Hospitalized: Negotiating A Whole Food Plant Based Diet No Oil, No Sugar

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Having a hysterectomy was inevitable. My mother and twin sister both needed to have one done in their 40’s. I was in the 82nd percentile for having the same issues they did..  Here I was 56 and it was time for me. I knew a few years back that I was headed that direction with the need of repeated D and C’s, due to thickening uterus walls and bleeding that should never be happening. Seemed like a crossroads.

I found it a little depressing because like for all women, my uterus and it’s attachments had been a big part of my life for many years.  A pain in the neck, yes.  Just not sure how losing those parts would impact me overall.

Then I realized how ridiculous I was being and decided to be even more ridiculous but in a more fun manner.  We turned it into a celebration! We took this life event and made it our own.   I made a meme and invited my facebook friends to celebrate the end of an era, the parting of me from my uterus. We all got a good laugh out of it.

Uterus good bye

While laughing about it helped, I also wanted to give myself the best chance of being my healthiest going into the surgery and during recovery. Maintaining my whole food plant based diet has been very important as a tool to being my healthiest.  It’s the one thing I have control over.

One would assume that since a hospital is a place of healing that they would serve healthy foods. Reality is that in the mix are class one carcinogen. Translation would be to say that it’s the same as smoking cigarettes. Sausage is considered a processed meat so picture them being sold in cigarette cartons as well. Then there are eggs which I simply refuse to eat.

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Eek! Avoid The Processed Foods!

 

So seemed counter productive to have my uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and cervix removed and enduring a hospital stay to improve my health, but at the same time eat the typical hospital food offerings.

My healing depended on continuing to eat whole food plant based no oil, low fat, low glycemic index, no added sugar low glycemic index. So no white flour, no animal product and no processed foods.

I phoned  in advance the dietician responsible for the meals served to see what was possible. There were some great options they had available. They invited me to bring any shelf stable foods of my own to use with what they could provide. I took them up on their offer.

I brought in some foods from home including fortified nutritional yeast, brown rice, a pull top can of chick peas, an envelope of prepared, shelf stable baby beluga black lentils, and WASA crackers.  I used them with a modified version of a couple of their menu selections they prepared without oil and other items I asked them to alter.  I enjoyed delicious water sautéed stir friend vegetables with black lentils. Their pasta with marinara sauce and chickpeas, broccoli,cherry tomatoes and spinach with a side of orange sections was lovely.

Mercy Hospital even sautéed  vegetables for my breakfast

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Hospital dinner
Mercy Hospital in St. Louis Missouri water sautéed a mixture of vegetables and then I added black lentil and nutritional yeast to make it balanced. Very healing.

My surgeon, Dr. Cory Wagner did a wonderful job on my surgery and fully supports my eating Whole Food Plant Based Oil Free and Low Glycemic Index.  My labs were perfect for surgery and all went well.

I am now home and have a freezer and fridge filled with my favorite berries, greens, fresh vegetables, apples and oranges, homemade bean burgers, a shelf with my favorite crackers, rolled oats, garbanzo beans, black beans, lentils and dried peas.

As I continue to recover I won’t stop continuing to evolve as a healthier person. Each chapter of life is ours to safeguard and enjoy. We have power in selecting what we eat and to work with the world around us to make it happen.

I want to thank ‘St. Louis Mercy Hospital for being open to bending their menu selections to meet my needs. It kept my blood sugars level, my blood pressure healthy, and kept me from blowing up like a balloon.

I also want to thank my husband Tim for coming up to the hospital at night and rubbing my feet and making me feel like a special woman. He even made a special trip just to bring me an apple to snack on.

 

Thank you to my son Eric who held down the fort at home so well and gave me such a wonderful homecoming.

I love my family and I love my life, every stage of it and every challenge I come across. Lots of changes for the better. I am grateful.

 

When Food Takes On The Wrong Role

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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. 

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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.

 

 

 

 

Empowerment Doesn’t Mean A Cure. It’s Hope. Mine Has Been WFPB.

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My experience has been that there is nothing  like a rare disease to make a person feel helpless. It doesn’t matter how many miles you travel (for me it was 7,000) to find expert treatment.  Over time I know I lost my hope and sense of empowerment. Then last year I learned that empowerment sometimes can be found again in the simplest of ideas. My regaining my sense of empowerment had been 10 plus very painful, long years in the making.

