It was early spring of 2011 and my doctor told me what my mom’s doctor told her and her mom’s doctor told her: I had high cholesterol. What I knew about high cholesterol was that to an extent, the condition could be hereditary, but I also knew that diet played a big role in the ability to lower the bad cholesterol and manage the problem. My doctor suggested that I cut butter, bacon, pork, and red meat from my diet. Since I barely ate these items anyway, I figured that it would be easy to do…and it was.
Flash forward to January 2012. It had been nearly a year since I had eaten the aforementioned Forbidden Four. My sister, Petra, and her now husband, Craig, were in town and we were cozied up on the couch with my husband, Travis, watching the acclaimed documentary Forks Over Knives. The main premise of the documentary and the research therein is that changes in diet can prevent or solve a number of health problems that we might otherwise remedy with medication. That moment when the light bulb appears over your head? That was mine.
My name is Jackie and I have been living a plant-based lifestyle for nearly three years. An English teacher for seven years, I know how to do my research. I didn’t stop at FOK; I watched numerous documentaries, read books, and even sought out a family practice physician who specializes in plant-based eating, both as a lifestyle and in lieu of medication whenever possible. What did I discover?
I learned that the old adage “you are what you eat” really is true, and upon embracing a plant-based lifestyle, I could feel, nearly immediately, a difference in the way my body looked, felt, and operated. Maintaining my weight is easy and because I am often chowing down a big bowl of vegetables or whole grains, I can typically eat as much as I want. I have more energy and sleep better and truly crave fresh produce. Especially after a vacation where I may have fallen off the wagon a bit, fruits and vegetables are all I want to feel refreshed and energized.
When I was pregnant with both of my sons, I maintained my plant-based lifestyle and was fortunate to avoid morning sickness and excessive weight gain. I loved being pregnant! My iron level remained stable and I gave birth to two healthy, happy baby boys. I lost all of my baby weight less than two months after each was born and believe that I have plant-based eating, adequate sleep, and moderate exercise to thank for all of this.
Speaking of my adorable first-born son, Nolan, yes, he follows a plant-based lifestyle, too (Oliver is still too little for solid food!). Because Travis and I have exposed Nolan to so many different fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and now that he is older, nuts and seeds, we have a non-picky, super-healthy eater on our hands. How many three-year-olds do you know that consume whole grains, seeds, beans, nuts and nut butters, and at least ten different fruits and vegetables (among other plant-based amazingness) daily?! Plant-based living is fun for the whole family!
Currently, I am a wife and mother of two living in Phoenix, Arizona. When I’m not in my kitchen, I work as an adjunct professor of English at a local community college. I love my job and spend as much quality time with Travis, Nolan, and Oliver as possible. I have aspirations to retire at forty and devote all of my energies to being a wife, mother, cook, blogger, and artist. Keep your fingers crossed for me!
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nutritionist, dietician, scientist, or professional chef. I believe in research, experimentation, and trial and error to make my own dietary discoveries.