Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Over the years I have collected a number of books that promote the benefits of a plant based diet. These include technical books and cookbooks.  I also read a number of blog sites that focus on a vegetarian or vegan based diet.  Of course these blog sites described more than just diets as you learn about the lives of the blog writers.

This Spring I purchased a book by Dr. Neal Barnard called the "21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart".  The book describes a 21-day program for losing weight but the focus is really about kick starting a plant based diet.  There is also a section on menus and recipes by Jason Wyrick.  Dr. Barnard is also president of the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine who have a free online program geared to a 21-day kickstart vegan program (kickstart program).  I have been receiving daily emails which are very interesting and provide lots of information.

Recently I watched a CNN program by Dr. Sanjay Gupta on the benefits of plant based diets and how they reduce one's risk for a heart attack.  He interviewed President Bill Clinton who has changed his diet and has become a vegan because of his health challenges.  Dr. Sanjay also interviewed Dr. Dean Ornish.

Dr. Dean Ornish has been conducting research on coronary heart disease for the past thirty years.  He and his colleagues are also doing research on cancer including prostrate cancer and the role of diet.  In the 1990's I purchased his book "Eat More, Weigh Less" which promotes a plant based diet.  I read it but didn't follow it.   After watching the CNN show, I went to Dr. Ornish's website and read about his latest program which describes a spectrum of choices.  He has categorized foods into a spectrum from Group 1, the most healthful, to Group 5, the least healthful.  It is not all or nothing but a way of sustaining healthy choices in the foods you eat (Dr. Dean Ornish's Spectrum diet).   He describes how to use the spectrum of nutrition choices to lower weight, lower blood pressure, decrease cholesterol levels, help prevent or reverse the progression of diabetes, several cancers and heart disease.  After reading as much as provided on the website, I ordered the book.  I have started to change my food choices - going towards a more plant based diet.  It hasn't been hard.  I think my DH was amused one night watching me eat tofu while he ate roasted chicken thighs.  For the past month I have not eaten meat except for 2 or 3 occasions.  I am eating fish and dairy but staying away from cheese (not always successful) and other high fat dairy products.

The issue of complicating our decision making in making the right food choices and what is healthy for a number of us, is illustrated in the September 26, 2011 edition of Maclean's magazine (full article) Dr. William Davis was interviewed about the perils of wheat.  He has written a book "Wheat Belly" which delves into his opinion that wheat makes us fat, wheat is the cause of obesity, it is addictive, and as wheat is a carbohydrate, it triggers the formation of small low-density lipoprotein particles which are responsible for atherosclerotic plaque.  He also says that eating a gluten free diet and consuming rice flour, corn starch and tapioca starch is not any better.

Dr. William, who is a cardiologist, says we should eat real, natural foods such as eggs, raw nuts, plenty of vegetables, fish, fowl, and meats.  We can use healthy oils including olive, walnut, and coconut. Fruit should be eaten occasionally and we can consume plenty of avocado, olives, and use herbs and spices freely.  Eating raw is preferred and do not frequent fast food restaurants, eat processed snacks, or junk foods.  His diet reminds me a bit of an Adkins type diet where animals products are consumed.

So what is a girl to do?  

I recently purchased the book by Alicia Silverstone "the kind diet".  She promotes a plant based diet both for the health aspect and well-being of humans and our plant.  Her style of writing is very folksy, she is sincere in what she believes in and quite passionate.  The book also contains many recipes.  The language of the book is written as if Alicia is talking to you.  I did find that she over uses the word 'yummy'.  I enjoyed reading her book and the ability of her to be honest with herself and her readers in her lifestyle choices and her beliefs.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman, a physician and researcher, has written a number of books on preventing and reversing disease through nutritional and other methods.  I bought his latest book "Eat to Live" which was originally written in 2003 and revised in 2011.  I am only part way through reading the book.  The book is written as a six week plan for losing weight by following a vegetarian diet.    

What I do know is that I feel better following a vegetarian diet. 

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