Friday, January 13, 2012

Eat Delicious Food, Drop Weight Like Crazy, Save Money & Feel Amazing: Just a Few Reasons I LOVE Being Plant-Strong!

Plant-strong eating rocks!!

One thing that I like about my new vegan lifestyle is that it has gotten SO much easier to continue my physical recovery (health & weight loss).  

In Dr. Esselstyn's book one of the parts that really stuck out to me is the section where Ann Esselstyn shares that with this diet there is no "calorie counting" and no "portion-control" dieting techniques involved. (This is good because I don't do diets anymore!)  Its very simple.  If you start gaining weight--eat less starch.  If you are losing weight too fast--eat more starch. And that is it. I didn't really buy that explanation until I started practicing a plant-based no-oil low-fat diet.  I'm not 100% oil-free 100% of the time but I do my best and guess what?  It really is as simple as Mrs. Esselstyn described! 

Why is it simple?

No Calorie-Counting
I tried at first to work my vegan diet the way I worked my food plan before veganism:  weighing and measuring my food, portioning things on my plate so half of the plate was veggies, 1/4 was protein (beans) & 1/4 was starch (grains).  This worked solidly for me in the past--I lost 70 lbs doing it after all & I totally recommend it!  But in my new food plan of low-fat plant-based eating, these tried and true methods never worked because I was hungry a few hours later AND with all the beans I was eating I began to have some unwanted GI side effects which caused me great embarrassment!! 

So after discovering that the World Health Organization actually ONLY recommends protein as 8-10% of your diet (0.81g/kg body weight per day), I decided to stop stressing out about the balance of portions, reduce the excessive use of beans and just eat whatever no-oil, low-fat vegan food I can find.  So far this has been working for me--mostly because I stay away from the processed vegan foods & I continue to maintain my sugar-free, gluten-free lifestyle with a strong preference for anti-inflammatory foods! I also make a conscious effort to eat a WIDE variety of colorful foods--particularly a lot of dark leafy greens.  Its pretty hard to overeat because all the FIBER is exceptionally good at doing what it was designed to do:  fill us up!!  Its also pretty easy to eat reasonably because I'm avoiding all the "Standard American Diet" foods that were designed to addict us!  

Weight Loss Without Effort
Obviously for me since I have an eating disorder, there is effort involved with regards to my emotional and spiritual stability BUT the mechanics of weight loss & physical recovery are SO much easier than the first 70lbs I lost without being a 100% vegan.  I've literally effortlessly dropped 30 lbs in the last few months since starting a 100% plant-based diet with minimal fats.  

I actually think I've dropped more than that because my husband kept coming up to me yesterday and telling me I need to buy new pants because I can fit my fist between my belly button and the waistband they are so big!  I protested and say I just bought these pants 2 or 3 weeks ago--but I guess the weight keeps sliding off.  So I'll head back to Goodwill or Salvation Army sometime this week (and YES I shop there because why the heck would I buy full-priced clothes when I have to keep buying new ones that fit?!  Besides, you can find some gorgeous clothes there in perfect condition.  I even get work clothes there and no one has any idea--at least until I just published it here! :-))  This need for smaller sized clothes has happened multiple times in the last few months.  

As you know from my "Dear 268 Pound Me," I don't weigh myself often so I'll let you know in February or so where I am!!  I still have more weight to lose to get to my healthy weight per medical science so for now, I'll keep doing what I'm doing!

I Eat A Lot
Of course, I work my 12 step compulsive eating recovery program to prevent binge & compulsive eating behaviors, but I do eat a TON of interesting, delicious food.  When I share at work that I'm now vegan as well as the sugar-free, gluten-free from before, everyone looks at me like I have two heads and ask me what in the world I eat?!  Um, Soups & Stews & Pasta & Pizza & Sandwiches & Dips & Rice & Casseroles & Curries!  Oh yeah, I forgot!  I also eat a TON of Fruits & Vegetables!  Then I take off my little tupperware top and let people sample my lunch.  Most common response:  "What was that recipe again?  That's SO good!"  Seriously, you'd think eating fat-free plant-based foods would be tasteless or something (at least that is what I used to think!) but it actually tastes AMAZING if you use great recipes & great cookbooks!

