I was just bragging to someone about how I haven't been sick in almost a year. I should know better than to do this because Murphy's Law prevailed once again. My son Duncan was sick on Tuesday which gave me the excuse to cuddle and kiss and hug him even more than usual (aka germ fest). He said he had a stomachache and a headache, and I was sure that he was just trying to phone it in that day. Since he loves school though, I figured I would just let him stay home and he must be feeling a bit off. He woke up the next morning feeling better so I did, in the back of my mind, think that he was just taking a free day. That was until I woke up this morning with the worst headache and stomachache I've had in a very long time. Yes, I had total mom guilt about doubting the little guy.
In the past, I would've started to drink tons of powders and take all sorts of pills to get myself better, but I decided to go with food this time. I haven't really been sick since I've stopped eating meat and now I couldn't go to my staple sick fare of chicken soup. Instead I had a pomegranate, blueberry, strawberry smoothie for breakfast. Just those three ingredients in a little water blended. For lunch all I can really manage was some toast and tea. For dinner I wanted to get in some healing foods so I went on a research binge to find the most healing foods in terms of bringing the immune system back up fast. There are so many conflicting ideas of what to do when you already have a cold. The obvious ones are what we all know already. Lots of liquids, teas, etc. Garlic was mentioned in many of the articles that I looked at, but scrap that one since I'm allergic to it. Most of the lists were not research based, more opinion. Mushrooms actually were cited quite often and there is some research to back this one up. I think I will stock up on these next time I am sick.
Most of the information was about how to avoid the common cold. Most of it was anecdotal. After searching for many hours, I came across an article by Dr Thomas Campbell about diet and the common cold. I also came across a video by Dr Greger examining the causes of immune system decline in the elderly. Guess what the conclusions were? Yep, a whole food plant based diet is the way to go to help boost your immune system. That, and getting enough sleep, limiting stress, not eating dairy (plant based takes care of this). These seem to be somewhat proven to help. There clearly is no magic way to avoid the common cold whether it be food, potions, powders or pills. Yes, we have all heard of taking vitamin C, echinacea and zinc. The studies seem to show if you are deficient in these nutrients your immune system suffers. The evidence for zinc is controversial and contradictory. Some studies have found that zinc lozenges may reduce the duration of cold, perhaps by as much as 50%. However, many other studies have found no benefit from zinc for colds. Same goes for high doses of vitamin C. Most of the studies Moyad (who has done a lot of vitamin C studies) and his colleagues examined used 500 daily milligrams of vitamin C to achieve health results. That's much higher than the RDA of 75-90 milligrams a day for adults. So unless you can eat plenty of fruits and vegetables (again, covered with WFPB diet), you may need to take a dietary supplement of vitamin C to gain all the benefits, Moyad says. Amazing that there are walls of these cold remedies in health food stores and nothing has been proven. Echinacea, same deal... may help, may not. Most studies show not.
If there was a wonder cure, none of us would ever have a cold. Puffs plus would be obsolete! I have some friends who take tons of supplements when they are sick, but honestly I've noticed they're not sick for any lesser period or less frequently than anyone else I know. I'm sure people are bound to roll their eyes at the idea of not popping 30 capsules of this or that when they are sick, as some feel about their supplements as they do about meat... couldn't live without it. All of that said, I have been taking a supplement called Wellness Formula for years as soon as I get sick, and I do seem to get better more quickly than everybody else. Given that there doesn't seem to be any detriment to taking it, I can't promise I will never take it again. I am OK with placebo effect if it makes me feel better when I have a cold. I, like everyone else HATE to be sick. Ain't got time for that!
Looking into this definitely convinced me that it is probably no coincidence that I haven't been sick for so long, and that my family is headed into cold and flu season armed and dangerous. Mushroom soup is the new chicken soup, baby!
I never thought I'd see the day when we would head to a vegan restaurant with the kids and everybody would order something, and actually EAT it. When all of this change in eating started, all I would've heard were groans when we pulled up to the place. Open minds were pervading on Saturday when we showed up in Hermosa Beach after a soccer game and all ordered a vegan dish at The Source on Hermosa Ave (love this place!!! Lots of veg options). My oldest looked at the menu and asked to girl to try the quinoa kale salad before he ordered it. I swear, I almost passed out. I think I did pass out when he actually ordered it, then ate the whole thing. He was eating it, and looked up at me and I guess the look on my face said it all when he asked me, "Mom, you are not going to post this on Facebook are you?" Absolutely not, I will protect your anonymity kid! :)
Dunc dug into a huge kale salad and I had a wrap with lots of veggies and beans in it. JD was in breakfast mode so had a vegan muffin. Would not of been my first choice for him, but I try not to judge him since he's trying really hard now. One of his good friends fathers was recently diagnosed with cancer and saw what he considered to be the top three doctors for cancer in LA, and each one of these doctors put the man on a Plant based vegan diet. Somehow my reading incessantly, attending conferences, doing certification programs and plant-based nutrition we're not enough. These doctor's orders definitely sealed the deal for JD. Coming down to the plant-based nutrition conference in San Diego while I was there didn't hurt either. He came and saw several speakers with me and was definitely impressed by so many doctors congregating in the same place talking nutrition, specifically plant based nutrition. Was pretty powerful, and empowering.
