My Low-fat, Plant-based Diet

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I’ve been following a low-fat (no oil), no prepared foods, plant based diet since the middle of March.  I was over-weight and just couldn’t lose any weight, even though I had been Vegan for 3 years at that point.  I had watched Forks Over Knives and was aware that I needed to decrease my oil and processed foods consumption.  However, it wasn’t until I got the book Seven Day Rescue Diet by Rip Esselstyn that I found a simple and easy diet to follow.  And that was when I started to lose weight.  Was it hard?  Well, cooking without oil can be a little bit difficult, but I quickly adjusted.  Now I use some water instead of oil and I add more herbs and spices to my food then I ever did before.  One of the easy things about this diet change is that I liked all the foods that I was eating.  For the first month, I was completely about cooking my own food.  These days I will get a pizza with no cheese on it from the local take-out, so no, I don’t feel “cheated”.   I will also eat Chinese take-out that has been steamed with no sauce on it.

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So, have I been losing weight?  Yes!  With absolutely no calorie restriction (I actually eat a lot), so far, I’ve lost 23 pounds.  For a moderately over-weight woman of over 50 this is huge.  I don’t exercise every day, but I do eat all I want every day.  Here is a list of my meals for one day:

Breakfast – one shredded wheat biscuit with plain Almond Milk (I eat Post Shredded Wheat), I only eat one because I also have a large glass of water, a banana and a peach or plum.  If I’m not that hungry I’ll save the banana for a snack around 10:00 or so.  I will eat another banana if I’m hungry later on in the morning.

Lunch – a fairly large salad with either homemade oil-free dressing, or bought oil-free dressing with little to no “extra” stuff in it.  I’ll then have a baked potato with a little salt, pepper and garlic on it.  And again, I’ll have a large glass of water.

Snacks – if I’m hungry in the middle of the afternoon I’ll eat some fruit.  With it being summer, that could be sweet cherries, a peach or plum, grapes or a banana.  If I’m really hungry I’ll have more than one piece of fruit.  If I’m eating cherries I’ll just have a few (or more) handfuls of them.

Dinner –  usually I’ll have a bowl from Seven Day Rescue Diet.  If I’m not having that, I could be steaming up some veggies and having them with preservative and oil-free soy sauce and some brown rice or quinoa.  I put a ton of spices on my food.  I’ve always used a lot.

Desert – I usually have fruit in the evening.  Right now, since it’s summer and strawberry/blueberry season, I’ve been having that for a treat.  And, even though I normally only eat whole food, I will have the vegan whipped cream on those.  Not every night but one or two nights a week.

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When I started this diet, I didn’t eat a single prepared food.  I made everything from scratch, including hummus.  Homemade hummus is really good.  I now eat some no-oil, no-preservative guacamole, oil-free salad dressing, and I make veggie sandwiches with vegan sandwich thins.  But, I mostly (6 days out of 7) still follow the no-oil, low-fat diet.  I now have added plain peanuts to my diet, so that’s really good if you feel like a nosh.  I’ve also had air-popped popcorn with a small amount of salt on it – one caveat, popcorn without vegan butter can be pretty dry.  I’ve also made potato chips in the microwave – they are really good with some garlic powder on them, but are time consuming to make.

The only issue with eating this way is that you have to actually make your meals.  It can take more time than I’m used to, but it also tastes much better than prepared foods.  If you want some recipes let me know and I’ll share some with you.  The other important thing is that I drink a lot of water.  All the time.

As far as health is concerned, I used to have fairly bad asthma and now I don’t.  We’ll see how the rest of the summer goes, but the humidity hasn’t really bothered my breathing as much as before I started this eating plan.  My fibromyalgia also isn’t giving me as much pain as before.  Those were my two health issues, and they seem to be improving.  So, I’m looking forward to losing more weight on my goal to a healthy weight.  If you have any questions let me know in the comments below.

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Binaural Beats

Binaural Beats

Binaural beats are something that I just discovered, and so I thought that I’d write about it here to help spread the word.  Binaural means to hear with both ears, and in this case, means to hear two different sounds, one in each ear.  The history of this dates back to Carl Stumpf a German philosopher who referred to listening to two separate stimuli for each ear in order to create different effects on the brain.

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Today you can go to YouTube and find all different kinds of tones to help with a variety of issues.  You can listen to these for relaxation, creativity, anxiety, focus, etc.  You can listen to just the tones, or the tones with music.  I’ve found that listening to the tones on a very low volume works best for me.  I also like listening to the tones along with music.  There are quite a few videos on YouTube that let you listen that way.

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As a person who is always looking for ways to improve my focus, creativity and reduce my stress levels I found this to be a pretty interesting study of scientific research.  Do you use Binaural beats?  How do you like it?  Has it helped you in life?  Let me know in the comments below.

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My Engine 2 Rescue Diet

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I’ve been following the Engine 2 Rescue Diet (a plant-based, whole foods) diet for six weeks now.  It’s been an interesting ride.  I have to make everything myself, including hummus and salad dressing, since this is a no oil, no salt, no preservative diet.  There has been a pretty high learning curve, and I’ve learned that it can be a little bit difficult to cook with no oil.  Also, I have to admit that I use a lot of spices which is a good thing, since they make everything taste really good.

