Last fall, I felt like I’d stumbled on a secret. In fact, I felt like I’d stumbled on a secret that had been kept from me.
Leading up to this discovery, I had a confluence of events that were shaping my life. I had recently closed up my restaurant on the Fulton Mall, Peeve’s Public House. I knew there wouldn’t be much happening in the job market as we headed into the holidays, so I had some time for myself.
At the same time, I had one of those doctors appointments that really suck — for both me and my doctor. One of those appointments where he tells you to lose weight, your blood pressure is too high, your cholesterol is too high, and by the way, you just joined the Type 2 Diabetes club… congratulations!
Well, I’d always planned to focus on my health someday, but that day had always been in the future. Now I had a window of time and really didn’t have any excuses. Plus, I hated all of the pills and blood testing stuff, it was all way too complicated for me. The next question was, what does it even mean to focus on my health? What was my best course of action?
Learning the Secret
It didn’t take much digging once I started looking. There seemed to be one diet that came up in my searches again and again. Several resources recommended watching a documentary on Netflix called “Forks Over Knives.” That led me to the secret: a whole food, plant-based diet. This was a way to eat that could prevent, stop, and sometimes reverse many of our lifestyle diseases. I knew it wouldn’t be easy to make this change, but I had the time and I am pretty stubborn when I set my mind to something (revitalizing downtown Fresno, for example).
I didn’t know of anyone else who was following this program, so I decided I’d better create my own support group. I’d never been a podcast listener, but I found some podcasts that could help keep me on track (I’ll list some resources at the bottom of this blog) and also introduce me to even more resources. I started reading books on the whole food, plant-based lifestyle. I got a Fresno County library card and checked out books and used their Overdrive app to find audio books to play between my podcasts.
At this point, I hope your skepticism is kicking in. I love skeptics. I even have “Question Everything” tattooed onto my shoulder. I was skeptical, too. Why hadn’t I heard of this? Why didn’t my doctor say, “You have Type 2 Diabetes, but we can reverse it through diet.” Because it’s a SECRET! Even most doctors don’t know about it, although the research has been around for decades. I looked around on the Kaiser website and they did have an information booklet on this amazing, health-altering diet and lifestyle.
Here’s the bottom-line info I know you want to know: After six months of a whole food, plant-based diet, I lost 80 pounds, my cholesterol is 130, my blood pressure is normal, and my diabetes is basically gone. No more pricking my fingers, I’m off almost all of my medications. In three more months, I’ll be off of all of them.
What is a Whole Food, Plant-based Diet Exactly?
So what is a whole food, plant-based diet? We eat vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes — basically the stuff we all know is good for us and the foods we know we should eat more of. We don’t eat meat, dairy, eggs, or highly processed foods. Is this radical? It’s not as radical as taking a bunch of pills or pricking my fingers three times a day.
You’re going to hear a lot more about this diet/lifestyle over the next few years. Given our region’s bad health scores with diabetes and obesity, I hope that we are early adopters. We need to change the course we’re on as a culture.
I wasn’t really looking for a new cause when I found this diet — I was only looking for the best way to get my own health back. But I can’t keep it to myself; my friends and neighbors need to hear this. So I started a Meetup group for those who are interested in learning more and having some support.
There are some side effects to this lifestyle I should warn you about: you’ll have to buy some smaller-sized clothes, you’ll have more energy and a positive outlook (this can be annoying to others), you’ll save money, and it’s good for the planet and animals. By the way, here’s something that’s really dumb to admit: I have an all-edible garden, and I was already growing the food that I needed to turn my health around!
Don’t take my word (or amazing results) for it. Check out these resources for yourself: