On May 26, 2012, our oldest son asked us to watch "Forks Over Knives" -- the eye-opening documentary about the correlation between food and dietary illness. At the time, I was a sedentary Type 2 diabetic, and fast-food junkie, who weighed 220 pounds (at 5'2" tall), and I was taking oral meds three times a day.
After we all watched the film, my 138-pound husband (who is an athlete but had hereditary high cholesterol) announced that we were going to change our lives. He promptly threw out all animal products and processed foods from our home and declared us 100% whole foods, plant-based eaters...COLD TURKEY. You would think I would have been devastated; but honestly, I was actually RELIEVED.
Being an avid cook already, this was actually a lot of fun for me. I bought cookbooks and scoured the Internet for plant-based recipes. I learned how to improve the nutrient value and healthfulness of recipes, and as a result, my â€œMrs. Plantâ€ food blog was born. I wanted to create low-fat, whole foods, plant-based recipes that families could enjoy together (even if some of the members were omnivores!). I truly had a blast diving into this new lifestyle. And, the weight started to come off--for the first time in two decades! In addition, I got off all my meds in ONLY three months! I was on the path to good health, and it felt fabulous.
But, I'm not going to lie to you. Though I have eaten 100% plant-based the entire time, I have had time periods where I ate more processed "vegan" foods. Immediately, my body fought back. My blood sugar would spike and my cholesterol would elevate. I have learned in three years that eating a WHOLE FOODS, plant-based diet is the ONLY way to reverse illness effectively.
The doctor I was seeing when I got off my diabetes medications told me that he would be â€œout of businessâ€ if everyone became vegan. That was my last appointment with him. After searching, I found an amazing doctor in my city who is well-versed in plant-based nutrition and a true advocate. Having gotten my certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell program, my doctor began referring his patients to me for food coaching. Now, I work with individuals who have been diagnosed with hypertension, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, and are overweight to change their lifestyleâ€”both with food and exercise. I teach them to shop, cook, and move!
Presently, both of my sons (ages 20 and 24) and husband are plant-based eaters, and my sister, brother-in-law, and several friends have joined us on this journey as well. I started a Facebook group two years ago (for plant-based Texans) with only 22 people, and now we have over 800 members! People are getting it! My husbandâ€™s cholesterol dropped from over 200 to as low as 150, and weâ€™ve all experienced amazing results like weight loss, increased energy, improved sleep, excellent fitness recovery, clear skin, and so much more. And, the best part for me is that I havenâ€™t gained a single pound back and Iâ€™m still enjoying being medication-free.
This lifestyle is not as hard as it seems. True, you can't eat out at restaurants every day of the week (nor SHOULD you!). You will have to cook--plain and simple. But, you don't have to cook every day. You don't have to make complicated meals if you don't want to. You just need to get off the junk and onto life-giving plant-based foods. If you have cravings, you need to stick with it. The results will come and you will feel better as you go along.
And, one more accomplishment that came as a result of this plant-based lifestyle...after being sedentary for most of my adult life, I decided to train using the "Couch to 5K" program in order to run in a 5K race with my family members at Healthfest in Marshall, Texas, this year. In only nine weeks, I went from barely being able to jog to running three miles. Now, I am able to run that distance and farther!