The first two weeks were the worst, and I ended up going to bed early to avoid temptations.  But sometime during the third week I discovered the wonderful sweetness of grapes, and life has been much better since.  In the interests of truth-telling, I did indeed try some delicious vegan chocolate for Easter.

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So far, I’ve lost 13 pounds and I have no idea how many inches.  Last week was a hard week for me (depressed) and I did not get up and exercise.  I did however, go on my daily walk – so I did get some exercise.  I started back up yesterday with getting up early to exercise.

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Sweet Potato Bowl

I am mostly eating meals from the book, but there are many variations that you can use.  The recipes are quite easy, and the best thing that you can do is just decide that this is the way that you’re going to eat from now on.  Prepared foods, while convenient, are extremely harmful to your health.  And there is really no amount of oil that is good for you.  I do get take-out once a week, either Chinese food (steamed) with only Soy Sauce, or pizza with no cheese and lots of veggies.  So, I’m not totally doing without take-out.  However, I did learn not to get any sauces on my Chinese, and to only get it steamed.  I had the worst stomach ache the first time I got regular Chinese veggies.  So, there is a learning curve here.  Also, and this is the most important thing, I do not count calories.  Sometimes I fill my dinner bowl all the way!  I eat if I’m hungry.  I’m just not eating anything that isn’t plant based or filled with oils.  So, yes…I’ve been known to eat two bananas, two oranges and a ton of grapes in one day.  There are no limits on my food intake.  I’ll have a large (huge) salad with chickpeas for lunch along with a baked potato. Then, in the afternoon I’ll have one or two oranges.  If I’m hungry, I’ll eat.  There is little caloric density in plant-based foods.  So, you eat a lot, and often.

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As far as benefits, I have had less over-all aches and pains from Fibromyalgia, but they haven’t gone completely away.  I do feel healthier, and just to let you know, potatoes can indeed be eaten with no vegan butter on them.  I throw them in the microwave (or oven), bake them and put spices on them.  Also, they only have about 60 calories each.  So, yes, you can eat potatoes and be healthy.  I make sure that I don’t let myself become too hungry.  I buy a lot of fruits, including oranges, bananas and grapes.  I’ve also been buying frozen fruits, usually blueberries, mangoes and peaches.  I’m so excited for the summer fruits to start coming in.  I can’t wait!  If you want, I’ll give out some recipes in another post.  So far, this has been the best way of eating I’ve found, for me.  It takes more work, but I love the food!

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What I Want to be Like when I’m “Old”

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Have you looked into the future and decided what you want your life to be like when you’re 85 or even 90 years old?  I know, not everyone lives to be so old, but have you considered it?  I was in a doctor’s office with a client of mine when a woman walked in the door.  She walked with great difficulty, holding onto her cane for dear life.  Once my client went in to see the doctor this woman began telling me all about her aliments.  It turned out that she too suffered from Fibromyalgia (just like I do), and was on all kinds of medication.  When I told her I had the same ailment, she promised me that when I hit 50 (her age), I’d be unable to walk without medication.  I simply smiled, told her that I was 52 and didn’t take any medications. In fact, I did all the things that her doctor had warned her off.  I exercised, did yoga, lived a vegan lifestyle, and took various herbs for help in coping with the insomnia, pain and “brain fog”.  She got quite huffy and told me that I must have been misdiagnosed, since she’d been told that all people with Fibromyalgia needed medication.  I told her that I’d gone to a specialist to be diagnosed who had told me to inform myself and look into alternative ways to deal with the disease.  He never even offered to medicate me, which suited me just fine.  I’ve had this disease for almost 20 years, and try to keep up with all the new information that comes out, as well as all the new ways of coping.  I have good days and “bad” days, but never once have I been unable to walk.  I often think about this women and wonder how she’s doing.

My point is, that even though we’re not given a choice concerning certain things in our lives, we are usually given a choice on how we deal with it.  So, how do you intend to live out your life? Do you want to be infirm, or do you intend to go into old age as healthy as you can?  Here are a few people to emulate.  Enjoy, and choose well!

 

 

Problem Talk (Complaining)

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Problem talk is something that we all do.  Some of us do it more than others.  Sometimes we can get so caught up in the problem talk and completely forget that there is usually a solution.  We are the ones who usually have the solution inside ourselves, if only we spent some time thinking about solutions, and not wasting our time by complaining.  Sound familiar?  I’m guilty of it and almost everyone I know is guilty of it, also.

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While complaining about a problem has its place; there is a lot to be said for venting, after all, frustration is a valid emotion, problem talk is not a solution.  It’s just not going to get the problem solved.  And, at the end of the day isn’t that what we really want?  To get the problem solved.

Here are some questions to ask yourself the next time you find yourself caught up in the never-ending problem talk.  Is there something you can do to change this situation?  Can you think of a way to take your focus off this situation and put it into something that is beneficial to you?  I’ve found over the years that when I focus on what I can do to change my reactions or focus, I can manage problems that have no solution much better.