Before After 3
Before and after shots show the visible change since going on a whole food plant based diet. Has it cured all that ails me? No it hasn’t but that is ok. I still am significantly disabled, I am not cured. But I have something almost as valuable that I never thought possible, Empowerment! Empowerment isn’t about discovering a magic wand. It’s about finding hope that you yourself can depend on. I didn’t find hope with the “experts”. I found it through WFPB, no oil, no added sugar, low fat low glycemic eating.  Yes! I have some power over my own health!

Dercum’s Disease sufferers like myself face the same obstacles Too few doctors know about it and there is no known cure.  Also, there are really no reliable treatments. I had just gotten married when it set in with a 60 lb weight gain,  numerous painful lumps, brain fog and increased immobility.  My physician had one other patient who in the past had the same symptoms. In the years to come I saw doctors from one side of the country to the other multiple times where Dercum’s Disease and other associated illnesses were diagnosed. Dercum’s Disease and two other of the disorders  can put considerable non calorie based weight on a person.  I likely had some of these disorders since childhood. All those years and no one knew why I was as I was.  Having names for what was wrong with me helped, but there were no answers. 

In spite of  seeing the country’s top experts, I found zero relief. I still didn’t give up easily. I did both the standard and out-there treatments. I heard through a friend that she found hope spending a few days in an out of state University  hospital’s ICU getting round the clock Ketamine infusions. Fearful of my husband losing his job, my husband had to drop me off at a homeless shelter- in that community. That is where I stayed until a bed opened up in the intensive care unit.  During the treatment I went through a 2 day psychedelic trip. Ketamine can do that.  It did not benefit my health, but I did though, acquire a small collection of wigs because of the hair loss. I tried.

As is the case with many with Dercum’s Disease, the weight kept coming on and my diabetes and coronary labs got worse. Tachycardia joined the mix.   To make it harder to combat, Dercum’s Disease and physical workouts do not go together. There is a problem with the lactic acid that lingers around the Dercum’s Disease lumps.  The only physical activity I can tolerate is in the pool and that is not easy for me to access.

I kept doing what the rest of the people in the Dercum’s Disease crowd were doing and whatever doctors said to try. My physical and mental state worsened as I appeared destined to live in an ever-growing painful shell where I would die young from cardiac and or diabetic health issues.  That is what people with Dercum’s Disease usually die from.

Doctors told me that restricting calories would not help my disorder. My disorders kept the weight piling on. So  like any other red blooded American woman, it didn’t keep me from trying. Is there anything we deem worse than being large? It’s how we are socialized.  I  followed  Weight Watchers, RAD, Paleo, KETO, Low carb, the American Heart Association Diet, South Beach Diet, The American Diabetes Association diet. . It all combined had minimal positive results.  Some had horribly negative results. 

Every six months or so I was traveling to see one of the national experts on Dercum’s Disease and the other disorders commonly associated with Dercum’s Disease that I have.  I would arrive with some hope. Sometimes I would be understood and sometimes I would feel not understood.  They would put a hoop up for me to jump through, I figurately would jump it with bells and a smile. My Dercum’s Disease continued progressing. My health got worse.

Then I just could do it no more. I traveled out of state once again and was honest with my doctor.

“I’m ready to stop chasing the unicorn”, I believe were the words I used.

I do believe that there is some empowerment that can be found in accepting reality. The doctor that day told me to just accept it all as it being what it is. I have to admit that I was at the time relieved to hear that because I really could not handle trying anything else. Really had tried more ways of getting better than most. My family had sacrificed so much.  All those miles and dollars spent on improving my rare condition and everything associated with it, and nothing worked. 

Fast forward a year later. It took a weekend of endless vomiting, where I found myself in the hospital and received the lab results for me to finely listen to my body. It was the spring of 2018 when all that happened and the only logical conclusion was that I had to change my way of eating. I had been on the same way of eating everyone else in my shoes had been told to follow. I had been eating low carb and focused on proteins. From that point forward, I had to do something different.   The only reasonably healthy foods left for me to eat were the foods I had been told would be bad for this condition.  Sure they were the same foods I grew up eating from our garden, but they were considered to be “high starch” by current popular recommended diet standards.

I did some research and sure enough, there were studies done that for my overall health I could eat the garden delicacies such as basic vegetables and fruits. I could even eat beans!  I felt I had nothing to lose. I would start eating this way, get labs done and then talk to my doctor.

 I indeed did start  to eat that way and within a month had labs drawn to make sure the change agreed with me. That cardiologist appointment to discuss the results was the best doctor appointment of my life. His receptionist asked me if I had gone through bariatric surgery.   My cholesterol had dropped  57%, my A1C dropped 3 points, and I had dropped a couple clothes sizes and quite a bit of weight. The cardiologist  told me to continue eating that way. He even cancelled some of the cardiac testing he had jotted down before seeing me.

