I have discovered that for me, the foods I eat affect my mood.
Heavenly Father knew this from the time he spiritually created you, me, and
the foods we would eat.
That's why he has given us so many good foods and good words in the
scriptures to tell us what things are good for us to eat.
What kind of food habits do you have? Are they the kind you want to have? Do you notice your mood changing after you eat certain foods?
This is a tool I want to be able to pass on to those going through
postpartum mental challenges, because I know by experience, that it can be
very beneficial in altering a person's mood for the better. I am not a professional nutritionist, doctor,
midwife (yet), and am not perfect in this principle, although I really try to be. I would like to share an experience with you and a lesson I learned from it, though.
I thought I had the Word of Wisdom 'down' by not smoking and not
drinking hot drinks or using "addictive substances". Then life got
down right stressful! I had four small children; I had just begun really
homeschooling our oldest 2 and got a breast infection. I had to go on
antibiotics to get rid of the infection. I've been on them before. In fact, I
had to take them a lot when I was little and then pretty much every
pregnancy/birth when I was an adult up until that point. You know what the
side effects are of antibiotics? Among other things, yeast infections. (Any
woman reading this has probably dealt with them in one place or another and any
man reading this probably has had one at some point as well, in the gut, on the
skin, etc...) Besides all this, I was still not recovered from the PPD that had
settled in around a month before all this happened.
It was during this very stressful time of life that I began to acknowledge
that I had an addiction to sugar. As much as we all like to deny that sugar and
chocolate are addictive, research and our bodies tell us otherwise. Some people
can eat just one serving at social functions or family home evenings, or
birthdays, etc., and they are just fine to leave the rest and just fine health
wise with the piece they had. Others, however, like me at this time, could not
seem to stop eating it until it had made me physically uncomfortable. I would
avoid making it or buying it for this reason, but this didn't solve the
problem during holiday get-togethers, church functions, or other times
when I wasn't the one making the food or deciding on the menu. What better way
to stress my body out even more than by being addicted to sugar? It causes
stress in the body!
This same year, there was a talk given in General Conference on the sanctity
of the body. There was a story in there that told of a mother who had
experimented with a new sweet roll recipe and overindulged. That night, she was
asked to say the family prayer, but, because of her overindulgence, had felt a
lack of spirituality for saying the prayer.
I could definitely relate to this story. I felt guilty and less sensitive to
the spirit when I ate too much sugar. One piece of cake would turn into three
overnight. There were also a couple of talks in the Oct. 2013 conference that
addressed addictions of any kind.
By the end of that year I had grown so sick of the symptoms of Candida and
so tired of denying myself more spirituality, I decided to make it a New Year's
resolution to refuse all sugar, no matter where it was located. I also went on
an anti-Candida diet. I noticed that it wasn't just me who needed this either,
it was my family.
There were two exceptions: holidays (and I mean the actual DAY and not all
the parties or celebrations surrounding it) and birthdays of CLOSE family
and friends. I would allow myself to enjoy a sweet or two on these special
Like any major life change, it took about three months to get used to. With
the anti-Candida diet, you're supposed to go off of the common food allergens
altogether and slowly add them back in. People we knew got worried that our
kids were not eating dairy or eggs and I totally felt like the food freak
for a long time. I would go to church functions and there would be little to
nothing I could eat of what was served. I knew that the new food choices I was
making were pleasing to the Lord and much better for my body, but it confused
me that everyone else who seemed to be very spiritual and living the gospel
were eating the foods there and they were just fine. How come they could
eat them and I couldn't? This is a question I continue to receive answers for.
One reason is because every body is different. My body may have been going
through more stress than everyone else's there. The knowledge that I had
recently gained, challenged cultural beliefs and traditions that even some
members of the church were not ready to let go of, no matter how practical or
healthy. Another possible reason I was led to this way of eating was to learn
mastery over my body. I have not had very many opportunities to fast over my many
years of being pregnant and nursing, while many others who are not
experiencing this season in life get to fast every fast Sunday. Perhaps the
Lord was giving me a way that I could "fast" from the things that I
knew were causing my body more stress. I also feel like it was His way of
showing me how to use my food storage. I had wheat, beans, oil, and such,
stored and had not made it a habit yet of cooking with these healthy foods and
making things from scratch. As far as the church functions go, I learned that I
either needed to just not go, not go for the food, or offer to bring something
I could eat. But, I STILL struggle with this even now.
It was not an easy task for me to get used to cooking different foods,
eating different foods and loving them. Luckily I made these changes when my
kids were small and still forming their food preferences. We started
eating things that were naturally sweet for Family Home Evening treats, like
popcorn, smoothies, naturally sweetened cookies or cakes, etc... My husband was also very open to trying new foods, which I am sure all of you would agree is a big plus!
