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

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!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

End of Week 7: Reclaiming My Health!

My weight stayed almost the same, although when I weighed myself in the middle of the week, I was two pounds lighter. My husband gained one and a half pounds. He’s feeling a bit puffed up with fluid retention which he tends to get after travel. He just got back from a week-long business trip involving numerous flights. In one of the places he visited, he had a difficult time following a plant-based diet. Although he ordered carefully at restaurants, he thinks he ate some meals that had butter and cheese in them. I can’t believe these ingredients were not disclosed on the menu.

At the doctor’s office this week, it felt great to be reclaiming my health. When the medical assistant updated the list of medicines I'm on, I was so pleased to inform her that I’m no longer taking most of them, at least the supplements. And when I filled out that dreaded symptoms sheet that I have to fill each time, I had few symptoms to report (and those were probably medication related). When the nurse checked my blood pressure, it was a little lower than last month. I have a very low BP to begin with and am just concerned that it doesn't go down too much. But how much is too low? As for my thyroid, it was elevated as I suspected. My doctor explained that it’s probably because I’m eating more cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and kale). This is good news because it means my body has started producing more of its own hormone! Then I told my doctor about my goal of coming off all medications. She said I could start by lowering my thyroid dose to a quarter. She also said it would be okay to discontinue another hormone that wasn’t helping me anyway. I was ecstatic! I'll make sure I monitor any changes carefully and have my thyroid re-checked in five weeks.

Well it’s been four days since cutting back on these meds and I’m already finding that my body aches have increased, my hair is shedding a little and I still can’t sleep. Hopefully these symptoms will subside as the excess hormones leave my body. Other than that, I’m feeling really great! I’m also making further changes to how I eat.

A friend recommended that we watch the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead because it shows a diet with similar health benefits to ours. So we watched this movie on Netflix and found it truly inspiring. It’s about an Australian man who does a road trip across America, surviving on nothing but fresh fruit and vegetable juice for 60 days. He starts off sick and morbidly obese, but by the end of the film we see his amazing transformation. Along the way, he talks to many interesting characters and draws a following of people who are inspired to do the same.

We too were inspired, not to do a 60 day juice fast, but to incorporate freshly squeezed juice into our own regimen. First my husband did some extensive research and benchmarked different juicers. It was surprising how many types there are: masticating, centrifugal and triturating (twin gear). After much deliberation, we finally bought a vertical masticating type that can effectively handle leafy greens as well.

We’re off to Costco now to stock up on fruits and veggies to juice. And while we're there, I won’t be buying any Halloween candy as I usually do at this time of year. Now that my kids are at college and I’m on this diet, I will no longer be taking part in the candy giving tradition of Halloween. Although my cravings have subsided, I still don’t trust myself around leftover chocolate!

COMMENTS   I would love to get comments from my blog readers, but a number of you are having difficulty registering. So I have changed the settings to let people comment without having to register. Here are instructions on how to do so:

  1. Below the blog post you just read will be a gray bar with the word "comments' written on it in small letters (on mine it is written in green). If you click on that, it will open a "post a comment" box.
  2. Write your comment in that box. 
  3. Below that box it should say "comment as". Click on the drop down menu next to that to select whether you want to comment using an existing account like Google or if you want your name or  web address "name/url" to appear next to your comment. Or you can choose not be be identified at all by clicking on "anonymous".
  4. Finally, click on where it says "post comment" just below.
  5. You should see your comment online now! Thanks!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

End of Week 6: Having a Bad Week!

My husband was away again for part of the week. But he diligently kept to a plant-based diet and lost another half a pound, as did I.

On Tuesday we woke up to a power outage because of a storm. Amazing how much we depend on power; I kept forgetting I didn’t have any! First I tried to put my kettle on to make coffee and realized I couldn’t. Then I tried to use my blender to liquidize some ingredients I was using for a dahl and couldn’t.  Neither could I use my slow cooker to make it in! It’s not till we lose something that we really appreciate it.

Last Saturday we were invited to two parties in one night, and decided to go to both! The first one was a karaoke party at which there would be pizza. So we had dinner at Chipotle before getting there. I had a vegetarian bowl with black beans, lettuce, guacamole, brown rice, onions, peppers, hot sauce, and corn. My husband had the same, only in a burrito. The next party was a farewell for a friend who was leaving the country.  For that one, everyone was asked to bring a favorite snack to share. This suited our diet really well and we took hummus and pita bread. I was surprised at how full we still were because we hardly touched the snacks. We had a really late night and when we got home, I couldn’t sleep.

