Over the past several months, I’ve been considering the benefits of a Whole Food Plant Based Way of Eating. I’ve watched several documentary-series of healing disease (from cancer to diabetes to heart disease to obesity) simply by changing what we put in our mouths throughout each and every day. Along with that, one cannot help but be faced with the horrors of factory farming, and hearing cow’s milk described as “cow puss” (along with noticing how mucous-y I feel after consuming dairy) is enough to put me off dairy forever, eventually.
Eventually because life is busy. Hubby’s job loss, the sale of our 30 year family home in Oregon, a cross-country move to Memphis, setting up 4 AirBnB listings, the holidays, clearly a major overhaul of our eating habits had to be put off. And, joy of joys, the new year is coming! Love, love the new start that January provides!
Knowing the “new start” planned for January, it is safe to say that we splurged more than our normal non-health conscious WOE through the last months of 2017. My new WOE proscribes, “Do not drink your calories. One bottle of wine a week can add 10 pounds to your body over the course of one year.” What about nearly a bottle every night? That math is not hard. I guess I’m lucky that when I did step on the scale on January 3, the first time in I don’t remember how long, and the first day of our new WOE, I was up ONLY 10 pounds from a year ago. Through the last 10-14 nights of 2017, I “enjoyed” a coffee drink Hubby concocted (coffee, alcohol, heavy whipping cream). Yep, I did. We even walked to Kroger one night when the kids had our car to restock on heavy whipping cream. I say “enjoyed” because as I drank this poisonous brew, I knew what I was doing to my body, and it was sickly sweet, but I drank it anyway.
Our new WOE began on January 3, to coincide with A Seven Day Rescue Diet sponsored by Rip Esselstyn (Seven-Day Rescue Diet). The timing was perfect because we COULD NOT stop eating/drinking on January 1 at 8 pm – college football games, you know! This way we could postpone that “fast” until 8 pm on January 2. We had blood work done on the morning of January 3 – lipid panel and fasting blood glucose. Interestingly, my body broke down during the night of January 2. I was woken at about 2 am with severe intestinal pain and bloating. It felt a lot like labor pains – radiating pain from my back to my entire front belly. This kept me awake all night and the spasms continued throughout the next day. For the previous several days, I had thought I was having back pain that occasionally led to spasms through my belly – and this is what that manifested. Clearly, not back pain. I self diagnosed “pancreatitis,” brought on by high fat and heavy alcohol consumption, go figure.
On the morning of January 3, Hubby and I both took our blood pressure as well. Hubby’s was 170+/90+ (on BP meds!) and mine was 125/80 (in the danger zone). Our understanding is that healthy BP is <120/<80. The next morning, we received the results of our blood work – more scary news. Our results were strikingly similar, more evidence that these results are lifestyle related (and therefore correctable with lifestyle changes, rather than with pharmaceuticals). Both of us have sky-high cholesterol (at or near 300), and both of us have above normal blood glucose levels (over 100). We ordered these tests online and can only imagine the meds we would have had thrown at us had we visited a doctor instead. Suddenly, the motivation for cleaning up our consumption act switched from, let’s lose some weight, to our health is literally on the line.
Day 1 of our new WOE was January 3. In a nutshell, no meat, no dairy, no processed foods, no refined grains (or refined anything else), no oil, no coconut products. Oh, and no added salt (except in some condiments) and no alcohol, duh. For the seven-day cleanse, it is also really low fat – only a few walnuts (no other nuts) and ¼ avocado per day. What’s left? Every whole unprocessed plant you can imagine (fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains (intact and whole), potatoes of all varieties) and greens are proscribed for every meal. Try a bowl of broccoli or steamed spinach/kale/collards before your oatmeal – it’s not half bad – we just think of it as medicine!
Hubby’s high blood pressure has been an enigma. He is typically (though not so much in the last few months) very physically active, and he maintains a healthy body weight. We have accepted his high BP as hereditary. He has NEVER tried to address it with reduced salt and elimination of alcohol. So this new WOE is to be an interesting experiment.
Day 4 morning, Hubby is complaining of not being hungry, for anything. By evening of that day, I feel absolutely the same. This food that we are eating is good, but we certainly are not prone to overeat it. The truth of the matter – what I’m missing most is salt! And through evening of day 4, my intestinal pain persists. I can sleep through the night with the help of ibuprofen, but it wakes me up each morning, and continues through the days. I begin hoping that I haven’t done any permanent damage.
Day 5, I wake up with NO intestinal pain. None. Thank the Lord! It took 4 full days of clean consumption to fix the damage I had perpetrated on myself.
Day 6, yesterday: We are cleaning two of our AirBnB listings to get them ready to go for new guests and Hubby complains of feeling light headed. I suggest that he take his blood pressure (we have an at home BP monitor). He takes it and has a stunned expression on his face as he quietly says, “It says 117/73.” He takes it again with similar results. On meds, he has never had a reading under 140 (usually 160ish) for the top, or under 80-90 for the bottom. This result is astounding. It is one thing to hear about amazing results that other people experience, it is quite another to experience it yourself. Hubby is worried. He calls his Oregon Cardiologist and I am impressed by her reaction. First, she is not surprised by these results – what? Then, why… Never mind. Second, she says the light-headedness will resolve in a week or two as his blood-brain barrier accepts the change as permanent. Third, she reduced his BP meds.
Bolstered by Hubby’s amazing results, I checked my BP and it came in at 113/72, a sweetly healthy result. Then I thought to ask him, “Have you checked your weight?” He dropped 8 pounds in the first 4 days – men! I’m not checking my weight until the end of January. Well, maybe at the end of the 7 days, and then not again until the end of January. I have quite a bit of weight to lose, while Hubby is probably already near a healthy weight.
Today is day 7. Our saga continues.