Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Using the Lord's Law of Health to Help Us Overcome Our Challenges

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 occasions.

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 started following.

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 Covenants 89:18-21)

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 temples.
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 have?

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 costs.

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!!!

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