It has taken many baby steps to get where we are now and the boys and JD still aren't 100% plant-based. Just the effort of trying to get there has improved upon their nutrition beyond where I ever thought it would be. There are fruits vegetables and whole grains galore at every meal and it actually what they dig into these first. I really like this Huff Post article about easing into plant-based eating. Starting your week with meatless Mondays is also a great idea. Kids love alliteration (let's face it... who doesn't?) so it is a good place to start. There is a great Meatless Monday website that has lots of info on ways to start and some delish recipes as well. Many school districts in the country and all over the world have adopted Meatless Monday. If your school district hasn't, ask about it, and be careful that it doesn't turn into cheese filled Monday. Keep it plant based.
The other school of thought is to just go for it. I thought the first 60 days were the most difficult. Switching gears is hard and there are times you feel lost not going back to those foods that you're used to eating. Here is a spot on link to a video on the website plant-based athlete. He goes over some really helpful tips of just going cold turkey and starting the plant-based diet. He talks about how you end up having to eat more food than you're used to want to plant-based diet. I can totally vouch for this. I definitely eat a lot more than I did before. Because I'm eating so many fruits, legumes, and healthy grains, beans, I need more food. Without eating more you will not get the right nutrition.
My next blog will be about go-to's and how to find new ones. This is a crucial step in going plant based!!
I wrote this back in April, but I only today went live with this website so I thought I would put this one up higher on the chain. I could write 100's of pages on this and if you want to read 100's of pages just get the China Study, Whole, Engine 2, Preventing and Reversing Heart disease and Eat to Live... etc etc. I am going to break it down in short form here...
Animal protein consumption over 10% of our daily calories has been shown to contribute to the promotion of cancer, heart and artery disease, diabetes, dementia, MS and many other diseases (most of these diseases are totally preventable if we ate the right diet.) We need 10% protein a day to achieve nitrogen balance and function well. That is not a type-o folks, 10% is perfect. Any more than that is detrimental to the tune of cancer promoting, heart disease causing etc. We have been so brainwashed into thinking that protein is what is keeping us thin, and alive and that carbs are evil. It took me eating this way to realize that I would feel amazing and would actually lose 7 pounds within two weeks of starting this "diet". That is all I needed to lose and I have upped my food intake to maintain. I rarely get hungry the way I did when I was eating animal protein. I think I'm getting so much nutrition that my body isn't craving other things.
White bread, candy, white pasta, doughnuts etc are not good carbs and not whole foods and have no place in a whole foods plant based diet. They, are what have given carbs the bad rap that carbohydrates now have. Thanks to the Atkins, Lo Carb, and Paleo camps for furthering the fear of eating anything but protein and all the fat that usually goes along with it! Nicely done. I can find 100 diet books on the shelf at the library and you could probably lose weight following any of them (come on, remember the "cookie diet" ... I had friends who lost lots of weight on that pile of crap). Losing weight does not cancer/heart disease/diabetes proof you, like a WFPB diet does. Most fad diets are also not sustainable. You lose the weight then go back to eating how you did before, and of course this is the reason that 90% of people gain the weight back after following a fad diet.
We do not eat enough nutrients if we have high consumption of meat and processed foods. I firmly believe this. Not only because it's scientifically proven in literature, but because personally, as I mentioned above, am so satisfied now that I eat this way, and I don't have that feelings of hunger (cravings) that I had when I ate animal protein. Once we cut these foods out, we are nourished from a variety of plant based foods. We get high amounts of micro and macro nutrients including lots of inflammation fighters. More and more studies are indicating that information reeks havoc on our bodies. From our arteries, to our gut, to our immune system, we are constantly inflamed. Animal protein is a known source of contributing to this inflammation. Here is one of the explanations of how meat causes our systems to be inflamed. Eating this way gives us everything our body needs (with the exception of vitamin B12 which is a supplement many vegans take). A lot of people will argue that a meatless, dairyless diet will not give us enough protein, fill us up, or keep us strong. They are WRONG. Research supports this and I have to say that I never felt stronger or better since I went veggie. More and more athletes are switching over to a plant based diet as they are seeing how it enhances performance.
