Man Doesn’t Need Meat

eatveggiesI have a friend I have known for about 4 years, who’s married with two beautiful daughters. Unfortunately he isn’t the healthy guy I have ever met. He is overweight (probably borderline obese on charts), has diabetes, high blood pressure, most likely high cholesterol (although I have not asked, just know his eating habits) and he is a smoker. As I wrote about him before, he would be a prime candidate for Dr. McDougall’s 12-day program as he reminded me of Sam Waterman, who saw outstanding results in just 12 days eating a plant-based, whole foods diet.

I probably got a bit pushy and preachy at times when it came to the success I was having by following Dr. McDougall and his ideas. Still not sure why it took 41 years to finally figure out where good nutrition begins, but it wasn’t with meat and dairy products as we have been lied to since early childhood. How could I not share the secret to my success when I was in the midst of dropping 44 pounds and improving my total cholesterol to 130? These results equate to nothing short of amazing for me! I am still surprised at how I have gone from poor health with headaches, foot and abdominal pains to where am I now, relying on no medication and the healthiest I have ever been.

It takes that “ah ha moment” when something clicks and you finally comes to that realization. For me, it was a combination of identifying my state of health when I went for a routine check up at the dentist and I could not remember all the medications I was prescribed. Thankfully I have a co-worker who follows a plant-based diet and she recommended the documentary, Forks Over Knives. It was that documentary that got me interested in nutrition and taking control of my health.

Last year my overweight and “sick” friend commented to me during a family barbeque, “man needs meat! as he stood over his grill that was full of chicken and beef. For him, it was seeing the changes I had gone through, losing the weight, improving my blood numbers and cooking foods that are both healthy for you and good to eat. He wasn’t convinced, as he continued his eating habits, which was not governed by portion control. If he continued down this road, early death was a distinct possibility.

About 2 weeks ago he and his wife watched Food Matters and Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead with Joe Cross. Her husband could have easily pass for Phil Staples, the truck drive Joe Cross meets in the documentary. While not as obese as Phil, he needed to make drastic changes in order to take control of his health. These two documentaries have opened his eyes in a way I have never seen. The guy who once subscribed to “man needs meat” has been plant-based for just over 2 weeks and has dropped about 20 pounds! He told me last night over Chef AJ’s Disappearing Lasagna (I also made him a doggy bag for lunch) that he was feeling ribs he had not felt in years! Talk about a positive change, this was such great news!

I see much jubilation and excitement in his step and the way he talks. His wife is quite excited over the changes he has made recently, as she too is now following this way of eating. He currently belongs to the same gym as I and has been going on a regular basis, using some of the machines and walking on the treadmill. This in itself is progress. Who knows, maybe in the coming weeks/months I can get him on my weight lifting routine. It thrills me to see a good friend take control of his health and make such positive changes.

Eat on $3 a Day

Back in October I was being introduced to just how made the American diet is when I viewed Forks Over Knives, Food Inc. and Food Matters. This led me to learn about a plant-based, whole food lifestyle, Dr. John McDougall and others leading the way when it comes to taking your health into your own hands. Since October I have lost 27 pounds and improved my blood work numbers, namely my total cholesterol by 64 points!

Since mid January I have become reacquainted with exercise and the added benefits to my healthy, now that I have my diet under control. Weekly exercise consists of 30-45 minutes of walking, daily. When I get home it’s been either weight lifting on our Bowflex Revolution or doing Beachbody’s Power 90 (yes, the original). Unlike seeing quick results with the diet portion of a healthy lifestyle, I figure it will be 6 weeks before I start to see physical changes in my appearance, outside of shedding pounds and looking thinner.

About 10 days ago I started keep track of my daily food intake. Back in 2003, when I first started Power 90, there was a recommendation to purchase the program, Fit Day, which allows you to track food, nutritional information, exercise, set goals such as activity and weight and track your progress.

I have taken it a step further. Using the online site, Spark Recipes, I can now entire all ingredients to any meal I plan and break that meal down into a ‘per serving’ size. For example, the Fit Day database, as extensive as it is doesn’t have my Potato Enchiladas. I built the recipe and I can now enter the nutritional data into Fit Day and see just how much I eat a day. A great little program that allows me to track all things food/exercise related to improve my health.

The next step…why…I don’t know is to start tracking the amount of money my wife and I spend a month on food. I can tell you right now it is down in the past few months since we have not spent a penny on any meat. Last time I opened our freezer in the garage there was a plethora of chicken, turkey, pork, beef and fish just waiting to be cook. Outside of the fish, I can’t see me preparing any of the other meat in the freezer.

