Found in the 89th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Word of Wisdom provides at least three guidelines related to obesity and overeating. First, the Word of Wisdom teaches that we must watch what we put into our bodies. Second, we learn that we must watch how much food we put into our bodies. And finally, when we are converted to the Word of Wisdom as the Lord's code of health, our willing obedience will bring physical and spiritual blessings.
At the most basic level, every member of the Church knows that the Word of Wisdom teaches us to avoid harmful substances like alcohol, tobacco, coffee and tea. In the spirit of this counsel, each of us should evaluate whether we consume these or other substances that may be harmful to our bodies or habit-forming. Processed snack cakes, soda pop, deep fried foods and energy drinks are only a few of the popular, but physically harmful foods on the supermarket aisles. These foods have little or no nutritional value, make us feel tired, create habits that are hard to break, fuel our appetites for more unnecessary calories and expand our waistlines. In short, many foods available at the neighborhood store may contribute to obesity, which in turn contributes to untold numbers of diseases and medical complications.
consistent, natural diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, lots of water and some lean meat provides the nutrients our bodies need without the empty calories that spark our appetites or meaningless overeating.
The Lord continues his counsel and commandment for the dietary care of our bodies with the charge that "all these [are] to be used with prudence and thanksgiving." A person can gain a significant amount of weight through simple mismanagement of portion sizes, even if their diet is stacked with fruits, vegetables and grains. Using prudence means to use discretion, sound judgment or temperance. Greater prudence in our diets is discretion to say 'no' to a second piece of chocolate cake, wisdom to drink water instead of soda, and temperance to take only enough food at the dinner table to satisfy your hunger. It is prudence that recognizes obesity as a debt of calories, and unifies the grocery list and the dinner menu to get us out of that debt.
President Boyd K. Packer, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, reminded us one general conference that "The Word of Wisdom is 'adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints'. It is buttressed by other scriptures. They teach that the good things of the earth 'are made for the benefit and the use of man, … Yea,' the Lord said, 'for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul, … to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion' (D&C 59:18–20)." His counsel was for us to, "learn to use moderation and common sense in matters of health and nutrition; and particularly in medication."
No harmful substance will cloud our wise judgement. No excess weight will keep us from enduring. Through obedience to the Word of Wisdom, we can avoid the perils of a plague of obesity sweeping the nation.
**This article was originally written for Deseret Connect on February 9, 2011. It was never published by Deseret Connect or its related sites.**