In the morning I woke up with pains in my joints as I get sometimes. Then I remembered that I ate peppers and tomatoes, inflammatory foods that I react to.  I was too tired and ill to cook that day, so I got my husband to make us a salad for dinner. The rest of the week, I continued to feel tired and to have trouble sleeping. When I tried to sleep, I was hyped up, as though I had consumed too much caffeine (which I hadn't). I'm also getting out of breath after my 20 minute walks. I’ve had these symptoms before, when my thyroid dose was too high. I wonder if this diet is helping my body produce more of its own hormones. At my last check-up, my thyroid levels were a little raised but my doctor made no changes to the prescription. I’m waiting for my current test results to find out what's going on. I’ll have to wait till next week because my doctor is out of town again. In the meantime, with her consent, I'm halving my thyroid dose because I can’t function like this.

Another change I experienced this week (and it might also be related to the thyroid) is that my cravings  have returned. I can’t understand it because I was doing so well at controlling them on this diet.  One day when I was craving cheese and knew I would be eating alone, I bought myself a soy cheese pizza (although I'm intolerant to soy). I planned on eating just half, but it was so yummy that I ate the whole lot!  I was surprised to find that I was still feeling hungry afterwards. The following day after dinner, I had a really strong craving for something sweet. Then I remembered the chocolates I found in the other room a few weeks ago, that my daughter had stashed away since Christmas. I should have just thrown them away! Suddenly, these year old, probably stale candies looked so appealing. But after eating them, I felt guilty and disgusted with myself. They didn’t even taste nice!

 I didn’t let that these setbacks affect me for too long. The following day at our health food store, I made better choices. I resisted the urge to buy vegan chocolates and other sugary snacks. Instead I bought some fresh fruit. However, I did buy some brown rice crackers and some organic, oil free, microwave popcorn. I know these are still processed foods, but it’s better than some snacks I can think of.

Well nobody’s perfect and we're going to slip up from time to time. We just have to do the best we can.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

End of Week 5: Coming off Supplements and Meds?

I have given up taking our BP measurements on our home kit. It’s so frustrating because we have to keep taking readings until we get a consistent result. Instead, we’re going to get it checked by our doctor and look at changes over a longer period of time. As for our weight, we each lost about half a pound. My husband still hasn’t noticed any physical changes in himself as a result of the weight loss, although he’s noticing changes in me.

This week I only managed to go for a walk three out of the seven days. Every time I planned on going, it was pouring with rain. I usually walk with my dog Jasper, but he developed a limp after walking with us last Sunday. The vet thinks my dog could be developing arthritis. Jasper is finally better, although the weather isn’t. Well, I don’t want to keep making excuses for why I’m not exercising, so I’m going to start using the gym on really rainy days (which will be most days for the next several months!)

Other than returning to the gym, I have another goal I want to work on. I want to come off my prescription medications. I was inspired by that guy on the Forks Over Knives movie who was able to stop all his medications after starting this diet. I want to start with my thyroid medication.  I just had my thyroid  re-checked and when I get the result, I want to ask my doctor how to come off it. This diet has done more for my energy than any medication or supplement has ever done. But I don’t know if it is even possible to come off thyroid hormone. I've heard that our bodies stop producing our own thyroid after we start supplementing it. I would love to hear from anyone who has tried to come off their thyroid hormone.

I have already cut back on the supplements I was previously taking. After reading Dr. Campbell’s advice in The China Study, I am confident that I can get the nutrients my body needs from a whole foods, plant-based diet. As I mentioned before, the only nutrients that Dr. Campbell says we may have to supplement are B12 and vitamin D. These should be taken in the daily recommended doses and not in the mega doses that we tend to take.

According to the findings of a new study released on the news this week, supplements like iron, copper, folic acid and zinc can cause early death in some women. Here is a link to that news report. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/44851929#44851929.

This week, I finally returned to teaching, at least as a tutor! It was great to be doing again what I do best, which is teaching students how to read and write. Right now, I’m working with adults with literacy problems, which is really rewarding. I love it! It's thanks to this diet that I have all this extra energy to be able to do this.

