Q: I would love to switch to a whole food, plant-based diet but I’m afraid that I won’t be able to get my family on board. How did you handle that?
A: This is a question I get a lot lately.
My children are adults and on their own so I only cook for my husband, Mike, and myself.
When I told Mike I was thinking about giving up meat and dairy, he was supportive. He also made it clear that he had no intention of following suit.
I have a tendency to rebel when something is pushed on me so I knew better that to fight him on this.
We made a deal that I would still cook meat for him and not judge or guilt him when he ate cheese or his nightly bowl of ice cream. He agreed to try the food I made for myself.
He was also supportive by asking me to share what I was learning in my CHIP classes.
We were both shocked to learn that not only is there more cholesterol in chicken than there is in beef but that our liver produces all we need. We do not need to ingest any additional cholesterol to survive!
At that point, Mike was eating at least 2 eggs for breakfast most days.
Even though this alarmed me, I said nothing.
One day, he said, “Dear, I think I would like to cut down on the number of eggs I’m eating. Could we maybe find something more healthy for me to eat for breakfast? But it has to taste good.”
Music to my ears!
The first hot cereal we tried was a miss.
Then we tried a hot cornmeal cereal that has dates, lemon zest and pumpkin pie spice (see photo above). That was a winner for both of us!
Now, most mornings, he has the cereal topped with berries. And he loves it!
He has also started snacking on raisins and peanuts instead of cheese.
Most of the food I make for myself, he enjoys. There have even been times when I’ve had to ask him not to eat all of my food.
If I was constantly preaching, trying to guilt or push him to change his diet, this probably would have gone a completely different direction.
Just like it had to be my choice to change, I have to give him the space to make his own choices.
As a coach, it’s not my job to tell my clients what I think they should do. We all need to choose and own our choices.
Giving others the space to make their own choices can be challenging. Especially when we think we know what’s right for them.
There are times when we learn best by making our own mistakes. And sometimes the mistakes that others think we are making turn out to be the best decisions ever.
And if I judge others for not following what I’m doing, then they will likely do the same to me.
It’s not up to us to police the world. It’s up to us to do what we think is right and allow others to do the same.
Good luck with your new lifestyle!
Since I last posted about my journey with food, I felt like I was wandering aimlessly and at the end of my rope.
I felt hopeless and helpless when it came to my weight. I had lost 9 lbs. since the beginning of the year but now it seemed the only way to get the scale to move was to starve myself.
I needed support and a plan but which one?!
I was confused by all of the ads. Oprah loves Weight Watchers, Marie Osmond loves Nutrisystem. Even Dr. Oz seemed to have a different health expert every day, tout the benefits of their weight loss plan.
Everyone had advice for losing weight.
Then I began having bouts of nausea, vomiting and stomach pain. I went for blood tests and an ultrasound to see if I had gallstones.
The ultrasound showed no gallstones but the blood work shocked me.
My cholesterol was 233! Thirty-three points higher than recommended!
My crappy diet was coming back to haunt me and it scared me.
Suddenly this was less about losing weight and more about being healthy.
A dear friend had been telling me about a program that she discovered about a year ago called CHIP.
CHIP stands for Complete Health Improvement Program and is sponsored by Rochester Lifestyle Medicine.
I resisted CHIP at first because it is about adopting a whole food, plant-based diet; no meat, no dairy.
It was hard to imagine life with no steak, butter, eggs, and OMG! No cheese or ice cream!
In my mind that meant food with no flavor and that meant SUFFERING!
But I watched my friend change her life over the last year simply by changing her diet and increasing her activity.
She’s lost 25 lbs. and no longer takes medication for fibromyalgia. She’s 65 years old and looks and acts at least 20 years younger!
And she certainly is NOT suffering!
So I checked out CHIP.
The program is based on studies by top researchers around the world like Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and T. Colin Campbell. The studies they cite, like the China Study, are not funded by the pharmaceutical companies, the food lobbyists or others with an interest in skewing the results.
The program looked sound and I knew my current lifestyle was leading me down the path to heart disease and likely an early death. It was time to change.
In July, I signed up for CHIP and met 17 other people who were struggling like me.
Twice a week, we learn the truth about the typical American diet and how it contributes to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and more.
They share with us the research about how eating a whole food, planted-based diet can reverse disease.
We look at the difference between the typical American diet and what research has found to be the optimal diet for health.
There is no judgment. No one is telling us we HAVE to change. They simply educate us and we decide the changes we want to make.
Some of us have jumped in and embraced the optimal diet. Others have decided to make a few changes each week.
I could not do this on my own.
I need the support of others who are going through the same thing. We encourage each other and talk about how to handle challenges like eating out or dealing with family and friends who are not supportive of our new lifestyle.
Since July 15th, I have been eating the optimal diet and I can honestly say that I love it!
My fear of eating bland, tasteless food was totally unfounded!
Along with a textbook and a workbook, they also provided us with a cookbook.
I am having a blast trying new foods and have learned how to change recipes to suit my new lifestyle.
And listen to this: as long as I am eating foods that are part of the optimal diet, I can eat as much as I want!
I feel like I should have gained 20 lbs. because of the amount of food I’m eating. But I’m actually losing weight! It’s crazy!
Am I perfect? Of course not. I eat potato chips and taco chips. And I still have a drink a couple times a week. This may change as time goes on but for now, I’m not going to beat myself up.
After one month of eating a plant-based, low fat diet, I have not only lost 4 1/2 lbs but I have lowered my cholesterol by 32 points! And, no more nausea, vomiting or pain.
It wasn’t easy getting here but it’s getting easier every day! I’m eating food that I love and I know is good for me. Physically I feel better and mentally I feel free!
If you’ve been struggling like I have, check out CHIP and see if it’s right for you.
And feel free to reach out with any questions regarding my experience.
To learn more about CHIP, go to Rochester Lifestyle Medicine and click on What Is CHIP?
If you do not live in the Rochester, NY area and would like to find the nearest program, go to Lifestyle Medicine Institute.