My New Lifestyle - Whole Foods, Plant-Based Eating

So, my lifestyle took another turn since I posted about our next food challenge.  I was sick for about 2 months last fall/winter with a sinus infection that just wouldn't go away.  At the start of that, I went to the doctor for antibiotics and found that my blood pressure was up higher than it had ever been.  I've always had "normal" numbers so I was shocked to hear this.  I was sick with another sinus infection yet again about a month ago.  I went to the doctor again at the onset of this round and my blood pressure was up even a bit more from the previous time.  When my doctor used the word "medication" for me to consider, I was done.  I knew my lifestyle would change immediately.

Two months ago I watched a couple of documentaries on Netflix - "Forks Over Knives" and "Plant Pure Nation".  You may remember I had previously contemplated trying the Whole 30 way of eating but wasn't convinced it was right for me or sustainable.  The idea of Whole 30 was a result of having been told about my blood pressure from the first doctor's visit.  When I watched the 2 documentaries about whole food, plant-based eating I knew it was right for me.  I actually had been vegetarian from the age of 12 until 24.  At that time it was because we had lived on a farm and I absolutely loved the animals I cared for every day and couldn't imagine eating them.  Unfortunately, it wasn't for better health.  I say that because although I was a vegetarian, I didn't eat healthy.

What I learned in these documentaries is that striving to be "vegan" or "vegetarian", doesn't mean healthy.  And it's so true!  You can still eat french fries, many types of cookies, chips, crackers, candy, oils, and many more junk foods.  I continued to think about all of this but still hadn't made any changes.

Then, after leaving my doctor's appointment last month, I changed what I ate right then and there.  No more meat/animal products (although I'm eating seafood once a week for now), dairy, processed food, sugar, added salt, and very little oils.  My blood pressure dropped 10/5 after the first week and more since then.  And the best part?  I don't miss any of it a bit.  I really thought I would, but I don't.  I lost the "puffiness" from my face and I'm sure inflammation from my body in general.  You know that starving feeling when you feel as though you might die if you don't have food NOW?  I don't have that feeling anymore, even if I don't have time to eat a full lunch.  I'm assuming it could be a blood sugar thing and mine is completely leveled out.  My head is clear, I have more energy than I've had in a long time, and I just simply feel great!  As for what other types of medical conditions this helps with, it is said to significantly lower cholesterol (I have normal cholesterol levels currently but will be interested to see what changes at my annual later in the year), clearing up allergies (I'm hoping for), reversing heart disease and diabetes, as well as prevention of cancer.

What do I eat, you're likely wondering?  I'm following the books/recipes from Colin Cambell, M.D., Kim Campbell, Rip Esselstyn (of Engine 2) and Forks Over Knives for the most part.  I do use a bit of oil from time-to-time when cooking or baking which is something they do not.  Also, they use tofu and other soy products and I am not so convinced this is a good thing so my soy consumption is limited.  So, in a nutshell, I eat a whole lot of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole grains (including bread, pasta, rice, etc.).

Believe me, I know that what I eat is only a part of the changes that need to be made.  I would be fooling myself if I ignored the fact that stress, lack of sleep, and constantly being on the go as I continue to juggle 12 hour days at my "day" job and evenings and weekends of running a business.  So that will be the next concentration.  But I had to start somewhere.

I will share more about this, including what I eat, in the weeks and months that follow.

I would love to hear if you have switched to this type of lifestyle or are interested in doing so too!

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daisy gurl said...

Staci, I LOVE that you are listening to your body and taking care of yourself. I was a vegetarian for a long time too, but didn't eat some of what I should have.
We generally eat very healthy now, and I am mostly plant-based, but eat fish almost daily and consume bone broth I make myself from fish to help with a multitude of symptoms.
I'm looking forward to seeing what new recipes you try and consider me a kindred spirit in the quest to be the healthiest we can be. Supporting you 100%!

How's J taking to all the changes?

odiie said...

I also just made a major dietary change. My teeth are bad and causing an infection in my jaw. I've dropped sugars and carbs (which decay teeth) and eat lean meat, fish, vegetables, dairy and some fruit. The dairy is to strengthen my teeth. I can't say that I have more energy, but I'm feeling leaner and just knowing I'm eating healthier makes me feel healthier. Keep us posted on your progress.

courtney cloe said...

I'm glad you discovered Forks over Knives; that is an amazing documentary that changed my families dietary practice several years ago. I loved eating plant based, but after a while, I discovered I missed meat! Now, we have all switched to a Low Carb High Fat diet! What a drastic change, but I love it.
If I had any blood pressure issues or cholesterol issues, I'm sure I would have stayed with plant based.
Check out the Engine 2 Cookbook, it's great, too.

Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Thank you Daisy!! You are definitely a kindred spirit - in many ways!! Jay has not transitioned so I am now making 2 meals. He tells me he is considering it though......we'll see. :)

Odiie - thank you for your comment! It's amazing what we can do with food, isn't it?

Courtney - thank you for sharing your experience! I'm happy you found what works best for you and your family.

Sweet Love and Ginger said...

I applaud and totally support your efforts. However, with all the research I’ve done have found a few things with a fully vegan diet that I do not agree with, for both health and environmental reasons, so I personally don’t adhere to a vegan/plant based diet. The meat I eat comes from hunting, fishing or locally/organic/free range/(insert other criteria here) animals (thank goodness our area is so plentiful in this stuff), and I don’t eat meat often. I have seen dramatic improvements to my personal health with just these changes so I really believe a whole foods, mostly plant diet is best. I wish you all the luck and please post some of your favorite recipes soon!

joellel said...

I'am in the same situation.
I found good recipes here :
Good luck

Pam said...

Yay!! Congrats!! I did the same thing last October and haven't looked back either. Best decision I made for my LIFE! :)

Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Pam - so happy to hear that. I'm feeling the same way!! :)

mom said...

Staci, Since your new life style changes, do you still keep your chickens?

Laura S. said...

I generally stick to a clean eating diet. Very little to nothing processed. Whole foods. I do consume limited amts of dairy and meat. Grass fed butter, plain greek yogurt (that I mix with a little raw organic honey and berries or with herbs & spices for sauces or dressings). I try to incorporate good protein sources other than meat. I've recently been doing a LOT of reading up on gut health (healthy bacteria levels) and it's amazing how much good gut health has to do with weight and metabolism let alone almost every illness out there. But in an effort to naturally increase my good bacteria I've tried a few things that I've avoided for years because I always thought they would be disgusting. Fermented foods. Kimchi (I was really afraid of this one but I've found I quite like it. I can only take the mild because it's just on the border of too much heat for me.) I detest soy products of any sort and won't purchase anything with soy but I do know that fermented soy in it's whole form is good for you but again...disgust. Well, I bit the bullet and purchased some organic Tempeh. I'm in love. It's wonderful. Anyway, do some research on good gut health and you'll find even more ways to improved your eating style for greater benefit!

Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Yes - we still have our chickens. We absolutely adore them!! We will continue to raise egg layers and sell what my husband doesn't eat and probably about 30 meat birds per year for Jay and the dogs.

Laura - thank you for the information!! I completely agree about fermented stuff. I've always adored kimchi. :)