One rainy November evening, my father and I were chatting about how he had finally lost his “flirtation with diabetes.” For years, my father has been advised that he needs to change his diet; that steak and diet coke isn’t a sustainable way for him to live anymore. Well, that finally caught up with him in his lab panels for the doctor.
Commiserating with a life-long friend, dad learned that his life-long friend had recently also taken the plunge into diet-reform. Animal, as he ironically is nicknamed, had been following Joel Fuhrman’s Nutritarian diet for about six months, and had “cured himself of diabetes.” Animal lent him the book, and dad went to reading.
That’s when I heard about my father’s endeavors to fix his problem. Being the dutiful son, I offered to support him by making the changes along with him. Someone needed to wingman for him! I agreed to read the book and change my diet in support of his endeavor. Mind you, at that time I was about 30 pounds higher than I usually run, and figured it would be a good way to begin again.
Never commit to a diet you haven’t read first. And, don’t begin on a Tuesday the week of Thanksgiving.
Nutritarian is a swear word around my home, but one that has garnered wonderful results, it also gets half-cocked eyebrows of confusion around your friends (I usually followed up the comment by “it’s what vegans consider extreme”.)
Now, I call it by it’s friendlier term, a “whole food, plant-based diet.”
Here’s the breakdown: No added oil (ever hear of water saute? I hadn’t), no salt, no sugar, no animal products, no artificial sweeteners. (Oh, that’s all?) Limit simple carbohydrates (potato, rice, etc)
- Eat a large salad as a main dish every day. Lettuce, spinach, raw veggies, mushrooms, and any other vegetable you can think of is sliced, diced, and tossed in a NON-OIL based dressing (that one takes some creativity.)
Eat a lot of beans. Plan says 1/2 – 1 cup per day. I often ate more than this, and usually in the form of lentils (urad dal, chana dal, masoor dal “red lentils”, but also chickpeas, kidney, and anything else you can name)
- Eat a pile of steamed greens each day. Kale, beet greens, spinach, asparagus, artichoke, brussels sprouts, cabbage…the list goes on. Not to be vulgar, but at one point I jokingly called it The Green Poop Diet.
- A small handful of nuts/seeds per day. This one was delicious but hard. I wanted nuts all day, every day. I found that the best place was either cooked in the greens, or stirred into my oatmeal in the morning. I bet here is where most people overeat calories. I typically used hemp hearts, sunflower seeds, cashews, or almonds.
- Eat mushrooms every day. Once again, these frequently went into the steamed greens or also cooked in lentils (dal).
- Three fresh fruits a day. Simple as that. I grew quite fond of Fuyu persimmons chopped up with walnuts in my steel cut oats, or in a smoothie.
So, how’d it go? After six weeks, my father’s chem panels came back pristine. Not bad for a 70-year-old carnivore. He had also lost about 15 pounds. I call it a success!
Me? At the same point, I also began working out 4-5 days per week. With these two strategies, I lost (and have still maintained) 18 pounds, and feel much better than before. I also was reminded that when I splurge and eat off plan, it makes me feel gross, lethargic, achy, and depressed. My sleep patterns became more regulated than ever before! I am also under a tremendous stress at work with a financial crisis and have felt much more able to cope with that.
So, now I try to continue. As part of my coping strategies, I hope to blog here about how I’m making it work. As I’m writing, the Instant Pot (electronic pressure cooker which has been invaluable) is beeping with what’s going to be in the next blog post: How I pack a week’s worth of lunches!