When Food Takes On The Wrong Role

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silhouette photography of people on theater
Photo by Wendy Wei on Pexels.com

Arnold Schwarzenegger playing the role of Cinderella in “Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella”.  Meryl Streep cast in “Grease” as Danny Zuko.

Can you imagine going to a play and being handed a playbill and seeing that level of miscasting?  I would find it fun at first, but personally I would want to see more logical choices or the roles.

I would be asking myself, “With the means to hire a well known actor to play the lead, with so many other options available, why make such a poor choice?”

The producers and directors have a list of parts to cast and a list of available options for actors to play those parts. Auditions are many times held, trying to find the right one for each role.

We make “casting choices” in the form of life choices every day. Imagine each day we get out of bed, we walk out onto Life’s Stage in a production of “A Day Of Living”  Each of us are our own producer and director of a significant part of our own story.  

 What options are  you going to select in your life today?

I speak from experience like so many others. Foods can be so addictive especially  chocolate, cheese, meat, plus other processed sugars and animal proteins.  Many of us are taught from a young age to have these and similar addictions to help us deal with our needs. Those serotonin levels rise with all of it. Life can be complicated and eating processed sugar and fats are so very easy and handy. All that immediate gratification is enticing and potentially life shortening.

I use the analogy of a stage production and the playbill that is the official accounting of each day’s “performance”. The playbill shows who plays what role.  For me it’s helpful to be able to visualize and pinpoint the questionable “casting”, if you will, of how by habit in the past I coped with life. It keeps me on top of things. Many times food is the go to for needs that really are better handled by other options. Sometimes we learn it young.

 

I still remember to this day being 4 years old and it was a miserable time in my family with deaths, stress, my grandparents being in the hospital for months due to severe injuries from a car accident. My mother, sister and I lived with them.  My poor Registered Nurse mother had to work some horribly long hours and oversee the care of my grandparents. They had different people taking care of my sister and I. Those caring for my sister and I would give us ice cream at night as something in which to look forward.

An evening snack was called “a party” and it was always something wonderfully sugar and fat filled.

The pattern had begun.

To make things more annoying I have 3 fat disorders that, since childhood , made me large and misshaped. What I eat and how I exercise had made no positive impact on those. No doctor realized I had those. Dercum’s Disease, lipedema and lymphedema went overlooked and mistaken for obesity for decades.

I was so worn down as I struggled with the lack of impact of dieting and seeing that it made no difference if I ate or starved myself. Those fat disorders are fairly painful.  I was in misery for decades. I remained large and misshaped, it made it easier to make some pretty unhealthy choices. Why not have a piece of Dove Chocolate when anxious? Why not eat a Big Mac when hungry?  

Playbill Chocolate red flag

After decades of feeling helpless, and low carb diets doing nothing for me,  life handed me the path I had sought my whole life. Over a year ago I got violently sick on animal products with horrible blood sugar and cardiac related lab results. I discovered WFPB No Oil, Low Fat, Low Glycemic Index, Low Sodium. I started to see better labs, weight started dropping.  There has also been a bit of a budge on some of the symptoms associated with my fat disorders. 

Sure I will always have three painful, annoying fat disorders. That’s how the ball bounces. I have fibromyalgia and like all other humans, I have a variety of stresses. I can’t do a whole lot to change some things, but I can empower myself and do what is possible. Some of those symptoms for those health issues have improved. Some remain the same. I enjoy taking far fewer medications than before.  I enjoy having heathy coronary and blood sugar numbers. I find joy in what is possible as I continue to learn to coexist with the rest.  The power is in making good choices and lovingly holding myself accountable.

As I sit here finishing this, my husband came home from the grocery store. To this day my mind wants to ask him if he brought home chocolate. I have to remind myself of that playbill. Chocolate is no longer a regular on my playbill. It’s been replaced by strawberries or an apple or watching a good movie. 

Playbill Healthy Blue
I don’t do all these, but it gives you an idea. When I struggle, I literally picture someone announcing a change in who is playing what role.
Before After 3
It’s worth it.

 

 

 

 

A Year Without Animal Products And The “Unlikely” Woman Is “Glad”

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Last year I started this blog. I felt at that time that the most honest title I could give it would be “The Unlikely No Meat Please Gal”. Meat and animal products had been the center of all my meals for 55 years.

