Note from Jane: One of the blessings of working on the book has been the opportunity to get to know many amazing people. The following post is the first of what will be many posts by my friend “Duffy.” After Duffy learned about whole food, plant-based eating in 2010, she flirted with the diet for about three years, making progress, but never quite making a total commitment. In this first post (first published on her own blog), she describes her goal for the new year. I applaud her for making her goal public and committing to report on her progress each month throughout this year. I found this post deeply moving. I believe many others will relate to Duffy’s experience and will be blessed by what she has to share.
Merry Christmas Eve!
Its been awhile—over a month, it appears—since I last posted. I haven’t weighed in in a few weeks but at the last weigh-in I was down 21 lbs. However for the past several weeks I’ve been so close to going 100% full-time and yet I’ve consistently derailed myself and my progress with candy, soda, junk food… all that c.r.a.p. (calorie rich and processed) non-food.
Recently I’ve come to the realization that I absolutely cannot do this (by ‘this’ I mean eat 100% WFPB sustainably) by depending on myself. I need divine help. I need prayer. I have been praying…
- to have junk food be unappealing and to not be tempted off-plan
- to recognize the difference in how my body feels when I eat WFPB versus junk food.
- to have a desire to stay 100% on-plan continuously
I’m pretty sure my prayers are being heard…
- to have junk food be unappealing and to not be tempted off-plan: When I pray with sincere intent and really mean it, I have been able to walk past all sorts of formerly tempting goodies in the break room at work and not look twice at them. The key is sincere intent. Sometimes I find myself praying half-heartedly because I know that the key to success is in prayer… but I also want ‘just one more treat’ before I fully commit.
- to recognize the difference in how my body feels when I eat WFPB versus junk food: For the past week or so I’ve re-introduced dairy in the sneakiest way: Smartfood brand White Cheddar Popcorn which, if the name weren’t enough evidence, on the back says “contains milk products.” This stuff is soooo addicting! Even when the pleasure of the taste decreases over time I still find myself craving it. Over the past few days I’ve developed a debilitating headache each time I eat it. The headache will just clear up, I’ll eat more of the popcorn, and it comes rushing back. While not scientific, this is enough of an association for me to believe the two are related. And whether its the dairy or other chemicals in this product bringing on the headaches, I can’t help acknowledging and appreciating this answer to prayer. When I eat junk foods I feel momentarily carefree. I think that is in fact a large part of the draw—the psychological feeling of being unburdened and carefree—but my body feels icky. I feel bloated; I get diarrhea. I get headaches. I feel fat and lethargic. It begins subtly and builds but often by the time I’m in the full grip of the unwell feelings brought on by junk food, I’m also in the full grip of the pleasure trap with its self-promulgating cycle.
- to have a desire to stay 100% on-plan continuously: this is a hard one. I couldn’t pray with sincerity of heart to be 100% on plan because my heart wasn’t there. I didn’t desire to stay on plan as much as I (at least sometimes) desired to eat my favorite foods, to feel carefree, to reap the rewards without putting in the work. Yes I know that formula doesn’t work but its still what I wanted. In Alma 32:27 my predicament is acknowledged when he writes “even if ye can no more than desire to believe” (that’s how I feel—I desire to want to be 100% on plan) and then he gives counsel on what to do: “let this desire work in you, even until ye believe.” So that’s what I started to do: pray for a desire to eat and live 100% WFPB. And to my great surprise, that desire has already started to take root. I wrote my WFPB buddy Jane an e-mail the other day and I told her that I wanted to see myself in the future not even thinking twice about eating whole food, plant based meals; I wanted to just be doing it, like it was the most natural thing in the world and to already be past the point where my tastes have changed so that I am truly enjoying eating WFPB and deriving great pleasure from it. Incredibly, this tiny little, delicate seed has already started to take root and to sprout.
