About Me

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Oregon, United States
Wife, mother, homemaker, teacher and aspiring writer. I love learning about health and sharing that information with others. But I am not a health expert, so please take any advice given on this blog at your own risk

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

After six months on a plant-based diet...

Just a quick note to update you on my progress: It's been just over six months since we started this plant-based diet and I continue to have increased energy, mental alertness, improved sleep and mood, clearer skin, and decreased cravings. Best of all I'm managing to keep the disabling effects of my Fibromyalgia at bay and am more in control of my health!

I'm really happy to report that I have now come off all of my prescription medications as well as nutritional supplements (other than vitamin D and vitamin B12). This includes my thyroid hormone; something which I never thought I would be able to do! On this diet, my body seems to be producing more of its own hormones again. So while I was still taking my medications, I was getting some adverse reactions  from an elevated level of hormones. When I gradually stopped taking them in medication form, these effects subsided.

The only drawback of coming off thyroid is that I am back to gaining weight more easily. Well on this plant-based diet, it just means I'm not shedding weight as I was when I switched to this lifestyle. This is a change I'm willing to live with because it feels great to not be dependent on medications! My doctor wasn't  too happy about me coming off my thyroid, but I have promised to show up for regular check-ups to monitor it.

Overall, I'm doing great (as is my husband) and I continue to spread the word about the Forks Over Knives documentary and The China Study book. I'm even in the process of writing my own book to document my plant-based journey and to share the recipes I used. So please watch this space for more details about this venture.

Happy health to you all!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Plant-Based Christmas

I didn’t blog last week because we had some very sad news in the family. It’s been a difficult time, especially with the holidays upon us. But we're doing the best we can to keep life going as usual.

It's been great having our kids back from college. I can’t believe how easily they've adapted to our plant-based lifestyle. I think it helped that we showed them the Forks Over Knives documentary when they arrived here. Now they understand our reasons for doing this. 

Today on Christmas Day, we all cooked a meal together as we usually do, only it was completely plant-based. My husband made some garlic string beans and some cheesy mashed potatoes. We used shredded, Pepperjack cheese made by Daiya because it's casein and dairy-free. We've also used it successfully for making cheese Quesadillas. My son made some cranberry sauce using fresh cranberries, agave syrup, and lemon zest. He also made some vegan stuffing using a packet from Wholefoods. My daughter made a split pea soup from the Forks Over Knives Way to Health cookbook and she'll be making some banana and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for dessert. 

As for me, I made a lentil loaf from the Forks Over Knives Plant-Based Way to Health book. Since it was the main course and I hadn’t made this recipe before, we bought some back-up main courses from Wholefoods. As it turned out the lentil loaf was great and works well for a holiday meal. But it did take quite a bit of time to prepare. Perhaps this was because I only had a tiny food processor to grind such a large quantity of mixture. It's made from lentils, carrots, walnuts, onions, garlic, oats and seasonings. We all agreed that it was a great Christmas meal and that we didn’t feel deprived of anything. Although my daughter said she missed having my husband’s honey glazed ham!

Hope you're all having a wonderful holiday season. I wish you the very best of health and a happy New Year.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

End of Week 12: A Plant-Based Holiday Season!

Wow it’s already been 12 weeks on this plant-based diet! We said we would try it for 10-12 weeks and that time is over. But because of all the improvements to our health, we want to continue, even through the  upcoming holiday season!

My husband is starting to notice more changes on this diet. He's feeling more energetic, happier, and has lost nine pounds. As for me, something changed after our road trip. I’m struggling to lose the weight I gained. I’m also experiencing a return to the symptoms I had when my thyroid was elevated: cravings, an increased appetite, and insomnia. I just had my routine thyroid test done so I’ll find out soon enough if these issues are due to the thyroid. Other than that, I'm doing great.

As we approach the holiday season, I can’t help but look back on how different my life was this time last year. I was suffering from debilitating pain, chronic fatigue, mental fog, insomnia, a depressed mood, and life as I knew it had ended. I can’t claim that these health problems have completely disappeared, but they have substantially improved and I have my life back!

This year I’m actually looking forward to the holidays J  I’m busy decorating the house and preparing for my children’s return from college. I'm still trying to figure our what I'm going to cook for them, especially on Christmas Day. My daughter is switching to a plant-based diet, but my son loves his meat. I’ll also be hosting my first plant-based dinner party at our home and don’t know what to make for appetizers or desserts. I’ve found some wonderful recipes in Forks Over Knives: Plant Based Way to Health which I’ll be trying out this week. I’ll let you know how these turn out.

