I am not talking about this much but, I am starting my fourth week without meat or dairy. This is not some fad thing for me. I really wanted to change how food fits into my life and looked at moving to a plant-based diet to address some of the health challenges I have. No, it’s not like I have a disease (yet) or some chronic condition (except being overweight). It’s just that, the writing is on the wall. I am an African-American and we have a particular concern when it comes to diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. So, what I eat is a big deal. Therefore, I decided to work my way to better eating. Here’s what I’ve been doing:
- Quit eating meat cold-turkey (no pun intended): It was either a Sunday or Monday when I started. I simply said, “today’s the day”. By 5pm, I was ready to quit. They were serving fried chicken in the cafeteria for lunch and I had gone down to grab some fruit to supplement when I had brought. Agony! Later, I drove by one of my favorite BBQ spots on the way home. It took all I had not to pull in and order something. However, I made it through the first day and it’s getting better for me.
- Cut the dairy: I have found this to be a little more challenging than going meat-free. This meant no half-an-half in my morning coffee, no “real” ice-cream, no greek yogurt, no pizza, no lasagna…you get the picture. However, I am finding that, if given a chance, the substitutes are not bad at all.
So, what’s the upside for me? The greatest benefit that I have seen is that my energy level is way up. I don’t feel as lethargic. In fact, my energy is so up that my family is looking at me like something’s wrong with me. They are not used to seeing me moving around so much. Also, I have lost about 10 pounds. I would expect this to only improve as I work back into a normal exercise routine.
By no means do I stop here. I have other goals with my eating.
- Cutting my processed food intake to a minimum: It is almost frightening to see the amount of sodium that gets packed into processed food. So, if I want to cut this back, processed foods have got to be worked out of my eating lifestyle.
- Limit sugars: Too often, I have replace the meat with the sweet. Sugar and corn syrup can stand in the way of weight loss goals so, I’ll be working to ease back on them.
- Fixing my mental attitude: I have noticed that most of my challenges are not between my mouth and stomach but, between my ears. Get my head right and focused, as well as not listening to the naysayers, is what I need. Discouragement de-motivates and depresses. You get them mind right and the body will fall in line.
I never thought I’d get so much from going meat-free. It just goes to show the power of change in one’s life.