To get continued insight beyond this article, and if you have lipedema, lymphedema or Dercum’s Disease, please join our Facebook Group
I wrote this last May and so I have reviewed this and updated it. I must have been so overmedicated and lethargic from my health that I never realized how poorly written it was. I have since whittled down my medications from 13 pills a day to one prescription plus a suppliment. I re-wrote it.
Here is the low down what I have learned in the last 11 months as someone who has been eating Whole Food Plant Based, Low Glycemic Index, LowFat, No Animal Products, added products and nothing overly processed.
Getting The Right Information On What To Eat And What Not To Eat
When anyone mentions a whole food plant based way of eating, people assume it’s a vegan diet as long as it’s not animal products that you can eat what you want as much as you want. You do have to tailor it to your health needs and goals. You need sound medical advice. You need to work with your own medical team as well when starting this. Nothing here or anywhere else on the internet should be considered medical advice. This is just based on my experience.
There are so very many people trying to make a fast buck off of the public’s quest for information and support as they try to heal their bodies using food. Go for quality information relevant to your health.
My bathroom scale, my lab results, my doctor’s glowing approval and how I feel are what tells me that I’ll gladly be eating like this the rest of my life. FOR ME this has been the best way FOR ME to eat. There are many variations.
Before starting your plant whole food plant based diet, the ideal is to talk to a plant based diet experienced doctor about that. In addition, if you take medications your doctor may change or discontinue your prescriptions. If your doctor doesn’t seem familiar with this way of eating, you may want to do some exploration of the topic and then bring that information with you when you talk to a doctor.
Visit your library, bookstore or online resources for any of these:
The biggest, most comprehensive nutritional study ever done was The China Study. The book on the subject by doctors T. Colin Campbell and Thomas Campbell, is pretty eye opening. It talks about government corruption as well that has kept the public unaware. I found it to be fascinating that a book about such government corruption over the past decades is now recommended on camera by ex-President Clinton as his own personal nutrition guide.
One your doctor may recall hearing about is Dr. Dean Ornish Lifestyle Medicine.
There are several Netflix and Amazon Documentaries that feature Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. He is from The Cleveland Clinic, he is a total joy to listen to. He raised farm animals with his family as a child. His research though changed his opinion on animal products. Dr. Esselstyn’s website
My suggestion to go to the website or on Netflix or YouTube, watch the documentary, Forks Over Knives . I’ve watched most of the different documentaries on different eating styles. This one has turned out to be the tried and true for me. There are credible experts with a half century of overwhelming research in that documentary that are also listed in the book of the same name. They each have written books. and conducted studies. When you see their level of expertise and decades and decades of studies, it’s hard to argue with them. What is fascinating is that they helped their families work the family farms as they grew up. Their studies though proved that animal products are directly linked to many health issues.
On Amazon watch What’s Eating You and Diet Fiction. Very informative.
Books written by one featured doctor, Dr. Neil Barnard , from The Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine out of Washington D.C. are wonderfully helpful,. He is also an adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine at The George Washington University School Of Medicine. His material explains how to change your overall health plus books focused topics such as loss of weight, and different disorders and how diet can improve or reverse them.
Another website option to start with is the Nutrition Facts by Dr. Michael Greger .
Being Prepared Leads To Success
It is without doubt, a big deal for a dairy and egg loving carnivore to cease being one. You are at an important cross roads and it requires you to be prepared.
Be the person you can depend on. You can do this.
Example: Use Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen app you can download on your phone to keep track on what you should be eating. Even if you don’t start actually eating the way it says right away, it will get you thinking how to integrate what he says to eat into your day.
It’s going to take information, understanding what your barriers might be so you can be prepared. Be honest with yourself but never doubt yourself for a moment. Never consider anything but success as you problem solve one challenge at a time. If you have to watch Forks and Knives once in a while to keep your spirits up initially, do it.
That moment you realize that you can’t hide your feelings behind the foods you’ve been addicted to.
