It’s been 2 years and 3 months since my “radical” decision to exclude meat, dairy and added oil in my diet. The results have been nothing short of amazing since that time. Over that time period I have documented the changes, not only in my weight, losing 44 pounds but being able to maintain that healthy weight. Blood tests confirm the plant based diet I fuel my body with has indeed made me healthier since making the decision to change. Is this enough? For many this is a precarious step up a steep slope, one which might see individuals stumble and fall repeatedly.
In previous writings, I have cited “change is difficult” and I was no different when I decided to take control of my health and change how I viewed food and what I chose to eat. At times, changing to a plant-based lifestyle wasn’t easy. With an entire frozen section dedicated to “mock meats” and soy products that seemingly replace meat (regardless of being “free range” of “grass fed”), my health and weight would have continued to struggle. The reality these foods are no better for your health being highly processed, yet “meat free” (Read Fat Vegans).
I still have not used meat, dairy and oil in my cooking since changing to a plant based lifestyle and have no regrets. Nor do I feel I am sacrificing when it comes to my daily eats. But can I do more? Should I do more? The human body is amazing and resilient, why wouldn’t I want to fuel it with good food?
“If you look at any risk factor for cardiovascular disease – the standard risk factors like high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, aging – all of these have been associated with loss of nitric oxide in the endothelium (the linings of blood vessels), a condition known as endothelial dysfunction” (source).
“It is the typical western diet of processed oils, dairy, and meat which destroys the lifejacket of our blood vessels known as our endothelial cells. This cell layer is a one cell thick lining of all of our blood vessels. Endothelial cells manufacture a magical protective molecule of gas called nitric oxide, which protects our blood vessels. It keeps our blood flowing smoothly, it is the strongest dilator (widener), of our blood vessels, it inhibits the formation of blockages (plaques), and t inhibits inflammation” (source).
Health problems are no longer an issue, I no longer rely on the industrial medical complex or big pharma. At 44 I am the healthiest I have ever been, but there is still work to do, adventures to go on, challenges to face and goals to achieve.
I examine my way of eating and ask, where can I improve without sacrificing? That is where Julie Marie Christensen and Protective Diet come in. I found her web site last year and started reviewing her recipes and what she promoted. “Julie specializes in eliminating obesity and food addictions with her innovative, original, oil, sugar, nut and additive free recipes along with PD-Ed.”
Many recipes I used, prior to finding Julie’s site were chocked full of nuts and sugars (not processed white sugar), neither of which help to promote a healthy diet, especially if your goal was weight loss. Chef AJ, chef, culinary instructor, professional speaker, and author promoted her book, Unprocessed, which told of her journey and provided pages of recipes to “heal the body.” Through her I learned of Chef Ramses Bravo and picked up his “SOS free” book, Bravo! Some time after these discoveries I came across PD. “SOS” stands for sugar, oil and salt free as it relates to how I want to cook all my meals.
One resolution I set forth for 2014 was to use PD-ed, Julie’s weekly live classroom broadcasts along with her recipes to decrease the dependency on sugars and nuts while enhancing my health with further education and information regarding nutrition. While progress is being made, I am still too dependent on ingredients that contain sugar. For example, Blue Diamond Almond Breeze, their nut milks come in a variety of flavors, some sweetened, others not. Since giving up dairy, I will usually buy the vanilla flavored Almond Breeze (since my wife and son love it), the downside it contains ‘evaporated cane sugar’ as the second ingredient and a serving size contains 13g of sugar. By way of comparison the unsweetened vanilla has 0 grams of sugar. I was only fooling myself drinking the vanilla flavored almond milk.
Paying closer attention to labels is only a start, buying products and ingredients that are good for you is a challenge, but can be accomplished. Just take a look at the ingredients Julie promotes. In order to lose dependency on sugars and nuts, we must “reprogram our taste buds by removing all forms of sugar and addictive foods” says Julie Marie. This can be accomplished in a little as 30 days. In the big picture, 30 days is nothing. Much like Dr. McDougall’s “12 Days to Dynamic Health” as his book, The McDougall Program promotes. Change takes time, even in 2 weeks you could potentially see and more importantly feel the changes.
While I haven’t been 100% true (yet) to what Julie promotes, especially when it comes to some of the ingredients I am still in the learning mode. I am always find different ingredients that I don’t want to ingest or should not be in my food. PD gives me excellent array of recipes to choose from along with an excellent support group.
The one problem I foresee is similar to what my wife experiences. While she hasn’t transitioned over to a plant-based way of eating, many of the recipes I make end up either too spicy (using too many spices or combination of) or too bland. She isn’t the only one to comment on this. Many who haven’t reprogrammed their taste buds will have similar opinions. Doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy the dish, but when many expect a dish loaded with fat, sugar and salt sometimes PD compliant recipes come up short.
Give it 30 days. You won’t know if you don’t try. Instead of ingesting those things that make the human body sick; fat, sugar and salt, you have the option to have plant-based foods that are high in flavor and more importantly good for you.