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Word of Wisdom - A Brief Explanation:

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. No surprise then that dietary guidance is given in the first chapter of the Bible. Adam and Eve after being given dominion over fish, fowl, and beasts, are told to make herbs and fruits their "meat". (See Genesis 1:29.)

The Mormon Word of Wisdom, (D&C 89) a canonized scripture, expands upon the counsel given to Adam and Eve, with seven rules - three prohibitions and four prescriptions, or things to do. Here is the simplified version:

  • Avoid strong drinks, meaning alcoholic beverages.
  • Avoid the use of tobacco.
  • Hot drinks, defined as coffee and tea, are also proscribed.
  • Eat "all wholesome herbs" in their season. (Herbs are plants without woody stems, usually annuals, notably vegetables and legumes.)
  • Eat "every fruit in the season thereof".
  • Be sparing in the consumption of meats.
  • Eat whole grains, especially wheat, for they are the staff of life.

The Value of Simple Rules

Nutrition is incredibly complex. The Word of Wisdom could be paraphrased to this brief statement: Eat seasonal plants (grains, vegetables, and fruits) close to how they were created, with a little (pastured) meat. This eliminates the highly processed food-like products of the modern American diet (MAD). So the simple counsel of the Word of Wisdom remains a reliable guide.

For most people, the hardest things are to slash their sugar intake and eat more vegetables. Fruit and grains aren't hard to eat; it isn't even that hard to be sparing with meat. But replacing sugary processed foods with fresh vegetables requires a primal shift in our food culture - and the creative act of cooking.

God's Food vrs. King's Food

The scripture's easy to read but difficult to live as it goes against our prevailing food culture. Mormons are generally compliant with the prohibitions. The phrase "king's food" caused me to think of Old Testament Daniel and his friends who declined to eat the rich king's food in favor of their traditional pulse, a healthy mixture of seeds, grains and legumes. You know the story, how after a trial period they were healthier and smarter than the other students eating the richer royal diet.

The industrial revolution made the "king's food" - unlimited white flour, white sugar, meat, alcohol, etc - available to all. In America even the poorest people can be obese unless they avoid the "king's food" and eat like their ancestors. So to survive, we need the wisdom and inspiration of Daniel.

You have to be a stalwart individual to eat right. God didn't design factory food. Factory food was designed to use the cheapest possible materials, and provide the greatest appeal, even addictiveness.

"And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Isreal, and not slay them. Amen" - D&C 89:21

We also recommend Dr. Joel Fuhrman's Nutritarian Diet (

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