Proper nutrition has been something that has interested me for a long time. Still, it was not top priority, and though I tried to eat right most of the time, there was a ton of wiggle room. I felt I could do better, but always put it off until later.
I became vegetarian in the early 90s when I lived with a wonderful couple who showed me how delicious a vegetarian diet could be. Living lower on the food chain made a lot of sense to me and coincided with my desire to live more simply overall. And with the way meat was being “manufactured,” I was not a big fan of consuming it. As far as my health, I rested comfortably in the belief that because I was vegetarian, I was safe from ailments that come from regular consumption of meat. My taste buds changed, and I had no desire to go back to eating meat. But dairy, eggs, and especially cheese were another story.
For the heck of it, In October 2009, I tried a cleanse. It was some European formula that involved drinking a solution three times a day, and eating mostly fruits and vegetables. Easy. Done. It felt good, although I can’t claim it had any miraculous effects. But just a few days later, on the road, I found myself very hungry and presented with the offer of a breakfast buffet at no charge. Those who know me will know that’s an offer I couldn’t turn down, so of course I overindulged in a cheese omelet, cheese grits, and buttered white bread. The next day I felt miserable, and for the next week, though I still had an appetite and managed to eat, my intestines decided to take a vacation, and I had no digestive movement.
An herbal remedy finally managed to get things moving, but I was left with a lump in my stomach as if I had swallowed a golf ball. Sometimes, especially after a big meal, it felt more like a tennis ball, and I worried that I would never again lean forward without awkwardness and discomfort.
In the hope it would go away on its own, and because it only really hurt after big meals, and also because we don’t have a good preventative health care system in this country, I simply lived with it, trying antacids and digestive enzymes, without results. Finally, after a year, I made an appointment at the Common Ground Health Clinic in New Orleans, where I offer tech support. The diagnosis was uncertain. It was explained to me that there are a lot of digestive disorders that doctors don’t really understand. Experimentation is used to try to relieve the discomfort. So I got a prescription for a beta-blocker, which I decided I would only use if it got worse, and some herbal formulas which helped temporarily. But the discomfort always returned.
I had my blood work done. I learned I was developing high cholesterol. Even though high cholesterol has led others in my family to taking staten drugs, I’d assumed that I was safe because I was vegetarian. It turns out this assumption was wrong, my years of loving cheese, yogurt dairy and cooking with oil were catching up to me.
While this report was on my mind, and no relief for my stomach I was visiting a monastery when a doctor friend introduced me to a book called “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell. I read the book with great interest, not only because of my ailment, but because, intriguingly, it explained that there are people who live without cancer, diabetes and heart disease… in rural China. Being outside the US health care system, I was eager to care for my body without ever being a burden on anyone else, especially my family. I was hungry for information, and had found a feast of it. After finishing the book I enrolled in the author’s online course taught through Cornell University.
After six weeks of fascinating lectures and great course discussions with other students, I received my certificate in Plant Based Nutrition. I had a new understanding about what we should and shouldn’t be eating. It had come on so quickly that midway through the course, I changed my eating habits and embarked on a new way of shopping and preparing meals.
I now eat a completely plant-based diet, have a wide repertoire of delicious meals, and after passing through the initial cravings for my former delights, have once again transformed my taste buds. They desire healthy fruits, vegetables, grains, beans and legumes, while processed, oily, cheese-covered foods have no appeal, and actually now look toxic to me.
I have more energy, sleep better than ever, and lost over 30 pounds, which makes me feel lighter and healthier than ever before. People keep telling me I look younger (which I now understand is a result of improved circulation). And, at last, my lump has disappeared without a single recurrence.
Since making this transition, I often run into others who have realized that it is time to take care of their bodies. After hearing my story, people have told me, “You should start a blog.” So here it is!
We need to stop listening to bogus health reports, stop following our mis-aligned system of food attractions, and not be a part of the horrible statistics that culminate in a generation that will not live as long as their parents.
We need to instead pay attention to the subtle directions of our bodies. We need to study the science of how our bodies digest and utilize the fuel we give them, and instead of listening to the latest health claims, look at the long term results of people who are living longer, healthier lives than we are.
I am here to help. Since receiving my certificate in Plant Based Nutrition, I continue to read everything I can get my hands on about a healthy, plant-based diet. I look for pitfalls, discover new recipes, and continue to see improvements in my life. And I am eager to guide others along this path.
I am not a medical professional. I ask you to listen to your own body. If something feels wrong and is a persistent problem, you should seek medical attention.
That said, I can tell you first hand, and from reading the work of numerous medical professionals, that a plant based diet, combined with moderate to extensive exercise, and meditation, will not only keep you from many diseases, but will help you live a happier, more energetic life, one that I look forward to sharing with you!
If you, too, feel called to explore these issues, please join me on this blog. Feel free to contact me directly with questions that you don’t feel comfortable sharing with everyone, but remember that others are likely experiencing the same things you are. Together, we can keep it fun. Add your own story, participate in any way you choose, and lets the journey begin together.