Now you have to know a little bit about me to understand that giving up meat and dairy is an extremely radical notion. I grew up on cattle ranch and I'm descended from a long line of ranchers and farmers. Beef, chicken and dairy products are the only food groups in my family. Well almost... they like dessert too. Anyway to consider going to a plant based diet is not only a huge challenge on relearning how to prepare meals but could be considered treason among certain members of my family. But I have gotten so tired of hurting all the time, it affects my entire life, that I decided I would give it a try. The first thing I did was to go off the ibuprofen. Within a day the swelling increased. By the end of the week my hands and feet were in constant pain and the swelling in the joints had tripled. I was having a hard time making a fist. I really had no idea the inflammation had gotten so bad. I guess it was the real thing that pushed me off the cliff to try this radical experiment. Or at least radical for me.
I discussed the idea with my husband because he has to live with me. We have always agreed that we want to stay healthy and avoid spending the rest of our lives on medication. So he agreed to encourage me in experiment as long as I didn't make him change his eating habits. I figured if it didn't work I wasn't out anything except for the cost of food. But unlike some new drug I wouldn't have to worry about dangerous side effects or spend tons of money. We figured it couldn't hurt to try.
I started my new plan last Monday. I decided to treat it as an experiment so I made a journal, wrote down my weight and measurements. And wrote about my physical pain. Then I took myself to the strore and bought some more of those veggie and fruit kinds of things. I have been reading The Engine 2 Diet and The RAVE Diet. Basically they are alike in urging one to avoid all processed and refined foods, meats and dairy products. The Engine 2 Diet suggested that one could still eat fish or chicken in the first week. Strangely enough I never really felt too hungry. I tried to follow the meal plan as close as I could although I made quite a few substitutions due to availability of products. I did eat chicken three times and I had a diet Coke once. Sunday morning was my biggest downfall. On Sundays my husband and I go on a date to McDonalds while the boys are in Sunday School (this is often the only time we ever get away alone), and let's face it there aren't many good options at Mickey D's. I had a plain biscuit and real Coke. But I had gone an entire week without failing up so I'm not beating myself up.
Definitely the biggest challenge for me was thinking of what to eat that wasn't to far out there while still cooking regularly for my family. A friend cautioned me not to try meat or cheese substitutes for awhile, until the taste for the real stuff was off of my tongue. That made sense to me, besides tofu meats or soy cheese are not appealing to me at all. And portobello burgers still seem way to far out for me. But since I already make my own wholewheat bread I just added more to my diet as well as lots of veggies and more beans. I have been eating whole grain cereals with rice milk for breakfast and it's ok. Not great, but edible.
So what did I learn in Week 1?
- Surprisingly I miss dairy much more than I miss meat. The one thing I would crave was a piece of cheddar cheese.
- If I balanced the grains, beans and produce I never felt hungry. A couple of times I felt kind of shaky between meals but those were meals that were pretty light.
- Eating lots of different textures seem to be the key.
- My homemade chive vinegar is perfect on a green leafy salad.
- I was amazed to find that I had more energy through the day. I am less sluggish in the afternoons.
- The stomach pain that I have had for nearly three years is not quite as bad. Some nights I have laid there in pain all night. It hurt again some last night but it wasn't as bad.
- In our little town eating out could be a problem. :)
- If you're going to use a cookbook for this, buying a digital copy isn't the best idea. I need one that I can mark up, take notes, bookmark, etc. So I may be purchasing a print copy of The Engine 2 Diet soon. I don't think I'll tell my family about the title of his new book, they may disown me.
- Do I feel better? I think it's too soon to tell. My joints are still really swollen but I don't think my hands and feet are hurting quite as bad. So we'll keep on with the experiment and see how it goes.
- It really wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.