We Save A LOT of money
People always say "isn't eating a vegan diet expensive?" Um, my answer is a resounding NO!  My husband and I have saved SO much money since switching to a vegan diet.  Just think about how much beans, rice, fruits and vegetables cost compared to meats & dairy products?  If you eat 100% organic all the time than it can be expensive but we take advantage of frozen organic veggies which seem to be cheaper than fresh a lot of the time.  We also can't eat 100% organic 100% of the time, mostly because we are on a tight budget (thank you my nightmare of student loans) and there aren't always organic options available where we live so we do the best we can!  To combat the pesticides as best we can, we wash all our fruits & veggies with this organic vegetable wash called "Fit." Just water really doesn't remove any of those pesticides and soap tastes bad!

We also save money by buying dry beans in bulk from our local health food store & we don't eat a lot of nuts or tofu.  We also don't eat any "faux" meats or things like vegan mayonnaise or vegan margarine etc.  The processed items do tend to be more expensive so we stay away from them.  We operate usually on a tight "cash only" envelope system so we can only spend so much on groceries each week!  We cook and bring all of our lunches to work & fix our own snacks, etc.  Planning our food in advance really keeps costs down too.

I Feel Good & Know That I'm Being Good To My Body
With every bite I put in my mouth, I know I'm helping reduce my risk of getting heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes.  With every bite I know that I'm making a conscious choice to live an active, productive life that doesn't end with frailty & a nursing home bound existence.  With every bite I can feel my body get stronger & my energy levels rise.  I don't drink caffeine at all but I have more energy with a plant-based diet than I have in YEARS!  This way of eating is guaranteeing me health in a way no other diet can.  And that feels good.

Ok! So that is why I'm a huge fan of plant-based eating!  Do any of you have stories of your own experiences with a plant-based diet?  I always love to hear some inspiration! :-)
The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.  Please consult your health care provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. The Happy Rehab Doc expressly disclaims responsibility, and shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury, or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this site.  By visiting this site you agree to the foregoing terms and conditions.


  1. Wow, love this post.

    I told a few times that I have to gain weight and worried about going oilfree.
    But I decided to stop worrying. I feel sure my weight will balance itself with this type of eating.
    I use definitely more soy and nuts than Dr. Esselstyn recommends and have green smoothies every day because I really miss them if I cannot have them and they simply feel right...
    I am so happy with this way of eating and I have more energy than ever before.
    And like you I cannot afford all organic produce but I try to get it as much as I can.
    Love your blog, Silvia

    1. Silvia thank you SO much for your compliments on the post and on the blog itself! Its awesome to hear that you like this post! I really really love getting feedback so I know what appeals to people to guide future posts so thank you!!

      Thank you very much for sharing your experience! The energy aspect is amazing isn't it?!

  2. I'm so glad I found your blog.

    Because I got so sick before I made 'the change', I am 100% organic now. I'm to sensitive to pesticides and buy what is available in my tiny one-horse town. I just make it work, even though it is very expensive. However, I have not changed the amount of my food budget in 7 years. Even though food prices have soared, and I've gone organic, the other changes have compensated the expenses somewhat. Now I must be conscious of every cent I spend to make things stretch. I'm more thoughtful about left-overs, too. Additionally, I do this thing called 'copy-canning' with all non-perishable things I buy to build up my pantry in case of emergency. All of our greens and sprouts for smoothies and salads are grown in my kitchen micro-farm in the winter. Plus, we're expanding our garden (city farm) each year. We plan to bottle and freeze more produce from our tiny city farm, too.

    1. Thank you Kate! I'm glad you found it too! I love that you too are stretching your budget creatively and the fact you haven't changed the food budget in 7 years is SO admirable! I'm a huge leftovers person as well.

