Preparing for My Journey with “Eat to Live”

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:

Almond milk, Avocados, Brown Rice, Apples, African Chili, Jalapenos, Grapes

Baby Spring Mix, Romain Lettuce, Green Onions, Celery

Stuffed Bell Peppers, Tomatillos, Beans (cooked), Blueberries, Rainier Cherries, and Bing Cherries

Navel Oranges, Asparagus, Green Beans, Brussels Sprouts, Anaheim Chiles

Things my refrigerator used to contain: Things my refrigerator now contains:
  • Lunch meats,
  • Hamburger meats,
  • Chicken,
  • Fish,
  • Eggs,
  • Milk,
  • Cheeses,
  • Yogurt,
  • Orange juice,
  • Jams, jellies, and leftover deserts,
  • Mayonnaise,
  • Ketchup,
  • Vegetable oil,
  • White rice,
  • White pasta, and
  • Some fruits and vegetables
  • Fresh fruits, (wide variety)
  • Vegetables, (wide variety)
  • Almond milk,
  • Pomegranate juice,
  • Vinegar (wide variety)
  • Homemade salad dressing, (no oil)
  • Homemade salsa,
  • Brown rice, and
  • A wide variety of beans.

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”.ย  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.

13 thoughts on “Preparing for My Journey with “Eat to Live”

  1. Steve! I love this! I have been trying out some of the recipes you guys have recommended and they are AWESOME! Those collard/romain wraps!….I eat the black bean/avocado/tomato thing in the mornings a lot. we tried the black eyed peas and collards and they were awesome. You guys for some reason are so inspiring. I have tried Eat to Live before and I loved it, but I wasn’t able to stick with it because I am not a very creative cook and I felt like I had nothing to eat. You guys are not afraid to do a little research and work to make something so yummy. I am so proud of you and so motivated by you. So I am not doing perfect. My meals are pretty healthy, we are also doing the green smoothie thing, but I still have a hard time playing games without the blue bell. And we play a lot of games =) So I have to come up with a strategy to party without depending on food. The truth is that my body has such a negative reaction to junk food. I get heartburn, feel uncomfortably full and yucky, and it just isn’t worth it. In other words….we should talk more. =) Love you….Keep it up!

    • Sabrina, Wendy Brasher and Clint gave us dinner last Sunday. For dessert, they served us Yonanas! Have you seen or tried that out? Look it up on Amazon.com. It had the texture of ice cream, but it was simply frozen fruit, nothing else. It was delicious, and now I want one! Good luck. I love you Sabrina. I have been strict on this Eat to Live and now have lost 22.6 pounds as of today! I am addicted to exercise. I can’t wait until tomorrow when I can exercise again. This life style is AMAZING! I LOVE IT I LOVE IT I LOVE IT!! :):

    • Sabrina, you don’t know how much you inspire ME! You are young and full of life, yet you are interested in your health. When I was your age, this stuff would have scared me off. It took me 20 years to figure out how wonderful this lifestyle is. Furthermore, your running has inspired me to pick that up again, for the umteenth time. ๐Ÿ™‚ I am starting way slow and small, but I am determined to get back in shape. And much of my motivation is from you and Esther.

  2. I loved this post! I check everyday to see what ya’ll have to say! Like Sabrina, this is the most inspired I’ve been too. And like Sabrina, my body has such a negative reaction to junk–I just feel sooooo tired and low energy. I’m so glad we are all trying to do this together b/c the support helps so much! I am not doing perfect–I try to do good when I’m at home but when I’m at parties or invited for dinner I don’t follow. But little by little, I’m starting to prefer healthier foods. I don’t think it is coming as easy for me as it is for you (the desire part), but it is coming and I think that is the part that people need to remember. It takes some time to develop a preference for healthier foods, but it comes. I’m so incredibly proud and inspired by ya’ll. And I love the recipes too! Even Derek likes them and that’s definitely saying something coming from the guy who eats Oreos and Doritos for dinner. Even my kids will eat some of them. I vary a little for them but they are learning. Love you! Keep all the wisdom coming!

    • Esther, like I said to Sabrina, you two are so inspiring to me. Your willingness to try this out, even when you have the perfect body, is absolutely amazing. And the way you two can run! I am trying to get on that bandwagon. It is one of the more difficult things for me but I am determined this time. I have started and am slowly but surely building my endurance so that I can go for a nice jog without completely collapsing. :-). Thank you for your love and support. The fact that you even follow this blog really means a lot to me and Pam. It motivates me and Pam to keep going. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I wish my fridge were as neat as yours! Good luck with ETL. I’ve been following ETL (mostly) for about a month. Like you, I’m eating up the not-so-good-for-me food and will not replace.

  4. The “not replace” strategy has helped me tremendously – after I made it through all the bad foods. Not having to look at those tempting unhealthy foods spares me a lot of temptations and cravings. Although I still have cravings, they are not as strong since I can’t do anything about it anyway. And if I grab something easy like a piece of fruit, the cravings go away. Since my bad foods are gone, I have been able to be faithful to ETL and it is working very well for me. Good luck on your journey. BTW, my fridge has traditionally been a mess. This ETL thing has become somewhat of a game for me with the fridge. It kind of makes me want to make my fridge look like Alton Brown’s (the guy on food network) refrigerator. Now his fridge is really something to admire. Without the unhealthy foods, it is actually easier to keep it clean. Somehow the good foods are neater. ๐Ÿ™‚

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