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As you know I’ve been banging on about plant-based food for a while. I’m committed to this way of life as I want to change my health destiny. I’ve blogged links, articles, lots of recipes and I’ve run a cookery demo.
My goal is to just to try to help one person – that’s YOU dear reader; to improve your health and well being in some small way through the adoption of a no-added fat whole food plant-based diet.
The problem, is what do I mean by “adoption”? You might be thinking, it’s alright for him, he loves cooking and can afford all those weird ingredients, what about me? Do I want to change my eating habits?
I have spent part of today in a London Hospital at the Cardiac High Dependency Unit surrounded by very sick people. All of these people had had the best that medical science can do thrown at them, to help alleviate their symptoms and in some cases, save their lives. Highly skilled surgeons have opened up their chests and undertaken the most delicate of operations in the hope of improving these people’s quality of life. Quite wonderful work, but….
What if those people just go back to their old habits after their operations? Will that stent keep that artery open? Will that bypass of a blockage keep open to allow blood to flow freely around its new diversionary route?
My family has a history of heart disease. I was on track to maintain the family tradition of Honeycombe men who have died early of heart disease.
What if, we could change our health destiny or at least improve our chances?
So that’s what I am trying to do for myself. I love food. I’m obsessed by it. I eat too much. Even now. However despite that, I’m making a conscious choice to radically change my diet. It is like turning around an oil tanker in the middle of the ocean and setting a new course, but I am trying.
When I enrolled on the e-Cornell Certificate in Plant Based Nutrition, my tutor told me that having done the course she and her family now followed a WFPB (whole food plant based) diet. I have to say that what I said was “oh that’s interesting, jolly good for you” and what I thought was “you must be barking mad, you stupid woman. Imagine me, giving up lots of foods I love, you must be bloody mad. Now shut up, and enroll me before I change my mind. Oh and I bet this course is going to be full of ying-y yang-y hippy types”.
Well it wasn’t full of hippies, it was full of people who inspired me. They talked of amazing experiences that clearly showed that the research we were learning and hearing about was working in everyday lives, reversing many of the chronic diseases we are all facing today in the western world.
- So I made a commitment that I’d try this.
That’s all. See if it worked. What was amazing, was that after a few short days at the Farms2Fork event in Orange County in April 2013, I suddenly realised that I was loving my food and that it loved me back as it nourished my body and helped me fight those diseases that ail so many in our society today.
At my recent cookery demo, I asked the people gathered there, what commitment would they make? After all, they had paid good money to attend my event. What would they do differently as a result of attending?
- Eat WFPB 1 day a week?
- Try it for 7 days?
- Do a 5:2 plan, where 2 days per week are WFPB?
- Challenge themselves with a 28 day challenge http://engine2diet.com/28-day-challenge/welcome-video/ like the firefighters at the Austin Firehouse as a way of supporting their colleague with exceptionally high cholesterol.
- Try a “PB6” – Plant-based before 6pm – based on the VB6 (Vegan before 6pm) see – http://markbittman.com/tag/vb6/
What commitment will you make?
I now have the confidence and resources to cook this way and am slowly but surely changing my “health destiny”. In just a few days, my blood pressure had normalised. I have just booked to have my cholesterol checked next Friday to see how it has changed since it was last tested in March 2013. I have lost about 30lbs and my performance in terms of exercise and recovery has never been better. I am also planning to run a 5km.
So…what will you do? What will you commit to?
Whatever it is, whatever commitment that you make it has to be:
- Workable and fit in to your life
It must fit in with your daily life and work with whatever commitments you have. How practical is it for you to take your own food to work? What if you are eating out with clients or colleagues, what if you have children, or regular evening commitments etc., Think carefully before setting out to make changes to be sure that you can incorporate them easily into your life, schedule and routine or you are destined to fail.
- Not involve deprivation
One of the reasons that diets fail is that they deprive you of certain foods. I often hear people say: “Oh, i can’t eat that”; “I am being good”, or “I am on a diet”. All of these phrases ring warning bells for me. If you go on a diet, you will soon “go off it”. That is not what we are doing here. The plan here is to gradually change your lifestyle and eating habits. It may just be one day a week, it may be 98% of the time, but remember if you deprive yourself, you will fail.
The recipes that I share and cook are not boring low fat ones, or teeny-tiny portions placed on a small plate, they are healthy, nutritious and filling. Full of complex carbohydrates that will nourish your body and that should prevent you from feeling deprived. This is a key part to finding what works for me. I need to feel full and sated. My food should provide me with a sense of well-being and satisfaction. Not leave me thinking, so that was dinner, now i want a bacon sandwich, packet of crisps and a chocolate bar or three. Oh, but I can’t – I’m on a diet!
You want to be able to see what effect you are having on your body by making this commitment. Try not to focus on weight. Remember, this is first and foremost about being healthier. Choose something that indicates clearly that you are improving your health. It could be blood pressure or cholesterol – look at the Happy Heart Course http://www.happyheartcourse.com/ as an example 4 weeks to lower your cholesterol by 20%. It could just be how much further you can walk, or how many steps you take in a day, or how puffed you feel when walking upstairs. Just make it measurable and keep tabs on your progress. There is nothing more motivating than to see that you are turning that oil tanker around in the ocean.
When I started on this, my mindset was predominantly focused on health, but every now and then I’d get on the scales. I can remember moaning to a friend that my weight had gone up! I was devastated, but he reminded me that my blood pressure had gone down and that I was not depriving myself, I had simply changed what I was eating, not the portion sizes. In due course, the weight-loss followed.
- Flexible to allow you to cheat?
Actually, it is not all about cheating. Its all about perfection. So many people think in terms of black and white. I’ve been good or bad. Perfection is something to be avoided. Personally, I do not aim for 100% WFPB diet deliberately. I know that when I am traveling or out with clients I am likely to eat something that may have mayonnaise in it, it may be made with refined flour or it may (heaven forbid) contain diary. IT IS NOT THE END OF THE WORLD. Get over yourself. If you want a bacon sandwich – have one. If you want to eat something that has white sugar in it, do it. Just do it in the context of what you are trying to achieve. If you commit to one day a week WFPB and one week you cannot do it for some reason, it’s ok – there are 51 more weeks in that year and by the end you will have been 98.08% plant-based on your 1 day a week plan.
- Avoid moderation
I wish I had a £1 (or a € or $) for every time I hear someone talk about moderation with regard to food and nutrition. There is no such thing and it is a dangerous road to go down thinking that it’s all about moderation. Moderation is like an elastic band – it all depends on how far you stretch it. My favourite definition of moderation is “eating less that your sister-in-law at the all-you-can-eat buffet on a cruise ship”. Here is a serious article on moderation from Jeff Novick – http://www.jeffnovick.com/RD/Articles/Entries/2010/10/26_The_Myth_of_Moderation_Pt_1__Do_All_Foods_Really_Fit.html
- Your responsibility
Your health is not the responsibility of anyone other than yourself. It is not the government, the food companies, your family, your genes etc., Wake up and acknowledge that you are not a victim, you are the person who puts the food into your mouth. You are the person who decides if they exercise, or not. I know that I am fat as I ate too much food over the years. I know that I damaged my health and I know that I am now taking my health seriously and am doing something to change my health destiny.
So on Sept 12th – World Encouragement Day – I encourage you to think about your health, your health destiny and what you are prepared to commit to, by way of making a positive change for yourself.
Please let me know what you choose to do and how it goes for you.