HOW I GOT STARTED
In the year 2000, my father died at the age of 71 from heart disease. He had a quadruple bypass at age 59. He was instructed to eat a low fat diet with lots of pasta, lean meats and to exercise. He continued that way, reading every ingredient label to ensure that it was low in fat, walking every day, and eating mostly skinless chicken (which he assumed was lower in fat than beef). Eleven years later on his 71st birthday he suffered his next heart attack. This was following a stress test that showed he was “healthy”. That same night when he was sitting in his hospital bed he was served a dinner of liver and onions to “build up his blood”. He was sent home on Friday and was dead by Sunday.
One year later my doctor put me on statins and blood pressure medicine. My cholesterol was in the 200s and my blood pressure was in the 140s over 80. I believed I was doomed by my genetics. My doctor assured me that there was nothing more I could do since I was doing everything I thought I could. I was mostly vegetarian at the time, not overweight and exercised regularly. I was in shock and quietly accepted a lifetime on medicine.
WHAT WAS MY AHA MOMENT?
I was driving back from Houston one day when I happened to hear a story on NPR featuring Dr. Joel Fuhrman talking about a nutritarian diet. He explained how this way of eating would lead to better health, longevity and a way to avoid the major diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. I ordered his book Eat to Live and read it cover to cover in a matter of days. I could not believe what I read. Was this all true? Was what I believed to be healthy all a myth? Was my entire belief system wrong? Was I not doomed by my genetics? Did I have a chance to live a life without heart disease or cancer? I am a scientist by training, specifically an environmental toxicologist where I studied the effects of toxic substances on human health and wildlife. I respond to facts, figures and data. That was what Dr. Fuhrman was all about – facts and figures.
I could not deny the facts. They were right there in front of me. I had to make a change.
INCH BY INCH IT’S A CINCH
I began slowly. It was overwhelming at first. Step by step, I started with eliminating all meat from my diet – eventually reaching 100%. I started reading labels. I added more fresh fruits and vegetables. I tried out some of Dr. Fuhrman’s recipes and began exploring other sources of recipes. The dairy came next – which I have to admit was the hardest. Oils were out. That was the easiest since I learned that I could cook just as readily without them. The last hurdle I had was the elimination of half and half from my morning tea. I know it sounds like a little thing right? It is just habit. Hard to break certain habits. I forced myself to have almond milk in my tea every day for one month. It was a very long month but I made it through and have not looked back. I have to admit I substituted a lot of fake meats and cheeses in the early months. They served as a great transition for me. Eventually I eliminated them because of their high fat and oil content.
I am full into it. But I want you to know that I am not perfect. Far from it. Always remember it is progress not perfection that keeps us on the road to better health. I am a Nutritional Coach and Culinary Instructor. I have completed the e-Cornell Plant Based Certificate Courses founded by Dr. Colin Campbell, I have completed the Rouxbe Culinary Cooking School program, I am certified in Plant Based Instruction from the Food For Life program with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, set up this site and have been experimenting with creating recipes of my own. I want to share my experience with others and help them with their journey just like others have done for me.
IT TAKES A VILLAGE
It truly takes a village to go on this journey but there are so many resources available to you. Take advantage of my blog and use the information here and resources to plan your journey. I reference all of the resources that have helped get me here. You may find others to help you too. That is great. It is my hope that each of you will, in turn, help someone coming behind you to achieve great health through a whole foods plant based diet. Happy PBJ (plant-based journeys!) to each of you.
~ Patricia Thomson, Ph.D. ~ Dr. ‘T’