Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Low Carb Diet and the Word of Wisdom

One of the first objections to the low carb diet (LCD) I encountered was the Word of Wisdom (D&C 89).  How can I justify eliminating flour and fruits and eating a lot of fat and protein when the Word of Wisdom counsels us to eat meat sparingly and that all grains are ordained for the use of man?  Not to mention fruit?

First, look at what is NOT in the Word of Wisdom.  No mention is made of refined, bleached flour and there is nothing about sugars.  Think of it this way.  In 1833 when the Word of Wisdom was given, hardly anyone ate anything sweet.  Sugar was not readily available and collecting honey came with its own set of challenges.  What sweet fruit they ate at that time was only eaten in season and it was probably a lot less sweet the the apples, pears, and oranges we eat today that have been bred for sweetness.  In short, back then, people did not have a "sweet tooth" in the way we do today.  The average two-year-old in the country today has probably consumed more sweets than the average 20-year-old in 1833.  Refined sugar, and in particular, high fructose corn syrup, are probably behind much of the obesity and diabetes epidemics that are now raging.  Combine this with processed and bleached, refined flour, where all the nutrients God put into wheat are stripped out, and which is very easy to digest and convert to glucose, and you see the problem.

The wheat germ, wheat bran, and vital wheat gluten are all parts of the wheat I can eat.  Just not the starchy flour that strips all of this out.  If we ate like they ate in 1833 when the Word of Wisdom was revealed, we would not have an obesity and diabetes problem that throws our bodies out of whack, and a Word of Wisdom based diet would be perfect for us.  But we don't, so we need a solution that will solve the problem caused by readily available sweets and easily absorbed carbohydrates such as refined flour.

But what about meat?  First of all, an LCD is not about meat, it is about fat and protein.  Granted, a lot of fat and protein comes from meat, but eggs are a cheap and excellent source of animal protein.  So is cheese.  And when we say "meat," do we also mean poultry and fish, or just beef and pork?  Second, consider a contextual argument.  In 1833, it was very hard to preserve meat, as there were no refrigerators and no freezers, so meat spoiled quickly and became dangerous to eat (hence, the logic of being counseled to only eat meat in winter and times of cold or famine [D&C 80:13]).  We do not have that problem today, as spoiling meat is generally not a health threat.  Logically, we can consume more of it.  (Most Mormons ignore the counsel to eat meat sparingly anyway, as well as the dictum to not eat fruit out of season [D&C 89:11] and for many of the same contextual arguments:  it does not apply to us today).  Further, meat is ordained for the use of man (D&C 49:19) and anyone who tells you otherwise "is not ordained of God" (D&C 49:18).

Speaking of eating meat in times of famine (D&C 89:13), when we eat too many carbs, they are quickly processed into fat and not used for energy.  As counter intuitive as it may seem, fat people are always hungry because they are "starving" at a cellular level, since what they consume is being stored as fat, not used as energy.  I would call this famine, and meat is allowed under this circumstance.

So not following the Word of Wisdom got us into this problem in the first place.  Thus we need to get out of the problem and if abusing carbs is the problem, the way out is to restrict them.  Restricting them means eating more fat and protein to compensate.


  1. I have a similar interpretation as do you. High quality fats are more important. I also look at verse 15 of the Word of Wisdom as giving clarification about "All grain" in verse 14 not about eating meat. "And these [references "all grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts"]. Also, verse 13 (to me anyway) suggests that it isn't a good idea to restrict meat to only times of winter, cold, or famine. I guess it is the primal glasses I'm wearing.

  2. Please note that D&C 89:13 (the verse that states not to eat meat except in times of cold...) did NOT contain that first comma when it was originally transcribed, but was later added for format within the columns of the actual book. Therefor the original translation of that section on D&C was as follows.
    “And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.”
    Which is supportive of the idea that they are to be used by us, but again sparingly as said in D&C 89:12

  3. Eating meat "sparingly" means to respect the whole animal, and not be wasteful. Eat the whole pig, not just bacon. Use the bones for broth, eat the liver, Do not be gluttonous, etc.

  4. I know I am wicked late to this but I am so glad it showed up. The article and the comments have all put my mind and my heart at rest. I have been toying with the idea of going away from all the processed carbs and back to higher fats but the WoW has been used against me a few times to put doubt in my mind. I guess it shouldn't have been an issue since I am currently unhealthy and to continue following the word of wisdom as others interpret it, and what may appear to be face value (not thinking of the times difference), is causing me serious afflictions.

    I have always had issues with what I felt were blessings that just didn't work out attached to a promise that I felt I was doing so well at keeping my end of. But as you say in the article and what rings as clear truth in my heart... the carbs that are tearing up my insides are actually less in season than the availability of meat back then. Here I am worried about not having the blessings despite trying to follow the wow and infact this could very well be an example of me not getting blessings for simply not following it.

  5. Hey everyone! I’m late as well. I looked this up, because i’ve tried vegetarianism, and veganism and Keto and being a carnivore. Each time I have prayed to know the truth for myself. I believe that God wants me to be healthy if for no other reason then to be able to better serve his other children.

    As I am currently on the carnivore diet I was concerned about asking for the priest to bless a small morsel of turkey and this blog post popped up in the search.