There is something emotional that goes on initially. You realize that you depend on food for comfort more than you realize. Not being able to swallow your feelings with a fast food cheeseburger, means you have to deal with feeling, sad, bored, perhaps angry, and so on. You find that you survive. You also start to see not only your own eating issues, but everyone’s eating issues in a much more understanding light. You gain mastery over it all, if you allow yourself to struggle with that a bit.
What if your spouse won’t eat a plant based diet?
This is very common and it doesn’t have to be a deal breaker for you eating a plant based diet. Cooperation and mutual respect is key.
Be honest with your spouse as to why this new way of eating is important to you. Share the information you have gathered.
If you want him or her to respect your right to do as you must for your health, then you have to respect their right to eat the diet of their choosing. So your household may very well have to prepare more food options per meal. No worries, and who knows? You may over time inspire your family to eat more like you are wishing to eat. That is happening in mine.
What about if the children in your house don’t like eating only plant based foods?
It’s very controversial about children eating only plant based foods. Your health may depend on going to 100% plant based, but you will want to work it out with their pediatrician on what is best for your kids. I say this because as a writer, I’m not trained on child nutrition and will never pretend that I have been.
You can read opinions from doctors on both sides of the controversy. Here in the Midwest, meat dairy and eggs are king so not many doctors are going to tell parents to avoid giving those foods to kids. You may be able to do some research and find a doctor who is willing to supervise your attempt to get your kids to eat a primarily plant based diet. Make sure you and your spouse though are on the same page. You don’t need the stress of needless marital tension. Your spouse has the right to be part of that decision.
At the very least, even if your pediatrician says, sure give your kids a plant based diet, there is likely going to be a transition period. Forks Over Knives has a book on families transitioning to a plant based diet. Check to see if your library has it. My 22 year old checked it out of the library for his own use.
For a household that is food divided
I can tell you from experience that it’s possible to serve flexible meals that offer enough variation that it’s not big deal. Also, you can batch cook so many foods so that freezing a number of servings and then pulling out what you need for this or that person at meal time, is not difficult.
Think too of plant based foods you and your family can already enjoy together! Chili with no meat but lots of healthy beans in a rich tomato juice seasoned with garlic, onion, crushed red pepper, pizzas that can be with or without cheese and meat depending on who is eating it. How about bowls of oatmeal in the morning or simple non sugared cereal, offering either milk and non dairy milk both in the mornings.
Regardless, you can plant some great attitudes in your family by being a great example.
Isn’t it expensive to have to accommodate more than one person’s eating preference?
Compare the price between a pound of ground beef and a pound of dried peas or black beans? In addition, aren’t all the prescription drugs required from not eating a plant based diet even more expensive? How expensive is a hospital stay from health issues that can be potentially avoided by eating a plant based diet?
I myself have whittled down my pills from taking 11 a day to now one prescription plus a suppliment. Huge savings on meds that now I can spend on smaller size clothing was the joke around here.
Accessibility to your foods is everything
If you can’t imagine living without meat or your spouse can’t, you can consider using the new Vegan convenience foods (Beyond Meat, Impossible Burgers, Just Eggs) once in a while, but I can NOT emphasize enough that those will not be the answer to health concerns. It’s what we call Vegan Junk Food. If you want to test out if you can feel ok without meat and animal products, then sure let it be a TEMPORARY as in you give yourself a definite date that you stop eating those foods. There is nothing to be gained by getting off meat and then depending on unhealthy vegan junk food.
I don’t have to tell you how busy your life is, or what happens when the food you need to eat isn’t easily accessible. If it is inconvenient, too expensive or doesn’t taste good to you, then it’s a no go from the get go. Whole Food Plant Based Eating is not drastic or difficult. You buy low glycemic index and low fat whole grains, legumes, greens, fruits, berries and vegetables plus if appropriate enough low sodium nuts to have 2Tbl worth daily. Buy them fresh, frozen, washed and in bags with good expiration dates. Even Aldi and Walmart carry such items. For beans and things like pineapple with no sugar added, it’s fine to buy canned.
