Ok, so not even two days on a plant-based diet. More like by the end of the first day.
HERE’S THE STORY
On Thursday, June 16th, 2022, I wrote the following journal entry –
“After 15 months on a low-fat, plant-based diet, here are some of the issues & concerns I’m noticing –
- Seriously increased cracking sound in my knees & ankles – audibly.
- Muscle loss – noticeably in my upper body. I feel much weaker.
- Extremely thin & weak fingernails.
- Thinner Hair – significantly.
- Still high blood pressure after almost a year and a half.
- Continual crusty nasal passages & sniffing.
- Older-looking face & facial skin.
- More translucent teeth. Pin-point dark spots on teeth tops.
- Bloating & gastrointestinal distress.
- General body skin dryness, cracking on heels, callouses on the bottom of feet under little toes, body skin bumps (like ingrown hairs), moles, and red spots.
On February 23rd, 2021, I decided to adopt a low-fat, whole-food, plant-based diet to manage some minor health concerns I’d been having. Primarily, I’d purchased a digital blood pressure cuff and tested my BP over several months and was concerned that my blood pressure was a little elevated. After watching many YouTube videos about others who had cured their high blood pressure by following this type of diet plan, I decided to try it…AGAIN.
THIS ISN’T MY FIRST TIME ON THIS MARRY-GO-ROUND
That’s right. If you’ve followed me for any length of time at all, you know that diet, weight loss, and nutrition are my constant struggle in life.
And I’ve tried pretty much all of the programs. From raw food vegan to strict carnivore. I’ve done it all. With limited success. And because of that limited success, I’ve become your typical yo-yo dieter. What that means is that I’ll stick with a plan until or unless it stops working for me. “Working” has different meanings in this situation. If I’m ‘lucky,’ it might just mean that I’m not seeing the weight loss I was hoping for, so I make a change to something I hope will give me better success.
If I’m not so lucky…it means I experience symptoms that make me uncomfortable, distressed, and/or anxious.
I HAVE TRIED DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF A PLANT-BASED DIET
My first exposure to eating only plants happened before my father’s and cousin’s deaths. I started searching the internet, trying to find some diet that might improve both of their conditions. And I found the Raw Food Diet. You can read all about my experience with that HERE. I really dug into that plant-based diet lifestyle. For more than four years, I ate an eighty percent raw food diet. I even launched and maintained an online magazine by the same name. But eventually, I started experiencing negative symptoms in my body…severe anemia being the one that scared me enough that Jeff told me he thought I should start eating red meat again.
I REINTRODUCED ANIMAL PRODUCTS
So, I did as he suggested, adding meat and other animal products back into my diet.
And I felt better.
For a while.
But I kind of ‘threw the baby out with the bath water’ in that I also added dairy (I have slight lactose intolerance), refined grains, and sugars.
And I regained the 30+ pounds I’d lost eating raw foods.
SO, I TRIED A DIFFERENT PLANT-BASED DIET APPROACH
I discovered Dr. John McDougall’s YouTube Channel, and devoured a lot of his content. I bought his book, The Starch Solution, and thought it made sense. So, I tried following his high-starch, low-fat approach.
And, ya, no.
Not for my body, anyhow.
I didn’t lose weight, and I started experiencing debilitating arthritic pain in my knees and ankles. So much so that I couldn’t even roll over in bed at night without terrible discomfort.
LONG STORY SHORT
That experience drove me to do even more research. I found the OMAD – One Meal A Day – diet that says you can eat anything you want, as long as it only fills one large dinner plate, no more than 3-inches high. And you can pair that plate with a 16-20 ounce caloric beverage of choice…including wine, if you wish. So, that was my introduction to IF or Intermittent Fasting. I discovered it wasn’t that hard for me to skip meals throughout the day. I just filled my growling stomach with non-caloric beverages like water, coffee, tea, and diet soda. And I discovered, to my amazement, that going without food during the day didn’t make me eat a larger meal at night. I was full on the same amount of food as I would otherwise be. So, I did lose some weight that way.
BUT ONE MEAL A DAY WASN’T SUSTAINABLE
At least not for me.
But I desperately wanted to shed the extra pounds. I was about 50 pounds heavier than I should have been for my height, and I knew that wasn’t healthy…or attractive. I learned about the benefits of extended water fasting, so decided to try that…FOR SEVEN DAYS! That’s right; I went a full week on nothing but water. That wasn’t fun. I did lose 8-pounds in that week. But it came right back as soon as I started eating again. Go figure.