This diet is definitely improving my energy, mood, helping me lose weight and enabling me to be more productive!!!

Comments I would love to get some comments from my blog readers, but a number of you are having difficulty registering. So now I am letting people comment without having to register. Here are step by step instructions on how to do so:

  1. Below the blog post you just read will be a gray bar with the word "comments' written on it in small letters (on mine it is written in green). If you click on that, it will open a "post a comment" box.
  2. Write your comment in that box. 
  3. Below that box it should say "comment as". Click on the drop down menu next to that to select whether you want to comment using an existing account like Google or if you want your name or  web address "name/url" to appear next to your comment. Or you can choose not be be identified at all by clicking on "anonymous".
  4. Finally, click on where it says "post comment" just below.
  5. You should see your comment online now! Thanks!

    Saturday, October 8, 2011

    End of Week 4: Change Your Diet Before You Get Sick

    Weight  This week, my husband lost just over half a pound. I also lost just over half a pound. In four weeks, he's lost over four pounds. and I've lost over five pounds. I still can’t believe how we’re losing weight without even trying! My husband hasn’t noticed any physical changes in himself as a result of this weight loss, but I'm noticing the fat disappearing off me. I have a waist and cheekbones again! 

    Blood Pressure  My husband’s BP went up this week, the top number by seven and the bottom number by seven.  As for me, my top number went up by three and the bottom number went down by five. This is really weird! We don’t know how dependable these readings are because out BP monitor has been erratic and we're having to take a number of readings until we get a consistent result. On Monday, my husband has a doctor’s appointment and he'll  get a more accurate reading.

    I've noticed a bit of a change from last week. I’m feeling quite hungry in the evening after dinner, I’m also waking up later than usual and having a few aches and pains. Is it because of the change in weather to cold temperatures and dreary, persistent rain? It wouldn’t surprise me because the long, dark, Portland winters really affect my health.

    On a more positive note, when we put our bin outside on garbage day, we noticed how little garbage we're accumulating because we're not consuming any processed foods. It felt good to be helping the environment whilst also helping our health. Later, when I went grocery shopping, it also felt great to see all those fresh vegetables, fruits, whole foods, and legumes in my cart. It is so much better than feeling guilty or bad about putting items in there that we know we shouldn’t be eating.

    I  bought some flaxseeds this week, to add to our cereal. This is to ensure that we get enough Omega 3 Fatty Acids. We’ve also been using a little avocado instead of oil for salad dressings and eating a few olives for healthy fat. When it comes to fats, the Forks Over Knives: Plant-Based Way to Health book advises us to eat coconut in moderation. So I’m thinking of switching from coconut milk to almond milk.

    This week, we’ve been eating a lot of coconut as well as rice and potatoes because I’ve been trying some new Indian recipes. Some of these recipes are from a wonderful website I discovered called Show Me The Curry (see my website links). It has easy to use video recipes for Indian cooking, not all vegan though. The aromas in my kitchen were heavenly; fresh curry leaves, mustard seeds and fresh mint! It heightened the senses and brought about a whole new appreciation for food.

    Many of these recipes could only be made with white rice, although this diet requires us to eat whole grains like brown rice. I plan on eating less white rice in future. As for the potatoes, I think they cause an inflammatory reaction in me and so I need to cut back on those too. Potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants (aubergines), peppers, and mushrooms are all “Nightshade” vegetables and are known to cause inflammation in some people. It’s a shame because these vegetables also have many health benefits.

    A few days ago, when I phoned my friend in England to check up on her because she has breast cancer, she mentioned these inflammatory foods.  She told me about a book she’s reading called Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life by Dr David Servan-Shreiber. He had a brain tumor himself and devised a diet to try to combat it. She informed me that his anti- cancer diet avoids any kind of sugar and allows only natural sweeteners such as agave syrup. It requires patients to drink lots of green tea, eat whole grains, fruits and vegetables, but to avoid potatoes, other inflammatory foods and dairy products. It is similar to Dr Campbell’s diet, only that it allows the consumption of white meat. As a result of reading this, my friend is planning on changing her lifestyle, including her diet.