      Reading your post I have a question for you!! I got extremely excited hearing you describe your kitchen "micro-farm." We really used my vegetable garden as a major produce source in the summer but now that winter is here, everything feels dormant. What do you do to grown things during the winter and how did you set this all up?! Would SO appreciate anything you can teach me about this!! Much to my surprise, I really enjoy gardening!:-)

  3. I have Graves Disease, so really try to buy organic & am working hard to strengthen my immune system.

    In the UK, we don't seem to have enough natural therapy information or many books that help with a plant-based diet, although I know lots already & studied to become a vegan nutritional therapist some years ago, but I'm always looking to find out more & miss having like-minded people around us - we live in rural Cornwall & most folks around here are meat & fish eaters...

    I have seen Dr Esselstyn & Happy Herbivore books on the UK Amazon - are they worth getting & which would you suggest first?

    Kay :)

    1. I really like the fact that you are working so hard to strengthen your immune system with food! If you have a chance, check out part 2 of my post "Superimmunity for Kids"--I write about foods that bolster children's immune system but pretty much all of the advice is relevant to all of us! I'm sure you already are well aware of these data with your nutritional background but I wanted to share that post with you in case it is of interest.

      I'm a big believer in autoimmune diseases (i.e. Graves) being significantly modifiable by choosing anti-inflammatory foods! For me it made a huge difference with my chronic pain--another inflammatory condition. I wrote about this here:

      How lovely that you live in Cornwall--its so beautiful! spent a month in Newquay with my family in the early 90's and really liked it. That said, I completely understand about your difficultly finding fellow vegans there! Hopefully our blog community (and many others) will help you feel well supported!!

      As far as the Esselstyn vs HH books--I think they are two different books in terms of purpose so I think it will depend what you want. I'd say Dr. Esselstyn's book is more education than cookbook but it does have an large excellent recipe section. Dr. Esselstyn's book will likely appeal to you with your nutritional background. It is a really educational and I learned SO much reading it. The HH cookbook is an outstanding cookbook--excellent, delicious recipes. It is not as medically educational but that is not its purpose! So as far as which one to get? I'd ask yourself if you want education or recipes first and make the decision from there!

      Hope that helps! :-) Thanks for asking!

    2. Thanks for that - I'll check out your previous posts. I was diagnosed 6 years ago... Long story, but I've tried pretty much every natural therapy & am on anti-thyroid medication for the second time. I really think there is a link to food & stress, certainly for me anyway.
      I'll buy Esseltyn's book then!

      Thanks again. Kay :)

    3. Also - small world... Fancy you living in Newquay!!! We're on the south coast near Mevagissey. :)

  4. Hi, Kay, I can't help but to jump in to say that the Happy Herbivore offers weekly menu plans WITH RECIPES for donation only. I buy them about every other week, and they are wonderful. She includes a shopping list, recipes, 50-and 100-calorie snacks. She suggests $5 donation to cover her costs. The link is here:

    This might be a way to get a few more oil-free recipes, plus you get to find out if you like how she puts flavors together (obviously I'm a fan) :).

    Sorry for jumping in, Dr. Cat. Hope that's okay. :)

    1. Oh my gosh Jackie I am SO happy that you jumped in!! One of the major missions of my blog is to build a community--I'm excited that with your comment, it is starting to happen!

      I think that subscribing to her menu plans is an excellent idea! Thank you for sharing that! :-)))

    2. Thanks Jackie, great idea - will do it now!

      Kay :)

  5. That is a gorgeous picture of you at the beginning of your post!

    1. Awww thanks Christy! You are such a sweetheart! A friend took that of me--he is a great amateur photographer. I felt so beautiful that day--just really comfortable in my body and willing to be photographed (I hid for years behind others in photos during my obese years!). I'm glad that comfort shows in the photos--I'm really happy and grateful for this new lease on life! :-)

  6. It's really great to see a physician "being the change you want to see"! You are setting the example and showing how it can be done, not just for the public, but for other health care professionals as well.

    I've enjoyed all your posts since I started following your blog after positive mentions from Healthy Girl's Kitchen and Happy Healthy Long Life. The Monday motivational offering is especially appreciated.

