You may think I’ve lost my mind. Actually, I’ve lost my high blood pressure and I’m losing my high cholesterol and extra weight.
I first heard of whole food plant-based (WFPB) eating about 4 years ago. I began doing a lot of research. I soon heard of a local doctor in my area that encourages this way of eating and even gives some of his patients the book, Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. This is a book about the health benefits of eating a whole food plant-based diet. What? Are you kidding me? Most doctors just hand you a prescription to be filled. They rarely talk about lifestyle changes. Once I found out he was taking new patients, I had my medical records sent to his office. I wanted to go to a doctor that would encourage a holistic approach to fighting diseases.
It took me awhile to figure out how to make this a lifestyle change, but I knew the Standard American Diet was killing me slowly. Eventually, I developed high blood pressure. I was scared. I knew that high cholesterol (which I had been dealing with for decades) combined with high blood pressure was a precursor to heart disease. I did not want to go there. Eating whole food plant-based was radical, but having open-heart surgery would be more radical. I knew the time had come to take responsibility for my health.
I’ve been faithfully eating this way now for close to 7 months. My health is improving. First my doctor cut my blood pressure meds in half. Eventually, he discontinued them! My blood pressure is now normal. About two months ago, my doctor cut my cholesterol meds in half. I anticipate these meds will be discontinued soon too. My weight consistently has been going down at a healthy pace of 1 pound per week. My energy is back. My legs, back and joints rarely hurt anymore. This seems to be working well for me and it's becoming a way of life, not just a temporary weight loss fix.
Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food”. I've come to realize I need to be putting life-giving food in my body, not the Standard American Diet (SAD) that leads to disease.
What is a whole food plant-based diet? Simply speaking, this way of eating encourages all veggies (starchy and non-starchy), fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes (beans and lentils), and whole grains. It eliminates any animal product, such as meat, butter, cheese, and milk. You eat when you feel hungry and you stop when you are full. I typically eat 3 meals a day. Sometimes, if one of my meals was small, I might eat 4 times a day. I stay very satisfied. My taste buds have changed at this point. Raw vegetables taste so fresh and crunchy and fruit so sweet. Oats, rice, beans, potatoes, and quinoa are so filling. I've also discovered there is so much variety in this whole food plant-based world.
There is a bit of a difference between vegan and whole food plant-based. Vegans will eat foods that are processed as long as they are not made with animal products. WFPB advocates discourage processed foods (or at least highly processed foods) and promote foods in their "whole form". Most WFPB eaters also eliminate oil, as it is highly processed. There is no counting calories or writing your food down. I highly recommend you work closely with your doctor, if you decide to begin this way of eating. My doctor is checking my labs regularly.
Here are my suggestions, if you are curious about a whole food plant-based diet:
1) Watch Forks Over Knives on Netflix or order this documentary from Amazon. This will give you an overview of this plant-based movement. You can also learn more from their website at folksoverknives.com. There is a beginner’s guide located on that website.
2) Here are some suggested books to read:
Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman
Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr.
The Starch Solution by Dr. John McDougall
The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell
3) If you can afford it (they run special rates occasionally), I highly recommend the Forks Over Knives cooking course. It is a legit culinary course. There are two different courses, one being longer and more involved. I took the lengthier one and I learned so much. It also built my confidence level.
4) Start slowly. Start with WFPB breakfasts for a week. Then the next week, add WFPB lunches. Eventually, move forward to make all your meals compliant.
5) Stock your house with the right foods, so it is easier to make good choices. Batch cook once a week, if that helps. I make beans, rice, quinoa, and roasted vegetables ahead of time. Sometimes, I chop veggies in advance.
6) If you are going out to eat, check the menu in advance and decide what you can eat before
you arrive. I eat out occasionally and can find compliant food in my area restaurants.
7) Think of this journey as medicine for your body, not as a quick fix and only a way to lose weight. It can become a way of life as you practice it.
I will be sharing recipes on my Facebook page occasionally, as well as pictures of what I eat. I am also available to share with groups. I want to encourage you. Let me know what you would like to see.
From my research and the advice from my doctor, this way of eating improves health and prevents some diseases. I can't control everything with my health, but I can certainly control what goes in my mouth. So, I’m going down the road less traveled and I’m okay with that.