Do we eat to live or live to eat?

Being a petite person, I never gave much thought to what I ate. I gave up fast food in 9th grade because I knew that it couldn't be healthy, but loved indulging in sweets and processed foods....Oreos being #1 on my list of favorites. In college I started to really enjoy cooking and baking and loved trying recipes that I found on Pinterest and cooking blogs. When I got married my husband loved inviting people over for dinner and would often compliment me on how well I cooked. This only fueled my desire to find delicious matter the calorie count or ingredient list. No one was more surprised than I was when I decided to give up my delicious foods for a simple plant-based diet in early 2014. Why the sudden change? I discovered REAL FOOD.

It all started when we moved to the east coast for my husband to attend medical school. We met a couple, Robyn and Dallin, and quickly became friends. We took turns having each other over for dinner and I soon realized that I LOVED every meal that I ate at their house. I also started noticing that their meals included lots of fruits and vegetables. When I asked them about it they told me that they ate a whole-food, plant-based diet. I was shocked! How could anyone voluntarily give up meat or dairy? I had always felt bad for friends that had dairy or gluten intolerances and loved that my diet was not restricted. However, I was also surprised that fruits, vegetables, and grains could be so tasty. Although I knew I could never practice a whole-foods, plant-based diet, my interest was piqued. So I did some research.

I first started reading a book that Robyn had called Rediscovering the Word of Wisdom. The book included personal stories of people who had switched to a whole-food, plant-based diet and I was surprised to hear how many of their health problems disappeared after being on the diet for awhile. Many of these people had started their diet after watching a documentary on Netflix called "Forks Over Knives." I convinced my husband to watch the documentary with me and from that moment on I was sold on a whole-foods, plant-based diet. I learned that you can greatly decrease your risk of stroke, heart disease, and cancer...yes cancer, by eating a whole-foods, plant-based diet. Don't believe me? Check out the documentary or the book The China Study for more details.

I wasn't sure if my husband would be on board but, luckily for me, examining cadavers of people that died of these very diseases increased his desire to be healthy. So I went to work. I asked Robyn for some of her recipes and searched the internet for more. I thought it would be extremely difficult to give up meat and dairy but was surprised that it wasn't. Unintentionally, we quit cold turkey. We switched to soy and almond milk, filled our grocery cart with fruits and veggies and started experimenting with new recipes. In our excitement we shared our new diet with friends and family and were surprised that some of them were willing to jump on board. My family and in-laws actually gave it a try too. The results? Increased health in ways I didn't anticipate.

 I was surprised at how this diet impacted people in our families so differently. Here is a list of some of the benefits our families have enjoyed so far:
-Weight loss
-Decreased acne and healthier skin
-No more need for heartburn medication
-No more coughing fits in the night
-Unresolved stomach issues resolved
-More energy
-More sleep
-More sanitary kitchen
-Simplified meals
-And we anticipate more to come!

When we started eating this way, my husband and I decided that we didn't want our diet to burden other people and so we agreed that we would eat what people cooked for us when we were in their homes. This means that we occasionally eat meat or dairy, but we are okay with that.

One of the biggest surprises that came with the new diet was how much it simplified my life. Yes, I am chopping up more fruits and vegetables but I don't have to make sure that the meat is cooked through or sanitize my kitchen after preparing a meal.

Our culture has become accustomed to eating processed food instead of real food and it takes a bit for your taste buds to adjust to foods not saturated with salt, sugar, and fat. I have been surprised at how good real food tastes when you cut out the processed stuff.

You may think that you could never change your diet in such a drastic way, but believe me when I tell you that I was one of those people!  I used to always say that I live to eat but since becoming a wife and mother I decided that I have a lot to eat to live for! Hopefully this blog will inspire you to do the same. Stay tuned for some of my favorite plant-based, tried and true recipes.

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