I grew up in the Ohio farmlands and there were a few decades where very few vegetables were consumed but many, many meals of meat, eggs and dairy. So the chances of ever saying, “no meat please” were practically non existent. So that was the title of this blog,”The Unlikely No Meat Please Gal”

After more than a year of not eating meat, dairy or eggs, I felt that it was time to change the name of this blogging effort. I thought about why my commitment to not eating meat and other animal products was strong, and the new title was easy. I thought about the reversal of my heart and diabetic issues. I thought about how the dress I wore when I married my husband 10 years ago is now way too big for me and yet a year back I couldn’t have squeezed into it. And just the hope it all has brought to me.

I am indeed “The Glad To Not Eat Meat Gal”: A fat girl  from St. Louis, Missouri who is now at a much healthier weight and better lab results. All of that inspite of 3 fat disorders (lipedema, lymphedema, Dercum’s Disease) that makes it very difficult to lose weight. Am I cured of any of them? I stand firm in saying that it has reversed some of the symptoms. I would not say that I am cured, but I’ve changed the quality of my life and I no longer feel helpless. So in addition to everything else, less depression that comes with being diagnosed with a rare disorder that had taken over my life.

From 13 pills a day to one prescription and a selenium supplement, down in clothes sizes and up in hope,, I am forever The Glad To Not Eat Meat Gal. I am forever no animal products or oils, period.

 

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Thank you to my friends, family, doctors, Forks Over Knives community, the STL Veg Girl, Dr, Joel Kahn’s publicly shared information on this topic, nutritionfacts.org , Clayton Medical Associates and my fellow members of the Lipedema, Lymphedema and Dercum’s Disease communities who have supported me on my efforts.

Celebrating 10 Months Of Low Fat, Whole Food Plant Based Healing

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Inspite of having three fat disorders ( lipedemalymphedema and  Dercum’s disease ) that are progressive in how large they can make a person appear, and have zero to do with calorie intake or exercise…I have managed in the past 10 months to do this.

What is important to point out is that having had these disorders all my life, my hips and legs were always larger than the rest of me. One leg has always been larger than the other. My arms became heavy and large over the years. My stomach, arms, neck, back, hips and legs filled with Dercum’s Disease “tumors”. Lipedema and lymphedema causes swellings that would increase at the drop of a dime. I could put on 12 pounds from these lymphatic fluids in a day or two. I could start off the day at one level and end the day looking 20 pounds heavier just by moving around.

So look at these photos and see that now my hips are in proportion to the rest of my body, my arms have slimmed down, my face has deflated, my torso is smaller. My legs are within reasonable limits. One leg is stil slightly larger than the other, but not overly noticeable.  I went from a size 32 to a size 14.

Throw in the use of a box of Miss Clairol for my hair and bam! I look so different! Another thing that this style of whole food plant based, low fat, low glycemic eating has done for me is whip my diabetes, my blood pressure, my cholesterol in shape. That happened in the first month of switching for KETO to this style of eating. So I likely have added years to my life.

Cindy 10 month photo comparrison

Here are the foods that made it all happen.

Here is what I have followed that has worked.

3  one half cup servings of dark beans.

2-3 servings of fruit including one serving of berries. Fruit is fresh or frozen

3 servings of whole grain

a serving of cruciferous vegetables

2 servings of “other” low glycemic index vegetables

2 servings of dark greens

flax seeds or chia seeds

Limited avocado (1 total a week)

limited nuts ( 0 to 2 Tbl a day)

No animal products (no dairy, no meat, no fish, no chicken, no eggs, no dairy), no junk vegan food, no highly processed foods. No oils of any kind. no added sugar or artificial sweetners

I love the work of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr,  Dr. Neal Barnard from Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine, and Dr. Michael Greger who runs Nutritionfacts.org and The Daily Dozen Phone app.

Best documentaries include: Forks Over Knives, Diet Fiction, Eating You Alive, and What The Health.

Best Facebook groups for those like myself who have lipedema, lymphedema or Dercum’s disease interested in doing this sort of eating? Those associated with what is listed above as well as Improving Fat Disorders Using Low Fat Low Glycemic WFPB Eating

In the group for Improving Fat Disorders Using Low Fat Low Glycemic WFPB Eating, no one associated with the group makes a dime off of any participant of the group and you are asked to work with your own doctor and make sure your own medical team is on board, get blood levels done on a regular basis, and other measures to assure you are taking responsibility for your own health decisions.