I’d better go now, I have so much to do!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Weeks 10 and 11: A Plant-Based Road Trip

Over Thanksgiving break, we went on a 2000 mile road trip to visit our children at college and to attend a wedding. We made sure we planned the food for the journey. We took along a cool box full of vegetables, hummus, pita bread, olives, a couple of wraps and some freshly squeezed vegetable juice. For snacks we packed fruits and nuts and for breakfast we took cereal and almond milk. The only things we regretted taking along were the olives and pre-cut apples because they left a terrible acidic smell in the cool box and in the car. Otherwise, it felt good to be traveling so many miles without having to depend on junk food for sustenance. We had wonderful weather on the way and enjoyed picnics with our food at scenic rest areas.

Once we got to our destination, we had to depend on restaurants for meals. We soon discovered that buffets were a bad idea because we would end up eating fried foods we wouldn’t have eaten had we ordered from the menu. Restaurant meals in general tend to be rich in oil, cream, butter, salt, sugar, white rice, and white flour. So we decided to have a couple more picnics using fresh foods from a local store. This turned out great and our children enjoyed it too. Our plant-based diet seems to be rubbing off on them as they notice the incredible changes in us.

However, on Thanksgiving Day, our kids were a bit apprehensive about what we would be serving them. Luckily we found a Wholefoods store that had a healthy food bar with both vegan and non- vegan Thanksgiving foods.  So we all got to choose our own meals to take back to the hotel room. We did it! My husband and I managed to have a plant-based Thanksgiving! And I didn’t even have to spend the day cooking it! When we went around the table to give our thanks, I said I was thankful to Forks Over Knives and this diet for helping me regain my health.

After Thanksgiving, we attended a wedding with three days of food filled events. Luckily it was Indian food, so there were plenty of delicious vegetarian dishes to choose from. Needless to say we ate too much and could feel our clothes getting tighter and tighter. At least we danced a lot on the final day! 

Well it was no surprise that when we got back home and weighed ourselves, we had gained weight. But I hadn’t expected to gain this much! In 10 days I had put on three and a half pounds and my husband had put on one and a half pounds. Luckily as soon as we returned to our regular plant-based diet, the pounds started dropping off effortlessly. I also noticed that my husband’s mood and energy level improved.

Well all’s well that ends well!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

End of Week 10: I Reached My Goal Weight!

It's the end of week 10 and I've finally reached my goal weight! I lost almost one and a half pounds this week! When I started this plant-based diet I did it for the overall health benefits and so this weight loss is an added bonus! I have always had trouble losing weight and at one time I even joined Weight Watchers in a desperate attempt to lose the stubborn 15 lbs that I could not shed even through vigorous exercise at the gym. The goal weight I just achieved is one that Weight Watchers helped me set for myself all those years ago. I reached it once, but could never do it again. What's wonderful is that this time I've not had to restrict how much I eat. No counting calories or points, I just eat until I'm full!

As for my husband, his weight has stayed the same this week. He usually loses weight more easily than I do, but I suspect he's not consuming enough calories. He has only freshly squeezed juice for breakfast, fruit for lunch and then a regular evening meal. I remember being told at Weight Watchers that if  you don't eat enough, you will have trouble losing weight because your body thinks it's in starvation mode and conserves fat for future use. Also the doctors from the Forks Over Knives documentary inform us that we will have to eat more on a plant-based diet in order to consume enough calories. My mom was happy to hear that when she started this diet last week!

At the start of our plant-based journey I said we would be trying this diet for 10 weeks, until Thanksgiving, but because of all the health benefits we're experiencing we've decided to continue it. It will be interesting to see how we get through Thanksgiving as well as a wedding that we're going to this week. In my next blog post, I'll let you know how we do.

It's the first time I'm having to think differently about what to serve for Thanksgiving and it might be the same for you too. Are you struggling with what to cook for Thanksgiving? If you need some ideas, here's  a video of the  plant-based Thanksgiving meal prep with Julieanna Hever. You can watch it at https://www.facebook.com/forksoverknives?sk=app_142371818162. In a few days, the video will be removed from Livestream and uploaded to the Fork Over KnivesYouTube channel. If you have trouble accessing the video, the recipes are posted at http://www.forksoverknives.com/vegan-thanksgiving-recipes/.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

End of Week 9: Inspiring Others to Change Their Life.

