I officially have my list of New Year's Resolutions completed, totaling thirteen. I don't know why I enjoy making resolutions so much, but I do. Perhaps it is the thought that whatever bad habits I formed last year can be remedied and replaced with good habits this year; that I'm given another chance to start fresh and make better decisions. Any fresh start is a fabulous thing, in my opinion.
One of the resolutions I am most excited about is doing a vegan challenge for three weeks. Sam and I are doing it together, and I've been studying up for it and preparing over the past few weeks. I plan to try and follow a mostly vegan diet throughout the year, but after the three weeks Sam can decide if he wants to introduce cheese back into his diet. Sam and cheese are best friends.
I was recently diagnosed with a gluten allergy after having felt sick for the good part of the last three years, and I am enjoying the fact that every day is no longer plagued with a stomachache. During the process of figuring out what was wrong with me, I became very interested in how the foods we eat affect how we feel. It has been surprising to me that gluten doesn't just affect my digestive system. Gluten has given me insomnia at times, and at other times it made me tired, zapping my energy. Before this process, I never gave much thought to what food did to my body except in how it might make me gain weight. After being somewhat forced to pay attention to my symptoms after consuming certain foods, my eyes were opened to the fact that we really are what we eat, and food does, in fact, play a huge role in our well being.
Sam and I think sitting at home watching a documentary is a great date, so a few months ago we watched Forks Over Knives. It was fascinating, educational, and eye-opening. Two medical doctors, both of whom were raised on farms where animal products were the foundation of all diets, discovered separately that food plays a huge role in the prevention and reversal of degenerative diseases. In the film, Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. Campbell perform studies in which they prescribe a plant-based diet to their patients suffering from heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and more. In every instance, the results are astonishing, and it seems that the root problem is the consumption of animal products.
I decided I wanted to try the 21-Day Vegan Kick Start just to see if I could do it, and to see if I felt any differently after the three weeks. My wonderful husband decided to join me, providing I help him and tell him what to eat. That's one of the things I love about Sam - he is willing to try anything and is not picky at all when it comes to food. He acts as though every simple meal I feebly create is a gourmet masterpiece, so believe me, he is a willing participant.
I want to stress the fact that the reasoning behind this experiment has nothing to do with losing weight. I am not in a position where I think I need to lose weight, and I wasted four years of my life on an eating disorder where I was focused on food in a very unhealthy way. It was a long, painful lesson learned, but I can tell you it is not about the number on the scale for me. It is completely about health. Right now I assume I'm fairly healthy, and I am thankful for that. I'm not doing this for the present - I'm thinking more about the future. The books I've been reading offer information regarding treating Alzheimer's, diabetes, heart disease, and cancers, those illnesses that often appear later in life and that we assume are simply part of our genetic makeup. Sam and I are enjoying life now. I want us to still be enjoying life when we're seventy, not suffering from one of these ailments that may not kill us but will certainly decrease our enjoyment of life.
Incidentally, I am not under any illusion that I think I can conclusively protect myself from sickness. Obviously it is not completely under my control. I believe in God, and I believe He has plans for each of us, and perhaps mine includes an illness. But that doesn't mean I am free from my responsibility of taking care of myself. If I were to say, "It's God's will anyway, so I'll just keep living how I want and He'll either protect me or not," I might as well drive recklessly in a car without a seatbelt, saying, "God will protect me from dying in a car accident if it's His will." I think God gave us brains and the ability to make decisions for a reason - we are not helpless sheep.
This post wasn't meant to try to convince anyone else to do this three-week jump-start, although I hope some consider it. I felt convicted to do it, but it is not my place to force it onto anyone else. Rather, I hope to use my blog to document our next three weeks as a way of keeping myself accountable, so I just wanted to explain what it was all about and why we decided to do it. Maybe it will be really difficult, or maybe it will be really easy and I'll love all the food I'm eating. In fact, I haven't thought much about the food I'm giving up because all the menus look so delicious that I can't wait to start trying the new recipes! And if this gluten allergy has taught me anything, it is that you can live without the food you think you could never give up. Bread used to be my main food group, especially sweet breads like cinnamon rolls and scones. I never ever thought I could stop eating bread, but I am living proof that one can learn to live without anything if it is worth it to him or her.
But I hope no one ever asks me to live without coffee.