Considering a Plant Based Diet

The Year of Health has become even more important with my husbands unexpected heart attack and need to quadruple bypass surgery. As he recovers from a surgery, that seems inconceivable to me, we are researching what we need to do to protect him from having to go through anything like this again. We also want to protect our son from being where his dad is in 30 years. The genetic risk lives on chromosome 19. I learned this this week. The idea that a 15 yearly boy has to be tested for high cholesterol is mind boggling to me. We had already dubbed 2020 as our “Year of Health” even before this event. Now it is even more important for our whole family.

Diet and exercise seem to be the two areas where we can make an impact. We had committed to at least 10,000 steps a day and 52 hikes this year. We may need to do some urban hiking to make this work. Today instead of the hike we had planned, Marty took his first walk down the hall on the intensive care unit. We may have to double up on hikes later in the year to make our 52, but we will get there.

As soon as my brother heard about Marty’s heart attack he suggested a plant based diet. My brother follows this type of diet and it prevented him from needing to be on medication for his cholesterol. It also probably prevented him from a fate similar to Marty’s, as we have family history of hear disease. I have been pescatarian since 2011. I travel for work so have been hesitant to give up dairy, eggs, and fish. Marty eats what I cook but when he eats separate from me, he eats the typical American diet. Wanting to protect our family from having this ever happen to anyone we love again, got us seriously looking at plant based diets. My 9 years eating things without legs has taught me how to cook some amazing meat free dishes. I am confident that I can bring this to the next level. But, does a plant based diet really work?

We started research by watching some documentaries on Netflix. What the HealthFork over Knife, and The Game Changers provided us with information that was so surprising. A friend recommended a YouTube Channel Krocks in the Kitchen, which led us to another one called, The Jardoui Family. The YouTube channels provide some great ideas as well as wonderful inspired recipes. The host of The Jardoui Family shared her story and it was just as my brother had said. eating a plant based diet restored health and prevented the need for the Statin drugs that are often used to reduce cholesterol. It confirmed what the documentaries had said.

Can we do this? Sure, why not! Planning ahead and cooking for ourselves will be key in being successful on a diet like this. More and more restaurants are offering plant based food. In the Twin Cities we have The Herbivorious Butcher, which has wonderful options.  When I first stopped eating animals back in 2011, I just tried it and thought, “I will see how long I can do this”. Now, 9 years later, I am looking at taking the next step for my health and the health of my family.

May you always have good health. I love you!

If you have any fabulous plant based recipes  or information you would like to share, please post them in the comments. Thank you. If you want a natural way to improve your health, I recommend you watch the documentaries.

 

What Is Healthy Eating?

What is healthy changes from age to age and time to time. At times it seems more about what is popular culturally. Look at the poor egg. It is healthy; then it isn’t. Then it is again. People have been eating them since the beginning of time, but the information out there about them has been confusing. There are so many diet options available: Gluten Free, Paleo, Vegan, Raw, Clean, etc. How can a person know if they are truly eating healthy?
I have a friend who is a Chef. She also happens to have celiac disease. She must eat gluten free for her health. She makes wonderful, nutritious, and flavorful meals. Someone asked once if she makes everything gluten free. She replied yes. That the people who ate her cooking are eating healthy even if they don’t know it. This got me thinking about the idea of eating healthy. Certainly for her and many other people eating gluten free is very healthy. Their bodies do not handle or are not able to process the gluten in the food. However, I have a similar food allergy to rice flour. Many gluten free products substitute the wheat flour with rice flour. My body reacts and I get very sick from even a small amount of rice flour. Eating gluten free (when rice flour is used) is not healthy for me.
My brother is Vegan. He chose to become vegan after reading a book called the China Study. It is a very interesting read and makes a great argument for the health benefits of not eating animal products. I have been pescatarian (a vegetarian who eats fish occasionally) for a number of years. I attempted to live the vegan lifestyle due to my brothers influence and after reading about the benefits in the China Study. It did not work for me as a part of my lifestyle. I travel for work and am on the road at least 4 days almost every week. Some of the places I visit do not have great options for plant based protein in restaurants. My blood sugar drops low if I do not have a significant amount of protein with my meals. Eating Vegan, while on the road, is not a healthy diet for me.
I know people who have tried to be vegetarian or vegan, but ended up going back to meat because they became weak and did not get the nourishment that their bodies required. Their vitality just seemed to be lacking. Once they added some meat back into their lives, their energy improved. I also have had friends that the stress of making a second meal for family members who eat a different diet made it to difficult. The toll, stress was taking in their life, made it worse for their health than eating the same diet as others in their life.
Certainly there are things we can agree that are not healthy to ingest in our bodies. Much of what we consider a healthy diet is really about personal choice and listening to our bodies. Get to know your body. What foods make you feel good and which ones do not. Healthy eating is as individualized as we are.
What kinds of food make you feel best? Have you tried a diet that others felt was healthy and wasn’t a good fit for you? What did you learn about yourself through that process?