A Word of Wisdom Food Guide
by Tammy Hulse, BS Nutrition and Food Science
Diet and Health
Americans are facing a health crisis. Medical costs are
increasing, obesity has become a national epidemic,
depression is more prevalent and the general health of
Americans continues to decline. Diet, exercise,
emotional stress, environmental toxins and other lifestyle issues have all been considered in seeking a
solution to this challenge.
Members of the church have maintained better health
than the average American by avoiding the use of
alcohol, tobacco, tea and coffee as recommended in the
Word of Wisdom. The warnings the Lord gave his Saints
over 150 years ago have been a tremendous blessing
for those who have been obedient.
The Lord also gave some dietary counsel in the Word of
Wisdom. The eight “positives” that were revealed to
Joseph Smith provides a food guide that will assist
health conscious individuals to make wise selections in
a time when many unnatural and unhealthy food
choices are available.
The Eight Positives of the
Words of Wisdom
All wholesome herbs are ordained for
the constitution, nature and use of
Herbs and fruits should be used in the
Foods are to be used with prudence
Animal products are to be sparingly
Grain is ordained as the staff of life
All grain is to be used by man and
animals in times of famine and excess
Wheat for Man
Barley for mild beverages.
“The Lord has told us what is good for us to eat, and
to drink, and what is pernicious, but some of our wise
philosophers, and some of our elders too, pay no
regard to it; they think it too little, too foolish, for
wise men to regard --fools! Where is their wisdom,
philosophy, and intelligence? From whence did they
obtain their superior light? They think it too small for
him to condescend to tell men what will be nutritious
or what will be unhealthy. Who made the corn, the
wheat, the rye, and all vegetable substances? And
who was it that organized man, and constituted him
as he is found? Who made his stomach, and his
digestive organs, and prepared proper nutriment for
his system, that the juices of his body might be
supplied; and his form be invigorated by that kind of
food which the laws of nature, and the laws of God
has said would be good for man? . . . “
Hyrum Smith, 1842
For years, nutritionists have encouraged Americans to
make healthy food choices. A variety of food guides
have been developed to encourage the use of whole
grains, fresh vegetables and fruits, and to limit sugars
and fats. These food guides have changed over time to
incorporate the latest in nutrition research. It seems
with each revision, scientists are getting closer to the
Word of Wisdom that was revealed so long ago.
Have you ever wondered what a food guide would look
like that was based completely on the Word of Wisdom?
Would such a guide promote better health among those
who live by it?
Members of the church would undoubtedly be blessed
by living the eight “positives” in the Word of Wisdom.
The Lord himself has given this promise to all who do.
“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 hem, as the children of Israel, and
not slay them. Amen.” D&C 89: 18-21
The Food Guide Diagram
A diagram based on the Word of Wisdom would group
the foods differently than we see in today’s food guides.
Section 89 of the Doctrine Covenants groups foods in
the following categories:
All Wholesome Herbs: This refers to the plant kingdom
and includes all vegetables and plants that are edible,
nourishing and healthy for man. These foods have been
ordained for the constitution, nature and use of man.
Constitution means somebody’s general condition of
health, especially the body’s ability to remain healthy
and withstand disease or hardship. For this reason, the
plant kingdom provides the foundation for health and is
found at the base of the diagram. Foods from the plant
kingdom can be divided into four categories. In other
words, these food groups provide four cornerstones for
a strong foundation.
Plant Proteins: These include nuts, seeds and
legumes. Protein means “of primary importance”
and is essential for good health. Protein substances
make up the muscles, ligaments, tendons, organs,
glands, nails, hair, many vital body fluids, and are
essential for bone growth.
B. Vegetables: Foods that are commonly known as
vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber,
and enzymes. Enzymes are not nutrients, but are
essential for nutrients to be utilized. They are
fragile and destroyed during cooking so it is
important to include both raw and cooked
vegetables in the diet.
C. Oils: In today’s society there is much emphasis on
avoiding unhealthy fats for good reason.
