My husband made a lifestyle shift about 10 months ago. First, as background, he was a meat-and-potato kind of guy. Vegetables were not something that he would actively seek out on a daily basis. Do you know or have a person like that in your life? Not to mention, he has struggled with his weight and other health issues most of his life. As he aged, they have only become more pronounced.
Through a college athlete from his alma mater, he was introduced to the benefits of a plant-based diet. This individual held a series of online events to tell his story about health challenges and how he overcame them by changing his lifestyle and diet. He invited several former athletes to join him on this journey. Through this common thread, my husband was intrigued and asked if I would support him if he chose this journey.Even though this is diet No. 127 over the 40 years we have been married, I agreed. I am a health and wellness advocate and was intrigued to try something new to improve both our lives. Not to mention, my husband seemed motivated to try this more than some other plans he has tried.
I didn’t eat a great deal of meat prior to starting this but this shift has me relearning how I shop and cook. And, let me tell you, I have to cook everything! I threw myself into every article, blog, and YouTube video around vegetarianism and veganism. I started to collect recipes and ideas to help plan meals. I think you get the idea: I was all-in!
Fast forward nearly a year and the shift in eating has been a series of ups and downs -- at least for me. Overall, we feel better, and that’s one of our main goals. Here’s what I have learned so far:
- My husband has a very particular palate, making some meal choices a challenge. We don’t care for tofu or lentils, for example. He’s not into spicy or ethnic food either. We both agreed that we have to at least “like” what we’re eating so those are out of the meal cycle. There is a lot of experimenting that takes place. Some meals are a hit; others, not so much.
We don’t miss meat. Sure, there are times when the smell of bacon coming from a restaurant or the idea of a “real” cheeseburger gets our mouths watering! Not enough, however, to ditch the diet. These cravings did subside over time.
My skin has improved -- immensely. I have had skin issues most of my life. Rosacea and cystic-like acne is a constant battle. I have been on more antibiotics than you can count. Since being on this diet, I have had one major breakout and I’m off the antibiotics. I don’t have perfect skin (my pores are the size of small craters!) but it is much improved. Not wearing much makeup through the pandemic also helped.
My motivation wanes at times. There are only so many ways to cook broccoli -- or any other vegetable. I find that I just get bored and feel like I cycle through the same meal choices. I continue to look for new ideas or tap into some of the vegetarian/vegan options that grocery stores carry. Some are better than others but it’s nice to have something on hand so I can take a break from cooking.
Our bodies needed to recalibrate. There were days when sugar cravings were high and energy levels were low. The first few months, we constantly had to adjust what and how much we ate to meet our daily needs. Some days, we could hardly make it from meal to meal.
In the Long Run: We will continue down this path. Even with some of the challenges I personally struggle with, we feel good enough to stay the course. My husband recently had a check-up with his physician and had great results from his blood work. In most areas, he improved over some of his prior results. We also are getting some help from a nutritionist, which has helped. We still have some work to do -- like making sure we have enough protein throughout the day and still finding ways to reduce our sugar intake. Overall, this fresh season has been worth the effort.