It’s almost the end of 2017, and one of the big goals when I selected a word of the year in January was to get control of my health. By July, I had not done a very good job of that, but the entire #WhenGallbladdersAttack situation forced the issue. It’s been almost six months since that happened, and I’ve come to an amazing realization. Getting healthy as nothing to do with going on a diet, and everything to do with understanding food.
For those that aren’t familiar with gallbladder issues, here’s the deal. Unless you’d like to have surgery (or it becomes absolutely medically necessary), drastic diet modifications are required to make your gallbladder your friend and not your enemy. Despite many people just encouraging me to have it removed, it seemed like the easy way out. I’d been traveling on the easy road regarding my health for quite some time. Did I really want to remove a vital organ instead of do the work necessary?
So I focused on what things I could do to get my gallbladder – and the rest of my body – back to a healthy place. I focused on the food.
I started slow. Remembering something that I had heard Bethenny Frankel say once about food, I realized that if I just ADDED in the good things I needed, then maybe I wouldn’t miss the things that I could no longer have. I started with water, telling myself that I was not allowed to have my Caffeine Free Diet Coke until I had finished a liter of water every day.
It’s amazing how NOT thirsty for pop you are after you’ve had that much water during the day. There were (and still are) some days that I don’t finish my water in time to have a pop. Guess what? I SURVIVE! I knew that I wouldn’t do well eliminating everything I loved, that I needed to make a deal with myself for certain things. It’s the same with Starbucks; I still have my beloved Very Berry every morning. Just 8 ounces. Not 32+. In this, I discovered it was about compromise and moderation.
Some things just weren’t negotiable. I can no longer eat dairy of any kind, fatty or fried foods. The pain of a gallbladder attack just isn’t worth it.
I spent time watching documentaries and doing research about plant-based living and vegan / vegetarianism. While controversial, I learned a lot from watching What The Health, and moved on through the food-based documentaries on Netflix and Amazon. The science and the common sense surrounding it all spoke to me. It made sense that if most animals get their protein from plants, why were we eating the animals to get OUR protein? Shouldn’t we just skip the “middlemen”, so to speak, and go right to the plants for proteins?
I started making more changes. And as of writing this post, I’ve lost thirty pounds.
I have not counted a calorie or point. Looked at a fat gram. Weighed a piece of food. Portioned or measured anything in to a container. NADA
I eat as much as I want to, whenever I want to. When I am hungry, I eat. I eat a wide variety of food, and I am not bored with what I eat. I do not feel deprived in any way.
Wanna know my secret to getting healthy without dieting?
It’s not really a secret. I eat real food. All the time. If it grew in the ground, came from a plant or from a tree, I eat it. I eat some variety of salad every single day, sometimes twice a day, and I’m crabby if I don’t. There is no fried food, fast food, candy, or nonsense in my diet. I eat rich, warm, crunchy, delicious food every day that isn’t going to play a part in killing me. I have reduced my consumption of animal products to about 10% overall. There are TONS of amazing proteins that have nothing to do with animals, and it’s been a really enlightening journey to discover them. And being in the vegan / vegetarian arena now is so much easier than it used to be because it’s more mainstream than ever. There are entire stores and brands that are solely focused on creating amazing products to support this type of lifestyle.
I’ve created a page on Amazon that I’ve added some of my favorite discoveries, along with products and cookbooks that are my go-to’s in this new journey. Take a look at Jennifer’s Amazon Store and let me know if you see anything that’s interesting or you have any questions about. A lot of the products you see featured on this Amazon page, you can also see me actually putting to good use if you follow me at AFewGoodJens on Instagram.
I know the thought of not having your favorite cheesy pizza or that thick, New-York cut steak may make your head explode. But I’m telling you that your body will feel better, your spirit will feel better, and your overall health will improve dramatically by shifting to a plant-based diet and removing as much animal proteins as possible. A year ago, my liver enzymes and cholesterol were elevated. They even told me I had a heart attack at one point. Now everything is back within normal range and working its way back to the OPTIMAL ZONE.
I have done no exercise besides walking. ZIP. For the record, that’s the next thing to add to my healthy lifestyle (but that’s for another post!)
Even if you can’t go full vegan or vegetarian – reducing your animal product consumption can still have a significant impact on your long-term cardiac health. As someone who has watched several family members struggle with cancers and cardiac problems, seeing the links to diet and these diseases was enough for me to get on board and make changes.
After all, how often do we hear about people getting sick from eating too many veggies?