Hydrogenated oils and trans fats should be avoided
as they are destructive to health. High quality oils,
on the other hand are essential for good health and
must be emphasized. Every organ of the body
needs fatty acids. They are used for energy
metabolism, glandular integrity, skin and heart
function. They are also used to “humanize” protein
and make them useable by the body. Healthy oils
include flax seed, olive, grape seed, almond,
coconut, peanut, canola and sesame oil. Other oils
that can be used occasionally include safflower,
sunflower, and corn but they will become rancid
D. Herbs/Spices: Fresh herbs not only provide a
wonderful variety of flavors for foods but they also
contain many factors that promote good health.
Herbs are considered God’s medicines and when
used with “judgment and skill” can provide health
and healing for many individuals.
Animal Products: The recommendation given for
animal products is that they are to be used sparingly,
preferably in times of “winter, or cold, or famine.” This
recommendation can be applied to all animal products.
Limiting animal proteins to less than 10% of foods
consumed will help people meet this guideline. Animal
products can be used to supplement the proteins in the
plant kingdom, but should be used sparingly.
Fruits “in the season thereof”: Eating fruits in season
works well with the natural season cycle of nutrition.
Fruits are complete by themselves with all the enzymes,
vitamins and minerals that will promote their own
digestion. They make a great snack or light meal. Fruits
also have an alkalizing effect on the body and will
promote better rest when eaten in the afternoon or
early evening hours.
Grains are the “staff of life”: A staff is a large heavy
stick that is used as a support. Grains provide energy
and support to a healthy body. The right amount of
whole grain will maintain the body’s energy
requirements without creating excess stress. The Lord
teaches that grains are to be used in times of excess
hunger or famine. Wheat has been designated as the
grain for man. Grains are wonderful foods to eat to
satisfy hunger after the protein and vegetable
requirements have been met. Spelt, the original wheat
grain before hybrid grains were developed, has been
identified as one of the most complete foods for man
on earth. Sometimes, people with wheat sensitivities
can use spelt without a problem. Anyone with a gluten
allergy should not use spelt.
Meal Planning and Food Combining
The following guidelines for meal planning are based on
the current understanding of nutrition science. When
followed, these guidelines will:
Provide a full variety of taste and textures
Promote complete digestion
Minimize digestive complaints after meals
Supply sustained energy for the day’s activities
Food Selection: Choose foods that have been created
by God. These foods are energized by the light of Christ,
which gives life to everything living on earth. Artificial
foods that have been manufactured in a laboratory are
missing this essential life giving element. It is important
to select foods that are as close to the natural state as
possible to avoid unnecessary processing and additives.
Begin each day with foods at the base of the foundation
and work your way to the top as the day goes on.
Breakfast: This is the most important meal of the day.
The best food choices come from the base of the
foundation, which are wholesome herbs and include a
variety of proteins, a variety of vegetables, healthy oils,
and herbal seasonings. For example, a rice bowl mixed
with nuts and vegetables would make a great breakfast.
Proteins should be eaten early in the day to provide
sustained energy. It is best to eat protein foods before
3:00 pm to give the body time to digest them
completely before bedtime.
Avoid combining proteins and starchy vegetables in
the same meal. The presence of complex
carbohydrates interferes with complete protein
Raw Vegetables provide enzymes to help digest
proteins and should be included in protein meals.
People with higher protein requirements can use similar
meal plans for breakfast and lunch which is a variety of
proteins and vegetables with some healthy oils and
herbs. A complex carbohydrate meal is also beneficial
at lunch time if protein needs have already been met. If
an individual is still hungry after 3:00 pm and needs
more calories to maintain energy, whole grains are an
excellent choice for nutrition during the evening hours.
Fruits make an excellent snack or light evening meal
and are complete by themselves. They do not need to
be combined with anything.
Grains and fruits are digested more rapidly and are the
best foods to be eaten in the meals preceding sleep.
The body will benefit from a deeper rest when foods are
completely digested before going to sleep. For this
reason, it is also wise to avoid eating after 6:00 pm.
Barley for Mild Beverages
In the Word of Wisdom, barley is recommended for
use in mild beverages. There are three types of
healthy beverages available that are made from
Barley Drink – This warm beverage made from
barley is especially soothing during times of illness,
but can be used all the times.
Directions: Pour 1 cup barley on a baking sheet and
brown in a 300 F oven until very brown but not
burned. Pour browned barley in a blender and
blend. This should become almost powdery. Steep
in a percolator until the water achieves the
strength you like (10-20 minutes). Use 1 ½ tsp
barley crystals for each cup of water.