    It’s sad that we usually don’t make changes to our diet until we get sick.

    Saturday, October 1, 2011

    End of Week 3: Less Hunger, Less Cravings, Less Weight!

    Melon and lettuce have been in the news this week for listeria outbreak. I have a melon in the fridge right now and don’t know if it’s safe to eat. There’s no label to show where it’s from, so I think I’ll skip it and eat an apple instead!

    This week my blood pressure went down substantially; the top number decreased by 11 and the bottom number went down by two.  My husband’s blood pressure also went down; the top number decreased by three and the bottom number went down by seven. He also lost half a pound in weight and I lost three quarters of a pound. My husband did extremely well, considering he was away on business again for the entire week.

    One undesirable change has been that my hair is getting dry and lifeless. Is it because I've reduced the oils in my diet?  I’ll have to make sure I'm eating enough plant-based fats, such as avocados and olives. Strangely enough, my skin feels softer, especially on my face. I asked my husband if he's experienced any changes and he thinks his fingernails are looking more pink. I noticed the same thing about my nails a few weeks ago! 

    Another wonderful benefit of this diet is that my appetite has decreased! Usually I’m hungry all the time and crave foods like chocolate and cheese.  Although I’m eating a small piece of chocolate each day, I don’t have that out of control feeling around it. It's amazing that I still have that chocolate bar. As my family well knows, I usually devour chocolate the minute I see it and they have to hide all their candy from me!

    The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition by Julianna Heverexplains why people feel less hungry, have less cravings and lose weight easily on a plant-based diet.  A lot of this is to do with eating more fibre, which is bulky and keeps our bowels moving as they should. I've gained a wealth of information about plant-based nutrition from this book and will be using it to guide me throughout this dietary change. 

    Wherever I go, I find myself promoting a plant-based diet.  I did this a few days ago, when I went out for lunch with a friend. We went to PF Chang's, where I ordered Singapore rice noodles with vegetables and my friend ordered a chicken dish. When she inquired into my diet, I told her how it can reverse or prevent diseases such as heart disease. It turns out her husband just had a heart attack this week! She appreciated the information I shared and told me she would buy a copy of The China Study as soon as she left the restaurant. By the time our food arrived, she wished she’d ordered a vegan meal! 

    Lately, I’m having that effect on people who dine with me!

    Saturday, September 24, 2011

    End of Week 2: So Many Wonderful Changes

    I'm feeling powerful and more in control of my health than ever before. I can't believe that we've already completed two weeks on this diet! It's not been as difficult as I thought it would be. But for my husband it's been more challenging, because he's been away on a week long business trip. I'm really proud of him for working hard to stick with it using whatever food was available. He travels frequently, so I'm collecting tips from him that we can share with other travelers. You can go to that page by clicking on the tab above.

    When we weighed ourselves this week, I had lost almost half a pound and my husband had lost two pounds. When we checked blood pressure, mine was more or less the same, whereas, his had gone up a bit. The top number went up by nine points and the bottom number by four points. Perhaps this is due to his travel. We also indulged in some fried, salty food (which we shouldn't have) the night before we took the measurements. So that might be a contributing factor as well. We'll look into this further.

    Although I didn't lose much weight this week, I have this overall feeling of lightness and don't feel bloated as usual. I've also noticed that my belly fat is shrinking and I'm beginning to lose my love handles! How is all this happening and so fast? Usually it's difficult for me to lose any weight and right now I'm not even trying. I can't believe that I don't feel hungry between meals or crave anything. There was one day when I had more than my single piece of vegan chocolate and then I wanted more and more! But I'm finding that if I stick to just one piece, I don't have that craving. I've been drinking more water as I said I would and since the weather has been so great, I've started walking for 20 minutes each day. My husband did some walking too, during his business trip.

    Most of this week I've been able to fall asleep easily and to wake up refreshed and vibrant. I've had more energy, mental clarity and have been more productive. Even my husband has noticed these changes in me and is loving it! He says I have a sparkle in my eyes. I think I also have a skip in my step! I'm smiling more and just feeling happy to be alive! This feeling of wellness is motivating me to keep going.

    I would never have believed that food could do so much! I'm still not fully convinced. I keep wondering if I'm just feeling this way because of the wonderful weather we're having right now. Well, I'll  find out  soon enough, when the weather changes.

