Saturday, March 10, 2012

To Vegan or Not to Vegan? That is the question???

I am starting this blog as I begin this journey of exploring my diet.  I have followed a "flexitarian" diet now for a few years.  I am interested in the Mediteranean Diet, eating healthy, and losing weight.  My medical history and background is as follows.  I have High Blood Pressure, bouts with Bels Palsy, Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, and am overweight.
In the last 4 years, I have lost over a 100 pounds, going from almost 350 pounds to last week, I was 235.  I had noticed some time ago that red meat was not agreeing with me, so I reduced my red meat intake drastically.  About 3 years ago, I went to the Hospital when my employer was concerned that I may have been having a stroke.  It turned out to be Bels Palsy but my Blood Pressure was way high and my kidney functions were not right.  So they admitted me to get my BP down and Kidney functions returning towards normal.  I was sent home after a few days and went to the doctor's office.
My doctor's nurse took my BP and said that I needed to return to the hospital.  Which I did and was admitted, that evening my lungs filled with fluid and I awoke 4 days later in ICU and intibated.
Talk about scary!  I then got serious about my diet and taking my medicine.
Things were starting to look up when in Jan 2010, while out with my girlfriend, I got out of the car and had a vertigo attack.  Once I got my balance, we went into get out lunch and went on with our day.  I dropped her off at work and was going to rest in the car as I had a hour and a half before I needed to be at work.
Within 10 minutes I began to experience Nausea and lost the contents of my stomach.  As a cook, I cannot work if I am trhowing up. So I called in sick and told my girlfriend that I would pick her up at 10 pm that evening and that I thought that I was getting the stomach flu that she and her children had had the week prior.
On the way home, I lost my stomach contents 4 times, to get home and have a hard time walking into the house and letting the dogs out to use the restroom.  I passed out and awoke 3-4 hours later to realize the dogs were still outside.  By this time I was unable to walk and had to crawl to the door to let them in.  I had also developed something else besides the vertigo and nausea, now I could not see.  By this, my eyes were jumping like looking at an old time film that had broken.  ( I was told this was Nystagmus)
So when I sat up, I would fall over and when I opened my eyes, I would get deathly ill!  I also realized my girlfriend had been trying to reach me and I called her back.  Thank God for speed dial or other wise I would not have been able to see my phone to dial a number.
I told her how sick I was and she said her son would come and get her and I told her that when she got home that I would have her take me to the hospital.  When she got home, she and her son walked me to the car and we went to the closest hospital.  There I sat miserable, unable to open my eyes without puking for 16 hours before I was seen.  (They thought I was just sick with the stomach flu.)
I was admitted and after days of multiple test the hospitals neurologist told me that she thought that I had MS.
MS, what was that?  No cure?  After a week, the nausea had gone away and after 8 days, my vision was heading back to normal and now I was walking with the aid of a walker and a Physical Therapist.
They sent me home with orders to come back in a couple days for a spinal tap.  Which gave me a headache from hell and I was admitted back into the hospital for three days to be on a morphine drip which took my headache away and I was sent back home.  While in the hospital the spinal tap results came back and the hospitals neurologist came in the room and once again told me that I had MS and basically left with the orders to see her in her office in two weeks time.
I was not happy with this doctor and sought a second opinion when one of my HS classmate mentioned that another classmate of our was a doctor, a neurologist in fact, who happened to be practicing in my town where I was living currently.  This classmate who was now a doctor and a neurologist was Michele DeWerff and was the Valedictorian from my graduating class of 1986 from Nokomis HS in Nokomis IL about 90 miles away from St Louis.  What are the odds, someone I grew up with, spent time in HS with, was just the doctor I needed!!!
I then began to search her out, found that she was associated with the hospital I had gone to.  I called her office and was told there was a waiting list to be seen and I could make an appointment for 6 months from then.  That just would not do!  So I called my people and had my people call her people. (My mom is a retired teacher and her mom is a retired teacher) HAHA
Her mother gave my mother the number to call her office directly and when I called I was told that I could be seen in a month.  Better but to be seen it had to be on a day when my then girlfriend was working and since I could not drive at this time, I asked to be seen on another day.  Her receptionist said let me talk to Michele and we will call you back.  They called back within 20 minutes and I was seen the next day!
Michele ordered a 3rd opinion with Washington University MS Clinic and it was scheduled for the next month and we began the process to get lined up with Avonex.
Two and a half years later, I am still working and attending school full time in pursuit of three degrees.  First of which I am close to completing.  Which is as a Certified Culinarian, second will be Certified in Baking and Pastry and my BS will be as a Dietitian.  I am passionate about food, good food and have become passionate about healthy food.  Have lived on a low salt/low fat diet for a few years now.  Most Americans consume over 3000mg of sodium a day and it is suggested we only consumer 2400mg and someone on a low salt diet should be on 1500mg.  Some days my intake is less than 500-1000mg and I try to limit more than that.
Lately, I have been considering diet and a friend, Chris Petty who had been a Vegan for over 12 years encouraged me a little over a year ago to begin writing some Vegan Recipes.
I have always had the opinion that Vegan and Vegetarian should play a vital part in all menus planned as they are becoming a growing and vital part of society and by not including Vegan and Vegetarian menu items, you would be excluding a growing segment of society.
Many people choose Vegan or Vegetarian diet for reasons of not harming animals but some do for health reasons. That is my reason for exploring a Vegan, Vegetarian, Raw, or Juice Diet, I seek to improve my health and lose weight.  As I explore the diets, I have seen many movies which exclaim that a Vegan Diet, will aid the body in healing itself.  Why not try it, can not hurt, I eat healthy, lose weight and if a side product is my body heals itself..... BONUS!
In this blog, I will explore diet - Vegan, Vegetarian, Raw, Juice, Mediterranean, and "healthy".
I will discuss recipes, books, restaurants, school and friends food.  I value any and all input, questions, comments... encouragement, cheers, and reflections.  Share your stories, ideas, and dreams.
I will post recipes, recipes that I have found, converted to vegan, or ones I have made my own by tweeking them.
As I close let me share some movies that I have found interesting and helpful:

                                    (Taken from Skip's Recipe Box)
There are many films and documentaries about food and healthy eating.  Ones in which I have watched and have found interesting are:
1.    Supersize Me
2.    Eating
3.    Food, Inc.
6.    Food Matters

A cookbook that I am enjoying is:

The Part Time Vegan

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