Optional: Add different herbs to the barley to
create an herbal tea. Use one scoop stevia per cup
Barley Broth is also helpful for gas, bloating, or
heartburn. The broth can be made by boiling 5
parts water to 1 part barley for 10 minutes. Cover
and simmer for 55 minutes more. Strain, cool and
sip the liquid during the day.
Green Drinks made from barley grass are also good
detoxifiers and blood cleansers. They are high in
vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes and
promote healing along the digestive tract.
With Prudence and Thanksgiving
The Word of Wisdom counsels to use foods with
“prudence and thanksgiving.”
Soybeans and soy protein are difficult for the body to
digest. Fermented soy products create less stress on
the body during digestion.
When meals are eaten in an environment where
gratitude is genuinely felt and expressed for the foods
offered, the meal will be better enjoyed and digestion
will be more complete. A prayer of thanksgiving with a
request for a blessing on the food, invites the Lord to
improve the nutritional value of the food provided.
Gardening: Home production of foods in a garden is
one of the best ways to limit the amount of pesticides
and herbicides used on produce. Freshly harvested
fruits and vegetables that go directly from garden to
table provide the most nutritious forms of produce you
“Prudence” means careful management of resources. It
is important to take time to think about the foods we
eat. Proper care and preparation of food will maintain a
higher nutritional quality. The following guidelines will
help people manage food resources wisely.
Cleaning raw fruits and vegetables: It is difficult to find
organically grown fruits and vegetables all the time.
Cleaning fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating
will help to minimize exposure to toxic sprays and
chemicals used in food production. Clorox bleach or
hydrogen peroxide can be used to clean produce, eggs,
Use regular Clorox bleach, not the lemon scent
or Clorox I
Put 1 tsp Clorox or hydrogen peroxide in ½ sink
full of water
Soak foods for 10-20 minutes
Afterward, soak foods in plain water for 10
Rinse foods and spread out on clean terry cloth
towel to dry
Fats/Oils: Misused oils are potentially the most
dangerous foods we eat. Rancid oils are poisonous to
the body. Heating oils will cause oxidation and
oxidation brings about rancidity. When using fats and
oils it is important to remember the following:
Stir fry at low temperature (250F)
Never reused a heated oil
Store oils in a cool dark place
Wipe rim of oil bottle after each use
Eat fried food SPARINGLY
Take a Vitamin E supplement whenever you eat
Beans/Legumes: These foods are a wonderful source of
protein as long as they have been prepared properly.
The best method for preparing beans to optimize
protein assimilation is to sprout them and then cook
them at a low temperature (below the boiling point).
Crock-pots work great for cooking beans!
Sprouting beans before cooking also reduces the
digestive complaints associated with eating bans.
Sprouting can be done by soaking one cup of beans in a
quart jar of water for 24 hours. Put the beans on a
sprouting tray, and cover for 3-4 days until small
sprouts begin to form. Beans should be rinsed at least 2
times each day.
Beans can sour easily during sprouting- the process can
be hastened by placing the quart jar of beans and water
in a warm environment (115 F ) for at least 12 hours. A
dehydrator can be use to provide this environment. For
example: soak beans for 12 hours at room temperature
until they have swollen, then soak for another 12 hours
at 115 degrees. Rinse well and prepare as directed.
Food Production and preservation: Remember that
high heat and high pressure destroy the nutritional
value of foods. Freezing and dehydrating are the best
methods for preserving foods. If canned foods are part
of the diet, then it is critical to include raw foods in
addition to obtain more balanced nutrition. The shelf
life of food is longer when it is stored in a cool, dry place.
Foods will have the highest nutritional value when they
are used within the recommended shelf life.
“To a significant degree, we are an overfed and
undernourished nation digging an early grave with
our teeth, and lacking the energy that could be ours
because we overindulge in junk foods . . . To a great
extent, we are physically what we eat. Most of us are
acquainted with some of the prohibitions of the Word
of Wisdom, such as no tea, coffee, tobacco, or
alcohol. But what need additional emphasis are the
positive aspects – the need for vegetables, fruits, and
grain . . . We need a generation of people who eat in
a healthier manner.”
-President Ezra Taft Benson