    As a former RN, I can't recommend highly enough your tips on how to maximize chances of getting good care in the hospital. Patients & families have no idea how important it is to have a strategy and a team to execute the plan for the benefit of the patient. It is absolutely critical.

    You're providing a priceless service to public health with what you're doing on this blog, and it is greatly appreciated. Keep it up, Doc!

    1. Thank you dogsnoseknows:-) (cute name!) How wonderful to know you are enjoying all the posts! I'm so grateful to Debby (HHLL) and Wendy (HGK) for being such supporters of my blog when their blogs are so awesome :-)

      I have to say that reading your comments yesterday totally made my day! I was at a sporting event with my family when I got the post notification and had to proudly share it with them--thank you for being so kind and SO supportive!! I'm really happy to hear that you find the Monday meditation helpful--it really helps me center my week. I wasn't sure how folks felt about it so I really appreciate your feedback!

      It is enormously powerful to hear compliments on the "Insider Tips" series from an RN--you guys know the hospital better than anyone out there so if you think I did a good job--that is a home run in my book! I feel very strongly that patients really need to take ownership of their own health and be their own best advocate, but we don't do a good job of empowering them! One of the ways we can support that is demystifying the medical system!

      We in healthcare have done a great job of building an ivory tower (and yes I think that docs are definitely responsible for a large large portion of that tower building) but we forgot to build a ramp to the top for our patients (and nursing colleagues for that matter). When we work as a team and involve our patients as teammates both us docs AND the patients can be happy--we get the opportunity to perform to the best of our ability to help our patients and the patients get the opportunity to work on their part of healing themselves by being aware of what needs to happen to ensure their recovery!

      Thank you very very much for your kind words--I hope you continue to be a reader and continue to contribute comments!

  7. I'm so glad to find your blog! I, too, recently became a vegan for health reasons. This article is so inspiring to me to remember why I became a vegan. I was 60 pounds heavier and a junk food vegetarian until I read Eat To Live. I haven't read Dr. Esselstyn's book and looking forward to that especially on the part where he says "if you start gaining weight--eat less starch. If you are losing weight too fast--eat more starch." That's a great motto to live by if you are trying to maintain your weight.

    1. Thanks H.C&gt! I'm so glad that you've joined us!! Dr. Esselstyn's book is a gem for sure--and it was actually his brilliant wife Ann (who writes the second half of the book on recipes, food planning, etc) who made the starch comment. I think its a great motto for sure and am so glad you like it too!

      I'm so glad you read "Eat to Live"--outstanding concepts & the real deal when it comes to the truth about eating nutritionally dense food to heal our bodies. I'm still learning myself (every day) so I'm happy to have you with us relatively close to the beginning of your vegan journey!!

      Keep coming back and stay in touch by comments or Facebook so I can hear how you are doing! We're really starting to build a great community here with some really wonderful, wise readers (as you can tell by the comments) so I'm sure you'll find any support you need!!

  8. WOW, just reading your blog has SO VALIDATED where I am. Have been in Recovery for some time- over 25+yrs - FOOD is my last issue to address, my health is SUFFERING BIG TIME due to what I eat--is what I am discovering and so reading your BLOG is so ENCOURAGING. THANK YOU so very much for doing this. Linda Lee

    1. Wonderful Linda!! Thanks so much for your fantastically affirming comment!!! Congratulations on your 25years+ in recovery--amazing!!! Don't give up on the food, its just an addiction like anything else & I promise you that based on my experience and the inspiring experiences of so many others--recovery IS possible. Keep coming back and I'll look forward to seeing your comments and hearing how you have been progressing! Progress not perfection!:-)

  9. Hi Dr. Cat,

    Just found your blog. I have been struggling with transitioning to a plant strong diet and losing weight. I'm curious if you have read the Dr. McDougall book "The Starch Solution."

    How would you compare that to Ann Esselstyn's comments about more or less starches in your diet.

    There is so much confusion and contradicting info out there. It makes it heard to know who to trush.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...