If you wonder how you are going to juggle it all in the kitchen, look into what advantages there might be in kitchen appliances that make it less stressful to prepare your foods.
Quick and convenient, with easy clean up makes it all more doable. If it’s too inconvenient to eat this way, then it’s unlikely a person will be successful. We all have obligations or situations we have to juggle to make our lives work.
Even if it means picking up convenience appliances at garage sales, or getting them on installment payments on TV shopping channels, it’s worth it to get a good food processor or Vitamix style mixer that will puree some foods and help create tasty veggie burgers you can toss into the freezer, or fresh hummus perhaps.
Also a slow cooker, with adjustable settings and or a 4 in 1 or other multi cookers, or an InstantPot pressure will make it doable to have fresh beans and brown rice available. It’s great for roasting vegetables too. I’ve heard people sing the praises of rice cookers as well. Make sure whatever you decide to purchase is easy to clean so you don’t avoid using it.
If You Are Disabled…
I am disabled and have pain, weakness issues that make chopping vegetables, and preparing foods, or even bending over, very difficult. Such appliances mentioned above are the great equalizer that allows me to do more in the kitchen sometimes. The other times when my husband cooks, it allows him to be less burdened. It’s important to take care of our caregivers and loved ones any way we can.
Set doable goals.
Make a list of what has to be in place for you to take on this style of eating and your health goals. How are you going to measure your goals? Can you and your doctor agree on at what intervals he or she wants you to have your labs done? What do you both think “going the right direction” would look like?
Maybe you fear that cheese or getting burgers at your favorite burger joint will be difficult for you, so you set a goal for a month from now to wean yourself. Keep your goals in handling the barriers, reasonable. Weight loss, I lost weight fast, but each person is different. Low expectations means happy surprises when you do better than planned.
Set mini goals so you can feel accomplished and feel encouraged along the way.
Join support-social groups who eat as you do.
Some areas have monthly social gatherings for those who eat plant based foods. Facebook is filled with support groups for those who avoid eating meat products.
It’s important to have access to others experiencing what you so that you can ask questions, get and give encouragement on the bad days, and celebrate your successes together.
If extended family and friends are not supportive, then don’t include them in that part of your life.
Some people in this broad category equate being boundary challenged with showing love.
No one controls what you put in your mouth but you. Nobody has to put up with needless stress from others without allowing it. Take those responsibilities seriously.
Do you consult with them on what brand of toilet paper to buy? Do you only wear clothing they approve of? How about your shampoo, do you seek their approval for that?
If you don’t already have strong boundaries, then this is a good time to develop them.
When visiting, socializing in other people’s homes DON’T make your eating style change an issue.
The drama that can happen when others don’t understand your living on beans and greens, vegetables and fruit, is never worth it. When a guest in someone’s home, always best to be gracious guest. Don’t expect the host or hostess to gear the food they serve to be around your dietary needs. I see people on Facebook so ticked off that Aunt Mary or their co-worker made food for a get together that they couldn’t eat. People need to loosen up. The point is for everyone present to enjoy their time together. A great deal of drama will potentially be avoided if you consider the following options in dealing with such matters.
Options In Handling Social Situations
- Bring Food Enough To Share: Talk to your hostess or host and explain that you want to be there and take part in the get together but for medical reasons must follow a different way of eating. Offer to make a dish to bring with you that is enough for everyone. Let her know what it is so you can coordinate. Find out how many people will be in attendance.
- But Uncle Jack Can Be An A**. If you know that there is one or more people who will without a doubt pick you apart at the get together and can’t be reasoned with, then eat before you get there and arrive after the main meal. Let the host or hostess know you will be running late that day but will be there later and offer to bring something you can eat for a dessert or snack.
- Eat The Food That Is Prepared, Enjoy Yourself And Call It A Cheat Day. Call it a cheat day and enjoy the company of others without complaint. Remember tomorrow is a new day.
Here I was a year ago and here I am today.