02) DIET: What is the best diet? What have we been taught in regard to our eating habits?

Prophetic Statements

Brigham Young

The Americans, as a nation, are killing themselves with their vices and high living. As much as a man ought to eat in half an hour they swallow in three minutes, gulping down their food like the canine quadruped under the table, which, when a chunk of meat is thrown down to it, swallows it before you can say “twice.” …Dispense with your multitudinous dishes, and depend upon it, you will do much towards preserving your families from sickness, disease and death….it would add ten years to the lives of our children. That is worth a great deal. 1

I believe that we enslave our women; … our tables are covered with every delicacy and variety that we can think of… I do not believe in mixing up our food. This is hurtful. It destroys the stomach by overtaxing the digestive powers; and in addition to that it almost wears out the lives of our females by keeping them so closely confined over cooking stoves…We can have a variety in diet, and yet have simplicity. We can have a diet that will be easily prepared, and yet have it healthful. We can have a diet, that will be tasteful, nutritious and delightful to us, and easy to digest…” 2

Satisfying the appetite brings to an end the pleasure of eating; and where food is partaken of chiefly to gratify the pleasurable sensation derived from eating, disease is engendered, and true misery springs out of this unwise gratification. Some healthy, strong-constituted persons can eat large quantities of food with apparent impunity; but, in doing so, the tax they place upon their systems will ultimately bring disease and death. 3

You recollect that I asked a few questions at Conference as to the amount paid out last year for those needless articles—tea, coffee, &c. Will one hundred thousand dollars pay for the tobacco that the Elders of Israel chewed and spit out? It will not and the tea that was drunk will perhaps cost a hundred thousand more, and the coffee will amount to pretty near the same sum. As for the sugar, I should say, continue to purchase that, and let the children have it, not to live on it alone, but in connection with other nutriment, for you should understand that our food is composed of three staple articles—sugar, starch, and glue, consequently sugar is good. But to train your children to drink tea and coffee at two, three, or four years old is very pernicious and injurious. You mothers and daughters in Israel who are taking this course, how do you expect to live to accomplish the work the Lord has assigned you? Why you will not live half your days; you will come short of it, as much as the wicked. Is this true? It is verily true. You get up in the morning and have your cup of tea, your fried ham, your cold beef and mince pies, and everything you can possibly cram into the stomach, until you surfeit the system and lay the foundation for disease and early death. Says the mother—“Do eat, my little daughter, you are sick; take a piece of pie, toast, or meat, or drink a little tea or coffee; you must take something or other.” Mothers in Israel, such a course engenders disease, and you are laying a foundation that will cut off one-half or two-thirds of the lives of your children; and yet a more healthy country than ours cannot be found upon the face of the earth, if the people would learn to live prudently.

In foreign lands you may find districts where many of the people do not have, probably, more than two-thirds of what they need to eat—and they live thus from year to year—yet you will find them much more healthy than they who gorge themselves continually. Take the Americans, say in the old Granite State where I have traveled, and to look at their surroundings out of doors you would not think they had more than one bean to a pint of water, but go into their houses and you will find beef, pork, apple pie, custard pie, pumpkin pie, mince pie, and every luxury, and they live so as to shorten their days and the days of their children. You may think that these things are not of much importance; no more they are, unless they are observed, but let the people observe them and they lay the foundation for longevity, and they will begin to live out their days, not only a hundred years, but, by and by, hundreds of years on the earth. Do you think they will stuff themselves then with tea and coffee, and perhaps with a little brandy sling before breakfast and a little before going to bed, and then beef, pork, mutton, sweetmeats, and pastry, morning, noon, and night? No; you will find they will live as our first parents did, on fruits and on a little simple food, and they will never overload the stomach.

Let the people be temperate in their food, then go to work and clothe themselves. 4

John Taylor

Much disease can be avoided by . . . simple diet . . . pure air and bright sunshine . . . avoid the use of much animal food and of stimulants. 5

Supporting Statements

George Q. Cannon

We have heard considerable of late, especially since twelve months today, on the subject of the Word of Wisdom. Almost every elder who has spoken from this stand has felt the necessity and importance of calling the attention of the people to this subject. We are told, and very plainly too, that hot drinks—tea, coffee, chocolate, cocoa and all drinks of this kind are not good for man. We are also told that alcoholic drinks are not good, and that tobacco when either smoked or chewed is an evil. We are told that swine’s flesh is not good, and that we should dispense with it; and we are told that flesh of any kind is not suitable to man in the summer time, and ought to be eaten sparingly in the winter. The question arises in the minds of a great many people, “What then are we to eat if we drop swine’s flesh and eat very little beef or mutton, and cannot drink tea or coffee, why, dear me, we shall starve to death.” In conversation with one of the brethren the other day, he remarked “the diet of the poor is principally bread and meat, and if they dispense with meat, they will be reduced to very hard fare.” I reasoned with him on the subject, and before we had got through, I believe I convinced him that other articles of food could be raised more cheaply and in greater variety than the flesh of animals. But just at the present time we are destitute, to some extent, of this needed variety; and, hence, the very apparent necessity that we as a people should turn our attention to the multiplication of varieties of food in our midst. We should not confine ourselves to a few articles of diet and be content therewith; but the people who have the opportunity of so doing should cultivate a variety of food for the benefit of themselves and families. 6

John A. Widtsoe

Fruits (and vegetables) should be eaten raw, fully ripe, and ‘in the season thereof.’ …in liberal amounts by young and old,…grain should form the bulk of the human dietary. 7

The foods used by many careless or uninformed modern people yield a shortage…of many necessary food factors, especially of vitamins and minerals. …because so much of the food so-called civilized man today is preserved, salted, sugared, purified, polished, pickled, canned, extracted, concentrated, heated, dried, frozen, thawed, stored, packaged, processed, and refined!…The Word of Wisdom warns against the ‘evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days.’ 8

  1. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 13: 154
  2. Journal of Discourses 13: 154
  3. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 182
  4. JOD, 12:36-7
  5. John Taylor, General Conference, April 1887
  6. JOD, 12:221-222
  7. John A. Widtsoe, 1950
  8. John A. Widtsoe, 1950
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