Thursday, February 16, 2006

Vegetarian Success Story - Weight Loss & Heart Health On a Veggie Diet

Letters Exchanged With Savvy Vegetarian:

From G.M. - Dear Judy,

Thank you for the encouragement. I have become a complete vegetarian - for almost 2 months now - and am doing very well. Perhaps some details about my health and the benefits I have experienced from a vegetarian diet might be helpful to some of your readers.

Two years ago I weighed at least 80 pounds more than I do now (I started avoiding the scales as my weight closed in on the 300 mark). My blood pressure was dangerously high (210/125) in spite of being on heavy medication. Six months ago I had a heart arrhythmia that the doctor (confirmed by a specialist and EKG) was very concerned about (cardio-vascular problems are very common in my family) As well, my blood pressure was stubbornly refusing to come down below 145/95 or 150/100 - in spite of eating only very moderate amounts of meat - although there was progress because the medication was gradually being reduced.

The doctor examined me today and after almost 2 months of eating no meat:

1. My blood pressure has dropped to 110/80 - excellent at any age but exciting for a guy who is almost 62. There has been no change in medication but I would expect to be able to get off medication totally - under the doctor's supervision - in the next year or less.

2. There is no evidence whatever of the arrhythmia

3. I have lost another 10 pounds and am within 20 pounds of normal weight.

I find it very surprising that the complete elimination of meat has made such a huge difference compared to the very limited meat diet I was on in the previous 2 years. I never thought that eliminating the last few ounces of meat each week from my diet would make such a huge difference.

Thank you again for your reports and for the encouragement. It's all very much appreciated. - All the best, G.

From Judy at Savvy Veg: Dear G.

This is wonderful news! And your letter will give lots of encouragement to people who are struggling with their weight! May I ask you something though? Besides going completely veg two months ago, can you describe any specific dietary changes, like adding more veggies or whole grains or beans, dropping dairy, or anything like that? Are you lacto veg, ovo-lacto veg, vegan?

From G.M. - Dear Judy,

I guess you would say I'm lacto-ovo but I eat eggs only once in a very great while and eat a bit of cheese once in a while. I never drink milk - haven't done so for many years. Is there such a category as "quasi-vegan"?!

Two things that I have found tremendously helpful in the transition to and maintenance of a vegetarian lifestyle are:

1. Lots of fresh fruits in the morning which makes a great start to the day (a delicious weight loss suggestion from the "Fit For Life" books by Harvey Diamond)

2. Lots of fresh made juices, especially vegetable juices - my personal favourite is carrot, beet and apple. The juices are both delicious and highly nutritious (lots of minerals and enzymes as well as other nutrients the scientists are discovering) so I don't feel any inner hunger. It definitely does take time to buy the vegetables and make the juices and it's not always possible when a busy life crowds out everything else. However, I really notice the difference when I don't have juices for a few days. If I have any "secret" to share it's definitely the value of fresh juices - without them I am sure I would have found the transition to a vegetarian diet much more difficult.

Hope this helps. All the best, G.

From Judy: Thanks again, G.!
You probably have no idea how much your writing can help others - SV gets many letters from people who are desperate to lose weight and wonder if vegetarianism is the answer.

Note From Savvy Vegetarian:
Of course I have to add my bit to what G. has said! Fresh fruits and veggie juices are excellent! So is fiber - it will make you full without lots of calories. So don't neglect raw and cooked whole fruit & veggies, lots of them, and whole grains like barley, quinoa, oats, bulgar wheat etc. (Carbs by themselves do not make you fat!) Sprouting is also a great way to bump the nutrients way up. FYI, Get the SV Vegetarian Nutrition Report and read the SV weight loss advice letters:

Final Note From G.M.
Thanks Judy - I hope it does help others. I have spent much of my life fighting - and, more often than not, giving up on - weight problems. My first big diet was at age 13 when I was 30% overweight (that diet was successful but it was very hard too). I don't know why vegetarianism works so well but I'm thrilled that it does!

Ask Savvy Vegetarian

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Valentine's Day Candy - Carob, Not Chocolate

Question for Savvy Vegetarian:

I would like to buy Valentine's Day chocolate for a woman, but she cannot digest chocolate. I know she uses carob chips as a substitute for chocolate chips and likes them, but I cannot find any carob based Valentine's Day candy. Where can I find nice Valentine's Day candy (not cheap kid's stuff) that isn't chocolate based? Does carob Valentine's Day candy exist? Thanks! - M.A.

Answer: Carob Valentine's Day Candy Exists!

First, try a natural food store - maybe call around to see if they have carob valentine candy or gift baskets including carob candy.

I looked online and found a few sites selling carob candy. These two were okay in a pinch: Goddess Chocolate, and Bulk Foods.

The best was Healthy Trader. They had a carob truffle valentine gift box for $15.89 + shipping, a little more for gift wrapping - look under February. If you order today and rush it, you should be able to get it in time for Valentine's Day.

Consider Other Options:

Take her out for dinnerat a restaurant of her choice.

Give her a beautiful card and roses (be aware that the flower industry is extremely non-fair trade, and uses more toxic chemicals than any other agricultural industry)

Maybe give her a gift, or gift certificate instead of the roses, or an organic fruit basket instead of candy.

Bake her a carob cake, if you're handy in the kitchen. If not, hire someone who is. SV's Valentine's Day Chocolate Cake was submitted to us as a carob cake, so it should work well if you substitute carob for chocolate. Hint: Buy a heart shaped cake pan.

Tell her how you feel about her - that's the best Valentine's gift of all!

Combine any of the above for a Happy Valentine's Day!

Judy at Savvy Vegetarian