I still feel great and have lots of energy, vitality and no pains, although I continue to experience some adverse reactions since reducing my thyroid and stopping two other hormones. My hair is shedding  and it takes a while for me to kick into gear in the morning. I’ve also been feeling really cold. I'm probably catching a cold because my husband has one.

As for  my weight, I was surprised that it stayed the same, even though I have been eating a lot more. What I found amazing is that I have gone down one clothing size! My husband also had some success this week and lost one and a half pounds. I think having only freshly squeezed juice for breakfast might have something to do with it! 

We are accumulating so much pulp from this juicing that I have had to find a way to use it.  Now I give a little to our dog and use some to make bean burgers. It's really easy, I just add a cup of brown rice (it comes frozen and pre-cooked at Trader Joe's), a can of black beans that I liquidize and a packet of taco mix (again I use the Trader Joe's one). Then I make this into patties and broil (grill) on high. This way we take in more fiber from the fruit and vegetables that we juice.

My husband is so into this juicing that last week-end he planned on doing a juice fast. He even took his own juice to the party we went to. But when we got there, he abandoned the plan, at least for the evening, because there were many yummy plant-based foods that we could eat. But I found it hard to resist some English chocolates that I hadn’t seen in years. There was no escaping them because there was a tin of Quality Street at either end of the table and I found myself looking longingly at them, even choosing which one I would eat. But I decided not to have one, because I can’t just stop at one. Instead, I ate some delicious vegan pasties. The same thing happened to me at Costco. They were offering samples of European chocolate cookies and other chocolate treats. But when I asked myself if I really wanted them, the answer was “no”. I was so proud of myself for resisting them and sampled some dried figs instead!

I wish everyone could feel as great as I am feeling and that's why I continue to promote this diet. Sometimes, the benefits of this lifestyle speak for themselves, such as when my dentist noticed that I have a spark in my eyes and that I seem more alive. My family has even noticed that I sound different on the phone, much happier and healthier. After speaking to me today, my dad was so inspired that he decided to start this diet with my mum. Our friends who invited us to the party were also impressed at how well we are doing that they finally took the plunge and started a plant-based diet.

It feels great to be inspiring others to change their life!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

End of Week 8: Harnessing the Power of Fruits and Vegetables

This week we each lost half a pound in weight. So far I have lost about seven pounds and my husband has lost about six and a half pounds. This is amazing because we are eating until we are full and don’t feel at all deprived. My husband had to travel again this week for three days. This time he was not as prepared as he usually is with taking along back-up meals. So when he couldn’t find suitable food, he ended up skipping a few meals. Other than that, he is staying on track.

This week he started using our new juicing machine and squeezes fresh juice every day for breakfast. He uses greens such as collard, kale, spinach, parsley and lettuce mixed with celery, cucumber, carrots, apples and lemons. I prefer more fruit in my juice and so I use two apples or an apple, a pear, some parsley, cucumber, celery and a tiny bit of spinach. I’m trying to cut back on cruciferous vegetables because I’m still trying to get my thyroid level down. 

My husband has found that the fresh juice gives him an energy boost in the morning and a feeling of well being throughout the day. This is how I have felt since the start of our plant-based diet. But my husband didn’t experience these benefits until now, because he wasn’t eating enough fruits and vegetables. Now he is feeling so great that he’s decided to go on a juice fast for the whole week-end. This is going to be a challenge, especially today because we have a party to go to. Luckily it’s a pot luck! I’m going to take along a vegetable tray with hummus so that my husband has something to munch on if he gets hungry.

Another benefit I have experienced on this diet is that I am getting so many compliments on my appearance. People keep telling me I look great and that I look younger than my age. I haven’t had these compliments in years, at least not from complete strangers! Then when I went clothes shopping yesterday (which I haven’t done for a while), I was so pleased at how good things looked on me. With all the benefits I am getting from a plant-based diet, it’s easy to stay motivated.

I also stay motivated by keeping informed about plant-based nutrition. I am currently reading the Engine 2 Diet by Rip Eppelstein who is the firefighter featured in the Forks Over Knives movie. We also watched a video clip by Dr. Matt Lederman and Dr Alona Pulde, the two doctors in the movie. They did an excellent livestream in which they took questions from viewers (see my links).

Well I’d better get going now and chop vegetables for the party!