Duffy’s WFPB Journey — February 2014

elephant_swimDear Reader,

Today is my 67th day eating of 100% Whole-Food Plant Based, Word of Wisdom diet. My official weigh-in day is Sunday, tomorrow, but unofficially, I sneak a peak at the scale once or twice more during the week. So unofficially, I can tell you that I’m down 44 lbs. (This includes the weight I loss doing less than 100% WFPB October-December.)

These two facts are significant because I have never before stayed on a diet longer than 3 weeks, and I have never before lost more than 28 lbs on a diet.

  • In 2003 I lost 28 lbs in 14 days on The Doctor’s Quick Weight Loss Diet, a predecessor to Atkins. All I ate was beef, chicken, eggs and ketchup. On the 15th day I broke my ‘fast’ and drank a Mountain Dew and then ate everything I’d been missing and quickly regained the weight. I spent the next 3 years trying unsuccessfully to stay on the diet long enough to lose the (then) 100 lbs I needed to lose. That diet may be the reason I can’t stand eggs!!
  • In 2006 I did LA Weight Loss. It was hard because it required animal protein. There was a vegetarian plan, but it required beans and I couldn’t (still can’t) stand them; they make me gag. I lost 16 lbs in 3 weeks, but then I graduated from college, moved to a different state for graduate school, and reverted to my standard fast-food diet. I gained about 60 lbs during grad school and even more after.
  • In 2009 I did Metabolic Research Center, including a (short-lived) stint on the hCG diet. The animal protein requirement once again was a big factor in my not being able to adhere to this plan long-term… that and I was always hungry and had enormous cravings for salt-sugar-fat!
  • In 2011ish I did Medifast…. spent a lot of money to be very hungry! I was never able to be compliant for more than 2-3 days at a time.
  • In 2010-12ish I discovered Dr. Fuhrman and attempted his approach. I loved the cashew-based faux cheese sauces. I couldn’t stomach the 2 lbs of veggies per day and was still craving lots of fat-sugar-salt pleasure trap foods. While I enjoyed the green smoothies made with fruit, I consistently gagged on the green, drinkable salads sans fruit! I saw frequent references on his discussion forums to the McDougall plan and how “those people” ate a lot of potatoes, but the “Nutritarians” (those who followed Dr. Fuhrman’s dietary approach) knew that potatoes made you fat. I was pretty jealous of anyone who could lose weight eating potatoes. It sounded like a much better deal than rabbit greens at the time.
  • In 2012ish I found Dr. McDougall’s discussion forums. I had read The China Study by then, and I became convinced that a WFPB diet was the best way to eat, and that animal protein was not necessary for human health in most circumstances. However I still felt guilty about the Word of Wisdom. Wasn’t there a scripture somewhere that said that we weren’t supposed to command others not to eat meat? I tried to rationalize—perhaps if I just didn’t eat meat, but didn’t share my diet with anyone else, it wouldn’t be a sin? Then I read Jane’s book (Discovering the Word of Wisdom) in 2013 and well, once the spiritual aspect fell into place it was just a matter of getting past the pleasure trap addictions. I started my journey on December 25, 2013 and I’m happy to say I’m still going strong. This is the first time I’ve ever stayed on an eating plan so long, let alone lost weight doing it (and I don’t plan to stop). The fruits of this diet are good!

While thinking about what to write this month, I decided to address several topics that have surfaced for me in February:

  • Food/ What I’ve been eating
  • Weight loss: how much, how fast
  • IBS: What to do next?
  • Questions and Support from Friends
  • Will power: How am I staying on this plan?
  • My Next Steps
  • Questions for You, the Reader

Food/What I’ve Been Eating

Last month I was really disappointed with my rate of weight loss and so I knew that I needed to cut down the calorie density. I kept a food log for February. The first few days, as you can see, I was finishing up what I had on hand of my higher calorie-dense plant foods: tofu-based ‘taco sauce’; walnut-chocolate-chip cookies. I added in non-starchy vegetables in the form of Shepherd’s Vegetable Pie and Carrot/Zucchini loaf. Yes, my vegetable consumption has primarily been at lunchtime so there’s room for improvement. That will come with time.

