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Will! I Want My Power Back!

February 16, 2012
Map of Heart Disease Death Rates in US White M...

Image via Wikipedia

I first read about Plant Based diets as they impact heart disease a year and half ago. For the majority of the time since then, I have made an effort to eat mostly plants. Yet, rare has been the full week when I have completely avoided added fat of any kind. Rarer still has been the month I haven’t completely fallen from the plant wagon. Over these many months, a bit of cheese here, a bite of cake, a slice of pizza, a family dinner, a holiday would lead to another and another until I was back shopping in the middle of the store and feeling as if I had to start all over again.

Eating a diet that was plant-based was the only hope of living a long time. Going beyond vegan offered the only hope of stopping a disease conventional medicine believed to be unstoppable. Not only that, but this simple way of eating offered hope of actually reversing the disease.

One would think that someone with heart disease would jump at the chance to live a long and much healthier life. One would certainly think someone who not only had heart disease, but who had vascular disease from head to toe, purple toes I might add, would never allow added fat to ever touch her lips again.

Then, after reading The China Study, and finding out how a plant-based diet could prevent and stop the progression of cancers and a host of other diseases, I would think that eating this way, living this way would be effortless. What could be stronger than the will to live? What could possibly be more powerful a drive than the drive to breath and walk and laugh and live and thrive, even?

Yet, for all these many months, I have craved and caved over and over. I’ll add that I was never someone who “battled” with weight or with food before this illness. Yet, now, when changing my diet permanently matters so much, I find my willpower and resolve to be not much stronger than an over cooked noodle. I argue with myself. I rationalize. I doubt my new convictions before I can barely utter the words. Here are some of those stupid but convincing statements I use to justify that pizza or burger or fried seafood platter.

“Ornish and Esselstyn didn’t study those who stuck to the diet 80% of the time, only 100% or 0%. Whose to say 80% wouldn’t work equally as well?”

“I just can’t believe the media or the medical profession or the government or somebody isn’t talking about this if it really works?”

“Surely the drug companies aren’t that powerful.”

Then too, it’s not easy. Eating out is a challenge. Holidays are a challenge, especially when we are the host and the expectations are that the food fits the memory and the tradition.

We have been back, really back for a few weeks now. We have had one completely fat laden meal (chili dogs at a family dinner night), one fat laden treat (a gift of Valentine donuts) and a small fat filled snack (two bite sized chocolates each,last night). Last night was particularly difficult. I dream of cheese. I told myself that next week, for our family dinner night, we could go somewhere they have fancy grilled cheese sandwiches and I’d order a triple cheese, three-cheese grilled wonder.

I heard someone say the other day, “Nothing tastes as good as thin.” Sadly, the idea of losing the remainder of the weight I gained after getting sick, is a greater motivator than saving my own life. What is that!?!

How could cheese be more important to me than a decade of life? How could the scales motivate me to stick to the diet better than simply because the studies showed it can stop the disease from progressing and possibly even reverse it? Eating this way can do what no drug can! Eating a plant-based, no added fat diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains can do what no surgery or procedure can offer me with no side effects or recovery time, no invasion of my body and no threat of death from complications.

It is as if while I want this to be true, I cave to the cravings and eat as if I want it not to be a lie.

Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwich

Image via Wikipedia

“Oh, it’s not really true that eliminating meat, dairy and processed foods from my diet can stop heart disease or prevent cancer. This hot, melty, oozing goodness hunk of cheddar won’t hurt me!” I tell myself.

I do want it to be true, though! I want also to keep it simple. It makes sense. Eat real food. Eat things that grow. Don’t eat animals or things from animals. Just eat plants and things made purely and strictly from plants. Don’t cave and the cravings will surely, eventually go away. I tell myself those things, too. Maybe I don’t tell myself those things quite enough.

To someone looking in at us who eats the typical “western” diet, we probably look as if we are doing very well sticking to this. Even when we aren’t doing well, we are sticking to this most of the time. Yet, it astounds me that sticking to it 100% of the time is so damn hard.

