There’s a lot that has changed since last year. SO much has changed! I apologize for the silence but I get quiet when a lot is going on. It takes time for me to process things and it usually takes my entire focus.
The biggest change has been within me. This past year I’ve been trying to better myself in different ways. One important change I’ve made has been my diet. After months of research I decided at the end of 2016 that I wasn’t going to repeat my past mistakes in 2017. In January 2017 we changed from a high protein low carb diet to a whole foods plant-based diet.
That’s right, we went vegan.
Believe me, I never thought I would be saying this but it’s true. I’ve been reluctant to share this because I haven’t been ready for opposing opinions of well-meaning friends and family-until now. I’ve never felt better and want to share about my recent weight loss and revelations in evidenced-based eating. Don’t worry this isn’t turning into a vegan blog but it’s a big part of my life, so why not share my experience?
***Disclaimer: There is something I share about our sexual health towards the bottom of this post-so be careful if you don’t want to know about those benefits.***
Let’s start from the beginning…
Basically, I gained 80lbs after Jacquita passed away and was very ashamed of my weight. I had always been skinny before and never had to think about what I was putting in my body. I was a TOFI, thin on the outside, fat on the inside.
After I gained my first 50lbs, I knew I had to get a hold of my eating habits before things really got out of control. I’ve felt that there could be underlying health issues causing this but for now I will say that we know my bad eating habits didn’t help. For nutritional information, I turned to internet blogs, books by body builders, celebrity trainers, and any website that I thought could help. I know people who are certified in nutrition and followed their blogs, because they couldn’t be wrong if they were certified in nutrition right?
I was so unfortunately wrong.
After trying to lose weight several times on a high protein, low carb diet I found myself 30lbs heavier and sicker than before I started. During this period of eating a high protein low carb diet, I was diagnosed with interstitial cystitis (a bladder disease that causes my bladder to become painfully inflamed randomly. Also known as painful bladder syndrome), my blood pressure was at an all-time high, and I had absolutely no energy. I couldn’t understand it, I’m in my 20’s it should be easy to lose this weight. I felt like a failure because I still couldn’t control my cravings and I couldn’t understand why.
I prayed over and over to God to show me the path to the best nutrition possible. We wanted to start a family soon but I was uncomfortable with the notion of blindly following these authors with no background in science-based nutrition like I had before; not to mention all these doctors recommending high protein low carb diets to their patients. How could I consider having a baby if I don’t know how to eat healthy? How could I teach my child about healthy eating habits if I don’t even know the facts? Is there something else causing all of this and the food is accelerating the issue? I had a sinking feeling that eating all of this meat was making me sick and I repeatedly asked my husband’s opinion. He of course did not feel terrible on that diet and felt that I was not giving it time to work. It’s true, I could only maintain that diet for 2 weeks at a time. Each time I ate more carbs and less protein I felt better but assumed my cravings were hormonal. I felt alone in that moment, something didn’t feel right but I didn’t have any evidence as to why.
I kept searching.
It wasn’t until I watched a documentary on Netflix called Food Choices that challenged everything I’ve ever understood about nutrition. I didn’t even want to watch it because I know plenty of unhealthy vegans out there and viewed that lifestyle as a choice to save the animals not for nutrition. I was incredibly closed-minded to a vegan diet and didn’t think you could get all your nutrients from whole foods and plants. You have to understand, I grew up here in the south which means I’ve eaten countless ribs, steaks, chicken wings, chicken breasts, plenty of fish, not to mention plenty of mac and cheese, pizza, fried foods etc. Every meal had to have a meat or animal byproducts-no excuses. I thought it would be too hard to switch but was determined to find answers. I found the names of the scientists, doctors, and nutritionists in that documentary and went on to find their research and quickly saw the evidence for myself. I continued find more doctors and researchers that had irrefutable evidence- some of which taken from the meat and dairy industry themselves!
It’s deeply disturbing to find that the meat and dairy industry has manipulated and influenced the American public to such a degree. The truth is, they have done countless studies on meat and animal byproduct consumption and the long-term effects in humans-the results are scary. If this is true then why don’t we know about it? Ah, because changing someone’s diet will make them healthy but won’t make money on a large scale. In fact, any studies not funded by the food and dairy industry have found links between meat and dairy consumption and our most common chronic diseases. For example, they know consuming dairy is linked with countless medical issues like childhood asthma, type 2 diabetes, prostate cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, SIDS, and the list goes on here. Feel free to follow that link for clarity as you try to tell yourself it isn’t true.