If you study about what foods feed yeast (funny that they also are the
ones that would increase your risk of getting bacterial infections because of
their effects on the immune system), what foods don't and what foods help rid
the body of the excess Candida, you may find some interesting things
you did not know before that will change your perspective on food. And if
you have any desire to change the foods you eat because of what you find,
please know that it IS possible! Pray about how to approach it, what 1st step
to take, and go for it!!!! I do need to thank one of my dear friends from
this time, Crystal Bailey, who supported me on this whole thing. She totally
validated me after I so courageously refused chocolate cake that was being
served at a Relief Society meeting. Her support was a great example that others
I learned that many of the foods that fed the yeast also contributed
heavily to depression, anxiety, and fatigue. I learned that the foods that
didn't feed the yeast and the ones that helped get rid of the excess also were
known to aid in the body's immune system and even helped in fighting cancer.
WHO DOESN'T WANT A STRONGER IMMUNE SYSTEM AND LESS CHANCE OF GETTING CANCER??
(Not to mention less anxiety, depression, and fatigue...)
After making these changes, I did experience increased spirituality,
decreased depression, and better health.
Once I had this new found knowledge, I wanted to teach others. Some people
were open to it and I was able to help others along on their journey toward
better health. Others were not ready to receive it or completely would not
listen and I felt so sad that I could not help them. There were those who
continued to think of me as unreasonable when it came to food, and I had to,
and still have to, just be okay with that. Life isn't over yet, and they may come around later on.
I made those changes in 2006 and since then have let go at times when
I am less physically taxed, or sometimes even when I am, much to my dismay. Over that time,
I have noticed that eating the unhealthy foods brings attacks from the dark
side. Spirituality IS affected! Overall, my stress levels have not gone down by any means, and at present, I am remembering
what an awesome year that was when I made such awesome changes. I felt as
though I really did experience the blessings and promise associated with the
WOW. "And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in
obedience to the commandments, shall receive 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." (Doctrine and
If we get a blessing (or many)
from eating healthy, is it possible that we get the opposite of a blessing from eating
unhealthy foods? The saints back then didn't have sugar or processed foods so readily
available like we do in our day. That is why we really have to go with the
spirit of the law. If we are addicted to something that we know is not healthy
for us, we are disrespecting our bodies as temples. Our bodies ARE
There is a spirit about the word of wisdom that, to me, is telling us to avoid ANY unhealthy food addiction. The Word of Wisdom found in the 89th section of the Doctrine and Covenants is more than just "don't drink, smoke or do drugs". This section is all about food; what foods we should eat, when, and a little bit of why. It also describes what the Lord will do if we eat this way.
The Word of Wisdom may not say anything about avoiding sugar, but the spirit
of the law is that we eat the foods God made for us that are
good and nourishing to the body and eat meat sparingly. The promises associated
with obeying this law are priceless! When Daniel and his
friends refused the Kings portion of meat and chose pulse (nuts, seeds, and
legumes - which were probably soaked) to eat and water to drink instead
(I would add that they probably didn't have any refined sugar at that
point in time to even choose to eat), "In all matters of wisdom
and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times
better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm."
Daniel chapter 1)
"All grain is good for the food of man." (D&C 89:16) I really
don't think that the Lord intended for us to take apart and separate the food
that he made for us. I think specifically of wheat, corn, and sugarcane. When
we separate the sugar from the fiber, or all the different parts of a grain
from each other and they don't all end up in our body at the same time like God
made them to, it is not as healthy and can even be very harmful.
But what about "All things in moderation"? What is moderate to one person
may be extremely excessive to another. Or vise versa. All things in
moderation perhaps means that we use the spirit to guide us in our eating
choices; being honest with ourselves and respectful to the bodies God gave
us, and the food that he made to grow well and nourish our bodies.
Having more faith in our food growing processes is phenomenal. In the olden days, when bugs attacked their crop, they prayed over their crops. Maybe this isn't true of all cultures, but the scripture that says, "Ask and it shall
be given you" is not just there for decoration. Anyone can apply this scripture to the situation they are
dealing with. If we want to eat the healthier foods, why not ask for them and
ask for the strength to break the generational and cultural habits that we may
WE can ask for God to protect and bless our crops. WE can ask for the Lord
to send us food that is healthy for our bodies. WE can ask for God to bless our
food to grow well without the use of harmful chemicals.
We can also ask God to help us have the faith it takes to buy the healthier
foods. Yes, sometimes the healthier food costs more money, but, as Dr. Sears
puts it, you can pay more now and be healthy or pay more later for healthcare
After a few months of eating this way, my PPD began to subside, I felt
stronger spiritually, and healthier physically. Any extra weight I had on me
was gone. In some ways, even just being able to say "No" to the
thing that was so tempting to me, gave me strength and confidence. When we
start saying no to the temptations that so easily beset us, it gives us
spiritual strength and we awaken to the wonderful power we have in the
righteous use of our agency!!!