Before I get into regular blog posts though I feel compelled to clear up a few things. First up a disclaimer. I'm not a nutritionist, dietician or doctor, nor do I play one on TV. I'm just a regular person just like you that made some choices around food a few years ago that improved my health and now feels compelled to offer help to others. All of my advice and commentary is based on copious reading as well as trial and error on myself. It may not work for you and I encourage you to take your own responsibility for your health and food decisions.
Secondly my journey isn't over. It's going to be ongoing for years to come so my opinions may evolve. I'll share my successes and failures and be as honest as I can about them. Your mileage may vary as you try some of the same things.
Thirdly I feel compelled to out myself right now as a vegan. That word carries a lot of judgement and weight with it and I use it with great concern because I don't want you to click away based a perception of what it means. I actually prefer plant based diet as a descriptor but nobody seems to know what that means. To erase all doubts please know this, I'm not perfect, I fail often and I don't feel the need to judge others diet. I've chosen to be vegan based on my feelings that it can be the best way of eating for health, the environment and a sense of living with compassion if done properly. You can be (and shouldn't be) a junk food vegan and just because you eat plants for a living doesn't give you a pass for judging others. That's not what you'll find here.
Lastly my history just to catch you up to where I've been and where I am now as I start this little online experiment. Read this part only if you're overly curious about why you should listen to me in the first place.
When I was a kid and teenager I was skinny or thin. I ate the traditional diet you might find in any North American home filled with meat, potatoes, packaged food, and even an abundant garden that my parents kept up. Throughout my young adult days I ate freely of junk food, fast food, and drank whatever or whenever I wanted. Still I never really got huge. When I married my wife in 2001 I was a trim 150 pounds. Domestic life created a new me though as it seems to do with a lot of people. I got comfortable and ballooned to a nicely plump 198 pounds.
This is no dramatic story of huge weight loss. I was chubby for sure, but not obese. I can't sell you the story of something amazing. I was just your typical middle aged person that had a moment of realization. My blood pressure was borderline high (high normal), I'd had skin cancer, stomach issues, frequent IBS, heart arrhythmia and was putting on a few pounds. It became crystal clear to me that if I kept going I'd vault over the 200 pound mark and be that guy popping prescription pills trying to solve a symptom instead of the problem.
I tried a few diets. Atkins, the soup diet (oh that was gross) and simply restricting my portions. None of them worked. In the fall and winter of 2012 I gave up red meat and started trying to make better choices. After watching some documentaries that winter (Vegucatated and Forks Over Knives) my wife and I decided that we'd give the vegetarian thing shot after Christmas.
The plan was to eat up the turkey leftovers (they were dry and tasteless, not a bad goodbye) and go on a juice fast for a week. Then we'd go vegetarian for the month of January (hey all good things start after New Years right?) and see how it went. It felt like any other diet and we only lasted on the juice fast for 3 days. I couldn't swallow another juice.
But something happened with the vegetarian diet that was kind of cool. It didn't feel like a diet. At the end of the month we talked about it as a family and decided it should no longer be an experiment, it should be permanent. I lasted one more month before taking the plunge into being all vegan (my wife and kid started eating fish and their journey took a bit longer but they are vegan now) and after getting dairy out of my diet noticed a huge difference in how I felt. It was like shaking off a low grade flu I'd had for years. My IBS was gone, stomach issues were gone and I started dropping weight.
During this whole time I'd been running as well. The food experiments were sometimes helpful and other times painful learning experiences. But I made my way through and now in June of 2015 I've been vegan for 27 months and I can't imagine ever going back. I've lost 55 pounds, I'm very active and healthier than I've been at any time in my life. I also have an interest in food now that I've never had before. Oh and my blood pressure? 90/60. Yup from high normal to low normal.
That's the Coles notes of it all. I really believe that food can be a gateway to better health. I know that diets don't work. They are never permanent. To make a change you have to change your relationship with food entirely. You have to look at it differently and it will bring you more joy and health than you can imagine. Your body wants to be healthy, food is just the fuel to help it make that happen. I hope you find some inspiration here to eat with compassion and to heal yourself with the right fuel.