It also is important to point out that processed meats have been classified as a class 1 carcinogen-just like cigarettes. The food and dairy industry did not like this and therefore refused to be regulated like the tobacco industry is now. The end of every report reads something like, “but you have to balance the negative effects with the positive.” They have been able to manipulate the truth with money and will continue to do so for as long as they can. By the way, if you’re buying into the notion that switching to white, grass-fed, wild caught, free range, “organic” meat or dairy is healthier (as advertised in your defense) it simply isn’t. Remember, meat’s toxicity is dose dependent not type dependent.
Yeah but if you don’t eat meat then how do you get your protein???
Every time I get that question from someone now, I want to stab them in the eye. Of course I don’t because that’s illegal and generally frowned upon 🙂 . Plus, I have to remind myself that I too asked that question and need to have patience with others. That is probably the most asked question vegans get, period. Why get so annoyed with this question you ask? My first answer is to get your protein where the animals get theirs- plants. I’m simply cutting out the cancerous, chronic disease causing middle man. Also, most of the time people aren’t asking because they are interested in bettering themselves, they ask to find something wrong in my diet to disprove the way I’m eating. I remind myself that people do this to help themselves sleep better at night. I get it, but it gets exhausting because I don’t preach to others about this-at all. I’m happy to answer questions and tell the person to also do the research for themselves. In my experience, it’s the meat eaters that do the preaching.
But, I digress.
The next question I had was if doctors are recommending high protein low carb diets to patients how could this be bad? Well, unfortunately, your doctor wasn’t trained in advanced nutrition. Your doctor was trained in pharmaceutical medicine.
There’s a difference.
Our doctors are amazing in what they can do but they don’t know everything. The way I look at it, they either don’t know any better or after reading the mounting evidence, they reject the science because they themselves are eating the very thing that’s killing their patients. To accept that notion would mean that they have to make a change themselves. Most likely, they simply don’t know any better- at least that’s what I hope.
It was easy when I saw the facts to make the change, but it was a struggle for my husband. At first he wanted nothing to do with this for obvious reasons. He loves meat and meat makes you manly right? In our culture it isn’t manly to eat beans, legumes, nuts, whole fruits/ veggies, etc. Let me tell you what isn’t manly – how meat effects testosterone levels in men. It’s a fact that high-protein diets suppress testosterone in men and raise cortisol levels. It’s a fact that testosterone levels increase to normal after about 15 days on a plant-based diet (nutrition facts here). It only took Micah a week to change his mind after showing him the research. I also didn’t give up because this isn’t just about us anymore, this will effect our children.
After switching, we feel so much better! I originally only lost 20 lbs before I made the switch. After switching, I lost an additional 30 lbs in 3 months- and to my surprise the weight loss hasn’t slowed down. Micah has lost 30 lbs so far and feels better as well. My blood pressure is healthy and lower than when I was a teenager. My skin is clear, my hair and nails are strong and grow at a rate that is ridiculously fast (my hair and nails have always grown quickly but not like this). Not to mention our sex life has never been better! I’m sorry if you weren’t ready for that but everyone needs to know! Who doesn’t want multiple orgasms anyway? Things went from several times a week to every day if not multiple times a day.
I was never that girl until now.
Honestly, it shouldn’t have been this hard for me to find this information, and everyone should have access to this so they can make informed decisions for themselves and their children. Eating a whole foods plant-based diet can reverse numerous chronic diseases as well as prevent numerous cancers. If you are interested in more information on a whole foods plant-based diet but feel overwhelmed, start here. You can also look at the work of Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Michael Greger, and Dr.Neil Barnard for more information.
The truth is no one cared about my health until I got healthy. Everyone watched me gain the weight and said nothing. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t expect anyone to have an opinion on my weight gain. I just didn’t expect everyone to have an opinion on my weight loss. It wasn’t until I started eating healthy and began to see the pounds melt off that people made comments about my lifestyle choice-a lifestyle choice that is backed by decades of scientific research. Also, I dislike the labels “vegan” or “vegetarian” because that doesn’t really mean you’re healthy. Anyone can drink soda, eat a bag of chips and technically be vegan; I’m talking about a whole foods plant-based diet. This has completely changed our lives and it’s only been 3 months.
To be clear, I don’t want you to read this and take my word for it. I want you to take charge of your health, look at the evidence yourself (by actual scientists), and make a conscience choice of what you want to do for you and your family.