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Gluten-Free and the Word of Wisdom

June 22, 2011

There is a fair amount of talk these days about the “benefits” of going gluten-free. Celebrities talk about how good they feel without gluten. Also, celiacs and others with gluten sensitivities say that because they reacted badly to gluten, everybody should avoid gluten.

The thing is, gluten is in wheat. And God revealed to his prophet Joseph Smith that “wheat [is] for man” (D&C 89:17). Heavenly Father wouldn’t instruct His people to eat something that was harmful to the average man.

The gluten-free diet, by itself, really isn’t as healthy as everyone seems to think it is. Gluten-free baking consists of using a lot of white flours, such as tapioca flour and potato starch. It also consists of more fat and sugar than gluten-full foods in order to provide a better texture. Without them, gluten-free foods are quite gritty.

When you combine that with the fact that gluten is extremely hard to avoid, due to it being everywhere in our culture, I really wonder why anyone would choose to follow this diet if they didn’t have a noticeable reaction to gluten.

I know all this, because my son has had noticeable reactions to gluten ever since he was two months old. Cheating on this diet is a luxury he does not have.

Joseph’s allergies made me wonder about the Word of Wisdom. Why would a loving Heavenly Father make my son allergic to the very thing he instructed us was the best thing for us to eat? So, I read section 89 again.

All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth; … All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground— (D&C 89:14, 16 emphasis mine)

The fact that Heavenly Father repeats “all grain” twice and says “wheat” once during this section was telling for me. While wheat is best, our loving Creator provided alternatives for those unable to tolerate wheat so they could still get the nutrition they needed. He has provided rice, corn, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, and more.

So while I still worry about Joseph getting enough nutrition, I am grateful to know that he has options, and that he has a Father in Heaven watching out for him, and others like him.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Lisa permalink
    February 29, 2012 2:05 pm

    I am currently struggling with this a little bit and with an Internet search, I found your blog. I have problems with gluten sensitivity myself, as do two of our children. While we eat a gluten-free diet, my husband gets frustrated by this. The other day we had a conversation and he wondered why Heavenly Father would advise us to eat wheat specifically, among saying that all grains are good for man. Through our conversation, I basically said that I felt that I am to care for my body, and if I know something effects my body negatively, I should stay away from it-just as I would drugs or alcohol. My husband said that if we were effected by any other illness, we would pray, and fast, and get a blessing… why do we just give up with Celiac Disease? Why do we just decide we cannot eat what God has given us to eat, without relying on faith to take the disease from us? The church puts an emphasis on food storage and it is full of wheat and gluten products. We can’t buy things from the cannery because it has gluten or may have been cross contaminated. My husband basically feels that the church endorses wheat, the scriptures specify wheat, so it may not be right to NOT eat wheat. Any thoughts on this?

    • February 29, 2012 2:47 pm

      I’ve not thought too much about the fact that “if we were affected by any other illness, we would pray, and fast, and get a blessing.” However, we pray and fast and give blessings to people with cancer, and they still die. While my son never got a blessing for his allergies, I did pray and fast, and the answer I got was “it is not my will. I have other plans for him.”

      Now, that doesn’t mean that he will never grow out of his allergies. I still have hope, but I believe it will take years if he does. And in the meantime, he needs to stay away from wheat and other things if he doesn’t want to be in pain. The word of wisdom is there for us to be healthy. I look with suspicion at others who take out gluten just because it’s a fad. But if you have under taken the tests (at the very least, eliminate, then put it back in to see if the symptoms come back) and you find that gluten is a problem for you, I don’t see why a loving Heavenly Father would tell you to still eat it when it causes you so many problems, and he has provided alternatives for you to get the nutrients that you need. Also, if you look at verse 3 of D&C 89, “adapted to the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints” says to me that the word of wisdom is meant to be adapted to each person’s individual needs.

      And I wouldn’t look at food storage guidelines and the cannery as “endorsing wheat.” Wheat just happens to be one of the cheapest and storable forms of food. So of course people who can tolerate it should store it, even without Heavenly Father’s saying “wheat is for man.” For those of us with allergies, we should store the foods we CAN eat. I actually posted about how we’re building an allergy-friendly food storage. Provident Living never actually says the food storage needs to have wheat – it just says to store what we would actually eat.

      Hope that helps.

  2. Elizabeth McKinley permalink
    August 28, 2012 8:50 pm

    The wheat of Joseph smiths time is NOT the same that we purchase today.

    • August 30, 2012 1:55 pm

      While I know that the wheat has changed, especially in the increase in gluten, it still has a lot of nutrition in it.

  3. Kimberly permalink
    February 13, 2013 7:51 am

    I also have struggled with wheat being from God so it should be for our consumption. However, the wheat we consume today with gluten is something that just started 10,000 years ago. It is genetically modified by man. Just like cloned animals you wouldn’t want to eat those because they aren’t of God it is the same theory.

    • February 13, 2013 12:47 pm

      I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that, but if it helps you feel better…


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