Dr. McDougall, in his March, 2008 Newsletter discussed Cutting Food Costs in These Times of Economic Downturn. “On average women consume about 2000 calories daily and men 2500 calories…The cost of animal-food centered meals cooked at home for one person could easily be $10 a day or more,” says Dr. McDougall. For those individuals who favor dining out as opposed to eating in, “spending $14 for a full day’s worth of fast food meals would not be unusual.”

For those not following a plant-based, whole food lifestyle buying 20 pounds of brown rice or 25 pounds of pinto beans might seem extreme. When the numbers are broken down by unit cost and compared to the cost for 2500 calories you can see the extensive savings. For example, a Taco Bell Taco costs $.99 and for a man to get 2500 calories would require $14.56. By comparison 2o pounds of potatoes cost $6.99 and for a man to get 2500 calories would cost $1.75! Savings you can see and taste!

Being able to eat or feeding a family for $3 a day per person is possible, but will require a larger up front cost. That is a cost I am willing to make since I know I will use 25 pounds of brown rice or 20 pounds of potatoes. Dr. McDougall’s wife, Mary has recipes for her “Stove Top Stew cost $1.40 (fills up four adults) and the Pea Soup ingredients cost $1.80 (fills up 6 adults).” These days when money does matter and you are trying to better your budget, you might consider this as an option.

As Dr. McDougall sums it up, “A person spending $14 a day eating at fast food restaurants could be spending $3 by eating a starch-based diet at home. This translates into $11 per day savings. (This means $330 a month and $4015 per year saved, which happens to be enough to attend the McDougall 10-day live-in Program in Santa Rosa, CA—so you might consider the McDougall Program as a free program.)” Then again, a starch based diet is not widely accepted, but even minor changes can be positive.

Live to Eat

A friend at work who enjoys to cook recommended the documentary, Forks Over Knives recently, not so much as an introduction to a vegan lifestyle, but as an introduction to help reduce my “high” (the doctor’s opinion) cholesterol. She told me a bit about the movie and that it was available on Netflix, so I didn’t hesitate to watch it.

I was quite surprised at what I saw and heard as it related to a “healthy lifestyle” and nutrition. Of course being a movie, I did take some of it with a grain of salt and consulted the interwebs for further details. Raw Food SOS had an interesting review of the movie and posed the question, “Is the Science legit?

It was interesting to read the blogger’s opinion, as well as the additional sources that were cited regarding the doctors in the movie, T. Colin Campbell and Caldwell B. Esselstyn. While some of the statistics are a bit ambiguous, much of the data seems to be very sound.

The movie steers clear of introducing a vegan lifestyle as opposed to promoting a “plant-based diet.” Just mentioning the term “vegan” sometimes gives individuals a false sense of implementing extreme changes in your diet, giving up all meat and promoting PETA. I never had that feeling as I viewed the movie that this change would be extreme at all for my lifestyle.

Five years ago I started going to the doctor annually for a physical. As I approached age 40 I was getting nervous about my healthy and wanted to make sure I had no major problems, so I could be around for my son and wife as long as possible. Unfortunately, for every ailment the doctor did not hesitate to prescribe medication. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago I was being prescribed medication for symptoms, but none that seemed to cure the problem. If the medication didn’t work, they prescribed something else. I found myself taking a handful of pills day and night and didn’t want to be relying on “big pharma” as I got older.

My introduction to Forks Over Knives couldn’t have come at a better time. With my cholesterol being higher than it was last year during my physical I had started to look for recipes that would be friendly for my change in diet. For the few months I have been cooking since my physical, I believe my wife, son and I had been eating better, but not good enough. What the real eye opener in the movie was that food was being used to cure what ailed the body. It was quite amazing to hear some of the results, including those of writer/director, Lee Fulkerson.

Granted the case studies in the movie were consulted by professional doctors, some that specialized in “emphasizing nutrition and lifestyle modification,” such as Matthew Lederman, M.D., and Alona Pulde, M.D., Founders of Exsalus Health and Wellness Center in Los Angeles, California and John McDougall, M.D., Founder of Dr. McDougall’s Health and Medical Center in Santa Rosa, California.

To date it’s been 7 days since I last had meat. While I am not completely convinced I can eliminate meat I think I can have good success following a meal plan similar to what Dr. McDougall proposes or even using food that are better for the body when it comes to nutrition.

Since seeing Forks Over Knives I have also viewed Food Matters and Food, Inc. I have also started looking at “plant-based” cookbooks, even picked up a new one by Ani Phyo called Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen: Easy, Delectable Living Foods Recipes. We will see how this progresses, it’s just the start and hopefully the change will be apparent and I can “live to eat” instead of “eat to live.”