I spent nearly 30 years of my life moving all over the country as a spouse in the military. These years included roughly 20 years as a nurse caring for people in various settings from intensive care in open-heart surgery, cancer, and neurology, to management of patients in home care and hospice.
I have been directly involved with people from various cultures, witnessing firsthand the power of food choices. This was especially evidenced early on while working with people from Blue Zones, well known for the healthiest and longest-living people over a hundred years of age with the highest-level quality of life. This was part of what drove my strong passion for helping people establish healthy eating habits.
As a nurse, I have witnessed many shocking cardiac procedures involving clogged arteries and, of course, the seriousness of what people go through with open heart surgeries. One procedure called a carotid endarterectomy particularly got my attention where what looked like large french fries and clumps of fat were pulled from the carotid neck arteries of patients.
After a heart attack or a procedure requiring the placement of stents, patients face the harsh reality that they will now have to be on blood thinners for those stents the rest of their lives, and that it is too late at that point for them to go back and undo the harm that has been done.
These experiences and the complications I’ve witnessed from cardiac medications that are frequently prescribed, made me realize that natural healthy alternatives are the best course of action. I’ve had my own health battles all my life, including severe gastroenteritis at birth, a heart defect, and then the fear of a strong family history of high cholesterol and high blood pressure. I battled these obstacles by adhering to a pescatarian-vegetarian diet throughout my teen years and adult life. I continued to fight my battle naturally, hoping to stay out of the pharmacy, but lost that battle in my thirties. Knowing the adverse effects of taking statin medication, I refused, and instead tried to make even more strict improvements to my diet, exercise, sleep, and stress reduction regimen. What more could I do? Frustrated by my family’s genetics, I thought I had run out of options.
My personal evolution began in my forties and was ignited by a new habit incorporated into my morning workout routine. Rather than listening to music while exercising, I watched TV and discovered several health-related documentaries with a firm foundational belief in “nutrition as medicine .” Among my favorites were “Forks over Knives” and “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.” Through these documentaries I learned about a new way of eating, an approach referred to as a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet. Initially, I was a huge skeptic about this eating lifestyle, wondering how in the world people were getting enough protein and calcium without consuming any meat or dairy, but the miraculous testimonials and study findings in the documentaries so enthralled me that I couldn’t stop thinking or talking about them. I began to seriously wonder if my family’s long-running medical problems could be linked to the fact that, despite all the wonderful fruit and vegetables we had consumed over the years, we had still eaten chicken, fish, egg, and dairy products. I began scooping up every book written by these scientists and doctors who developed the science behind it. I attended every possible conference for which they would be in attendance to hear them speak. The more I learned about this way of eating, the more improvements I experienced.
Then I reached a turning point. A surgical procedure forced me to adopt a strict Whole Food, Plant-Based Diet (WFPBD) for several months, during which time I experienced the positive, though drastic changes this way of eating could result in, including dropping weight without effort and recovering quickly from major surgery. I lost nearly twenty pounds, leading me, the mother of three, to a weight I hadn’t seen in decades—at five foot two, I was now 112 pounds, and my cholesterol levels had fallen dramatically, settling in at healthy ranges.
So, after many years of living half in and half out of the WFPBD world, I decided it was time to strictly transition my way of eating and help my family do the same. It was undoubtedly a challenge in the beginning, but now as I write this as the inhabitant of a healthy body, I am so happy to have an opportunity to share with you the “secret” to reversing and avoiding disease that took me decades to learn and that has given my family a positive new life experience too. That brings me to why I wrote this book.
As I was gaining nutrition knowledge over the years, I would refer patients to various sources to help them get on a path to healthier eating, but most of the sources were too difficult for the average nonmedical professional to navigate and understand, especially with big money industry controlled advertising and nutritional misinformation. That’s when I realized that someone like a nurse with first-hand experience needed to pull all of this information together and put it in one place—an easy-to-grasp book. Today, however, more than just my patients want to know about a whole food plant-based way of life. I am often approached by people with questions about how to incorporate it into their lives. As my work continued on this book, I realized that I was writing it for all people, not just those with special conditions. I continue to provide nursing care in my community with the firm belief that a Whole Food Plant-Based Lifestyle does, in fact, improve people’s lives.
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