About this time last year I was in San Francisco area for an event where I had to present to an audience of over 50 partners. A group of us went out for dinner at a very nice seafood restaurant in Palo Alto. The dinner went perfectly well but the next morning I was sick with some kind of food poisoning. I didn’t know what made me feel worse, the fact I was not feeling well or that I had to present in that condition in front of an audience. I gathered all my strength and presented my couple hour session. That day I decided that I had had enough. A year before this event, my doctor had prescribed cholesterol medication because of family history and my higher than normal cholesterol levels. A few weeks ago we had just returned from a cruise and I weighed almost 270 lbs. I had also noticed that at home we were heading down a path of eating less healthier foods. While my wife has always been a healthy eater and certainly insisted on balanced meals for kids, the rest of us were choosing the foods that were not good for us. I was ready for a complete rethink of nutrition and my choices. I also wanted to give our kids an example that nothing was impossible if we set our minds to achieve our goals (such as transitioning to a vegan diet).
The Vegan Diet (actually the Herbitarian Diet)
On August 1st, 2013 I decided to completely change my food choices. I became strict vegetarian also known as vegan but I call myself a herbitarian (herbi [vore] [vegge] tarian). Why not just vegan? Because there are many vegan processed foods like vegan hot dogs, or vegan white pasta that I’d rather avoid. So what is the herbitarian diet? It allows consumption of all fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds in raw, cooked, frozen, and in some cases canned formats (low sodium, low sugar, no artificial stuff). I decided to completely give up all desserts (including ice cream, cookies, chocolate, anything made with eggs or any other animal products), all white pasta and most white bread (even vegan varieties), all meats and all animal products (including honey), and almost all processed foods, all alcohol (except for occasional red wine). I also avoid all oils (including olive oil) and fats (butter, margarine, mayonnaise). Only vegetable oils permitted are very limited quantities used in cooking. The bottom line: as few processed ingredients and foods as possible. (As I type this I realize it hasn’t been quite this black and white but the choices I have made have been closer to the natural foods.) This means no lasagna, no ravioli, no more BBQ of any kind, no fish, no chicken or turkey, no apple pie or any pie, no more hamburgers or fries, not even basturma. No caffeine or other drugs (except for vitamins).
Sounds impossible? Not at all! It’s actually very easy. My wife says I have amazing will power but I don’t think it’s that big of a deal especially given her support and creative cooking skills. There are a few tricks though which I will describe in future posts.
I feel great! I lost almost 60 lbs. When I see myself in the mirror, I remember events from the past (like our wedding or when I first came to America, etc.) because somehow I seem to look more like I did in those days than in the last 5-10 years. I really feel great. I rarely get tired and I never need a coffee or some sugar boost. I don’t get hungry (don’t feel what most people call hunger). Our kids are very aware of the food choices they make (this alone was worth it). Rest of our extended family is also more conscious about what they eat. I am hardly ever stressed out and I feel great. My blood pressure is down, cholesterol tests and all other blood tests look perfectly within norms. My doctor is very proud but has cautioned me (later about this). I ride my bicycle when I get a chance. I got rid of 42-44 size pants and now wear 38 with my eyes on 36 at some point. There are many other excellent benefits to this lifestyle change but I hope to mention them in the next few posts. Did I mention how great I feel?