Whole Food Plant Based Journey

pyramidMy husband and I were discussing the health of our parents. The mountains of pills they take daily. The issues they deal with as they age. Neither of us is looking forward to a future where we are planning our doctor visits and runs to the pharmacy. We want to enjoy retirement and be adventurous. That would be hard to do with oxygen tanks and hospital stays. We can see the writing on the wall and neither of us wants that for ourselves.

My husband is Type 2 Diabetic and has gained some weight since retiring from the Air Force. He immediately got a new job and over the years he has put on weight due to lack of exercise and our eating out a lot. He has been athletic for most of his life but not so much these past few years other than hiking. I have High Blood Pressure. I have been overweight for years. Gained most of it during pregnancies and never lost it. Because of my sedentary lifestyle and job I gained even more weight. At my heaviest, I was so uncomfortable. I had pain in my joints and was tired and lethargic most days. About a year ago I developed heartburn and acid reflux which would wake me up in the middle of the night.  I also suffer from sleep apnea. I had tried to start exercising last year but was derailed for several reasons but it was not easy to do because of the other issues.

I saw a story on Facebook about a man who had lost over 100 lbs, reversed his high blood pressure and cholesterol. Was able to discontinue his medications and was looking great and fit. He was testifying to the Whole Food Plant-Based (WFPD) diet he discovered from watching the Forks Over Knives (FOK) documentary on Netflix. At my suggestion, my husband and I watched it. And boy was it eye-opening. So many things we had heard growing up turned out to be wrong and what we learned from the doctors in this documentary seem to make sense.

Our immediate reaction was to make some changes and commit to this new lifestyle.  What did we have to lose? A few pounds and perhaps the medications. That would be worth the try. This new lifestyle would be a whole food plant-based, no oils, (WFPBNO) no sugars, no meat, no dairy way of life. It was rather intimidating at first and we had no idea where to begin so we began our research which led us to watch Rip Esselstyn Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue which gave us a starting point.

We decided we would have to take a few weeks to transition because we had just bought groceries for the week and were not willing to throw out food. Though we ended up doing just that once we got a handle on things. I started researching the plan and the websites. My husband ordered the books we needed. I scoured the internet and found several other websites that were promoting this new way of life.

McDougall Diet – Dr. McDougall

Engine 2 Diet – Rip Esselstyn 

The China Study  – Thomas Campbell II, MD and T. Colin Campbell, PhD

It took us about 2-4 weeks to completely purge our kitchen of all the junk and restock with clean, whole food,  plant-based items. We began trying different kinds of plant milk and had to learn how to read the labels on food items. Grocery shopping became a day of exploration and challenging. Finding food items in the grocery store without oil, sugar, dairy and that was high in sodium was like fishing….wait, wait, wait, ah-ha got one! LOL I had to relearn how to cook whole foods using recipes from the meal planner on the FOK website and from the books we purchased.

The China Study Cookbook

China Study Quick & Easy Cookbook

Plant Strong

The Starch Solution

A friend suggested I join facebook support groups, which is highly recommended!! You will find success stories, you can ask questions and interact with others who are on the same journey. I am finding it very, very helpful!

McDougall Friends

McDougall Friends Meal Planning

My other go-to on this journey is YouTube. I have watched numerous videos of food shopping, preparation, and storage. I also found some of the chefs that contributed to the Forks Over Knives recipe list. They have a lot of suggestions, tips and how to’s.

This journey is definitely not without its challenges and there is some work involved.  If you are considering it but do not have a lot of time right now to devote to doing all the research and preparations try to make small changes to your diet. You could start a little at a time. Read a book and begin to eliminate those things from your current diet that are not whole food plant-based.  We had to choose not to be too legalistic about what we eat and how we eat it in the beginning. As we learn more about the foods, how to prepare and cook them we learn to make better choices with what we have if we are in a bind.

I was spending many hours in the kitchen on preparation and the making of new recipes. I was starting to feel like a pioneer woman, LOL. On some good advice, I decided to keep it simple. To choose 5 or 6 recipes we liked and stick to those. So now as I grow more comfortable in my knowledge I added new dishes. I make a few recipes in batches so we always have something in the refrigerator. I also bake a WFPBNO dessert or snack each week. I make homemade salsa every few weeks for snacking and cooking. I also purchased an Instant Pot. A modern-day pressure cooker. I love it and it really has been a lifesaver. It cooks quickly and all the food retains 90% of its nutrients and flavor. It is easy to clean up as well! You can saute and cook in the same pot and never dirty another pot.