It is pretty incredible to me how quickly and surely the Lord does answer my prayers. And why wouldn’t He? I am so in awe of one of the little gems that I had never before noticed when reading the Word of Wisdom, that Jane pointed out in her book Discovering the Word of Wisdom: In D&C 89:10 Heavenly Father tells us that plants are “ordained for the constitution, nature and use of man” and in verse 12 of the same section tells us that animal products are “ordained for the use of man.” I’d never before paid attention to those two little descriptors that are different in regard to plants and animal foods: both are for our use, but only plants are ordained for our constitution and nature. Given the incredible packaging from color, size and shape to fiber, phyotchemicals, nutrients and water content that Heavenly Father created each of the many, many plant foods with… somehow I seriously doubt that our modern processing improves on His design and so I’m going to go out on a limb here and infer that while corn was ordained for my nature, constitution and use, white cheddar popcorn was not. The same could be said of strawberries, oranges, and cherries versus starburst, which come to think of it probably don’t contain any actual fruit at all… just a chemical signature meant to replicate an artificial flavor.
So here is the rub: I want to eat 100% WFPB so I can shed the excess weight, resolve my health problems and most of all so that I can be unhindered in serving the Lord in every way while on this earth…. at least, I want all of that except when I don’t. Except when I temporarily want to feel numb, escape an emotion, cope with stress, capture a feeling of carefreeness, treat myself, eat what everyone else is eating, etc. Yes that is my problem: I want what is best for me, except when I don’t.
And isn’t that a recurring theme throughout the scriptures? How often do you think the admonition to “remember” occurs in the scriptures? Moreover, isn’t one of the purposes of this mortal life on earth for us to choose good over evil of our own free will? And to do that don’t we need to remember the things we’ve been taught?
I’ve been pondering recently just how easily I forget the most important things in life. My friend Jane will often reply to an email of mine where I have become defensive in anticipation of being lectured by her for my failure to be 100% WFPB. But instead of the anticipated rebuke what I receive is a gentle but profound reminder: “I love you. Did you forget?” I wonder just how often our Heavenly Father would say those same words to us, if only we could listen. Perhaps that is why He had his prophets record the admonition so many times to “Remember, remember.”
I have a lot of moments where I think to myself “ugh, this, this right now, is why I need to go WFPB. I never want to feel like this again!” And then I forget. In the moment when I have to decide between brown rice and vegetables or glazed donuts, brownies, fudge, assorted chocolates, candy apples, etc., in the moment when I’m hungry and I have to choose between picking up some junk food at the convenience store or driving home, preparing a meal and delaying gratification until its ready… I forget.
There is a period that many must go through when transitioning to a whole-food plant based diet of 60-90 days during which time the fat receptors in the brain deregulate and the taste buds change to enjoy whole, natural plant foods. Right now I’m not too crazy about vegetables. There are a few that I like okay but none compares with chocolate or candy! I know that I am one of those people who needs to maintain 100% compliance for a long enough period of time for my fat receptors to deregulate and my tastes to change so that eating WFPB becomes in itself a pleasurable and self-reinforcing habit. That’s 60-90 days of remembering and not forgetting.
Fortunately it doesn’t have to be 60-90 days of making the decision over and over again. No, for that the Prophets have given us a tool. I believe I first heard the idea in the context of a chastity talk in a past General Conference or maybe a devotional or fireside but it applies here just as well: make your decision once and then when temptation comes, you will already know where you stand.
So I’m making the decision. I’m going 100% WFPB… for 2014. Oh, and also the last week of 2013. I figure getting a running start on this can only help! Tomorrow and Thursday and Friday…. this weekend and next week… in January and February and March when my tastes are changing… in July and August when the weather is so hot and sweaty… in October and November when there is Halloween candy and Thanksgiving treats, in December with all of the Christmas treats and all the months and holidays and occasions in between, I will know that I’ve already made my decision to go WFPB for one full year. I’m focusing on compliance. I want to see what a full year of eating whole food plant based will do for my body and for my health: emotional, psychological, physical, spiritual.
This year I am not making a New Years resolution to lose weight. I am making a Near Years resolution to live the Word of Wisdom as far as I understand it to recommend a whole food plant based diet.
Love and blessings-
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This post was originally posted at www.duffyswfpbjourney.blogspot.com on December 24th, 2013. To read my journey-to-date from the beginning, go to www.duffyswfpbjourney.blogspot.com and click on the links under Blog Archive on the right hand side. The very first post, from September 3, 2013 can be found at http://www.duffyswfpbjourney.blogspot.com/2013/09/post-first.html