For over two months now, I have been on a mostly a plant-based and whole grain diet. I hate using the word diet, because most people compare the word diet with weight loss, but weight loss is not my goal. Neither is being vegetarian. Eating right and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is what I wish to achieve!
I suffer from a heart condition and it has gotten worse over time. Especially in the last couple of years, there would be times when I would come close to passing out, or fall to my knees short of breath and dizzy after a palpitation attack. Is a heart attack in my near future? I'm thinking so, and I'm only 29. I lead a pretty stress-free existence nor am I over-weight. There is no history of heart disease in my family and I wasn't born with an arrhythmia. Doctors had no real reason why my heart was acting this way, either. Strange, right?
Only in the last six months have I realized that my attacks were triggered by the food I was eating. I would have something with a lot of sugar in it and I would feel super lethargic, nauseous, and of course my heart would start acting up. I would eat some McDonalds or another tasty fast food and I would instantly feel like something wasn't right. My heart was significantly worse after eating fast food as well. I did my best to stay away from fast foods and high sugar foods but even after a couple of months, I was still having the attacks. I was really beginning to think that there was nothing I could do about my condition.
I was browsing Netflix one night and I started watching a documentary called Forks Over Knives that I thought was about environmental degradation and food safety, but it ended up being about the degenerative diseases that afflict humans and how those diseases can be controlled and reversed by refusing to consume processed foods. I was of course inspired to do more research about this specific plant-based, whole grain diet. I read papers on how food affects disease, watched more documentaries, and I was sold. I immediately changed how I ate food.
Before changing how I ate, my general diet consisted of a venti Starbucks (and sometimes a danish) for breakfast. For lunch, we order whatever delivers and I would usually eat Chinese food, Thai food, or pizza accompanied with soda. After work, five or six times a week I would go to Dennys or Village Inn, and for late night snacking, candy. I LOVE cheese, and candy, so much. Haha.
But I knew it would be worth it. No more processed food. No more high fructose corn syrup or monosodium glutamate (MSG), preservatives, additives, or flavors. I made the change with no intentions of looking back. After three days, I was feeling incredible. My energy levels were up, I wanted to go for walks and exercise, my body felt better, my skin looked brighter, my mind was clearer, and surprisingly, no palpitation attacks! Even my restless legs at night were feeling better.
Most of my diet now consists of a variety of raw vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, and raw tofu. For dinner I will steam my vegetables but unfortunately you lose nutrients when steaming vegetables so I have to make up for my intake. I eat chicken and fish a few times a week as well, and organic wheat pasta. I also drink 2 to 3 liters of water a day now. It took about two weeks for my stomach to detoxify and re-regulate, and even after two months every time I eat I feel re-energized. I refuse to put anything else in my body at this point, knowing how it will make me feel! You have to read everything though, and buy fruit/veggies in the organics isle. I scour labels like mad and if I do not understand what the ingredient is, I will not buy it.
What amazes me the most about food is that, only 5% of the grocery store contains food that I will even eat now, and many foods contain ingredients I had no idea they contained! Like ketchup, it has high fructose corn syrup in it! And Hidden Valley ranch dressing? MSG is in the first handful of ingredients and also lots of sugar. Just the other day I was looking at the difference between regular Yoplait yogurt and diet Yoplait yogurt, and the diet yogurt had high fructose corn syrup in it when the regular did not. I've found that labels are completely misleading, especially when it comes to foods that have diet, fat-free, and organic on the front label.
I learned that most of what people consider "food" isn't even really food at all. Processed food contain so many fillers and other ingredients, that you're not really even getting any of what the "food" was originally, nor are you getting it's nutrients and the longer it sits, the less nutrients it will have in the long run, even fruit and vegetables. The more I research, the more I learn that corn based and sugar based (made from corn) ingredients are in virtually everything, these horrible, processed ingredients that are so unsafe for your body. Also, human bodies cannot process preservatives or additives. Crazy!!
What do I avoid on a processed food label now? Here's a list I have memorized if you're interested at all! It's basically a list of sugar, fat and salt.
-High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Corn Starch, Fructose, and Dextrose/Glucose are all basically the same thing. I also avoid Sorbitol and Aspartame.
-Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) and basically anything with "glutamate" in the title is highly addictive and causes many negative reactions in your body. It can make you feel hungry even if you just ate a lot too. I even have a link to a website that has all of the psuedonyms and hidden sources for MSG.
-Anything that has preservatives, additives, natural colors, natural flavors, enriched, or hydrogenated/partially hydrogenated oils.
I thought it was going to be really hard to make a change like this, but it has actually been very easy! I've even been able to try new foods that I've never considered making before. I'm always shocked at how many people say they tried this but gave up! Not only do I feel great, but I've also been saving money when I shop at the store. Also, I haven't had one heart palpitation since I started eating this way. I've been turned into a believer when it comes to dietary change and reversing disease! I'm not saying this is for everyone, but if you're looking to maintain a healthy way of living, I would really try it. I've honestly never felt better!