Lesson 38: Nutrition and the Word of Wisdom

Young Women Manual 1, (2002), 167–70


Each young woman will understand and desire to practice the basic principles of good nutrition contained in the Word of Wisdom.


  1. 1.

    Optional: Gift wrap several nutritious foods, such as any fruit, vegetable, whole-grain product, hard-boiled egg, or cheese. Do the same with some empty-calorie foods, such as candy, soda pop, potato chips, pastries, or cookies. Put all these gifts in a large paper sack so each young woman in the class may choose one.

  2. 2.

    Assign young women to present any stories, scriptures, or quotations you wish.

Suggested Lesson Development


Optional object lesson

Show the class the paper sack of gift-wrapped items. Allow each young woman to choose a gift from the sack and open it.

Ask class members to explain which gifts are best for them. Then have them consider how we benefit by eating nutritious foods.

Suggest to the young women that they have their agency even in the choice of the foods they eat, and if they will choose the proper foods, they will have better health than they would if they ate foods that are not nutritious.

There Are Spiritual Reasons for Developing Good Physical Health


Summarize the following story of Daniel and King Nebuchadnezzar:

In the days of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, the people of the Kingdom of Judah were taken captive. Daniel was a young prince who, along with other outstanding young men, was brought to the palace to be taught the learning and language of the Chaldeans. When he was offered food that the Lord had commanded the Jews not to eat, he asked the chief officer of the palace to give him and his companions food that they were allowed to eat. The chief officer thought that granting this request might cause the king to punish him. But Daniel was able to persuade him to allow them to eat their own food for ten days.

After ten days, Daniel and his companions looked healthier than those who ate the food of the Chaldeans. The chief servant gave them their own food for the next three years. At the end of that time, the king found that they were wiser than all his magicians and astrologers. (See Daniel 1.)

Teacher presentation

Explain that no law is just physical or temporal. Every law has a spiritual implication. Our bodies are a gift from God. He knows us, and he knows what we need. He has given us guidelines for the things that will strengthen our bodies, and by self-control and obedience to those guidelines we will reap spiritual benefits and blessings.


  • What do we call the guidelines the Lord has set for taking care of our bodies? (The Word of Wisdom.)

  • Why is it important for us to follow this law?

Scripture discussion

Have a young woman read aloud 1 Corinthians 3:16–17 and 1 Corinthians 6:19–20. Discuss these two scriptures with the class. Ask them why Paul calls our mortal body a temple. Have them discuss why it is important to protect our mortal bodies and how we can do this.


Ask class members to tell you what food groups modern dietary authorities feel we need for a well-balanced diet each day.

Divide the chalkboard in fourths, and place the young women’s answers on the middle left side of the chalkboard under the heading “Well-balanced Diet” (see the sample chalkboard on page 170).

These answers will be used later in the lesson to compare with foods that we are advised to eat in the Word of Wisdom. Be sure answers include what is shown under the heading.

Case studies

Ask the young women what is wrong with the diets of the following young women:

  1. 1.

    Tina feels that breakfast is unnecessary and fattening. By lunchtime she feels irritable and grouchy, and she cannot keep her mind on her work.

  2. 2.

    Sue felt that she was overweight and decided to go on a crash diet. She ate only candy bars to give her quick energy. She became very sick after only three days.

  3. 3.

    Chris decided to eat nothing but wheat cereal and whole wheat bread because she had heard it was very good for the body.

  4. 4.

    Diane wanted to be one of the group, so although she was a diabetic and was on a diet restricting foods with sugar, she joined her friends every day in eating candy, ice cream, and other sweets.


Discuss with the young women how much their good health is worth.

  • How would you feel if you were ill and forced to stay in bed for a long time?

  • Why is it impossible to put a price on good health?

  • If your health were gone, would it really matter how much money you had?

  • Can you compare good health with any material blessing, such as a large house, an expensive car, an exotic vacation, or a beautiful wardrobe?

  • How can your physical health affect your spiritual health?

Teacher presentation

Explain that our bodies are gifts from God. They house our heavenly spirits. Each physical body has an effect on the spirit it houses. Our good physical health is so precious that we should care for it and guard it carefully to help us realize our great potential as daughters of God.

The Word of Wisdom Contains Guidelines for Good Physical and Spiritual Health

Scripture discussion

Ask each young woman to turn to section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants and read the introductory statement. Discuss the background and purpose of the section.

Ask a young woman to read Doctrine and Covenants 89:1–2. Have class members discuss why they feel the Lord might be concerned with the Saints’ temporal salvation.


