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"I've become almost entirely vegan over the last year, and I've never felt better! One of the things I find amazing about this whole process (in addition to losing the extra 50 lbs. I thought I was stuck with — woohoo!), is that I have been able to cut out things that used to be addictions for me, mainly Diet Coke and junk food. While I'm not perfect, I can feel a difference when I let myself slip, so my slip-ups are becoming fewer and farther apart. I'm also clearing up my eczema through diet and enzymes and nutrients, when my regular doctor told me the only thing I could do was 'manage' my eczema, which mainly meant using steroid creams, which are scary! I love that I've discovered that proper nutrition is an amazing way to cure yourself of a lot of things, including the supposedly incurable."
HH: You mentioned you're clearing up your eczema, and that you've lost weight. Congrats! Did you have any other health problems? How was your health before you adopted a mostly plant-based diet?
Diane: I never thought I was unhealthy, I didn’t have major issues and ate what I thought was a balanced diet. But I’d slowly gained weight over the years, and my knees had begun to bother me. It didn’t occur to me that I could change my life simply by changing how I ate.
HH: How did you learn about eating a plant-based diet?
I had a part-time job at our local library. One day a book came across my desk titled Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. Just reading the back cover inspired me to check it out. I’m not sure why this particular book spoke to me in a way other eating plans had not, but I really got how the digestive process works and how foods affect our health, either positively or negatively.
I started making changes to my diet. I started eating whole grains, greatly increased the amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables I ate, and cut back on dairy, eggs, and meat.
HH: Did you experience any positive benefit for the change?
I started to notice changes almost immediately. Within 10 weeks, I had dropped 20 lbs., my knees didn’t hurt as much, and I felt better in ways I hadn’t realized I felt bad!
I gradually cut meat completely out of my diet and started calling myself a vegetarian. My husband and I had a trip to Hawaii coming up, and I was able to buy warm weather clothes in February, two sizes smaller! Talk about a great way to reward myself. Other diets had always failed me — I hated counting calories or eating tasteless diet food.
After continuing to lose weight and feeling better in general, I decided to try cutting out all animal products from my diet. Another book was again an inspiration, this time The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone. I have been eating whole foods, raw foods when possible, and vegan (with an occasional foray into goat cheese) for over a year now. My weight loss seems to have reached a plateau, and while I wouldn’t mind losing a few more pounds, I feel so good I don’t really mind (I blame my two kids for the belly fat I can’t seem to ditch!).
I have not only been able to ditch 50 lbs. of unwanted weight (that I thought I was stuck with forever), I have also been able to drop foods I used to be addicted to, namely Diet Coke, chips, chocolate, and ice cream.
HH: You mentioned you had children — is your family on board?
I haven't been able to get my family fully on board, although they do benefit from my healthier cooking at home. (I don’t cook meat at all anymore). My hubby, college-age daughter, and teenage son still eat meat and dairy, although they have cut back. I try not to nag, but I do point out that when everyone else comes down with the sniffles, cough, or sore throat, I manage to dodge the bullet, and the only reason can be my diet.
HH: Can you elaborate on your experiences with eczema?
I have been battling eczema, and was told by my doctor that it could only be managed, not cured. Well, I decided not to believe it. I went looking and found a website created by an amazing woman, Donia Alawi, that chronicles her eczema healing journey through diet.
I found that by following her recommendations for eating whole foods, following the body’s natural digestive and detoxification processes, and adding some whole food supplements, I have begun to heal from eczema. Detoxification is a slow process, but I have seen enough improvement to keep going.
HH: Wonderful news! Anything else you'd like to add?
I never knew how bad my diet was until I started to make changes. I can’t believe I began this whole process two years ago! I hate to imagine how I’d feel if I hadn’t made the plunge back in 2010 — I’d still be 50 lbs. overweight, my knees would still hurt, I’d be using toxic steroid creams to treat my eczema, and I’d be much less content with my life. I now know what it truly feels like to be healthy.