It is tough to be obese on a whole food plant based because what you are eating is not super caloric. Because it is so nutrient dense, it is very filling. Most of these foods are also not addictive (as calorie dense meat, sugar, and processed foods are) so people generally do not overeat them.
Here are some seriously depressing stats courtesy of the CDC:
Here are some environmental reasons to leave the cows alone. Raising and killing animals is insanely taxing on the environment. Below are some examples of how the environment is suffering courtesy of us loving meat so much.
I know we all want to believe that grass fed beef and organic free range chicken is better for us but there has been no research to support that. Also, it is completely unsustainable. One of my blogs refer to an article by Meat magazine that proved that grass fed and regular beef have the same nutritional quality. Yes, there is a Beef magazine. Even if it was better for you, there's no way we would ever have enough land to graze enough cattle and chickens to feed the amount that people are presently consuming. Rain forests are already disappearing and that is just to grow food for cows penned in little boxes. Would be even less land available of they were grazing. I think people just feel a lot better about thinking about cows roaming freely and chickens doing the same. They still going to the same slaughter houses and get their heads chopped off or throats slit. For so long I was able to ignore all of this and eat meat. When I stopped eating meat, and knew that I was making a commitment to it, I started reading more about that process and I'm not gonna go into all that on this blog or website. It doesn't take much to explore the Internet if you want to go there. Don't plan on eating meat anytime soon (if ever) if you do though.
As I mentioned there are lots of other reasons to go veggie... scroll down and read through the blogs of our adventure in veggie land!
My husband and my 11-year-old son came home from golfing recently, and I was told that my little guy really wanted to eat a hotdog at the golf course, but he felt so guilty he wouldn't eat it. Judging by JD's tone of voice, I was supposed to feel bad about this. I told him that there was absolutely no way in hell I was going to feel guilty about Duncan not wanting to eat a hotdog, then got into the deeper discussion of what the hell am I doing here writing a blog on plant-based nutrition, when my own son and husband are eating f'ng hot dogs? WTF?
I am not going to belabor the vileness of hotdogs, or the merits of veggie dogs (which have a nice smoky flavor and with the right toppings are very delicious) because I want to point out the bigger picture, and that is my own husband can not understand that I might be seriously bummed if my kids eat a hot dog even "once in a while". Kids are very cut and dry and I don't feel like the "once in a while" thing works really well. Give them and inch and they take a mile in the way of junk food and here is why... the junk food industry spends $2 billion a year marketing their foods to kids, the fast food industry spends more than $5 million every day marketing unhealthy foods to children, and at this point, nearly 40% of kid's diets come from added sugars and unhealthy fats. These foods are SO addicting it is scary. They are making kids obese, sick and undernourished. Not a great combo. Here is a great article with more depressing stats on the marketing of these foods to kids. It is a short read, and very insightful. Point is, we need to fight SO hard against the ads for Lunchables, and Oscar Meyer etc. etc, and we need to come on strong because kids are absolutely bombarded. I do not use scare tactics. I educate them about what is in a hot dog or other junk food, and they make their own choices. I am not breathing health food down their necks. The whole argument of "oh, they'll get to college and eat all the crappy foods" doesn't fly with me. That's bullshit. Teach them to recognize how their body feels and operates when they eat well, and it will go a long way.
My son's little friend was over last week, and brought with him a bag of flaming Hot Cheetos which he eats every single day with his lunch. I have to say that those are the most disgusting things I've ever seen in my life. The color of them just shouldn't be legal. Kids are crazy for these though. I have parents saying to me all the time that they cannot get their kids to stop craving, and losing their minds over these freaking Hot Cheetos. I've had 2 moms tell me that their kids FREAK out if they try to keep them away from these bright fuschia colored nasties. So, I snuck a couple of the little red devils out of the kid's bag, because I had to see why kids are so addicted to these things. Honestly, I almost wrestled the kid down for the rest of the bag. Holy shit, they were so hot and so disgusting, but I wanted to eat the whole bag. I know that the food industry spends millions of dollars of year on careful food science figuring out how to make the snacks the most crave-able they can make them. It is an art. Love this LA Times article on making junk food addictive. Obviously Hot Cheeto's has done a mighty good job. Load em up with carcinogenic food coloring, MSG, and lots of fat and calories kids will kill for em. We definitely have an uphill battle here trying to sell our little ones broccoli.
I will continue to educate my kids, and apparently do a lot more education with my dear husband. Converting a caveman in 1 year may have been a lofty goal. I knew this was going to be an uphill battle from the get-go, but my oldest son telling someone he was a pescatarian the other day, and Dunc denying the dog definitely made me smile. Looks like the kids are getting it before the hubby. I guess it does take longer to teach an old dog new tricks.