When I first heard of adopting a vegan lifestyle, I thought I would never be able to do it. I had tried special diets before, Atkins, South Beach, small portions, etc., and had occasionally experienced some temporary success, but all of these diets left me hungry and I eventually succumbed to my cravings. Inevitably, I fell off the diet and regained all my weight. Furthermore, a vegan diet did not sound appealing to me as I felt that my body needed meat and dairy protein (highly illogical considering my battle with lactose intolerance) in order to have enough energy to make it throughout the day. Most importantly, I did not want to leave my cherished hobby of cooking. But when my daughter urged me to consider it, and after seeing the scales hitting around 210 lbs on my 5 foot 8 1/2 inch frame, I had to stop kidding myself. I knew I had to give it a shot, and an honest one at that.
So to do this, I knew I had to prepare both mentally and physically. This was not my first attempt at changing my eating habits. From past experience, I knew that I would have strong cravings that could derail me. I had to have a way to overcome these cravings other than just willpower. So in preparation for the diet, I purchased a copy of Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.
Initially I purchased the audio book. I enjoyed it so much I purchased the Kindle version for portability, and a paperback copy for quick reference in the kitchen. As Dr. Fuhrman admonished, I read the entire book before I started the diet. Reading the book in its entirety is important because it gives you a good understanding of why the diet works and it also gives you the strength, knowledge, and excitement to do it. By the time I finished the book, I was bursting at the seams to jump into it.
With the knowledge I gained from the book, I was able to inventory my refrigerator and pantry and identify all the foods that I would have to get rid of. I knew that if the food was there, the temptation would be too much. I made a strategy to replace ALL of the food in my refrigerator and pantry with “Fuhrman food” (food consistent with the diet described in Eat to Live). I wish I would have had the strength and money to throw out all the unhealthy foods immediately and buy a fridge full of healthy foods, but I opted to consume them instead. However I did not restock them. I let my fridge empty itself. Within a couple of weeks, all the taboo foods were either depleted or spoiled and I was finally rid of them.
Now my refrigerator reminds me of the produce section of a grocery store. Take a look:
|Things my refrigerator used to contain:||Things my refrigerator now contains:|
OK, there still remain some of the old taboo items for my children, but they are gradually shifting over to what Mommy and Daddy eat.
In doing the shopping for the diet, I filled my shopping basket with the most wonderful assortment of fresh and frozen fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and beans/legumes.
Any time I encountered forbidden foods, I refused to dwell on, long for, or yearn for them. I only bought “Fuhrman foods”. Any temptations for forbidden foods were met with quick, decisive and strong adjectives and nouns such as foul, vile, enemy, etc. I did this to help condition my mind so I could more easily avoid these foods. Conversely, I mentally associated green leafy foods, legumes, brown rice, and other “Fuhrman foods” with words like, refreshing, healthy, nourishing, substantial, etc. Making and reinforcing these associations in my mind really does change the way I see these foods. This is no new trick. We do the same thing when we fight an enemy during war. I figured that if it worked for our soldiers, it should work for me and my food. After a month of this diet, I have noticed a huge change in my perception of the foods I encounter. Even if I am eating dinner with someone who eats conventional foods, I am able to enjoy my food while sitting at the same table with them.
For my final preparation, I scheduled a date certain, July 1, 2012, where I would be committed to the diet. To help keep me focused and committed, I decided not to do this alone. My wife was willing to do it with me. After starting the diet, she became the primary champion for the diet in our family. Together, we report to each other and encourage each other. Additionally, my wife and I decided not to keep this private. In the past when we kept our diets private, we always fell off the wagon, even if we worked together. This time we involved our children, particularly our oldest daughter, who is very driven. She is a wonderful coach/cheerleader to us. Finally, we decided to share our experiences with the world, hence this blog. Unbelievably, blogging on our experiences creates a huge sense of responsibility and accountability on our part. We have learned that people actually do follow this blog and we feel a great sense of support and encouragement from, and responsibility to, them. With three levels of support (spouse, family, and the world), my commitment level is higher than it has ever been. I am a month into this diet and have not even begun to tire. It makes me feel too good.