It’s not about being skinny, it’s about being healthy. If looking smaller ends up being part of it all, then great.

Here is a link to an article I wrote last year on how to approach changing your life with food.

This link is to an article to help you approach this way of eating

The Breakfast Trend You Need In Your Life, Whole Food Plant Style

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The Perfect Healthy Storm highlighted with fresh vegetables, fruit, healthy grains and accented with a tasty oil free dressing made of garbanzo beans-fresh orange-rice vinegar. Add a teaspoon of flax seed and drink a glass of high calcium, vitamin D plant based milk for good measure. Vitamin’s A, B, C, D, Minerals, protein, iron, calcium, protein, folic acid, fiber and more. Low Glycemic Index, Low Fat, Minimally processed. Whole Food Plant Based and oil free.

We keep a large  container of deep colored greens, cruciferous, root veggies plus other veggies and mushrooms in the fridge. I make a fresh salad to keep at my disposal every 2-3 days.  It’s just so easy to dish it out and eat it when busy.

So the trend of Breakfast Salads is right up my ally. The concept is to take the nutrition of the fiber and all those fresh vitamins and minerals and breakfast-fy them. Here is a way to add in some protein that may make whole food plant based protein sources more palatable in the morning. As the saying goes, the secret is in the sauce.

The Amazing Garbanzo Bean-Fresh Orange Salad Dressing

1 average size fresh orange, peeled and sections pulled apart.

1 cup of garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed if using canned)

1/4 cup plant based milk (unsweetened and minimal ingredients)

1 tsp of rice or apple cider vinegar

optional:

a dash or to taste of any of the following

garlic powder

dried crushed red pepper

lime juice

stevia

Directions:

Simply process in a high power blender until smooth. Store in airtight container. Can stay in fridge for a few days without issue. Shake before using.

Additional Notes:

For the dressing you can get creative and use other fruits as well or instead.

For the Breakfast Salad itself, for the cereal layer,  I use the recommendations of Dr. Esselstyn and stick with Ezekiel or Grape Nuts.  Whatever you use, read the package. Keep it minimally processed and as few ingredients as possible. No added sugar or oil.

For the salad shown, I used spinach, fresh cauliflower, snow peas, celery, carrots, mushrooms and fresh sliced strawberries.  Blue berries or sliced apples are great too with it. If you use apple, consider adding some cinnamon to the top.

It’s amazing how it doesn’t weigh a person down, and that fiber keeps you full all morning and with nice steady energy that can help keep you focus.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Simple: Get Yourself Some Plants & Eat Them

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Grilled Mushroom Steak marinated oil free, on top of brown rice and peas with curry seasoning. baby spinach and baby kale on the side with lemon juice.

Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB) eating isn’t nearly as difficult as some fear it to be. It’s simple, you get plants and you eat them. You try not to process them more than you have to  you eat as much of the whole plant as possible and no oil or sugar and keep it low glycemic index and low sodium.  In other words, just eat plants or a combination there of.

It’s all mental. I now routinely pop into my mouth greens with nothing on them at all.   A little lemon or lime or squeeze half of an orange onto greens, sure.  That’s a far cry from my youth.

I’m part of the original Golden Arches generation back in the tiny town in Ohio where I grew up. We were the first batch of youth in that town to have a McDonalds at their disposal. Getting food from McDonalds was a treat in those days.  It was reserved for an occasional Friday night or after church on Sunday, or to celebrate something special. I remember fantasizing before I discovered boys,  about being living at the McDonalds and being allowed to eat all the cheeseburgers I wanted.

Even mentally back then, food was a reward and part of the celebration and all of it was about meat and dairy and eggs. (it’s so stupid, but I remember the first time I had an egg McMuffin).

So you mentally have to give up that notion of the very food that has made you sick being worth it to you to eat. It’s all an addiction and you need to get refocused on living instead of contributing to an early death.  You are hearing it from the horses mouth here. LDL dropped 57% in the first month while cutting my blood sugars in half, and no more blood pressure issues. Boy oh boy did I lose weight! After a few weeks people thought I had weight reduction /bariatric surgery.

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Left April 2018. Right June 2018
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Me November 2018

All I am saying is Give Plants A Chance!

My suggestions and resources I used

I did it cold turkey. Others have to ease into it in their own way. In the end you just have to say, screw it and know that the anxiety you feel about eating plants is based on bad information. Face your fears and stop putting  the animal products for a week and give it a try. Just eat the plants!