    I'd love to hear from others on this food journey. What changes, if any, have you noticed?

    Saturday, September 17, 2011

    End of Week 1: Amazing Changes in Weight and Blood Pressure!

    As I said in my previous post, I'll now be switching from daily to weekly posts to share the outcome of the previous week.

    This morning, I was excited about taking our weight and blood pressure measurements to see if anything had changed. Well, we were quite surprised at the outcome because we hadn't expected much change yet.

    My weight went down by almost three and a half pounds this week! I have no idea how, because I was eating more than enough food and not feeling deprived. My husband on the other hand had no change in weight.

    As for the blood pressure, measurements are written as a ratio such as 117/76 mm HG (millimeters of mercury). The top , larger number is called the Systolic and the bottom, smaller number is the Diastolic.

    Both my top and bottom numbers more or less stayed the same. Whereas, for my husband, the top number went down by about 15 and the bottom number went down by eight. It really surprised him that the diet could do this, and so quickly.

    After a quick breakfast, we went off to Vegfest at the Convention Center. We had a great time sampling all the yummy vegan foods and collecting coupons for products from area stores. My husband was so happy to discover some great tasting ice creams, while I was happy to find my vegan chocolate! We were also looking forward to hearing one of the guest speakers, but the  room was already full and we watched an entertaining cooking demonstration instead.

    Tonight, we're going to a South Indian restaurant to have Masala Dosas (crispy, rice/lentil crepes stuffed with spicy potatoes and served with coconut chutney and Sambhar, a tangy, vegetable curry made from lentils). It's my husband's favorite food!

    I think I'm going to cook more of our favorite Indian foods for a while, because they work so well for a plant-based diet.

    Friday, September 16, 2011

    Day 7 A Happy Morning

    The day started off great. It was supposed to rain but the sun stayed out long enough for me to go for a 20 minute walk with my dog. I was in a joyous mood, appreciating everything I have in my life.

    Breakfast: Mango smoothie with coconut milk.

    Lunch: 1 wholewheat pita, 2 tbsp hummus, a cucumber/avocado salad with sunflower seeds sprinkled on it.

    Snack: Banana and a decaf green tea.

    Dinner: Brown lentil dahl with  rice and salad.

    Snack: A few nuts

    It ended up being a stressful day. I wonder if that will affect our blood pressure reading tomorrow because we'll  be taking our weight and BP measurements tomorrow.

    From tomorrow, I'll be switching to doing weekly posts only, to update you on the week's progress.

    I need to relax in front of the TV now, it's been one of those days.

    Thursday, September 15, 2011

    Day 6: Noticing so Many Changes

    I ended up oversleeping this morning because I couldn't sleep all night. Don't know what messed up my sleep. The only thing I did differently yesterday was that I took my new medicine. Although sleeplessness is not listed as one of its side effects, medications can affect people differently. I expected to be groggy for the rest of the day because of lack of sleep, but I wasn't.

    This morning, I noticed  that when I put my jeans on, they felt loose. For a while I thought I had put on the old ones that are a size bigger; I even went up to check. But they were the right ones. They just didn't feel as tight as they usually do. I also didn't feel bloated like I did before.

    I tidied up the house quickly because I had invited my new neighbor over for coffee. I wanted to make a fruit smoothie for my breakfast but I only had time to eat a quick cereal.  My neighbor and I talked for so long that we didn't notice it was past lunch time. I was surprised that I wasn't hungry;  I'm normally starving by noon!

    Breakfast: Fortified cereal with coconut milk and some slices of cantaloupe melon.

    Snack: A few Brazil nuts and a decaf green tea.

    Lunch:  A brown rice cake with 1 tbsp almond butter and a salad of  guacamole, lettuce and shredded cabbage.

    Snack: An apple

    Dinner: Stew (potatoes, peas, carrots, peppers, green beans) with some toasted wholegrain bread (gluten-free for me because I also have a gluten intolerance).

    This evening, I've been reading more of The China Study. While I was reading, I felt really cold and found it difficult to get warmed up. I've been like that for the last couple of days. I keep checking if the A/C is still running, but it's not. The weather is changing here, getting cooler, so maybe it's that. I've also noticed  that my fingernails are looking really pink. I have poor circulation so they usually stay whitish. Could this be anything to do with the diet.? I really can't imagine it having  an effect on the body that fast. I'll ask my husband if he's noticed anything about his fingernails. It turns out he hasn't.  It's easy to attribute everything to the diet, so I'll have to watch for that.