That was the moment I felt empowered for the first time in years. I made a decision for myself, sought medical labs and advice at the onset and found my own way to make a positive difference for my health. . One by one, my doctors all were in agreement that I should continue eating this way. From Ohio State University to my  cardiologist to my primary care doctor to my cardiologist, everyone was amazed with the results.

I just passed the 1st year anniversary of empowering myself through intuitive measures for my care. I have gone from a  size 32 to a size 14. I’ve gone from 13 pills a day to one prescription and a supplement. I am no longer on  diabetic or cardiac related medications. I have no more IBS symptoms or year round allergy concerns. My legs that had been miss shaped with one leg larger than the other, are now the same size and shape. I’ve lost 60% of my Dercum’s disease tumors in my stomach. For the first time in my post pubescent life, my top half and bottom half are the same size.  

It’s’ true I still have Dercum’s tumors in my stomach, arms, along both ribs, along my spine and the base of my back. They are in my neck and head legs and feet. I still have difficulty sleeping, being comfortable, and the misery can be considerable. I have brain fog, but it’s improved some. I still have to spend my day with my legs up and spend more days in bed than I want to but there is no choice. I still am forced to use a wheelchair in the house when in the kitchen. A motorized scooter is how I manage myself out in the community. I average once a week getting out if my husband drives. Every now and then I can pull off driving if it’s just in the neighborhood. Sometimes a little further than that, but we don’t count on my being able to do such things. I am still significantly suffering from Dercum’s Disease. 

But I use to have surgeries to remove Dercum’s Disease tumors. Now without surgery, 60% from one area have vanished and I possibly added 20 years to my life by improving my overall health. What is not to love about that? I wake up every day with hope. Hope is a powerful commodity not to take for granted.  My finding my empowerment didn’t find a cure but it did find a useful treatment for Dercum’s Disease, Lipedema and Lymphedema . Those disorders have not advanced. They have improved in ways that shouldn’t have happened through just nutritional changes. .  It also reversed my cardiac and diabetic numbers so I could get off all that medication.  So while there is suffering, to have any positive change, I am so grateful.

Empowerment isn’t about suddenly being handed a magic wand and all your problems are solved. Empowerment doesn’t mean what works for one person will work for another.  Empowerment for me is that I can count on myself to make decisions and to think for myself.  You never know what might change your life.

 

Cindy 10 month photo comparrison meme

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Photo by Carl Attard on Pexels.com

 

 

Easy Black Bean Burgers Recipe

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What has kept me sane in the last year. Black Bean Burgers.  I get requests for the recipe every week so I thought I would post this. Easy to make, season to taste, Use as a healthy substitute for animal product burgers, on top of riced vegetables or on top of greens. Use t as part of a buddha bowl.  Top it with fresh tomatoes and some pickles, hummus, cashew cheese sauce,  onions, salaa, a couple sliced olives, mushrooms or a pile of greens

Stick them in the freezer for fast meals.

Ingredients:

Your choice of a bag of dried black beans (usually a pound size) cooked per directions, or 3-4  cans of drained and rinsed black beans. Organic and salt free is best, but rinsing the normal kind helps quite a bit.

A variety of salsa or oil free huumus that you enjoy. (We really enjoy low sodium black bean salsa. It blends in well and keeps it moist) I use 1/4 or more.

Ground Flax Seed and water or Bob’s Red Mill Vegan Egg substitute or a combination of the two. (For binding). You want it to be the equivalency of 1 or 2 eggs.

Use any of the following to help binding:
-oats (whole or ground into flour)
-garbanzo bean flour (Bob’s Red Mill is easiest to find)
-compliant bread ground into crumbs
The amounts vary from a half cup to a cup or so. Enough to make a meatloaf kind of consistency.

Any finely chopped vegetables you enjoy (optional). The key word here is finely chopped because big chunks may make it easier for the burger to fall apart. Ideas include beats, onions, peppers, carrots, cauliflower,zucchini, chopped baby kale, a little mashed sweet potato with skin left on.

Suggested possible seasoning (Pick your favorites)

-Curry Seasoning
-Turmeric
-Garlic Powder
-Onion Powder
-Dried Crushed Red Pepper
-Black Pepper (I’m allergic so I don’t use it)
-Oregano
-Basil
-lime juice
-lemon juice
-chopped fresh cilantro (really great with the lime juice)

-to get the B-12 as you would from meat in each burger, use a fortified nutritional yeast and sprinkle into each burger you form.

Other alternatives: Use different kinds of beans, lentils and peas in with the black beans.

