Herbie of the Week: Stacy E (A Plant-Based Diet Has Improved Her Psoriatic Arthritis & Digestion!)

Meet our Herbie of the Week: Stacy E!

As a nurse, Stacy's passionate about health, but she didn't get serious about her own health until 5 years ago. Over the course of a year, she lost 50lbs, but was discouraged when a lab test revealed she still had high cholesterol despite her recent weight-loss and more active lifestyle.

Then Stacy had her "a-ha!" moment: the foods she was eating contributed to her high cholesterol. She immediately stopped eating meat and dairy and within 12 weeks her cholesterol dropped 25 points!

Stacy also became a member of Meal Mentor, which not only helped her cut out oil, but improved her digestion and inflammation from psoriatic arthritis!

Here's Stacy's story in her own words...

In the fall of 2011 I decided to get serious about my health. I am a nurse and health is something I am passionate about, which was probably not portrayed well as an obese care provider. I was 26 years old, recently diagnosed with asthma, and struggled to catch my breath walking up just one flight of stairs! Since I have struggled on and off with my weight since junior high, I decided to join Weight Watchers with my mom, thinking having to pay a monthly fee would help give me the motivation I needed.

Within one year I lost 50 lbs! I started working out regularly, running 5ks and 10ks. I was so proud of my body and my fitness! However, I joined Weight Watchers to improve my health, which led me to make an appointment with my physician to get my blood work checked. My family has a history of heart disease, specifically high cholesterol levels. Prior to losing the weight my cholesterol was 230, with my HDL being below 50. After losing 50 lbs, my cholesterol was now 230, but my HDL was 60. Good news is the activity and weight loss increased my "good" cholesterol but overall, my cholesterol was still really high! I was discouraged because I thought I was doing so well!

I heard about the documentary "Forks Over Knives" from my cousin, who said it was really good. I had a chance to put it on and it forever changed me. The realization that the foods I was eating were causing my cholesterol to increase and that there really are no nutritional benefits to eating meat and dairy was so monumental for me, I stopped eating those foods that day. I decided to give myself 12 weeks of trying out this new way of eating and get my labs rechecked.

12 weeks later my cholesterol had dropped to 205 and more significantly, my LDL to HDL ratio was now within normal limits. This is the lowest my cholesterol has ever been! 2.5 years later and my cholesterol remains the same.

On that note, I have found my journey to be gradual and have ups and downs. One of the reasons I believe my cholesterol is not better is because I had let some fish back into my diet now and then. I did not have it for a long time and then I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis, and thought maybe it would help with inflammation. It did not.

Also, I did not cut out the oil right away. That has been more of a recent change since I started the meal plans through Meal Mentor. That change has helped me significantly with my digestion as well as my inflammation. It also has gluten-free, corn free, and soy-free options if necessary, which is important for me and the management of my disease. I was tested when I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease with the promises of the "Paleo" diet and the "Autoimmune Protocol" which all promise that eating more meat is the way to feel better and manage symptoms. I did an elimination diet and discovered some items that bothered me and others that did not. I discovered what was right for me, which is plant-based, oil free, whole foods make me feel my best!

I try to share my knowledge with my family and with coworkers with some limited success. My husband has decreased his consumption of dairy to almost none and eats less meat than before. Even though I am primarily the only person I know who eats this way, I have a lot of support from my friends and family. It's still not quite enough, which is why the Meal Mentor forums have been so helpful for me! I feel like I have found my tribe, which has really helped me the past couple of months. Being "different" can be mentally taxing but knowing there are so many others out there like me has been so helpful!

Thank you Stacy for sharing your plant-based journey with us!

UPDATE (Jan 2016)

As of 2016, I have continued my plant based journey by being a member of Meal Mentor, which helps me to feel supported to make great food choices. Those choices then bleed into other aspects of my life, such as increasing my energy, allowing me to continue to be active and do the things I love. I have completed 4 10ks, 1 Triathlon, 7 5Ks, and 2 1/2 marathons on primarily a plant based diet and am currently training for another triathlon. This is definitely not a diet, but a lifestyle change. It can be difficult, which is why I so appreciate Lindsay's motto "Progress, not perfection." Thank you Happy Herbivore for helping me find my best self!