Changing to a plant based lifestyle.
I have always been interested in learning about food. I took Human Nutritional Sciences at the University of Manitoba after high school. I did not want a career in the field but wanted the knowledge for my own personal life. I had no clue what I wanted to be when I grew up, so I chose that program as it was my main interest at the time.
It was only in the last three to four years that I have focused more of my attention on what types of foods are optimal to live healthfully instead of just what creates an optimal figure or delicious dish. Don’t get me wrong, I have managed to revert back to old habits when it comes to feeding myself. Usually when stressed or tired. Picture a cookie dough binge or an entire pizza. Thank goodness those days are in the past! Maybe only a couple of slices now and again.
In November 2012, Iain had a really hard time with his health. He developed nasal polyps, asthma, pneumonia (a couple of times), and major skin irritations and outbreaks all at the same time. He was having such a hard time with finding the right care to help resolve the issues, not just write him another prescription to mask the symptoms. He saw a naturopathic doctor to help him and she did a food sensitivity test to find out if anything he was eating was causing some of his issues. The test broke down foods based on severity of sensitivity from severe, moderate, mild to none. The foods on his severe list were beef, turkey, snapper, pork, peppers, mostly animal protein sources. All foods he consumed regularly. No wonder his body was inflamed. He cut those foods out of his diet for a 6 month period to do a reset and it did help. To this day when he does consume animal products, he feels unwell afterwords and often gets run down and sick quickly.
A large shift happened in our household nutritionally when we had kids. Our priorities had to change quickly when we had a health scare with Scotch when he was eight months old. Personally I needed to do as much research as I could into what the best choice was moving forward for our family nutritionally, to help keep everyone in optimal health.
With so many diet and food choices out there it felt overwhelming to know what the “right” choice was for us. After exposure to documentaries and the more articles I read, it seemed the whole food plant based lifestyle really started making sense to me. What did our parents always say to us as kids? “Eat your fruits and vegetables!”
I identified with the science and success stories I kept hearing from multiple sources. I started following social media public figures within the movement like Rich Roll, Steve & David Flynn (The Happy Pear), Simon Hill, Rip Esselstyn and many more. Their own success stories, personalities and outlooks on nutrition and life really hit home for me. That one change seemed to be a pivot point, and was a catalyst for future success and positive change in many facets of their lives. Loved that! I watched documentaries like Fat Sick & Nearly Dead, Forks Over Knives, What the Heath, Food Matters, and other documentaries to educate myself and get a glimpse into this world and was floored by the facts presented.
I recently listened to a conversation between Rip Esselstyn and Paul de Gelder (a marine conservationist) on what was the tipping point for Paul’s decision to go plant based and he spoke so eloquently about his choices and how he came to his own conclusion about the lifestyle. He said “A lot of people nit pick things about all of these movies, (speaking about plant based lifestyle documentaries) but if even 2% of any of these movies was right? Thats enough”. That really hit home for me and I can identify whole heartedly with it.
We started making small shifts in our eating habits and saw massive positive change very quickly. Initially sugar came out of the diet. Then meat. Then dairy. And most recently gluten. Making the shift from the traditional North American diet to a whole food plant based lifestyle would be very difficult if done cold turkey (no pun intended).
Hugs to all of you who can! I wish I had your tenacity. Please teach me! For us we needed to make the changes in small steps to make them last and it has really helped us. I have also learned to forgive myself when I falter off the path. I now know to acknowledge the guilty thinking that creeps in and then get back on track. If I focus too much of my thoughts on making the mistake, I will tend to allow myself more opportunity to repeat the behaviour. When I address it, I can cut the guilt quickly and move on in a positive light. It has been a huge moral lift for me personally on the ethical side of eliminating animal products, as well as helping to do our part for the environment where we can. We are not perfect but do our best.
In my opinion, I want to keep the ingredients we use in our cooking as natural and whole as possible. I want to eliminate processed food and additives from our household completely. That way we can fuel our bodies with food that allows it to heal quickly from the damage caused that is outside of our control and then continue to thrive in the part of our lives that matter most.
What are some foods that are guilty pleasures for you? For me it was dessert. I always ordered dessert. I could eat it as my main and be totally content with just that. After eliminating processed sugar from my regular diet I don’t even crave it at all anymore. Our bodies and palettes adjust so quickly, and desserts I would have devoured before taste way to sweet for me now. The body is an amazing thing.