Journey to Wellness: A Change in Diet
At a recent staff meeting we were discussing New Year’s resolutions. Common themes each year include weight loss, improving exercising goals, reducing stress and more time for self. There are many other resolutions but as we all know, they are very difficult to keep. More than 75 percent of Americans commit to a New Year’s resolution, but less than 10 percent are able to commit to the resolution over the course of the year. As a result, I thought I would share my own personal journey of weight and health management that my family and I have been on for the last two years.
People like to categorize my family as vegan. If you look at the definition, veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, as well as following an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of sentient animals. A follower of veganism is known as a vegan. That definition does not apply to my family because we are strictly focused on the nutritional aspect of being vegan. That means we don’t consume any animal products – dairy, cheese, eggs or meat. Our diet is focused on starches (more to come on what that means).
To be completely honest, my wife and I were against following this type of diet. We have always prided ourselves on eating healthy and exercising regularly. I’m a physician and my wife is a physical therapist, so we knew more about diet and nutrition than the people trying to convince us otherwise. In short, we didn’t see the value. On a monthly basis, we were receiving articles, books and other material to try and convince us to comply with a starch-based diet.
Researching the Benefits
After a year of debate, we decided to comply with a weeklong trip and seminar to convince us to change. The science behind starch-based diets is very compelling. As a physician it was difficult for me to ignore and challenge the medical literature. For starters, following a vegan diet can lower the risk of heart disease by 30 percent — no cholesterol medication can come close to that type of reduction. Plus, you don’t have to suffer from the side effects or the cost burden of the medication. Here’s a question I used to loved to ask my friends and patients, “why do you spend money for a cholesterol drug? So you can spend money on the cholesterol food that’s making you sick? In theory aren’t you paying twice for the same problem?”
We did not make the switch because of any particular health issue we were fighting. Our decision was based on the medical benefits in preventing diseases we didn’t want to encounter. In essence, I wanted to show that the diet didn’t work and was not sustainable. Today, I have to say that I had to eat “vegan” crow!
Over the course of the next 11 months we will discuss some of the compelling medical arguments of a starch-based diet. I also hope to provide a link to recipes and helpful household hints for those interested in learning more. The transformation does require some planning but I will start with some very simple and easy suggestions that may potentially be first steps in improving your overall health. Here’s to a New Year!