It’s much like when I smoked. Many of the arguments feel the same. The cravings are equally as strong. I still hope they’ll figure out a way to make a cigarette that is healthy! It’s been three years and I still miss it!

I feel deprived. I still want the cake and the lasagna and the occasional fried chicken. I miss a scrambled egg. I miss the sprinkling of cheese and crumbled bacon over a salad. I miss the creamy dressings and luscious desserts. I miss the drive-thru everywhere and ice cream. I miss buttered popcorn and chocolate covered raisins. I miss chocolate for dinner.

I’m tired of my own cooking. Lee cooked last night, heated up pinto burgers I had made the day before and roasted us some thin sliced potato wedges and thick sliced sweet onion. The potatoes were crunchy, just the way I like them. We ate it all with sweet BBQ sauce. It was delicious and even more so since I hadn’t prepared it.

Forgive my rant. I feel better now. Saturday will be three years exactly. I’m still here. I’m better and better every day. I’m even walking (slowly and resting often, but I’m walking!). I can do about anything I really want to. I’m even keeping up with a hyperactive puppy. She weighs ten pounds and I can carry her around! I don’t spend days in bed anymore. I can clean the house in a day if I have to, and in two days if I don’t. I carry the laundry up the basement stairs and the groceries in from the car.I throw the football with my grandson and endure three-day Monopoly marathons only to lose for the umpteenth time. I dance in the kitchen in Lee’s arms.

Life is very, very good. I must be doing something right. Maybe one day at a time is the only way to do much of anything. Right this minute, I am sticking to a no added fat, plant-based diet perfectly.

A few of the last weeks successes and discoveries,

Pinto beans work fine in veggie burgers. I used the same recipe as the black bean burgers, with 1/2 cup oats ground in food processor, 2 grated carrots, 1/2 small onion, 1 clove garlic, all added and chopped in food processor, spices and 3/4 cans pinto beans. I actually cooked dried beans this time, about three cups cooked. Then when all pulverized, transferred to bowl and added remaining 1 cup beans. I formed them into patties (wetting my hands to keep from sticking) and baked on a sheet pan I’d sprayed with cooking spray for about 45 minutes at 300, turning halfway through. It makes about a dozen, depending how large you make the patties. I like them thin, about the size of a fast food pattie, so they won’t be gooey in the middle.

I also added 1/2 cup cooked quinoa to the cookie recipe in place of most of the flour. It made them really moist. I kept the oats the same, as well as the prune puree. I played around with different ingredients, including unsweetened cocoa powder and a bit of coconut. I still like the ginger the best, but the almost chocolate and forbidden coconut was wonderful.

We had chips and dip more than once and have had to pull back on the tortilla reins a bit. I do love, I repeat love, the avocado and Lee adores chips with anything and everything, but even fat-free home-baked chips are full of calories when we eat a million of them.

Today? I have no idea. Maybe I’ll add a little Chinese flare to the food today. I’ll just start slicing and chopping and see what happens.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Yer Lee permalink
    February 16, 2012 1:20 pm

    You my sweet love are my HERO! I adore you. You are so strong, so brave, so courageous, so absolutely necessary! Thank you for truly “LIVING” this life with me, with you as my wife I’ve never had it so good!! And btw I love your “rant”. xxxxx. ……..

    • February 18, 2012 3:03 pm

      Thank you for Eating and “Loving” every single culinary experiment. I love you!

  2. Lynn Kelly permalink
    February 18, 2012 1:19 am

    Hi Allie. I too, am so frustrated and trying to come up with a plan that will work against all of my defense mechanisms and the stuff out there in the world that seems to come out of the woodwork to cause failure and defeat. I’m tired, it’s night, so I’m going to go to bed and see if I feel more creative tomorrow! How’s that for cut ‘n run?

    • February 18, 2012 3:07 pm

      I often think of you trying to follow a low fat plan and a low sugar and all the other lows of being diabetic. I wish thinking of you would make me feel a little more grateful that I can eat fat free sweets, at least. By the way, we had a beautiful delicious double cheese pizza for supper last night and I loved every single bite.

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