Several years ago, I brought one of my children into the doctor for a check-up. The doctor remarked that compared to the weight chart, she was thin. He then asked me what we ate regularly. I responded that we ate fruits, vegetables, grains, pasta, dairy, and some meat. He asked me how often we ate fast food. I told him we didn’t ever go to McDonald’s and very rarely ate in restaurants. I also told him we didn’t eat many fried foods, but preferred to bake or broil our meats. He stared at me and asked, “Are you serious? That’s really how you eat?” He just shook his head, looking amazed. I did take the opportunity to give him a quick explanation of the Word of Wisdom.
Sometimes we’re so focused on what the Word of Wisdom prohibits, we forget what it promotes. Good health isn’t only obtained by avoiding alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and caffeine, it comes from feeding our bodies healthy food.
“And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God has ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man—Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving” (D&C 89:10-11).
We are also taught that the “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” (D&C 89:12-13). I have heard some people teach in the Church that we should be vegetarians. While everyone has the right to choose what he or she will eat, the Word of Wisdom does not prohibit meat and as long as we eat it sparingly, it is acceptable.
What does it mean to eat meat sparingly? Back in the early days of the Church, the Saints consumed quite a bit of meat, so sparingly may have had a different meaning. Today, if we will pray to understand the Word of Wisdom as well as how to use meat sparingly, the Spirit will guide us to consume that which is good for us.
“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” (D&C 89:16). We should be partaking of grains, especially wheat, and fruits and vegetables. Since I grew up in California, fruits and vegetables were plentiful year round. I can remember avocados the size of grapefruits, kumquats, and citrus fruits that grew in our backyard. My grandfather grew tomatoes in a small planter behind the garage and whenever we needed a tomato, we picked one. We also had a mandarin orange tree that bore fruit in December. After I got married, my family would visit my grandparents for Christmas and one of the highlights was eating as many mandarin oranges as we could.
To realize good health, we need to not only avoid substances that are harmful, we need to partake of that which will strengthen and nourish our bodies. The more we adhere to the Word of Wisdom, the healthier our bodies can be. It is certainly not a guarantee that we will never experience health problems, but we can avoid unnecessary health concerns if we keep the Word of Wisdom.
Next, I’ll discuss the promises contained in the Word of Wisdom. Stay tuned . . .
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