Let food be thy medicine…

hippocrates_quoteI don’t expect many to understand my rational for changing my eating habits and opting for a healthy lifestyle, even when many consider my decision “extreme.” Yet it never ceases to amaze at what comes out of individual mouths as it relates to how I and many others eat following “a diet rich in whole plant foods, free of all animal products, saturated fats, oils, nuts, sugar, artificial sweeteners and food additives,” as Julie Marie Christensen explains over at Protective Diet.

Many question and criticize how I eat, but don’t give a second thought as what they put in their mouths and how it will affect their health. This as they pop another pill, or inject themselves to control a plethora of diseases that ravage their body. Good health comes in the form of food, it won’t be found a magic pill or fad diet or labeled on a box. These are a collection of quotes from many individuals when questioned about the plant based lifestyle they follow.

“I could never give up my meat. I love it too much.”

“But avocados and olive oil are healthy fats.”

“So, you don’t care about plants? You know carrots scream when you pull them, right?”

Where do you get your protein?

“So…you’re in a cult?”

We all have to die. So, why not enjoy yourself first?

Well, what did you eat when you were a toddler?”

“So all you eat are fruits and salads”

Wow that’s a lot of food! You eat all that?

“I can’t believe you eat all those starches.”

“You need to eat protein.”

“You can’t do it with diet alone.”

“I could never give up cheese.”

What DO you eat?

You can’t lose weight without exercising.”

” Well what’s left, what can you eat?”

You do not even use olive oil? Olive oil is healthy.

I will literally die if I don’t eat meat!

Nuts are good for you, why no nuts?

“You’re setting yourself up for osteoporosis and infertility.”

Everything in moderation!

You’re food is nasty, I wouldn’t eat it!

“What is hippie dust?”

“Carbs are so bad for you.”

Animals are meant to be eaten.”

I would get fat eating all those carbs!

Fish is not an animal, it’s healthy.”

I can’t afford to eat like that.

The bible says we should consume meat.

I don’t have time for all of that cooking from scratch. It’s not realistic.

“Come on…live a little!”

I could never give up cheese or ice cream!

You need healthy fats!

You need fat to absorb vitamins.”

Healing is much longer and harder when you are vegan (not enough protein).”

Why can’t you eat normal?

Do you think maybe your diet caused the kidney stones?

You have to spend all day in the kitchen.”

“It is too expensive to buy the proper cooking tools.

“You can’t tell me that you don’t miss a good piece of meat.

Why don’t you eat dried fruit? It’s good for you.

When you get to your goal weight, will you eat meat again?”

You can add some nuts back in when you get to your goal. They are healthy. It won’t hurt you.

Where do you get your calcium? You need to drink milk don’t you.

That so extreme!

I can’t do that. Maybe if I had someone to do all the cooking for me.

Carbs are not your friend…

You’re not getting enough good fats and protein. No wonder you feel tired all the time.

Why do humans have the kind of teeth we have if we aren’t supposed to eat meat?

One time isn’t going to hurt you!”

“No, I’m actually a healthy weight for my height.”

Are you trying to live forever?

“Well what CAN you eat then?”

“Okay, what did you give up this time?”

Humans need the vitamins found in meat.

What about all those GMOs and pesticides in vegetables, at least meat is clean.

I can’t do PD because I’m type O positive.

Soybeans cause cancer and soy gave me my thyroid problem.

I can’t give up coffee because I have to go to work.”

“I only eat organic fish.”

“You shouldn’t eat wheat it causes belly fat.

“That’s not a complete protein!”

“Do you eat fish?”

“Seafood?”

God created animals for us to eat.

Coconut oil is good for you, it is antibacterial, helps you lose weight, cures Alzheimer’s, cures cancer, blah, blah, blah. You can’t eat wheat or corn, those domestic crops are foreign to our bodies. I only eat grass fed organic meat and butter (grass fed butter?).

It won’t hurt you just this once to eat this.

It’s filled with things you don’t like to eat; meat, cheese, mayo…”

“You got to live a little.”

“One bite won’t hurt .”

Is it a religious thing?

“Your husband is going to get man boobs if he keeps eating all that soy.”

“Your kids are gonna crave meat anyway…why not give it to them and stop shoving your beliefs down their throats?”

“It’s extreme when you cut something, like meat or dairy out of your diet.

