different option to fit every lifestyle.
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 doesn't 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."
2 cups cubed chicken breast
3 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
6 cups water
1 (10.75 ounce) package stick rice noodles or rice vermicelli
Por Kwan Pad Thai Sauce
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the chicken breast in oil and garlic. In large sauce pan bring water to a rolling boil. Place noodles in boiling water and cook 5-8 minutes. Drain noodles and rinse with cool water. Gently toss chicken and noodles with just enough pad thai sauce to coat noodles. Transfer noodles to serving platter. Top chopped peanuts and cilantro.
— by Michelle Snow
1-1/4 cup hot water
1/4 cup cracked whole grains
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup dried fruit
1/4 cup fresh berries
1/4 cup chopped apple
1/2 orange, juiced
1 tablespoon freshly ground flaxseed
2 tablespoon chopped nuts
Honey, brown sugar, or maple syrup to taste
Cinnamon, Cardomon, vanilla, or nutmeg to taste
After finishing breakfast, prepare the mixture for the next day by combining the hot water and cracked whole grains — our local whole foods store offers a nine-grain mixture, mostly cracked wheat — in a pan and place it on the back of the stove to soak.
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Bring the pot to a boil, add rolled oats and dried fruit. Turn off the heat and let sit for five minutes. While the oats and dried fruits are cooking, prepare two bowls by adding to each the flaxseed, crumbled nuts, sweetener and spices to taste.
Wash and prepare fruits in season, adding to each bowl the berries, apples and orange juice. Combine all ingredients into the bowls and enjoy.
— Skip Hellewell
Kevin Whitmer is a chef living in West Valley City with his wife and two children. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.