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

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.