Larissa Joyce

I think we all know that we need to eat fruit and vegetables but when they are put up against salted and sugary processed foods, they seem to miss the mark. We blend them into casseroles, we spice them up with seasonings and mix them with high-fat meat, and fruit with highly sugary sweets. We as a society just don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables in their rawest most healthy form. We hide them among the other foods we like. We eat salads smothered in high-fat dressings and bake out most of the nutrients.

I can remember as a child running around the yard outside while snacking on a carrot, or poking a fork into a large dill pickle for a snack. We always had fresh fruit on the counter to snack on like apples, bananas, and oranges. My aunt and uncle would take me orchard and berry picking where I would gorge myself with peaches and strawberries.

In 2015 I created my very first vision board. On it, I had 6 things. One of the things that I put on it was that I would eat more fruits and vegetables. That year I had a hysterectomy and it was my 7th surgery over a fifteen year period of time. I think it was my subconscious telling me to eat more of them and now here I am almost 4 years later and I eat a plant-based vegan diet.

What is a plant-based diet?

I personally follow the Forks Over Knives plant-based diet. The idea of the plan is to eat as whole-food and plant-based as you can so you can be as healthy as possible. It advocates whole, unrefined or minimally refined plant foods and minimal or excludes in my case meat, dairy products, eggs, and highly refined foods like flour, sugar, and oil. Not all people who eat plant-based are vegan. They may eat a minimal amount of meat and dairy products especially those transitioning from the Standard American Diet to eating plant-based. Vegetarians will eat dairy products but not meat and vegans don’t eat any animal products at all.

What is allowed on a plant-based diet?

Fruit, vegetables, tubers & starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn, green peas, and squash, whole grains such as brown rice, oats and although not a grain quinoa which is really a seed used as a grain, beans, and legumes. Those are the foods you can load up on. The foods you want to eat in moderation are nuts, nut butters, seeds, and seed butters. If you find that you can’t lose weight on a plant based diet you are likely eating too much of these foods.

I spend most of my time at the grocery store in the produce section and the bulk section where I find my grains and beans. The only things that I eat or buy that are processed are almond milk, canned coconut milk, salsa, guacamole, hummus, olives, pickles, stewed tomatoes, and canned beans. Everything else is in the raw form.

What do my meals look like? Breakfast can be a fruit or vegetable juice (16-32 ounces), oatmeal garnished with nuts and fruit, a smoothie, some fresh fruit, and water, occasionally I make pancakes for special occasions. Lunch for me is usually a very large salad with one of my favorite dressings that I rotate through. I try and drink 64 ounces of water a day so I stay pretty full and don’t spend a lot of time thinking about food. If I do need a snack its nuts, an apple, banana or a plant-based yogurt. For dinner soup, lentil pasta with a cashew fettuccine or marinara sauce and side salad. I do get in a mood and those are the times I will bake plant-based cookies, make a vegan carrot cake or roast a lentil loaf.

How is my health?

I am able to maintain my weight very easily without having to ever think about what I eat. I can even eat a daily dessert of chocolate or a plant-based cookie. My overall cholesterol dropped from 250 down to 176. I don’t walk around all day yawning and living off of coffee. In fact, I rarely drink coffee or find I need caffeine because my meals are so high energy. I discovered I am gluten free. Once I cut out the gluten I no longer have pain and inflammation in my muscles and joints. Going plant-based I discovered that refined sugar and dairy trigger heart palpitations so once I cut those out completely I rarely get heart palpitation and the SVT (Superventricular Tachycardia) is under control. I sleep good and only need about 6 hours of sleep. In other words, I feel great and have tons of energy. Going plant-based vegan was the best thing I have ever done in my life. I have the mental clarity I need from my diet and it flows into the rest of my life and has really improved my life in so many ways.


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