by Gretchen Schisla
Everywhere you look, there are signs that people are seeking healthier food and taking better care of themselves. With the mass of programs, diets and people out there each promoting something different, I’m drawn to those special individuals who, one-by-one, are changing the way they live. Often, a devastating situation creates the catalyst for a person's desire to change, which is quite humbling. The profound discoveries and shifts that occur are the reward for their persistence and courage. I’d like to share two authors’ stories, and also connect you to some really useful information to incorporate into your day. You may not become completely vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free or sugar-free, but you’ll gain insights and tips from others who have made amazing, life-changing shifts.
Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Turschen: It’s All Good
The story: In 2011, Gwyneth Paltrow was having an exciting and busy year. While serving lunch to guests in her London home, she experienced a severe migraine and panic attack, and thought she was having a stroke. The physical manifestations of her exhausted system sparked her to change how she eats and lives. Gwyneth created this book for her own family and for anyone who struggles to find delicious food to feed their family when health issues need to be addressed. Julia Turschen, a food writer and producer, teamed up with her friend Gwyneth to create this book, and in doing so, also changed her own life. The process not only transformed her body (she lost 60 pounds), but her relationship with food and herself. Growing up in Brooklyn, in a family that ran a bakery and grain mill in Connecticut, Julia said white flour ran in her blood. In order to change the way she ate, Julia says “I had to let go. I had to find elegance through restraint, find tremendous beauty in simplicity, learn about new ingredients, and fall in love with them.”
The book: There is no sugar, butter, cheese, cream or overly-processed ingredient in any recipe, and hardly a trace of gluten. The recipes with gluten offer a gluten-free variation that is just as good. “The book is full of real and wholesome food, recipes that will make you feel lighter and full of energy, not weighed down. It’s all insanely delicious,” according to the authors. Each practical, easy recipe is coded by “vegan,” “protein-packed” or “elimination diet” and accompanied by stunning photos that make you want to try creating the dish yourself. Signing off, Gwyneth remarks “If I’ve learned anything, it’s all a process. Falling off your plan is part of it, not a reason to beat yourself up. It takes time to make these changes. It’s all good.”
Mark Bittman: VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00
The story: Six years ago, food writer Mark Bittman was overweight and pre-diabetic — he was faced with a medical directive: either adopt a vegan diet or go on medication. He didn’t want to start a lifelong routine of taking pills or give up his career where he lived to eat. Instead, he adopted a diet heavy in vegetables, fruits and grains with no meat, dairy or processed foods during the day. After 6 PM, he’d eat what he wanted, in moderation and mostly home-prepared meals. The results were swift and impressive — he lost 35 pounds and his blood numbers changed for the better. He followed up by conducting his own research and came across the same findings in all of his studies: The more people changed their diets and lifestyles, the better they felt and the more they improved in ways we could measure — at any age. Mark Bittman describes that eating a vegan diet, even part-time, can have an impact on issues like global warming, healthcare costs and energy conservation. This makes our dietary choices even more meaningful.
In the book's foreword, Dean Ornish, M.D. (founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute) discusses that while most 'diets' are unsustainable, making a lifestyle change can actually alter the genes in your body that keep you healthy and even turn off genes that promote heart disease, prostate cancer, breast cancer, etc. Ornish also touches on the environmental impact of eating plant-based: “Many people are surprised to learn that the animal agribusiness — eating meat — generates more greenhouse gases than all forms of transportation combined. More than half of U.S. grains and nearly 40 percent of world grains are being fed to livestock rather than being consumed by humans. More than 75 percent of the $2.8 trillion in annual U.S. healthcare costs are from chronic disease which can often be prevented by eating a plant-based diet at a fraction of the costs.”
The book: The first half of the book is a down-to-earth discussion of health issues offering clear, substantiated facts. The remainder is packed full of recipes and really useful information such as: a listing of the flexible food groups, a 28-day plan, stocking tips for the pantry and strategies for eating away from home. I found this resource interesting to read, absorb and put into everyday practice — more so than any 'diet' book I’ve read. Mark closes by saying “If you’re one of the millions who have thought of trying a vegan diet but fear it’s too monotonous, or unfamiliar, or simply don’t want to give up foods you love to eat, VB6 will introduce a new, flexible, and quite simple, better way of eating you can really live with ... for life.”
Terry Walters: Clean Start: Inspiring You to Eat Clean and Live Well.
Susie Middleton: Fast, Fresh & Green: More than 90 Recipes for Veggie Lovers