A couple of weeks ago, former President Clinton was on CNN talking about his diet - a vegan, low fat one, designed by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr.. Dr. Esselstyn's bottom line is that there are areas of the world where there is little to no heart disease or cancer, which he attributes to diet, saying that heart disease is a food based illness. And as President Clinton has had heart problems that, despite diet and exercise, were not getting better, he looked to this diet that seemed to be the best chance for those in a position of last resort. He's lost 24 pounds and he's doing much better now.
So I got the book out of the library. I've been reading cookbooks for almost all my life, I go through a couple each month (thanks be to the library), and what they all say - in one form or another, is that we need to treat food with respect. Dr. Esselstyn would say we can treat it as life or as a pathway to an early death.
Given a history of heart related health issues in my family, I decided to give this diet a try - with some tweaks. His idea is no fat, no avocados or nuts if you have any heart disease. Forget the EVOO, butter, and cream that I love. Dairy products are out, almond milk is in.
Like so many things in life, diet is an act of will. You have to tell yourself to look at things differently:
Mayonnaise = glue
Milk = baby cow food, not grown up people food
Red meat = something that will make me too full
Turkey = didn't like it anyway, not an issue
Cheese = not doing so well with that one yet, working on it
The diet says no fish, but I'm not listening to that part, as sushi is on my diet. Period.
I am focusing on what I can eat. Whole grain breads, pastas, all the veggies I want. Fruit - three helpings a day - easy peasy.
What really helps is to say that it's not that I am never going to eat these things again. Sometimes, I will have a steak. If I'm eating at someone's home, I'll eat what they serve and be thankful, because this isn't an allergy thing.
So far, so good. I'm down about eight pounds and feel much better. I still have a long way to go, as the words "well rounded" don't just describe my reading list.