Directions:

Using a fork, mash the beans. It will be lumpy and it’s fine for them to not be completely mashed.

Combine ingredients with the beans and with clean hands or a fork combine the ingredients.

You can vary the amount of binding ingredients to make sure that it is a meatloaf like consistency. You can also refrigerate the mixture to get it to firm up. I have also found that just letting the mixture set for a few minutes on the counter helps this too. It will firm up in the oven if you bake it.

TASTE IT AS YOU MAKE IT TO ADUST SEASONING AND INGREDIENTS.THERE IS NOTHING IN IT THAT SHOULD MAKE YOU SICK.

Patty making:

We find it helpful to make the patties two different sizes. A fourth cup size and a half cup size. That way you can combine one or the other with different low glycemic meal items and keep the low glycemic carb load within reason.

Also we make some thinner but larger in diameter and some a little thicker. No matter what, make sure they are firmly put together and not so big that they are more likely to fall apart.

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Cooking Instructions:

On a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, place reasonably spaced out patties. You can sprinkle additional seasoning options.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20 -30 minutes. Use a non slotted spatula for all flipping and removal of burgers.

You remove it from the oven at the half way point, allow it to cool down just enough to let it firm up, and then flip the burgers. Reapply any seasonings if you want. Place back in oven for additional time.

When done, allow the burgers to “set” for 10-15 minutes. They should have the firmness of any typical burger.

Good news is that if they crumble ( only once has this happened to me and that was in the beginning), just set them aside in your freezer and use the crumbles for tacos, burritos or in other dishes.

Storage:

Once cooled down completely, I use your favorite freezer safe container. Use layers wax paper between each layer of burgers. I put in a combination of sizes in each layer so I don’t have to dig through the layers to find the size that works. Store in Freezer for weeks.

Typically we make 12-24 black bean burgers at a time and freeze them. It is so worth it. Whether my husband is cooking or I can manage to reheat them myself, it’s great for throwing together a no fuss meal with some greens and fresh fruit and veggies on the side. Keeps me compliant.

Chronic Illness makes it important not only to stick with eating healthy, but to make it doable. For those with crippling illness, It is fine to make this and set it aside in the fridge for a day before making the patties and baking them. No need to be on your feet too long. Or sit at your table and work on it. A little effort on making these means that you will have many easy meals in your future.

Keep bags of fresh dark greens, fresh fruit, and vegetables you can eat raw or easily prepare in your fridge. Keep frozen vegetables, berries and fruit  in your freezer. 

 

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The cheese like topping is a combination of Trader Joes Cashew Cheese Fiesta Dip, additional fortified nutritional yeast to make it cheesier, garlic powder and a touch of crushed red pepper.

Celebrating Rare Disease Day With A Win!

Please work with and get advice from your medical team before making any decisions that could impact your health.

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The left side is before when I was bed ridden much of the time. . The right side is me today with 60% fewer Dercum’s tumors in my stomach and lymphatic backup has subsided. From size 32 to size 14 (XL)

Dercum’s Disease can force large amounts of weight on the body that mimics obesity. It’s rare and extrenely painful. Deemed almost impossible to treat.

The article that the first sentence here will lead you to, provides adequate information on this disorder. Along with lipedema, and lymphedema it’s been a “large” life for sure.

Changing my nutritional intake has done more for me than any information provided e by the medical experts I traveled so many hours to see. No way of knowing when I began eating Whole Food Plant Based, Low Glycemic Index, no oil, low fat, and low sodium that I would see any relief from these disorders. Just goes to show that each day there is a new chance for miracles.

Will always have Dercum’s Disease, lipedema and lymphedema, but this has helped. Based on the work of Dr. Michael Greger and his Daily Dozen, Dr Caldwell Esselstyn Jr, and Dr. Neal Barnard from Physicians For Responsible Medicine.  I was introduced to these men and their views by watching Forks Over Knives.

whole food plant based list

I highly recommend those who have any of those disorders and want more information to join us at Improving Fat Disorders Using Low Fat Low Glycemic WFPB Eating 

 

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

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!

 

 

 

 

Eating Healthy When Chronically Ill

The problem with having chronic illness and trying to eat healthy is that the chronic illness can  keep you from being well enough to put together healthy food.  I’m lucky I have a husband and some very helpful convenience appliances that make it more doable. Still there are times I need to do this on my own. Almost always I can barely make it across the room.

Best suggestions I can give is to always keep a covered container of greens and chopped veggies  and fresh fruit in the fridge so all you have to do is dish up.

 

 

Have canned beans that you can drain and use.