A girlfriend I met while doing OMAD then introduced me to the Carnivore diet. And I thought she was insane. Seriously. I just felt like that was the ultimate in extreme diets.
EVENTUALLY, I TRIED THAT, TOO.
But before I did, I tried another stint with Weight Watchers (I’d joined before), counting points. I tried tracking my macros using diet apps like My Fitness Pal and Cronometer, but ultimately, last February, I decided to commit, long-term, to a whole-food, plant-based diet approach. And I stuck with it, religiously, until it stopped working three months ago.
IT PROBABLY STOPPED WORKING BEFORE THAT
I was regularly experiencing severe toe and shin Charlie Horse-like cramps after eating a carb-heavy meal. Particularly when eating dense, sweet fruits like bananas, mangoes, dates, and other dried fruit. And insomnia combined with rapid heart rate, restless legs, and anxiety kept me from sleeping most nights. It was becoming more and more commonplace for me to get up in the middle of the night to take an over-the-counter antihistamine just to help me sleep. Something I’ve never done before.
But for the first time EVER, I’d also convinced Jeff to jump onboard this plant-based diet adventure, and he was ALL IN!
April, after I’d been following the plan for about a month and a half, he started having some health concerns of his own. He was thinking about making an appointment to go see a doctor to get checked out. But I convinced him to let me help him follow the same plant-based diet I was on…even for just one week…to see if he felt better. And he was willing to give it a shot.
Well, his experience was nothing short of mind-blowing! Within three days on this eating plan, his symptoms had all but vanished. And he was sold.
He has been really devoted to this lifestyle ever since. And as of this writing, he still is.
BUT MY SYMPTOMS COMPELLED ME TO MAKE A SERIOUS SHIFT
So, I tried going Carnivore again. Then shifted a bit to a more Ketovore approach, which basically means an animal-product centered diet, but with the addition of some high-fat, low-carb vegetables like avocado, coconut, olives, cold-pressed healthy oils, nuts, and seeds. And I’ve been feeling MUCH BETTER!
My sleep has SERIOUSLY IMPROVED. I haven’t had the insomnia, rapid heart rate, or anxiety that used to plague me when eating a plant-based diet. My teeth, skin, and nails have all been much stronger and better!
BUT I’VE MISSED PLANT-BASED DIET FOODS LIKE OATS AND POTATOES
So, the day before yesterday, I decided to try having a plant-based diet day. I started my morning with nothing but coffee until around noon. Then I had Old Fashioned Oats with pink salt (my favorite way to eat them) around lunchtime. And I was fine. That was all I ate until dinner when I had water-sauteed non-starchy vegetables (red and green bell peppers, onions, and zucchini) that I seasoned with Italian seasonings (onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, pink salt, and a tablespoon of EVOO. I’m out of basil, so skipped that.) It was delicious and satisfying. And I felt fine. I followed that with a blended dessert of avocado and frozen orange juice concentrate with a little vanilla and stevia. YUM! But as I was finishing that…sure enough…the toe and shin cramps began. And later? Well, let’s just say the bathroom experience was. not. fun.
Yesterday, I still had only coffee (this time with a little heavy cream) then wanted oatmeal for my late breakfast again. So I had the same thing I had the day before. Fine. Dinner was two medium red potatoes, microwaved, then seasoned with only pink salt, and Brussels Sprouts caramelized in balsamic vinegar and seasoned with fresh-ground black pepper. YUM! I felt pretty good, but was still hungry. So I microwaved a good-sized russet potato, and this one I seasoned with onion powder, nutritional yeast, pink salt, and a drizzle of tahini. I was thinking that if I added healthy fat it might mitigate the effects of the carbs in my body. I followed this with a dessert of raw walnuts, avocado, wild blueberries, cocoa, cinnamon, stevia, and vanilla…and dared to add a tablespoon of pure maple syrup. All of this is blended together and is one of my favorite combinations.
I had a difficult time trying to sleep. The joint pain in my wrists, hands, and other areas was terrible and immediate. My skin stung all over, my head ached, and I was up most of the night. At 2:30 in the morning, I finally decided to get up and eat an egg cooked in butter with some pink salt. Right away, the pain in my hands and joints began to diminish. And I was able to sleep.
PLANT-BASED DIET LESSON LEARNED
Sometimes I’m hard-headed, and it takes me a few attempts to figure out what works best for my body. At this time in my life, anyhow, it’s animal-based, high healthy fats based meals with supplementary fatty vegetables and low-sugar fruits.
Your mileage may vary. 😉