I’ve been silent on this blog but not for lack of daily attention to that core existential issue of health and energy. Let me recap for my own benefit. At the start of August an angiogram seemed at first to be a blessed relief. One artery is 30-40% blocked … no stents, no bypass. But by the end of the month, it dawned on me that I now have a “heart condition” and will be prescribed statins/aspirin for the rest of my life, It seemed illogical to just grin and bear the diagnosis and drugs.
My local GP is incredibly supportive but has minimal grounding on nutrition, so I went and saw Dr Malcolm Mackay, Australia’s leading proponent of preventative/curative medicine through a dietary regime called WFPB (Whole Foods Plant Based). i tried it for three days, regressed, then, five weeks ago, adopted the diet on an experimental basis. “I’ll try it for a while,” I told the world and myself, “and see if it makes any difference.”
WFPB sounds benign. After all, we’re all trying to eat more veggies, right? And we all know we should resist highly processed foods. But in reality, WFPB is veganism plus eliminating all oils (trying to get fats down to 10% to 15% of what you eat) plus saying no to all processed foods. With one step into the unknown, you become someone who only goes into supermarkets to buy vegetables, fruits, lentils, beans, and a few nuts. Plus selected low-fat vegan foods. On top of that, it turned out I have high blood pressure, who knew? That means reducing salt intake to a minimum. Believe me, this last stricture is one of the toughest.
I’ve had to learn a whole new way of eating and preparing/cooking foods. At book group meetings, I can now only eat carrot sticks and a bit of hummus (if it’s low-fat and low-salt). I’ve spent the last five weeks obsessively reading up on the diet (and its opponents and alternatives, for there is much controversy), sourcing the strictly regimented ingredients, tracking precisely what goes into my mouth (via an app, for how else can I come to grips with what to eat in a day and how much?), stocking the pantry and freezer with items, and cooking new things and in a new way.
Five weeks isn’t long enough to settle the experiment, but it is enough to settle down into it, and to stop being obsessed. And my first blood test results since August confirm that the diet is very friendly to my body. I’ve lost six kilograms, my cholesterol is way down (partly, of course, due to the fricking statins), my blood pressure has ticked down a bit, and I feel great.
So … I’m back in action as a writer. I’ll blog on this health experiment going forward, mostly to sort out in my mind whether it is in fact worth doing. After five weeks, I can now relax into the world and see where I end up.