Whole grain bread (egg free is best) to make veggie open face sandwiches is good.

Batch cook on your good days. Even if you have one or two reasonable days a month, it can make a huge difference.

Here are other possibilities to have on hand with the right planning.

 

 

Here is a recipe that literally just happened today.  I managed to toss together on a so-so day that is my norm. Couldn’t stand over a stove. Number of variations possible are limited only by your imagination. Took less than 5 minutes to toss together and then it got tossed in the oven where it baked while I sat on the sofa with my legs up and felt miserable (aka typical day).

Whole Food Plant Based Pointer: Using Parchment Paper means you can keep

 

Cindy’s Plant Based Mexican Bake Casserole

Serves 4-6

2 cups garbanzo bean flour ( Bobs Red Mill found with that line of products).

I tsp baking soda

2/3 cup salsa
2/3 cup water

1 cup of favorite Mexican friendly veggies (riced or finely chopped or chunked onions, peppers, tomato, cilantro, cauliflower,  greens…corn and black beans)

Mexican seasoning of your choice…
Chili powder, cumin, turmeric, low sodium chili or taco seasoning. Curry seasoning is good too.

Possible toppings for after baked…

Shredded lettuce, Miyoko cheese, addition chopped veggies and or salsa….

Directions.

Combine ingredients except toppings. Pour into lasagna pan that has been lined with parchment paper. Bake at 375 until cake like (approx. 20 minutes).

Serve in squares and top as desired.

Mine looks boring compared to how colorful you could make it look. It’s just what I had on hand.

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It tastes amazing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reality Of Trauma And Regaining One’s Power

Many people who have the physical diagnoses of fat disorders such as Lipedema, Dercum’s Disease are said to have trauma in their history. Many with eating disorders have a similar background.

I’ve come to know many, many people who are in this circle of physical health and emotional concerns with that history.

Trauma if left as it is, can make one’s life less than it could be. It can ruin a life. It can shorten a life. It can impact future generations.

Don’t throw away the power you have by allowing yourself to linger in a life that isn’t all that it could be.

I learned this mostly by taking myself by the hand and pulling and pushing myself forward. Sometimes through therapy sometimes in having my life move forward. all on my own.

Life has a way of taking that blank slate of a precious baby each of us once were and puts emotional dings, scrapes, dark marks and dents into our sense of self and world view.

Many of the world’s ills are passed down from one  generation after the other. Humans are the most capable creatures we know of on the planet, yet we seldom seize our own power we have to heal ourselves. If we can’t heal up some of the junk we emotionally carry around, the world is having to live without all the positive we have to offer it.

If we aren’t careful, we can end up knowingly or unknowingly wallowing in the muck of other’s dysfunction and take on  a confused toxic world view.

Is this really a social issue?

1 in 3 children are abused physically, sexually or emotionally by age 14. Then consider how many young adults are abused by significant others physically, sexually or emotionally in their 20’s 30’s and into the twilight years. It’s not uncommon for people to have layers of abusive experiences that puts them in a mental haze and inner physical turmoil that changes even their brain chemistry.

The important point I wish to make is don’t shy away from doing the work needed to rebuild yourself. Your value and my value is not based on the attitudes of those who in the past have harmed us.

I have had to rebuild myself and when I was up and running again, even though still in the process of repair, some people would say they didn’t know me anymore. I was nothing like the girl who would roll over and play dead on command.

Oh well.

Reality can be painful but it forces you to live where you have the most power in your life. Reality is where growth takes place. Where there is growth then life changing positive decisions can happen.

So if you haven’t done so already, find power and purpose in rebuilding in yourself what needs to be rebuilt.

There is no reason to apologize for believing every life has a place and deserves respect and dignity. You will be forced to include yourself in these ranks the more you understand.

Once you really learn and understand this and know that you are worthy,, you won’t settle for the dysfunction you’ve taken part in or subjected on yourself.

Be prepared because as an individual heals, those who are wallowing in the dysfunction will try to pull you back. Your health is too unsettling  to their world and for them it’s uncomfortable. Pick and choose your battles. Sometimes you can maintain relationships and there are times when you have to walk away. Each situation is different. Forgiveness is fine, self preservation when based on what you know to be true, is a must.

If you have the feeling that in their eyes you are expendable, if they leave you feeling small and not worthy, and there is a long history of such behaviors and attitudes, it’s ok to walk away.  They may raise a fuss through dysfunctional means, but that should only strengthen your resolve to not waste your time with them.

 

Find a wuiet Sunny spot in yourself where you feel safe.
Appreciate each stage of life
Hold close to good memories
Peace is the center of healing.