I used to think losing cravings for sweet, sugary, salty, buttery foods by changing my already vegetarian diet was a giant pile of steaming horse poop.
I really didn’t want to cut anything else out of my diet. I had already given up all forms of meat years ago. Didn’t that mean I was already eating healthy? So I drank a gallon of Coca-Cola with my heaping mound cheese encrusted pasta. I also ate a lot of salad…albeit with gobs of blue cheese dressing, but…I ate salad.
A few years ago, a few years before my husband saw 50 years of life looming ahead of him, he had a mid life crisis of sorts. He decided to stop eating meat. You’d think this would make me happy since I was already a vegetarian. It didn’t.
To have a proper mid life crisis, apparently you have to go to extremes. So, instead of simply deciding not to eat anything with a face, my husband gave up dairy, bread, pasta and all forms of white potato. Think for a moment…this means no potato chips! Can you imagine?
He then begins telling everyone he isn’t a vegan because he occasionally eats salmon, for the omega 3 of course. But he does tell people, for the love of all things holy, that he has become a “nutratarian”, a term that I think was first coined by Dr. Joel Furman…the “Eat To Live” guy.
I wasn’t happy with his “all in” approach to eating healthier because, like any normal person, I didn’t want to give up sugar. Worse for me though, was giving up my full blown love affair with all things cheese related. Cheese was my go to comfort food. Not to mention that I am an Italian American and now I am being asked to give up pasta too! Cheese and pasta go together like a hand and glove. It was all too much.
So naturally, I bulked. I resisted. I hollered. I cried. I stomped my feet. I slammed doors. I wasn’t interested in living the rest of my life with a freaking “nutratarian.” I didn’t want to give up my crutches. I was angry.
My husband begged and pleaded with me to try it. He told me that I would feel better. He said that my cravings for sugar and dairy would go away. He talked about Joel Furman ad nauseam. This went on for weeks. And as weeks turned to months, I realized that this was not going to be fad. My husband was committed and he had made a lifestyle change.
He was steaming kale and making his own salad dressing. He was eating salad every day for lunch and he wasn’t having a crisis. He was happier. He had more energy and even though he really didn’t need to, he lost a little weight. I reluctantly had to acknowledge that he looked better. Even his skin was tone was brighter. It was making me crazy.
Sometime during all of this drama, I was diagnosed with sarcoidosis. Now I was sick, I was ready to kill my husband and I wanted cheese more than ever!
But, since I was now faced with a life of chronic health issues, I did decide to make some changes to my eating habits…out of pure curiosity. Will this really help me feel better or is it all a bunch of horse poop after all?
So, still full of not so silent rage, I started making changes to my diet. First, I tackled my coca-cola addiction. It wasn’t so much that I even enjoyed drinking the stuff. I had just become dependent on it for the sugar and caffeine to fuel my insane work schedule.
I managed to make it through the torturing process of giving up coca-cola with only a mild caffeine withdrawal headache. That was over two years ago and I haven’t touched the stuff since. I don’t miss it.
It’s been a little over two years since I gave up sugar, all processed foods, pasta, white potato and yes….even dairy. And, I confess, I feel better. I would never make the crazy claim that it has cured my sarcoidosis because it hasn’t. But I do have more energy. I look better and looking better means feeling better.
Changes to my diet have eased the symptoms of sarcoidosis. I know this because when I cheat, which isn’t often anymore, my aches and pains and even my shortness of breath worsen and worsen quickly.
I don’t credit the diet changes for all the reasons I feel better. I also started exercising most days, sometimes fatigue wins, but the point is, I am also moving more.
I still find my husband’s “man crush” on Dr. Joel Fruman a little creepy. And, I can’t stand to watch the good Dr.’s PBS specials where he tells people that eating a healthy diet is “delicious”. It annoys me. It always will.
It was a bit of a struggle to get me to this place, to call myself a vegan I mean, but it was well worth all the door slamming, hollering, weeping and withdrawal. Today when I eat and drink, it is to be healthy. And being healthy makes me more emotionally sound.
This isn’t a way of life for everyone and I’m not preaching that it should be. I only know that despite myself, it has actually done wonders for my overall state of well being.
Oh, and those cravings for foods that are not good for me….they really ARE gone!