Since we do not use oil, we bake, roast and saute (in a few tablespoons of vegetable broth). I use parchment paper when baking loaves of bread, cakes or cornbread. I use Silpat mats for the oven when roasting vegetables. Clean up is a breeze and you have the added benefit of not have grease all over everything. You do wash, peel and chop a lot so make sure to have a good set of knives on hand.  Again I watch a lot of YouTube for instructions on things I have never done before.

We have discovered foods we never knew existed and have tasted many new flavors. I use more spices than I ever used before and it has been fun to experiment. I have learned about Tofu, Tempeh and all things soy. I have used Seitan (Also called “wheat meat”, “wheat protein”, “wheat gluten” or simply “gluten”, seitan is similar to the look and texture of meat when cooked) which takes on any flavor if prepared correctly. I am currently learning how to make it.

One of the benefits of this woe (way of eating) is the cravings for sweets, greasy and salty stuff go away. You feel like you are eating all the time and eating so much food at first. Your stomach actually shrinks and you get full faster. No more heartburn. No more feeling sick after you eat. The food tastes better and you find out you like things you never liked before.

Many people ask me where we get our protein. From the Legumes and grains of course! Do we miss meat? Yes, sometimes. I try to find ways to make dishes we like but without the meat…We have tried Jackfruit which has the texture of pulled pork and is easy to flavor. I also make meatless crumbles which are made with veggies & nuts and can be used in any dish you make with ground beef. I have made a meatless loaf of lentils and rolled oats. BBQ sauce or organic ketchup on top makes it filling and very delicious! I made Mexican Guisado with Seitan. It was actually amazing. And we could eat as much as we liked.

We still go out to eat once a week. We try to find restaurants that we can order vegetarian dishes and make a special request when it is possible. Chipotle Mexican Grill is a good option, though beware of the sodium content. Panera Bread has a salad, a few soups they serve with sprouted grain roll. Many Asian restaurants have vegetarian dishes but they do use oil on most everything except steamed items. Be sure to ask questions before ordering so you are not surprised. A new place called CoreLife Eatery opened up near us that is whole food, grains, and greens based menu so that will be a treat for us.

We did eat an organic, boneless, skinless turkey breast for Thanksgiving. Served homemade cranberry sauce with coconut palm sugar (less than a cup), mashed potatoes with nutritional yeast and pepper, a stuffing with whole wheat bread, onion, celery, apples, vegetable broth and mushroom gravy. Pumpkin (from fresh pumpkin) pie with no eggs or cream and a crust made out of nuts. We did not gain weight. We did not go into a coma. We enjoyed every bite. And we even made Turkey sandwiches. And the very next day we went back to no meat.

We began this journey the second week of October 2017 and to this date, we have both lost weight. My husband has lost about 21 lbs. and I have lost about 20 lbs. His sugar numbers are normal and my blood pressure is still going down but not quite where it should be yet. I am still taking my HBP meds and vitamin D. We both take Vitamin B12. And we drink a lot of water! If you look at the WFPB Food pyramid image at the top of the page you will see most of what we eat. We really do love it. We are having fun trying new things and finding ways to adapt the foods we used to love to eat. And so far it is working out very well.

We plan on keeping this up. We want to become an example to our family and friends. One of the things I realized through all of this is God never really meant for us to eat meat. Before the fall in the garden, man lived by the fruit of the trees and vegetables from the ground. After the fall our bodies began to decay and it was made worse by what we put into our bodies, dead animals. Kind of sounds gross, really. I believe God wants us to be in balance in all things in our lives. Body, Soul, and Spirit. He tells us how to make good choices with what we put into our bodies. After all, as a believer, your body is His temple, to keep pure and undefiled. Feed the body a whole food plant-based diet, feed the soul whole food from heaven in your relationship with Jesus and other believers and feed the Spirit with whole health-filling words by the renewing of your mind with His Word.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  Do not quench the Spirit.  Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

1 Thessalonians 5:19-24

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