    Well, it's off to bed early for me today. Goodnight.

    Wednesday, September 14, 2011

    Day 5: What The China Study Says About Supplements

    Another great day. I had more energy than I’ve had for a long time.  I finally submitted my short story and poem for publication!

    Breakfast  Same fortified cereal but with ½ cup blackberries and ½ cup blueberries and coconut milk.

    Lunch  Leftovers of the sweet and sour stir fry and the rice spaghetti.

    Snack 1 cup blueberries

    Dinner 1 cup black bean curry with 1 cup  quinoa with mixed vegetables.

    The books that we ordered  finally arrived. Now I can learn how to actually do this. I also found out from the  Forks Over Knives Facebook page, that in September/October they're releasing a new movie to show how to follow this diet. I really need that!

    I’m off now to a doctor’s appointment. I recently developed an infection (thanks to a particular medication) for which I was put on an antibiotic. The infection finally cleared,  but it turns out that I have picked up a secondary infection because of the antibiotic. Sound only too familiar?  This convinces me even more to let my food be my medicine!

    It turns out that my doctor is okay with me being on this diet and thinks I should be able to get most of my nutrition from it. But she did caution me to be careful about getting enough Zinc because vegans can become deficient.

    While I was in the waiting room, I read some of The China Study book. It seems that Dr. Campbell disapproves of the use of dietary supplements and believes that everyone should get as much of their nutrients from food itself. He explains how vitamin B12 is more problematic and that we 're unlikely to get enough of it from a plant-based diet. He also accepts that vitamin D supplementation may be needed for people who spend a lot of time indoors or live in northern places and get less than 20 minutes of daily sun exposure.

    When I got back home, I read some of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition. When I ordered this book, I really did feel that ignorant about veganism! What I like about this book is that is really begins at the beginning and is great for those like me who are clueless about plant-based nutrition. It also de-mystifies terms like "free radicals" and "anti-oxidents". I especially like the nutrition charts that show how much of each nutrient such as zinc or calcium foods contain. An added bonus is that it includes recipes at the back of the book.

    After reading it, I'm feeling more confident about plant-based nutrition!

    Day 4: Feeling so Energetic!

    Again woke up ready to take on the day.  I had enough energy to finally organize our closet.

    Breakfast  Same cereal as yesterday with coconut milk, only with ½ cup blackberries and ½ banana for the fruit

    Lunch  Leftovers of the dahl, okra and some pita bread.

    Mid afternoon snack  The other half of the banana and ½ cup of blackberries

    Dinner  Spicy, sweet and sour vegetables. We had that with a side of the leftover dahl and some brown rice spaghetti (didn’t have any noodles at home).

    Because I’m still in the habit of cooking for four, I end up with enough leftovers for our lunch. But if we’re to include more nutrients, I need to vary the meals more.

    Day 3: Figuring out Nutrients and Supplements

    My weight went up by about half a pound today. Maybe I shouldn’t be weighing myself each day because even small fluid fluctuations can cause that.

    The good news is that I woke up at around 7 am without the use of an alar m clock. I felt quite refreshed, which is unusual for me. 

    Breakfast A gluten-free, fortified breakfast cereal from Trader Joe’s with coconut milk (not the kind in a can but the milk alternative that comes in a carton) and ½ a fresh banana and ½ cup of blueberries.

    Lunch   Had two leftover chick pea crepes with a spring mix of lettuce and carrots. My dog enjoyed some carrots too!

    Snack  I cup of blackberries

    Dinner  One cup of  okra in a spicy onion and tomato sauce , one cup of yellow dahl (like a lentil soup) and one pita bread.

    Evening snack A handful of cashews.

    Still forgetting to drink enough water.

    I’m noticing that on this diet I’m not feeling hungry all day as I usually do, not craving anything either.

