I have struggled with food addiction, obesity, and yo-yo dieting most of my adult life. I managed to lose weight for brief periods of time, only to gain it all back and more. My standard American diet caught up with me in my mid-40s, as my doctor became concerned with my rising LDL cholesterol levels. He prescribed statins and told me, “Now you can eat whatever you want to.” I did, and I gained even more weight.
Searching for a Better Option
After taking cholesterol-lowering medication for several years I realized that I did not want to be on prescription drugs any longer. Desperately, I again started searching for a diet that could help me lower my cholesterol and lose weight. After coming across an article about “meatless Mondays,” I was inspired to go “meatless” full-time, and I went vegetarian.
Still struggling with food addiction, I indulged heavily in dairy, eggs, and junk food, thinking that I was eating better simply because I’d removed meat from my diet. My weight continued to climb (to nearly 300 pounds), as did my LDL cholesterol levels. I needed help! Purely by chance, I was at the grocery store one day and came across Forks Over Knives magazine. I purchased it, thinking it might have some good vegetarian recipes inside. I got home and read the magazine cover to cover, learning about a whole-food, plant-based (WFPB) diet. Afterward, I watched the Forks Over Knives documentary and What the Health, and I decided to become WFPB.
While I was excited to begin the WFPB journey, I faced many challenges, like learning to cook all my meals from scratch. I always liked pull-it-out-of-the-freezer-and-pop-it-in-the-oven kind of dinners.
The idea of eliminating oil was brand-new to me, as well. I had always used olive oil for cooking and in salad dressings. As I slowly learned how to cook without oil and adjusted to my new lifestyle, I was surprised by how my taste buds changed. Within a few months, I found myself enjoying foods that I previously would have avoided—mushrooms, tomatoes, pomegranates, lentils, kale, farro, and so much more.
Change for the Better
It’s been four years since I made the switch. Following the WFPB way of eating has changed my life for the better. I have lost 100 pounds to date and am looking forward to losing more and reaching my target weight. At my last physical, my cholesterol levels were all normal, and I no longer need to take statins.
I am definitely more active. I enjoy walking several miles every day. I also enjoy bicycling, hiking, gardening, and traveling. Another new favorite activity is clothes-shopping: I can walk into any store, big box or boutique, and find something in my size!
I still face challenges, such as skepticism from friends who do not understand this way of eating, and I’m still searching for a plant-based physician. Also, I live in a relative food desert when it comes to grocery stores that cater to plant-based lifestyles. It takes me over an hour to drive to Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s.
But the Forks Over Knives website and webinars, online community, cookbooks, and newsletters have been a tremendous help through this journey. I enjoy spending time in the kitchen cooking healthy meals, and I love trying new recipes and flavor combinations. My favorite things to eat are fresh fruits and vegetables picked straight from my garden.
My physical transformation has also impacted my spiritual transformation. I have gained stronger faith and better resilience. I believe that when we invite goodness into our lives—mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually—we will release goodness back into the world.
My husband has joined me on this journey. The rest of my extended family is more reluctant, but I continue to share WFPB dishes with them. This past Thanksgiving, I made a WFPB shepherd’s pie, and my dad said, “That was the best shepherd’s pie I have ever tasted!” Hearing statements like that keeps me excited, motivated, and loving this way of eating and living.
Ready to get started? Check out Forks Meal Planner, FOK’s easy weekly meal-planning tool to keep you on a healthy plant-based path. To learn more about a whole-food, plant-based diet, visit our Plant-Based Primer.