What Happened When I First Went Plant Based
I first started exploring plant-based nutrition in about 2003 when I came across information about the acid / alkaline diet theory. This was courtesy of a CD from Tony Robbins, where he was talking about the research of a Dr. Robert Young. Essentially, the theory was that good health was the result of eating more alkaline foods (greens, vegetables, etc..) and poor health the result of eating too many acid-forming foods (processed foods, high-sugar foods, dairy & animal products).
It wasn’t until 2005, when my father was faced with severe chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, and anxiety, that we knew we had to take this message to him and our entire family. We knew that his diet was likely part of the problem and could potentially be the solution (this was also when Food Matters the film was being put together). It was at this time that our family decided to make a radical shift in our diet in order to support him on his journey and help him improve his health. This is when we first went plant-based. Though this was just for a time, it has set us up to have a healthier, well-balanced lifestyle to this day. Our relationship with food changed for the better thanks to the things that we noticed and learned throughout the time we ate this way.
1. My Energy Increased Dramatically
Once I started eliminating the heavy cooked foods, dairy, meat products, and processed grains from my diet and replacing them with whole, plant-based foods, I liberated a significant amount of digestive energy. Our digestive system uses A LOT of energy to break down and digest what we eat. It has to use even more energy when we give it the challenge of trying to digest heavy, processed foods like I mentioned before. Eating clean, whole foods means there is energy to spare because your digestive system doesn’t have to work as hard. This meant I didn’t crave for a post-lunch nap, but I actually had more energy to spare.
2. My Mental Clarity Improved
I did not see this one coming, but I found that I could focus for longer periods of time, even after a meal or into the evening, which was rare for me. It seemed like I was unlocking all these extra reserves of concentration and energy that didn’t exist before. Some say this was the honeymoon phase - which is true - but I’ll go into that further on in this article.
3. It Was Easier and Cheaper to Shop!
Focusing on real, whole foods meant that I only had to shop the perimeter of the supermarket. I would stock up on fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, superfoods, and herbs, and could leave out all of the processed foods and man-made foods. I instantly reduced the cost of our weekly shopping bill. Plus, the combination of spending less and only buying healthy, made me feel great when heading to the checkout. That was a real benefit as well!
4. I Became More Aware of The Ethics of My Food Choices
My eyes were opened quite dramatically to the impact that my food choices were having on the food system. You only have to see some of the films we have on FMTV here and here and here to see what I mean. I learned more deeply about the consequences of factory farming animals, domesticating animals in mass, and how these horrible systems didn’t respect animals, or human health for that matter. It was something I did not want to play a part in. I started to develop my awareness of how to eat more consciously, ethically, and compassionately.
5. Food-Based Ads Became Laughable
Now that I was only eating from Mother Earth, I started to laugh at what ads tell us we need as food. I realized that we don’t need to rely on industry to prepare the food we eat. Mother Nature has done the work for us already. Bananas come pre-wrapped, ready to go! Apples have a protective layer, and nuts are stored well for months and months. The list is endless. We do not need other people, or companies, making food for us. Mother Nature has done the hard work and it’s up to us to use that to our benefit. And if we do by any processed foods, we need to make sure we’re still eating as close to source as possible.
6. My Mood Increased
This is something different than just my energy and mental clarity. When I reduced the amount of processed foods and, in particular, refined grains in my diet (wheat and breads), my mood actually improved. This changed the way I approach my yoga mat, changed the way I approach meditation, it changed the way I approach my family, loved ones, the people around me, and the people who I get to share this food matters mission with.
And I think it’s these intangible benefits of how food can lead to improved conscious awareness, a better mood, the way you show up in the world. At a deeper level, this could help you connect in more with the person that you’re meant to be and help you uncover more about your purpose for being here. And I know this seems like a lofty idea, but food really has the power to change more than just our internal biochemistry.
Ok, but what about the honeymoon phase you talked of...
Whenever you change your diet or make a radical shift in what you eat, my experience is that you go through this period known as ‘the honeymoon effect’. You have this time of enlightenment when you think, “This is it! This is the only way I’m going to eat for the rest of my life!” You even start to tell everyone that they need to eat this way too…
My advice is to consider tempering this enthusiasm a little. This is just the honeymoon phase talking. Many people, when they change the way they eat, feel this way at first but eventually, they might start to feel sluggish again, or start having hormonal issues, or their hair starts falling out, and they start thinking, ‘maybe I need to change again’. That is okay! Don’t be discouraged, this simply helps you to continue making decisions to improve your health, to experiment with what works for you. You learn more about what works for you long term, or even just what works for you in summer vs winter, or when you’re at a low point in life. How to delve deep into those ideas is by experimentation and education, then applying that to your life and taking a commonsense approach to eating a natural diet.
Give it a try!
So if you’re ready to step up and try eating plant-based for a period of time, regardless of what your diet looks like after that, taking a moment of time in your life to just eat plants, to upgrade your nutrition, to clear out the old and start with the new, is worth it. This can be one of the most powerful decisions you will ever make.