You acquire the plants and you eat them. What can be easier?

Black beans and salsa, whole grain tortillas, sweet potatoes, peas, lentils, greens of all varieties, squash, and on and on and on. Fresh, frozen, even sometimes canned if low sodium, it’s fine. You can combine those things as you wish, but try to keep the whole edible plant in what you eat.  Let your body digest the whole plant. It helps to stabilize the blood sugars which impacts the condition of our endothelium cells on the walls of our blood vessels throughout our body.

 

 

Avoid using oil, salt, sugar, artificial sweeteners, and overly processed foods like white rice and white flour. Keep it to actual plants and low sodium herbs and seasonings.

To this day, I stagnate in my progress if I give in on the oil and sugar or I eat processed foods including processed vegan foods. It’s just not worth undoing the good that I’ve done over the last nine months.

And to my friends with chronic health conditions and those who care about them:

Try to remember that this is a wonderful tool and it’s possible to see some reversal of symptoms but not a guarantee of a cure. Even if you lose weight, losing weight isn’t the end all with some chronic conditions. It looks more attractive and it feels good to look good. BUT that doesn’t mean that the person is magically cured of all chronic issues. But I know in my case it sure has likely helped to add to the length and quality of my life.

Work with your medical team, remember animal products is a head game and not really necessary to survive and oh yea one more thing…

Just Eat Those Plants!

 

 

 

 

A Meat, Eggs and Dairy Lover’s Guide To No More Animal Products

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How lucky for me that I puked my guts out. When I ended up in the hospital, deathly ill after over two days consuming a fish sandwich and I turkey sandwich Easter weekend 2018, I never thought of myself as lucky. Really though it gave me a good opportunity to walk away from meat, dairy and eggs and never look back.

Top row of picture were taken that weekend when I got so sick from meat. Bottom row taken several months later, still animal product free.

 

 

Had it not been for the taste and smell of those products repulsing me, I would have had a harder time giving it all up.  I’ve watched my husband long for an Arby’s Roast Beef and pepperoni pizza dripping with thick slabs of  cheese. He had a harder time, but he managed.  I could see it was a thought process for him.

So much about our lives have been wrapped up around animal products.

What holiday or family event doesn’t have animal products as the centerpiece of the associated feast? I can’t think of any.  Traditions, holidays, early childhood memories, all of that is very powerful.

 

 

So it’s a week before Christmas and you are trying to gain control of your health. With the guidance of your own doctor of course,  you have chosen to eat whole food plant based which means all  animal products, sugar and overly processed foods are banned.

Some people can go cold turkey in avoiding turkey and gravy over the holidays. They can even drive past a fast food drive thru and never get a burger, fish or chicken or even a taco with cheese. If they eat animal products it’s only because they didn’t know it was in the food they were served to eat (and yes that is going to happen  especially at family gatherings).

Then there are people who genuinely feel giving up animal products is like pushing away the love of their lives or an dear friend. It’s anxiety provoking.  The fear of living without animal products means for them that they break up with animal products in steps.  I call this the process of Burger and Human Uncoupling.

Would Shakespeare have written verses about the despair and feeling pulled between lusting for cheese burgers and possibly deflating backed up lymphatics and staying alive an extra 10-30 years? 

 

Ode To Animal Products: My Mind’s Tears I Weep For Thee

(spoken tenderly with great drama)

Verse I

“Oh Cheese Burger, Pepperoni, Chicken and Eggs…

In my mouth you delight, but  inflate my legs.”

Verse II

” So Cheese is dairy, so is yogurt and Butter.

I loved you before, but now must love another.”

Verse III

“Endothelium,  walls of arteries and veins you line.

So no animal products I eat or carbs refined. “

 

It’s only slightly an overstatement to say that for many  to give up that relationship with animal products is very imposing..

So let’s be reasonable. So much of this is mental. You have to have courage to turn away from all meat, dairy and eggs as well as processed foods. While it is for health sake better to just cut off all animal products, it may not be in the long run productive. You may be one of the people who may give up for good the first time you cave.  So if you must,  take steps to prepare yourself to gain that needed confidence that you can live without animal products.  Start introducing what others call “transition foods”. These are foods that can give you a sense of having some of the textures and tastes you are in the habit of eating, without them actually being animal products.

