Switching to a Whole Foods, Plant Based Diet
A few months ago, my husband went to the Doctor and found out his cholesterol was higher than it should have been. Around the same time, I watched the video, "Forks Over Knives", and was pretty shocked by the outcomes of people switching to a "Whole Food, Plant Based" Diet. One of the major changes was a lowering of cholesterol levels, so we decided to give it a try.
I'm a meat and potatoes kind of girl, but my husband likes virtually any kind of food. We figured this eating change would be easier for him than me. I can sum up the diet change for both of us in one word: Challenging!
Let's review some of the basics -
- No dairy (Yes, you heard me right. No butter, eggs, milk, cheese, etc....)
- No meat (Not even fish.)
- No oil (Oh, you thought olive oil was okay? Too bad!)
The goal is to get rid of anything that has a mother or is processed. At first blush, I wasn't sure what was left, but then I started to adapt.
How's Your Willpower?
Do you think you could make this eating change?
You noticed I said I am a meat and potatoes kind of person. That's right! I can eat potatoes and I love them. I can eat any kind of fruit and vegetable I want, and I don't have to count calories!
I thought that I would miss meat and cheese the most, but I soon learned I was wrong.
When my husband and I started this, we decided to give ourselves 1 day/week to eat anything we wanted. The 1st week, we treated ourselves to a fancy restaurant with an amazing Prime Rib dinner. It was glorious. The 2nd week, we still chose a nice restaurant with a good steak menu. It was still glorious, but not as spectacular as the 1st week. The 3rd week, I wasn't craving meat, but something like cheese fries, so that's what we went for. As we continued this journey, I noticed I was hardly craving meat at all.
I was craving salt and sugar.
I forgot to mention that I have a serious sweet tooth, and since sugar is processed, the diet suggests using honey, pure maple syrup or molasses. This is not my favorite part of the eating change.
Here are a few facts that we experienced:
- You will lose weight! (Major plus!!!)
- You will be hungry until you understand what you can eat and make changes in your kitchen
- Once you make those changes, you will be full
- You may feel like you're eating all the time (Again, another major plus for me!)
- You will need to look in your health food store or the health food section at the grocery store
- You can find convenient items to eat at the grocery store, but it's limited
- You will feel like you're eating side dishes
- 10% of what you eat can be whatever you want (Another major plus!!!)
After about 2 weeks on this eating plan, I had an oily face for a few days. Considering that I almost always have dry skin, this was pretty shocking. I believe my body was releasing some of the built up toxins. My stomach hurt for about a week until my body adjusted. My husband did not have the same problem. Sometimes I still get a slight stomach ache from my 1 day of "normal" eating.
I've lost about 20 lbs. since I changed my diet. My metabolism has never been fast, but as I've aged, (I'm 53), it has slowed to a crawl. I used to feel like food was stuck right under my ribs. Since the food I'm eating now is easily digested, I no longer experience this problem. You will be making more trips to the bathroom, but that's a good thing.
My diet before consisted of meat, starchy vegetables, sweets, and salads. I don't like most fruits and vegetables, but I have been able to eat the ones I do like, on a regular basis. I have been able to stick with this eating change more easily than my husband. Again, another shock since he likes fruits and vegetables, and virtually everything else. He had more difficulty with feeling like he never ate a meal. He's doing the diet about 50% and I'm doing it 80 - 90%.
More Compromise & Changes:
I use olive oil when I cook my potatoes or onions. That's part of my 10% and it works for me. Utz pretzel nuggets are a wonder. They're baked and have decent ingredients. They also provide great "crunch". Something I need! I love my salads, but I need great dressing, so salad dressing is also part of my 10%. I read ingredients far more now and if I can't find exactly what I'm looking for, I get as close as I can. (Ex: Baked Tostitos Scoops - great with salsa!)
There are some great books/cookbooks out there. The 2 that we use frequently are: "" the Cookbook by Del Sroufe; and " Forks Over Knives" by Rip Esselstyn. The Engine 2 Diet
Another plus is that my kids who are still living at home have adapted their eating habits. Initially, all we heard was that there was nothing to eat in the house. After a few months, the kids started asking for lots of fruit. They've seen positive changes to their bodies and are sticking with it.
My 77 year old Mom is following this eating change very strictly and has been able to eliminate her cholesterol medication completely. My husband hasn't had his cholesterol rechecked yet, so we're not sure how it's doing, but I think we'll see an improvement.
The Cholesterol Question
How's your cholesterol?
Emotions & Wrap Up:
What I also found out about myself, was that I was using food to control my "upsets". I've had to take a different approach with my emotions and become much more aware of them. There is very little reaching for a brownie to mask how I'm feeling anymore.
If you're thinking about a whole foods, plant based diet, talk to your Doctor 1st. I'm glad I made the switch and would love to hear your thoughts, questions, etc... on the topic. (Please keep it clean!)