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As a simple example of this, when I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia I immediately thought that there was no solution and nothing that I could do.  I wallowed in my depression for about two weeks, and then I got on the internet and found things that I could do.  Since I’m not a person who likes to take pharmaceuticals I found natural ways of dealing with the pain and managing my problem.  So, yes, I’m aware that not all problems can be “solved”, however, there is usually something that can do done to help deal with a problem (besides problem-talk).  Let me know what it is that you do to either solve a problem, or to deal with it in a more positive manner.

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How the Engine 2 Seven Day Rescue Diet Worked for Me

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I wrote a post two weeks ago, about going to see Rip Esselstyn talk about the plant-based rescue diet he recommends in his latest book, and how I was planning to use this rescue diet in order to reboot my diet.  I’d been relying on prepared vegan foods too much, and since prepared food is not good for you, even if it is plant-based, I needed a rescue.

So, here I am, after my initial seven days to tell you how it all went.  First of all, most of the meals I prepared were his “bowls”, and they were all delicious!  I also tried some of his oil-free dressings, and they too were really good.  In the future, I’m going to make my own hummus, since it’s really easy and you can make it without any oil.

Talking about oil, on Thursday I did have a terrible craving for “naughty” foods, including potato chips.  I can tell you that I didn’t eat any and instead had some red seedless grapes that astonished me by how good they tasted.  One of the most difficult things I found on this diet is that I had to eat, not drink my food.  So, no morning smoothie for me.  I missed that, but found that I really like drinking cold water in the morning.  I still drank my coffee, only without sugar, and I put some non-sweetened almond milk (even though that wasn’t recommended).  The other huge change is that I ate oatmeal every morning for breakfast.  I’ve never really enjoyed oatmeal, but I was able to put some maple syrup in it, along with cinnamon and various fruits.  I’ve used oranges, bananas and blueberries, which were good and pretty filling.  Some days I have either a Halo orange or a banana around ten o’clock or so, and other days I’m good until lunch.

My lunches either consisted of a large salad with one of the oil-free dressing along with a good number of chickpeas thrown in, or a concoction of fresh veggies that I cooked up, oil free, which I put on some toasted oil-free multi-grain sandwich thins.  Again, if I got hungry in the afternoon, I just had one or two pieces of fruit.

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Again, my dinner usually consisted of the “bowls” that I got the recipes out of the book.  Thursday night I made whole-grain pasta along with fresh vine ripened tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and broccoli that I cooked up with some oil-free tomato paste.  That was also a good meal, and I served it with a large salad.

The physical results from these seven days are that my pain that’s associated with Fibromyalgia has lessened somewhat, and I have less brain-fog.  I’ve also lost about 4 pounds, which is always nice.  Am I going to continue?  The answer is yes!  I like the way I’ve been feeling, and want to see if I continue to feel better the longer I stay on this plant-based, no oil or preservatives diet.  Has it been easy?  No, this is not something that you should do without a meal plan.  Also, like I said I plan on making my own hummus, and continue to make my own salad dressings.  This requires planning and cooking – not my strong points.

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While this diet is not easy, and it does come at a cost – time to plan, time to cook, I am trying to look at it this way – What is the cost of your health?  Do I want to be sick and have to pay for that with my time and money, or do I want to stay as healthy as I can for as long as I can?  This choice is up to me, and I choose health!

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72 year-old Annette Larkins, Vegan

Rebooting my Diet

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I’ve been Vegan for a few years now, and while I feel really good on this lifestyle, as a fifty-something woman dealing with chronic pain from Fibromyalgia and the other aches and pains that come from (those dreaded words) growing older, I felt that I really needed to make a change with my diet.  No, I’m not talking about beginning to eat meat and dairy again.  Instead I mean that I want to start eating the way Dr. Michael Greger promotes in his book How not to Die.  So, luckily, I was able to go and see Rip Esselstyn on his book tour promoting his new book, The Engine 2 Seven Day Rescue Diet: Eat Plants, Lose Weight, Save Your Health.

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While my diet is mostly healthy, I haven’t been eating the way that I should.  As you probably know, there are a lot of prepared food products out there for Vegans.  While these foods make life easy, they’re not exactly healthy.  I’ve been eating half-a-bagel at breakfast with vegan butter, and then there is the wonderfully delicious mandarin orange chicken (I prefer the Gardein brand).  However, since these are prepared foods, they of course, are not really good for you.

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Due to the increase of pain related to my Fibromyalgia, I decided that I really had to change my food consumption to only whole plant-based foods.  Lucky for me, along came the Rip Esselstyn book tour.  I’m so glad that I went to see him.  A lot of the recipes for vegans require that you are able to both afford and go to a store such as Whole Foods.  While Whole Foods is a wonderful experience, I absolutely cannot afford to buy much there.  That’s what’s so good about the recipes in the Engine 2 book.  I will be able to buy everything I need at my local grocery store.  So, I originally thought that I would start this on Tuesday, however, I just realized that I should probably read the book and then start – know, what a novel idea!  I’ll let you know when I start, and how it goes.  Wish me luck!