Vegan food has come a long way. Please note that I use the term Vegan food instead of Whole Food Plant Based. Processed vegan foods many times are not that healthy. I would never suggest eating processed vegan foods on a regular basis over time but there is no crime in using them initially on occasion. Will they make you blow up like a balloon if you have soy and or sodium sensitivities? Maybe.  before going 100% without meat dairy and eggs or not, you’ll have to decide if it’s worth it not to eat soy filled and high sodium foods. Read the labels and weigh it all out.

Another way to approach it all is if  you cease eating one product at a time and adjusting to that before removing the next product that is ok too. And like I’ve pointed out throughout this piece, eating processed vegan food at times in the start, is fine too as long as you keep your eyes open to it temporarily making symptoms for things like lipedema, lymphedema and other disorders worse.

And even once you make the clean break from animal products, don’t be stunned if you still feel the need for a burger sometimes or cheese. It’s ok to ocassionally indulge in a Beyond Meat Burger (sold in many stores and some restaurants) or Impossible Burger (served at White Castle, and some restaurants  and coming to stores in 2019). There are also several other brands of non animal product burgers you can indulge in.

Just make sure that the majority of the time, you are eating actual fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, fresh greens,  unprocessed grains,  fresh or dried beans, peas, lentils, and a few unsalted nuts here and there. Some flax or chia seed for good measure, and take a good B-12 suppliment.  Have some blood work done to see if you are lacking in anything else.

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Black Bean Chick Pea Salsa Burger w/ lemon spinach and Orange Sections

I am just going to drive this point home one last time… better to eat whole foods that are plant based, without added oils, sugar or processed ingredients. Try for example, bean burgers or use lentils in place of ground beef in sloppy joes. They are better for you than the mass produced, pre-prepared vegan burgers and so on. Let me tell you, it can be pretty tasty.

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Need a chance to wrap your brain around the notion of no animal products? Here are some suggestions.

Miyokos Cashew Based Cheeses

Beyond Meat Burgers, Sausage, Chicken and Crumbles

Impossible Burgers

Just Eggs

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Black Bean Burger So Luscious, It’s Sexy

My Ultimate Bean Burger Recipe

 

I’ve been making different bean burgers for several years. This is by far the best tasting and satisfying of my bean black bean burger recipes ever. You want to impress your beloved? This will do it. Now you can make these without the cashew cheese, but sometimes you have to jazz things up to keep your family interested. Miyoko’s makes their cheese with pure ingredients, just like we would make it here. ( I say we because my husband assists or full out cooks most of our food).

It’s so easy, it’s so delicious and relatively inexpensive,  If you don’t already have access to Miyoko’s delicious cashew cheese products, put in a request for your store to start carrying their line.

My Ultimate Black Bean Burger Recipe

1 bag of dried black beans (1 lb) cooked per directions and partially mashed

1/2 wheel of Miyoko’s Kitchen garlic and herb vegan cheese (they make it exactly as we do at home)

2 “eggs” worth Bob Red Mill’s  Vegan Egg Substitute (follow directions on bag) (or flaxseed)

1 cup almond meal or oat flour

Tablespoon or more of lime juice

To taste as desired:

-crushed dried red pepper

-turmeric , cumin, whatever you like

-onion powder or finely chopped

-salt

Directions. Think of this as making a meatloaf but messier. All the ingredients or soft so wash up those hands and prepare to get messy!  Once you have squished together all the ingredients,  let it set for 5 minutes so that it gives the egg replacer a time to thicken it all up. If you need to add more dry ingredients to make it meatloaf consistency, then please do.

Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper and without adding oil or “grease”,  form and place on the cookie sheet the bean burgers.

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They look like mud pies at this stage don’t they? Ready for the oven!

Bake in preheated oven (375 degrees) for 30 minutes, my oven has a turbo setting that allows it to cook both sides at the same time, if you don’t have that, consider making your burgers an appropriate size to be easily by carefully flipped half way through.

Burgers will be soft but crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. Allow 10 minutes before serving  or 40 minutes or so to fully cool before placing in the freezer. Consider putting wax paper between burgers for easy removal.

 

Moist on the inside but holds together. Easy to reheat in microwave or oven for up to  month.

Oh and this IS whole food plant based cooking. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. If the products you use are like you would make it at home, then there you are.

 

Here we have one of the black bean burgers taken from the freezer and reheated, placed on a bed of beet noodles and baby kale. topped with carrot shavings and  mushrooms.