It’s been an upside down couple of months.
You see, someone very close to me has been diagnosed with several coronary arterial blockages (with one being of particular concern). Wanting to avoid coronary bypass surgery if at all possible, the question was asked “do I have any other options?”
Surprisingly, the response was a (very guarded) “well…yes. There is a dietary option. It’s not easy, but it has been shown to have dramatic results.”
After much research and prayer, my “impatient patient” opted for the dietary change. For someone living in south Louisiana who is used to cooking with (and eating) meat, seafood, dairy, nuts and oils, a sudden transition to a totally plant-based diet required a very steep learning curve for everyone involved.
So I dug into my vegetarian past, started studying more current research and food availability, and fired up the crock pot and the pressure cooker. I won’t go into the emotional rollercoaster part of all of this; that’s a whole ‘nuther story.
We’re used to “dietary changes” taking a long time to show results, and we always wonder if they’re doing any good because there’s a lot of seemingly conflicting information out there when it comes to diets and nutrition. When I worked in the oncology field, I saw patients changing their diets in many ways, hoping that eating more fresh foods would tip the scales in the favor of health. Anyone who has struggled with weight issues knows that it takes time to see the results of a dietary change. That kind of slow, invisible and unknown progress is what we all expect.
Imagine our shock when our Impatient Patient, under doctor’s supervision, discontinued all medication for high blood pressure because the IP’s blood pressure was, for the first time in decades (did you hear that? DECADES), controlled without medication. This happened within a month. In fact, within a week, the blood pressure stabilization had begun.
Let me pause in my narrative to say that I’ve always been a bit skeptical of “fad diets.” There’s always a new diet (usually with a book and guru attached) that’s touted as being a cure-all. I’ve always felt that a sensible, balanced diet was the way to go. That, and regular exercise, have served me well for several decades. It takes a lot for me to say “wow, this diet is life-changing.” In fact, I’ve never, EVER said that, until now – because I’ve never seen it happen until now.
So, my latest creative output has been in the kitchen. Luckily, I love to cook, and would have stayed vegetarian had I not married Mr. Meat-and-Potatoes years ago. My goal was to make this nutrition plan NOT an “I’ll never be able to eat ____ again,” but rather “ohhhh, this is DELICIOUS!!”
Trial and error, experimentation, and some great guidebooks and cookbooks have paved the way. I also happen to love whole grains, and I’ve never met a vegetable I didn’t like (with the possible exception of beets). I’ve discovered that there are even people I know who are following this plan as well, and we’ve shared ideas and resources. Mr. Meat-and-Potatoes has even started enjoying a plant-based diet – and he LIKES it!
If you want to learn more about Dr. Caswell Esselstyn’s plan for reversing heart disease, check out his book Preventing and Reversing Heart Disease. Other resources include Dr. Colin Campbell’s The China Study. There are more resources out there – I’ll include more in this space over time.
The power of plants and prayer is what is getting us all through. I’m amazed that in spite of the extra time spent on grocery shopping (label reading!) and cooking, I have more energy. Right now I’m about to sit down to mango-mandarin slaw, take some whole grain bread out of the oven, and enjoy lunch!
Mango Mandarin Slaw
1/2 – 1 mango, cubed
2 oranges, peeled and diced
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
juice of 1 lime
about 1 tablespoon pineapple/orange juice concentrate (or substitute orange juice)
1 tablespoon of honey or agave syrup
Mix the above together, then pour over:
cole slaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots, 1 bag)
Toss, and enjoy. I served over baby spinach with some ground flax and chia seed.