    Spent hours learning about which supplements to take. Dr. Andrew Weil, who believes in natural healing advises vegans to take:

    1.      A good multi vitamin.
    2.      Calcium citrate and magnesium citrate in a ratio or 2:1 with women needing 1000-1,200mg in two doses of 500-600mg with meals. He doesn’t say whether men on a vegan diet need it?
    3.      Vitamin C   200-250 mg in divided doses to help absorb iron.
    4.      B12   50=100 mg.
    5.      Vitamin D3   2000 IU. I discovered that vitamin D3 doesn’t come in veggie form. There is a vegetarian D2 but doctors like Andrew Weil recommend everyone, whether vegan or not to take D3 . So I will continue with that until I discover a better alternative. 
    6.      Omega 3 fatty acids   I usually take fish oils for that. Dr. Weil suggests that vegans should take at least plant-based DHA. I did find an algae based one that is new on the market, but it was out of stock.

    This week-end, there's an event called Vegfest that we are going to at the Oregon Convention Center. The Forks and Knives movie will be showing there at 5pm on both days and a number of guest speakers will be sharing information. I’m hoping to find out more about nutrients from them, including how to avoid oils completely. It’s difficult to do that because many dietary supplements have oil in them. I also want to ask why olive oil, which is so healthy, is not allowed on this diet.

    In the evening, I watched Food Inc on Netflix instant play. It was quite graphic and I think I’ll never be able to eat meat again after seeing it!! It was very informative and revealed what happens behind the closed doors of our food production.

    Went to bed a little earlier than usual. I actually fell asleep as soon as I hit the bed!

    Day 2: Legumes, Grains, Fruits, and Vegetables

    We started the morning feeling quite bloated today. It could be because we ate so  late or because we 're not  used to eating so many legumes and vegetables. I have read somewhere that our bodies gradually adjust to eating beans and lentils and produce enzymes to deal with them.

    Breakfast  Birchermuesli again.  

    Lunch   We made  a kind of crepe/ omelet from chick pea flour and had that with a strawberry/nut/spinach salad.

    Dinner   Black eyed pea curry with brown rice and  a cucumber salad.

    We also had a glass of red wine in the evening.

    I couldn't sleep, probably because I was in front of the computer for too long.  Staying up so long meant I ended up having a late evening snack of a few cashew nuts, a few too many!

    I haven’t been drinking enough water, which is something I need to change.

    Saturday, September 10, 2011

    Day 1: Goodbye Meat, Dairy, Fish, and Oils

    Day one of the diet begins!

    Goodbye meat, fish, dairy and oils. How am I going to survive?

    We started the day by weighing ourselves, then checking blood pressure on our home kit. I'll share any changes with you later. My husband was amazed at how low my blood pressure is. His blood pressure on the other hand is much higher and that's one of the reasons he's doing this diet. He says that with my blood pressure, I could have been a long distance runner. Yeah, more like running in the direction of the ice cream truck!!

    For breakfast, we ate a healthy meal of Birchermuesli (oat flakes, raisins, grated pear, lemon juice, agave syrup,  and ground mixed nuts to which we added our milk alternative). This is a recipe from Leslie Kenton's 10 Day Clean-Up Plan, a detox diet  that my sister introduced me to in England. After breakfast, we set off to a U Pick farm nearby to pick some organic blueberries and blackberries. It's the first time we've done this and learned how not to do it next time!

    The blueberry picking was easy and we hardly had to bend. We even ate some as our midday snack. But the blackberry bushes were growing wild everywhere and there were few good blackberries left. That's when my husband's primal instincts kicked in and next thing I knew, he was on the hunt in a mound of thorny bushes. I on the other hand played it safe and stayed along the edges where I was less likely to get hurt. When he emerged out of there, he was covered in scratches and I couldn't tell if he was dripping with blood or blackberry juice! But he said it was all worth it and we managed to gather a whopping 10 1/2 lbs of berries!. Although it was tiring picking berries for two hours in the blazing heat., we felt invigorated afterwards.

    When we got back home, we had a lunch of sandwiches made with hummus and some of the cucumber we bought at the farm. Yum, it tasted wonderful! Then after a long rest, we are heading off to the grocery stores to stock up with what we need for the week. For dinner we'll eat out, either a create your own stir fry or a salad bar meal at one of the health food stores. I must remember to wash and freeze most of the berries.

    All in all it was a great first day of the diet!

    The Preparations Continue...