To be sure the young women know that the Word of Wisdom is a binding commandment for us today, read the following:

“The reason undoubtedly why the Word of Wisdom was given—as not by ‘commandment or restraint’ was that at that time, at least, if it had been given as a commandment it would have brought every man, addicted to the use of these noxious things, under condemnation; so the Lord was merciful and gave them a chance to overcome, before He brought them under the law. Later on, it was announced from this stand, by President Brigham Young, that the Word of Wisdom was a revelation and a command of the Lord. I desired to mention that fact, because I do not want you to feel that we are under no restraint. We do not want to come under condemnation” (Joseph F. Smith, in Conference Report, Oct. 1913, p. 14).

Scripture discussion

Ask a young woman to read Doctrine and Covenants 89:3. Discuss the phrase “adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints.” Who does this include?

Have another young woman read Doctrine and Covenants 89:4.

Tell the young women that the Lord, in his concern for us, warned us that men would seek to profit from our weaknesses. Ask them to suggest what “evils and designs … exist in the hearts of conspiring men.” Have them consider how advertising in magazines, television, and other media portrays smoking and drinking.

Scripture and chalkboard discussion

Tell the young women that the next five verses might be called the warnings in the Word of Wisdom. Ask class members to listen for things that are not good for the body as these verses are read.

Write Not for the Body on the top of the left section of the chalkboard.

Have a young woman read Doctrine and Covenants 89:5–9.

With the help of the young women, list the things we should not take into our bodies. (See the sample chalkboard on page 170.)

When discussing “hot drinks,” read the following words of the Prophet Joseph Smith given in July 1833, five months after the revelation was received. This will help class members realize that tea and coffee are the hot drinks referred to in the Word of Wisdom.

“‘I understand that some of the people are excusing themselves in using tea and coffee, because the Lord only said “hot drinks” in the revelation of the Word of Wisdom. …

“‘[Tea and coffee] are what the Lord meant when He said “hot drinks”’” (Joseph Smith, as quoted by Joel H. Johnson, A Voice from the Mountains [Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1881], p. 12).

Ask the young women to consider what science and medicine have proven in recent years about tobacco, alcohol, tea, and coffee. Ask them to mention as many as possible of the specific ways these things have been proven injurious to our health. Answers should include a higher rate of cancer; diabetes; heart, lung, and liver disease; and injury to unborn babies.

Scripture and chalkboard discussion

Ask the young women to listen carefully to the next eight verses for things that are good for us.

Write To Be Used at the top of the chalkboard in the third section.

Ask a young woman to read Doctrine and Covenants 89:10–17.

With the help of the young women, list under the heading the good foods the Lord advises us to eat. Reread the scriptures if necessary. (See the sample chalkboard on page 170.)

Refer the young women to the well-balanced diet listed previously on the chalkboard, and compare it with the foods to be used in the Word of Wisdom. Show that both lists are the same.

Point out how the foods listed in the Word of Wisdom meet today’s standards for basic good nutrition. (They are the same.)

Discuss the implications of the words used in verse 11: “in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.”

Scripture and chalkboard discussion

Write at the top of the chalkboard in the far right section Promises If Obedient. Ask a young woman to read Doctrine and Covenants 89:18–21. With the young women’s help, list the promised rewards for obedience to the Word of Wisdom. Reread the scriptures if necessary. (See the sample chalkboard on page 170.)

  • What spiritual blessings are promised if we live this law?

  • What does the Lord mean by “hidden treasures” of knowledge?

  • How would you be better able to serve the Lord by living this law?

  • How might living this law today help you draw closer to your Father in Heaven?

Tell the young women that our Father in Heaven is a kind and patient father. He loves us dearly, and yet when we do not live his commandments, the blessings that might have been ours are lost.



Have a young woman read Doctrine and Covenants 29:34–35.

Teacher presentation

Although many of God’s commandments affect our temporal lives, they are also given to enhance our spiritual well-being. Through obedience to his commandments, we gain temporal as well as spiritual blessings.

Lesson Application

Ask the young women to consider the eternal nature of the spirit dwelling within their bodies. Encourage them to make certain that their spirits have comfortable, healthy homes in which to live so they might thrive and progress to the very limit of their capacity and realize the greatest promise of all—celestial life.

Chalkboard sample

Not For the Body

Well-Balanced Diet

To Be Used

Promises If Obedient

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    Strong drinks (alcohol)

  3. 3.

    Hot drinks (coffee and tea)

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    Protein foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs

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    Fruits and vegetables

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    Milk and dairy products

  4. 4.

    Grain products such as bread and cereal

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    Herbs (plants and vegetables)

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  3. 3.

    Meats and poultry (to be used sparingly)

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    All grains, especially wheat

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  2. 2.


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    Treasures of knowledge—hidden treasures

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    Protection from the destroying angel