But first, some background. For my fiftieth birthday, Joel gave me a membership to AARP (I know, so romantic). With the membership comes a magazine, which last month featured an article about Bill Clinton and his dramatic turn-around from serious heart disease through a vegan diet. I began to think about it and discuss the idea with Joel. Should I try it?
After all, my mother grew up believing that a healthy diet included meat, eggs, and dairy. On the other hand, never having learned to drive, she walked everywhere. She also neither smoked nor drank. But she died of a massive heart attack anyway. The doctor told me that her heart was in fact quite strong. It was her arteries clogged from years of eating animal products that did her in.
My father’s cholesterol was a healthy 153, which probably just delayed his heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery.
Although I exercise almost daily, and thought I ate well, my total cholesterol jumped 100 points after, well, a certain age. I finally came to understand that, with the genetic makeup I was handed, something had to give. (Yes, I’m slow.) And I realized just how ticked off I would be at myself if I had a heart attack when I could have done something about it.
Then, fate intervened. At a recent party, I had a conversation with a man who had become vegan and seen his cholesterol drop 30 points in six months. He was on the same program that Bill Clinton follows.
So, that very night, I ordered the book Larry had recommended, Eat to Live, by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. (I know, this sounds like an informercial, but keep reading.) When it arrived, I read it from cover to cover, and though I had my suspicions, I was willing to give his plan a serious try. I want to be around to dance at my grandchildren’s weddings. (Okay, Max isn’t even in pre-school yet, but …)
Fuhrman’s way of eating includes a pound of raw vegetables and a pound of cooked veggies every day. But, he is not a zealot. After the first six weeks (which I reached today!) one can have 10% of total caloric intake from an animal product, such as dairy or chicken. Granted, the prep (peeling, chopping, slicing, dicing) is time consuming, and I can see that if I don’t want to die of boredom first, I will have to be very creative in researching recipes, but so far, so good.
It just so happens that my annual physical was scheduled exactly one month after starting this program, and I waited with bated breath to learn see if my cholesterol numbers had improved. In four weeks I had dropped four points from last year’s numbers. I figure if I continue on this path – one point a week — after six months I will have dropped 26 points. Almost as good as Larry.
So, please excuse me while I go find myself a carrot to roast.