My food philosophy has evolved over the years. When I was first on Weight Watchers it was all about getting the most food for my points daily with out a lot of regard for proper nutrition. That worked for a while until I lost a significant amount of weight and my daily points and calories needed were shrinking right along with me. Sounds great right? Well the less I weigh the less calories I needed to sustain my trimmer body.
As necessity is the mother of invention, I started trading in my low calorie, low fat, refined carbohydrate foods for fresh fruit, yogurt, veggies, soy protein products, brown rice, raw nuts,whole wheat bread and dark chocolate. I was already eating lean protein, like fish and chicken breast, lean pork, beans, lowfat cheese and milk. Sparingly using a little bacon, butter and olive oil in my recipes.
Even with a healthy food plan my LDL cholesterol levels have been creeping up the past two years do to genetics. I haven’t felt really healthy since well before I had foot surgery in December 2012. Sleepless nights, chronic pain and fatigue have taken a toll on my body and my spirit. The weight gained while being laid up for 7 months has been slow to come off. My doctor agreed to hold off on prescribing statin drugs and let me try more dietary changes to see if I can lower my cholesterol naturally and I hope to prove to him that I can do just that! I do believe that we are what we eat and that food can be used as medicine.
I read Eat To Live and Eat For Health books by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn, Unprocessed by Chef AJ and watched the documentary Forks Over Knives. After learning about all the harm animal based foods causes to the human body I knew I had to change our way of eating. That is when armed with this new found knowledge I presented hubby Tom with the idea of eating a plant based diet. This is a man who loves his hamburgers and steaks so I wasn’t sure he would be a willing partner. To my surprise he was on board and has embraced this new way of eating.
We are starting off as Flexitarians – which means a person who eats a “mostly” vegetarian diet, occasionally including meat or animal products. Dr Fuhrman coined his food plan as a nutritarian diet which is a plant based high nutrient dense diet. The food plan includes lots of vegetables with an emphasis on green vegetables, beans, onions, mushrooms, nuts, seeds and whole grains. The less processed and more natural the food we choose the higher nutritional value it contains. Ninety percent of our new food plan comes from the previous list of healthy foods and that leaves room for 10 percent to come from animal products if we choose to do so. Animal products include all types of meat, dairy, fish and eggs. Healthy fats like nuts, seeds and avocados are favored over oil – yes even olive oil is used sparingly because it is calorie dense with little nutritional value. The Engine 2 food plan is a whole foods plant strong diet with no animal products what so ever and no added oil, salt or refined sugar.
It’s surprising how easy the transition to a whole foods, plant strong food plan has been. Yes, in the beginning it makes your brain flip flop when it comes to meal planning around beans, veggies and fruits. Once we found a half dozen or so meals that we really enjoy it got easier.
I heard Dr Oz say that we should think of the food we eat as a prescription for our health. He suggested that we ask ourselves if our doctor would prescribe what we are about to put in our mouth. It is a sobering thought if you are eating the Standard American Diet. If you are eating a whole foods plant strong diet you can feel good about what you eat!
I hope you will enjoy my new culinary adventures and garner some healthy food and nutrition tips that you can incorporate into your own food plan.
Eat Well and be healthy,