If I had collected even a penny for every time this question was posed to me after someone found out I ate a plant-based diet, I could probably retire! The truth is, it is a valid question and one I am happy to answer. It gets tricky depending on the inquisitor’s point of reference with foods outside the SAD(Standard American Diet). The vast vast majority of people believe with all their core that they eat “really healthy.” Then they toss out statements like, I can’t seem to lose wight as I age, I am tired all the time, I take a statin, etc. All of that aside, for every person their choices of diet and lifestyle are personal. Usually when a person chooses to deviate form the societal norm, they are driven by either an ethical or medical issue. For me, it was a medical issue.Now I include the ethical atrocities against animals that are factory farmed in my ethos as well. When I began to search out ways to heal my body without drugs, I basically stumbled along reading stuff online and trying out things. I was extremely fortunate to have stumbled upon the book, The Chin Study, by T. Colin Campbell. It truly was life changing. After reading T. Colin Campbell’s book, I was convinced that eating a plant-based diet was the way to health. At that time, the ground breaking documentary Forks Over Knives, had not come out, so I stumbled along making a ton of mistakes, not really knowing how to eat a BALANCED plant-based diet. I had never been much of a meat eater, but I was a cheese and yogurt addict. I had always been a huge foodie and cooking was a favorite hobby. That being said, I had no experience in using alternative foods like tofu, tempeh, TVP, non dairy milks, various grains like Teff and Amaranth. I had eaten tofu at Chinese and Japanese restaurants and that was it. I stupidly bought all kinds of processed “vegan” foods. Folks, just because it says vegan does not mean it is good for you. Fortunately, this only went on for about 2 months before I saw FOK. This motivated me to enroll in Cornell’s T. Colin Campbell Foundation program and earned a professional certification in plant based nutrition . Wow…I learned so much and continue to learn. Through this fantastic program, I continually avail myself to all the professional resources made available. Literally in a year, I went from being what I call a “french fry vegan,” to living truly a WFPBD(whole foods plant based diet) lifestyle. I feel great now. I no longer have any inflammatory conditions such as Psoriatic Arthritis, IBD, chronic eczema, acid reflux, or fatigue. Additionally, although I am 49, I do not struggle at all with middle age weight gain. I am 5’61/2″ and weigh 118. My cholesterol is 124, and it had previously been 220 albeit my HDL had been 85. In fact, last year when my annual physical blood work results came back, the doctor called me back in thinking the lab had made a mistake. I had a bone density scan and I have the bones of an 18 year old. My doctor literally asked me what was going on. HIs exact words were, I never see women your age with these kinds of results, let alone a patient with a significant medical history of RA. And to his great great credit, he asked me to sit in his office and talk about my diet. He was humble enough to admit that he and most doctors receive only 2 weeks of nutrition training in medical school. He was already quite knowledgeable and believed in the efficacy of diet to heal. He did not know that dairy is the leading cause of osteoporosis but he was familiar with the effect of your body’s PH (alkaline vs. acidic) on health in general. Thank you Dr. Conlen for your genuine interest and support of my lifestyle. So, finally, this brings me to answer what do I eat in a typical day.
I am big fan of juicing. When I am home and not flying, I always always begin my day with a green juice. There is a difference in juicing and making smoothies. Both are excellent, but serve different purposes. I use a Breville juicer which is a centrifugal juicer. My go to recipe is 4 kale leaves, handful of parsley, big knob of ginger, half a cucumber, 2 celery stalks,1 lemon(peeled) and 1 small apple. I stir in 2 Tbsp. of chia seeds. I crave this drink. This drink is very alkalizing which is ideal. Disease cannot flourish in an alkaline environment. I drink it immediately so the enzymes are immediately absorbed by my body. My body does not have to “oxidize” the nutrients to use them. And this is how juicing and smoothies differ. While smoothies do contain the fiber, your body does have to break down the fiber to use the nutrients. Also, since the fiber was emulsified, there is a greater spike in blood sugar. However…I save the pulp from my juice and around 10 or 11 in the morning, I put some in my Vita-Mix along with a frozen banana or avocado and enjoy a smoothie. This is my mid morning routine. For lunch I usually have some sort of salad or grain bowl. Yesterday I had falafel chopped into quinoa and kale with tomatoes and tahini dressing. I also ate 2 Honeybell tangerines and a half an Ezekial English muffin. For dinner, I wasn’t too hungry so I had a sweet potato stuffed with tempeh and chopped apple. I literally couldn’t eat the whole thing. Around 8 pm I was feeling “snacky” so I had some of my delicious cashew queso dip with a few Triscuit crackers. I wasn’t hungry just restless watching a movie. My husband starting eating a Klondike bar (hubby is a die hard junk food eater) so I begged him to try my vegan soft serve. Now, this is a man that proudly admits he hates vegetables but he will eat fruit. My vegan soft serve is literally a frozen banana in the Vita-Mix. I’m not kidding…one ingredient. I quickly blended up a serving and topped it with my AMAZING chocolate lentil granola. I didn’t tell hubby the crunchy topping was lentils. He devoured it and said it was so good he was glad he agreed to eat it instead of finishing the Klondike. Score! I also ate a small amount of the soft serve, probably around a 1/4 cup or less. I wasn’t hungry. And that is the thing. I am so satisfied eating plant-based. I eat when I am hungry. I do not count calories or carbs or any of that trendy stuff. I do not crave sugar or fat now. These are addictive substances, so you do in fact crave them. They are also acidic foods. Surprise, huh? I eat what I want when I want. My body craves good food now. It really is that simple. I eat a rainbow daily. That way I can be sure I am getting all the vitamins and nutrients needed. Do I ever slip up? Sure….I eat junk sometimes. I also ate a few stone crab at an event in December. At Christmas, I ate my Dad’s turnip soup and it contained dairy. It was yummy, but almost instantly, I had indigestion. My body just doesn’t want these foods anymore.
Here is the take away…your journey is just that…yours. If you want to feel better, age gracefully, stop or reverse health conditions that plague our society like elevated cholesterol, high BP, diabetes etc, then please look at a WFPBD. There are many many resources available to help you in your journey. My next post will address how I eat on the road. That is a much tougher challenge.