We each make our own choices, but with obesity levels continuing to climb something must be be done. Could it go as far as government intervention? Possible. The USDA 2015 Dietary Guidelines are up in public domain for comment before finalization (thanks Lani Muelrath). “The federal committee responsible for nutrition guidelines is calling for the adoption of “plant-based” diets, taxes on dessert, trained obesity “interventionists” at worksites, and electronic monitoring of how long Americans sit in front of the television.” There is a demand to “reduce unhealthy options,” limit access to high calorie foods in public buildings, “limit the exposure” of advertisements for junk food, a soda tax, and taxing high sugar and salt items and dessert.” *source

Gluten Free Challenge

30 Day Gluten Free ChallengeOne of the best parts of changing my diet has been learning a vast amount of information about nutrition. It didn’t take long for me to learn that what I was taught in school was not necessarily correct. Learning the basic food groups and the food pyramid early in life, I didn’t really call anything into question. Times change, so did how we eat over the years. Now I feel I have a much stronger grasp of nutrition, but like with life, I am always learning. Yesterday in Stop the Struggle, Lani Muelrath cites 4 steps to get going with your workout, but these steps I feel also apply to eating. Over the next 30 days I will take on a Gluten Free Challenge.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye, malts and triticale. It is used as a food additive in the form of a flavoring, stabilizing or thickening agent, often as “dextrin” (Wikipedia).” While I don’t have an intolerance to gluten or celiac disease, it has been reported that maintaining a gluten free diet can make you feel better. “Growing awareness of gluten sensitivity has led some people who struggle with gut problems but have tested negative for celiac disease to take matters into their own hands and try a gluten-free diet, even though it’s an extremely difficult diet to follow (CNN).

While it might be challenging, I don’t see this 30 day challenge being difficult. Instead of looking at what I cannot eat, I look at all the other grain options I have; corn, potato, rice, tapioca, amaranth, arrowroot, millet, montina, lupin, quinoa, sorghum (jowar), taro, teff, chia seed, and yam! Fact is, outside of baking my own wheat bread, I am probably close to a gluten free lifestyle now. As Chef AJ told me, “Many items have hidden gluten like soy sauce but you can use raw coconut aminos or miso for a salty flavor.”

I can see many readers shaking there heads and asking “why?” Isn’t it enough that I have given up meat, dairy and all oils, but to toss in gluten now. Some must think I am a glutton for punishment. Truth be told, if I happen to have more energy and feel healthier, why not? It’s only a 30 day period and I see it as another goal on my road to health. Along the way, I hope to learn more about gluten, as it relates to nutrition and cook some new recipes. “In fact, experts now believe that celiac disease represents just one extreme of a broad spectrum of gluten intolerance that includes millions of people… celiac disease affects about 1 percent of the U.S. population, experts estimate that as many as 10 percent have a related and poorly understood condition known as non-celiac gluten intolerance (NCGI), or gluten sensitivity (CNN).”

In the words of Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” Hopefully I will have “strong” report at the end of this 30 day challenge.

Stop the Struggle

Stop the struggle

A few days ago, Lani Muelrath posted 5 steps you can take to stop the struggle and get going with your workouts on her web site. The inspiration for this piece was a discussion that came off her Facebook page. “Research suggests that 50% of people who start an exercise program will drop out within the first 6 months (Wilson & Brookfield, 2009).” Without knowing it, I have surpassed that 6 months barrier, as I now approach 8 months of eating healthy and exercising. I was able to “stop the struggle” and move forward with a healthy lifestyle. Yet, it wasn’t always like this time.

Lani cites “Motivation” being the key when it comes to exercise. I know, I made excuses before, “I don’t have time” or “I’ll do it tomorrow” were two of my favorites. She explains 4 steps to stop the struggle and get started with your workouts are

Find the why
Imagine success
Be specific
Set the date!

Each of us my find the why, I did. “Why is it that you want to get healthy, lose weight, get stronger?” Thanks to Dr. McDougall and the basis of a plant based diet I eating healthier than ever before. The results were evident in my weight loss (44 pounds to date), but more importantly in my blood tests that resulted in a decrease of total cholesterol (currently 88 points to 174). Now that my “diet” was under control and I wanted to look better.

In January I added exercise to the equation, I worked out 3 days a week using our Bowflex Revolution. When I started this way of eating, the only exercise was 20-30 minutes of walking 4-5 days a week. This allowed me to ease into weight lifting and getting basic movements down. After 5 months I decided to step up the exercise and joined the local sports club. It was my goal to work out 3-4 days a week, while adding a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio to my exercise regime. To date, I feel great. Coupled with the loss of weight, I am trying to fill out my physique. I have noticed an increase in strength and some arm muscles being defined.

As Lani says, find the why is closely related to imagine success. A day doesn’t go by I imagine how I will look and feel by the end of year (or other dates I set as goals). I can feel my body changing, I see it in the mirror, when I work out and when I sit down to eat a healthy starch based meal.

Thankfully I have a gym partner who is an experienced lifting weights. He has developed a good program that has us working specific body parts 4 days a week. The work outs vary in movement in order to strengthen and develop muscles in each muscle group. This is what Lani terms as “be specific” and being “connected to your why.” This is more evident in the cardio workout. While I do push myself with the weights, I know my limitation. I have seen further improvement while on the elliptical fitness crosstrainer as I move from 30 to 45 minute sessions.

Not sure why it’s taken 42 years to “stop the struggle” and take full control of my health. It has been challenging at time finding the motivation to stick with these eating habits or to commit to go to the gym. The rewards to date have been more than worth it! It has been a learning experience every step of the way. While I don’t look to change anyone’s specific habits or diet, hopefully people will take notice of the changes that are occurring. That at least opens the door for possible change.