    I've been quite overwhelmed trying to prepare for this. There's still a lot to learn. My biggest concern is   how to ensure we don't get deficient in anything.  I've been reading about nutrients needed on a plant-based. diet. Many medical professionals recommend supplementing with nutrients such as  B12, Omega 3 Fatty Acids and possibly Calcium . It's reassuring to know that doctors like Andrew Weil,, Sanjay Gupta and Mehmet Oz approve of vegan diets.

    I've been gradually transitioning to a plant-based diet by changing one meal a day. My husband on the other hand prefers an all or nothing approach and wants to start this fully in a few days. Now I  just need to  find recipes for nutrient rich meals that we will love.

    My search led me to a couple of Borders book stores that are closing down. But all their recipe books had already sold out. Instead I walked out with a pile of books I hadn't planned on buying!!!

    Feeling tired now because I've been up for hours looking at websites such as the www.engine2diet.com, www.happyherbivore.com and www.fatfree.com. I finally found many suitable recipes. Just don't know where to begin because they all sound delicious, especially the desserts!

    Now for some sleep...

    Thursday, September 8, 2011

    Preparing to Switch to a Plant- Based Diet

    These are my concerns right now:

    • How will I get enough protein and calcium?
    • How do I ensure a balanced diet and avoid deficiencies?
    • How will I do this without the use of soy since I'm intolerant to it?
    • What will my friends and family have to say about my decision to do this? The word vegan has such negative connotations for many people.
    • What will my doctor have to say about this drastic change in diet?
    •  How time consuming is this cooking going to be and will I be able to keep it going?
    • On days when I can't cook, will I be able to find suitable, easy meals?

    To learn more about what we are about to do, we've  ordered a copy of The China Study   and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition (see my book list). I''ve also started to research online. It was interesting discovering how many vegan celebrities there are such as Ellen Degeneres, Alec Baldwin, Paul McCartney, Bill Clinton, Bryan Adams, Karl Lewis, Carrie Underwood, Mike Tyson, and Portia Di Rossi. I was surprised (and pleased) to note how many of them were males.

    Through meetup.com, I have discovered a Forks Over Knives meetup group that is forming in my area. Once the group gets going, I'll be able to connect with others starting this journey and share ideas. I'm also looking out for tips on the official Forks Over Knives Facebook page.   I want to be sure I'm doing this in the healthiest way possible. I did want to consult  my doctor, but she's out of town for the next few weeks. I'll definitely speak to her when she gets back.

    This is the ideal time for us to be doing this, with both our kids at college this year. I've already cleared the house of all the junk foods that teenagers love. Now we're trying to finish the meats and dairy because I just don't like throwing away food. But this means that we're eating even  more animal protein than we usually do!  I also succumbed to a chocolate bar today, thinking it might be my last one for a while because I don't know if there are any good tasting dairy-free ones. Without chocolate this is going to be harder than I thought!

    I'd better get going on this if we are to complete 10 weeks on this diet before we see our kids for Thanksgiving! Now  I'm off to make a list of all the vegetarian foods and meals we already eat  and create a new menu from there. The Indian vegetarian meals I cook can easily be incorporated into it.  I'll also look up restaurants and food stores I can turn to. There should be plenty of those in Portland!

     I'm lucky to be living in the best city for veganism. :)

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    Watching Forks Over Knives, an Eye Opening Documentary

    Last Thursday my husband and I watched Forks Over Knives on Netflix instant play. It is a documentary based on the book The China Study by T. Colin Campbell PHD.

    It was quite an eye opener! The two researchers Dr. T Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn present some outstanding research. They show how a plant based diet in which dairy, oil, meat, and fish are excluded can help us lose weight, increase energy and prevent or reverse diseases such as cancer and diabetes. In one experiment they turn cancer on or off simply by increasing or decreasing the amount of animal protein intake. Isn't that amazing?  I'm all for natural and nutritional therapies so I loved it! "Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food" -- Hippocrates.

    The evidence presented in the documentary was so convincing that we have decided to make this dietary change for at least 10 weeks to see if we get any health benefits from it. If we do, we'll continue.

    I couldn’t believe that my husband agreed to do this because he loves his meat!  I on the other hand prefer vegetarian food and have always wanted to be a vegetarian.  I do love my cheese, so going vegan will be a challenge for this reason.