Hold on to your hats... these quotes are a doozy! I've got a lot of work to do.
"We shouldn't be sick, the Lord didn't intend it. . . . people shouldn't be sick. The Lord gave us the Word of Wisdom to keep us well and if we're sick, its our own fault, because we don't know any better. I have reached 91 years and I haven't an ache or a pain in any part of my body. . . I've outlived my grandparents, and my parents by 15 years, and I attribute it to my observance of the Word of Wisdom."
-Oral history interview with Leah Eudora Widtsoe, 11 February 1965, 7, Leah D. Widtsoe Papers, BYU Special Collections.
"The greatest reward of keeping these laws of health and refraining from undermining practices is the mastery which man acquires over his body, and the self-control which he develops and maintains. The power of the human will to say 'no' to evil, and 'yes' to good is the supreme test of mortal achievement. When so exercised, one may know that mortal life is being lived in its fullness."
-Leah D. Widtsoe, "Religion and Health," Millenial Star, April 1930, 283.
"Cola drinks contain the drug, caffeine. For that reason, every argument used against coffee and tea, and some other arguments, may be used against cola drinks, and all other beverages containing caffeine, even in small amounts. They are determined habit formers and may lead to the coffee and tea habit. They injure human health."
-John A. Widtsoe, "Caffeine in Cola Drinks," Improvement Era, November 1939, 659.
"In the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, the sanctity of the body is second only to that of the spirit. It is the duty, as well as the desire, of every person to preserve his physical health, so that he may live out most completely the destiny of his existence."
-John A. Widtsoe, "The Word of Wisdom," Millennial Star, 3 November 1932, 714.
"[I]t is evident that the people of the Church are not observing fully all the factors of health as given in the Word of Wisdom, else they would have an even greater immunity from all diseases."
"Too much of the modern food supply comes from tin cans or packages, for often women as well as men work in factories and offices, and the can opener is coming to be the most used kitchen implement."
-John A. and Leah E. Widtsoe, The Word of Wisdom, 6, 11-12.
"A person who cannot obey a temporal law, such as the Word of Wisdom, seldom can obey spiritual laws, which reach more profoundly into the nature of man. That is, those who are living the high spiritual laws of the Gospel, true saints, must have achieved sufficient desire and power of will to obey the temporal commandment known as the Word of Wisdom. Unless they have done so, the spiritual integrity of such persons may be called into question."
"The essential thought remains, that to abstain from the things forbidden in the Word of Wisdom as injurious to health is not sufficient; it is equally important to partake of foods that build the body properly and meet bodily needs. Men may heed the laws of life and live; or they may ignore or pervert them and suffer disease and finally perish."
Aaaaand here is the kicker:
"John's discussion of cocoa and chocolate may be less popular than his teachings about cola drinks. He reported that cocoa beans, from which chocolate is made, contain theobromine, a close relative of caffeine. Perhaps as dangerous as theobromine, he wrote, are the sugary preparations that accompany it in chocolate mixes. They are a menace to human health. Theobromine acts upon the body, especially upon the kidneys, very much as does caffeine. While it does not have as strong an effect upon the central nervous system, it is more irritating to the kidneys.' He was especially concerned about the danger chocolate poses to children. Experiments had shown that it reduces the availability of needed calcium and phosphorus, especially in the digestion of milk. 'The chocolate milk used extensively for school children should be eliminated. To thus adulterate nature's finest food for children seems almost criminal.'"
-Parrish, p. 586-87, Quoting Id., 88.
"That the expression 'hot drinks' was used in the Word of Wisdom rather than 'coffee and tea,' is notable; for by so doing a host of other injurious habit-forming beverages now used (or that may be used) become subject to the Word of WIsdom. Indeed the use of the words 'hot drinks' implies a knowledge beyond that possessed by man when the Word of Wisdom was received. It is remarkable indeed that Joseph Smith could so boldly declare himself against coffee and tea, as against all similar beverages, at a time when the world's learning could not safely make the statement."
-Widtsoe and Widtsoe, Word of Wisdom, 90.
Things to remember: This was not published by the Church, but by Elder Widtsoe, who was an Apostle. His and his wife's book on the Word of Wisdom was used as a course of study for the Priesthood in 1938, and several of these quotes were published in the Improvement Era, the predecessor of today's Ensign magazine. Still, the topics were plenty controversial in their time, and still are today.
I am reminded of something an institute teacher of mine said. He was diabetic, and expressed that he felt that for him, eating sugary foods--any at all--was breaking the Word of Wisdom because he was purposely putting something in his body that he knew was threatening to his health. And we can all adapt the commandments in our daily lives in that way, using the Spirit rather than the letter (or using the Spirit to understand the letter) of the law in our lives. We'll see how soon I get around to giving up chocolate =)