By Mira Khatib
I admit I was curious when a friend of mine was raving about how wonderful she felt following this so called “Whole Food Plant Based Diet”, I wanted to find out more and what was so special about it, so my research began.
I spent about a month just reading about the topic, following Facebook Groups, watching videos of interesting recipes, I even came across a video where the famous Dr. Bassem Youssef talks about how this is his lifestyle now and the amazing benefits that come from it.
Needless to say I was really tempted to give it a go, but I felt it was like mission impossible. You see the guidelines are as follows: you cannot have any animal protein what so ever, which for me was not such a bad thing as I am not such a big meat lover. But no dairy, set off alarm bells…I mean how can anyone survive without some good cheese, right? No fish, no eggs, no salt, no sugar, no juices (even fresh), no coffee, no oils (except for 2 table spoons of organic olive oil daily) or butter and nothing absolutely nothing that is processed or comes in a can! So what is left you may ask? Well good old fashion fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, brown rice, wheat pasta, brown bread, nuts, almond milk and you can add any spices you want. There is no specific rule to this diet or lifestyle, simply eat when you feel hungry and stop when you are full and consume 50% of your daily food intake from vegetables, 40% from carbs, and 10% from fruits, pretty straight forward and simple.
So I decided to test it out and took the plunge but started gradually. I first cut out meat and chicken and reduced my coffee intake from 6 daily mugs to 3. After a few days I cut out fish, sugar and began reducing my salt intake. In my second week I cut out my beloved dairy and said farewell to cheese (I might have shed a few tears) I managed to go down to half a mug of coffee in the morning and cut out oils (yes you can cook without it).
And soon I started noticing changes, good changes, my energy levels shot up, even with no coffee at all! I woke up feeling refreshed and energetic, my nervous colon settled with no issues, I never felt bloated or got an upset stomach, my migraine attacks disappeared, my skin started to glow and I just had a an overall wonderful feeling…I guess it is the feeling of good health.
I kept it up for around 7 weeks, and dropped about 7kg too (a great bonus). I learned that one can be really creative when it comes to food, and having variety, there is a wealth of delicious recipes out there and many support groups my favorite for Arab speakers is Plant Based Diet (Egypt) Facebook Group with its over 223,000 wonderful followers sharing success stories, and yummy recipes it was easy to stay on track.
But I really wanted to put my new found energy to test, so I took a weak long break from this lifestyle and indulged in your everyday regular dairy, protein, sugar filled, chips eating, salty diet, and boy oh boy did my body take a hit. My energy level dipped so fast that I felt that I needed the help of coffee once more just to make it through the day, my colon worked up again, so did bloating and yes in one week I got two migraine attacks, just like that!
I couldn’t believe what the right food or wrong kind of food can do to one’s body, needless to say I willingly and happily went back to the Plant Based Diet again.
The funny thing with this lifestyle change, I found that my cravings and taste buds changed too, slowly food didn’t taste so bland without salt, actually I started to enjoy the freshness of the veggies and fruits, I had very little sweet cravings and when I did I had yummy dates. On weekends when I went out to dine with my family I would always find healthy vegetarian options, and would ask the waiter to put dressing aside or grill or bake instead of fry and usually that would solve any issues. I still had to cook two meals a day as the rest of my family still cared for their meat, oils and salt, and didn’t want anything to do with my lifestyle no matter how much I tried to convince them, but I simply worked around it. And I tell you it is surly worth the extra effort because I haven’t felt this good and energetic since I was in my 20’s.
Are you curious? Then don’t just take my word for it, do your own research and give it a go, all you will lose is aches, pains and probably a few pounds too. Not a bad deal at all.
Please note that this article is based on personal experience and PBD may not be suitable for everyone. It’s best to consult your physician before trying any new diet.