The abbreviations are: B= Breakfast; L=lunch; D= Dinner; S=Snack; ??=I forgot to write an entry

February Food Log

Sunday 2-2-14
B-carrot loaf, 2 c.chip/walnut cookies
S-2 c.chip/walnut cookies
L-carrot loaf, mashed potatoes
D/S-3 c.chip/walnut cookies
Monday 2-3-14
B-cherry pie oatmeal + 1 banana
L-shepherd’s vegetable pie, 2 c.chip/walnut cookies
D-taco rice
S-3 pink fingerlings w/ mustard
Tuesday 2-4-14
B- taco rice
L- shepherd’s vegetable pie, 2 pink fingerlings w/ mustard, banana
S-2 pink fingerlings & two small yukons (baked fries) w/ mustard
D-taco rice
Wednesday 2-5-14
B- taco rice
S-baked potato fries w/ mustard
L-carrot loaf w/ mashed potatoes
S-baked potato fries w/ mustard
D- carrot loaf w/ mashed potatoes w/ S&S sauce
Thursday 2-6-14
B-taco rice
L-carrot loaf, mashed potatoes
Friday 2-7-14
Saturday 2-8-14
B- oven fries from 2 large yellow potatoes
L-taco rice
D-taco rice

Sunday 2-9-14
B-taco rice, banana
L-oven fries w/ mustard; (2 hrs later) taco rice
D-carrot loaf, mashed potatoes w/ S&S sauce
Monday 2-10-14
B-taco rice
L- carrot loaf, mashed potatoes w/ S&S sauce
S-1 small pink fingerling w/ mustard
D- carrot loaf, mashed potatoes w/ S&S sauce
Tuesday 2-11-14
B- taco rice
L- carrot loaf, mashed potatoes
D-fingerling potatoes w/ mustard
Wednesday 2-12-14
B-taco rice
L- carrot loaf, mashed potatoes, a few grapes
S- fingerling potatoes w/ mustard, remaining grapes from lunch
D-taco rice
Thursday 2-13-14
B- taco rice
L- carrot loaf, mashed potatoes, banana, a few grapes
D-fingerling potatoes w/ mustard
Friday 2-14-14
Saturday 2-15-14

Sunday 2-16-14
B- taco rice
L-taco rice
D-oven fries w/ mustard
Monday 2-17-14
B- oven fries w/ mustard
S- oven fries w/ mustard
L- oven fries w/ mustard
D- brown rice, kale, cauliflower cheesy sauce
Tuesday 2-18-14
B- oven fries w/ mustard; 2 bananas
L- oven fries w/ mustard; 3 bananas
S- oven fries w/ mustard
D- oven fries w/ mustard; frozen grapes
Wednesday 2-19-14
B- carrot/zucchini loaf w/ mashed potatoes
L- carrot/zucchini loaf w/ mashed potatoes; pink oven fries
D- oven fries (pink and yellow)
Thursday 2-20-14
B-oven fries; banana
L- oven fries; banana
S- oven fries
D- oven fries; banana; frozen grapes
Friday 2-21-14
B-oven fries; 2 bananas
S-3 baked fingerlings w/ mustard
L-carrot/zucchini loaf; mashed potatoes
D-oven fries
Saturday 2-22-14
B-carrot loaf; mashed potatoes
L-rice w/ kale & cauliflower cheesy sauce; cold baked pink fingerlings w/ mustard; banana
D-oven fries; baked fingerlings w/ mustard
Sunday 2-23-14

Monday 2-24-14
B- overnight steel cut oats w/ baked apple (cinnamon, brown sugar) and ½ banana
L- carrot loaf; mashed potatoes; banana
D- oven fries, banana
Tuesday 2-25-14
B-overnight steel cut oats w/ ½ banana
L-carrot loaf + mashed potatoes + banana
D-oven fries

Wednesday 2-26-14
B-overnight steel cut oats
L-carrot loaf + mashed potatoes + banana
S- banana
D-none (not hungry)
Thursday 2-27-14
B-overnight steel cut oats
L-carrot loaf + mashed potatoes + banana
D-oven fries
Friday 2-28-14
B- overnight steel cut oats
L- carrot loaf; mashed potatoes; banana
D- oven fries

As you can see, I’m fairly redundant in my meals. Some might even go so far as to label them monotonous or bland. That would be okay with me. I eat things I like and I don’t force myself to eat things I don’t like; I keep snacks on hand during the workday (usually a banana, sometimes cold baked potatoes), and I make starch the center of each meal. This formula has been working for me in terms of compliance because I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything or being punished.

Overnight Steel Cut Oats have been a fantastic breakfast find! When I eat them, I’m not hungry for a mid-morning snack. And they’re yummy!

If you want to see how I make oven fries, I posted some pictures on my blog.

Weight loss: How much, how fast

It’s not easy being a living, breathing fat storage machine, aka a woman. Since I’ve been overweight since childhood I don’t really know what my normal-weight body would look like. But I’m beginning to suspect I have the ‘curvy genes’ Dr. Doug Lisle speaks about in his presentation How to Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind. This being the case, I’m going to have to eat lower on the calorie density scale than someone with slimmer genes in order to get down to my ideal weight.

That being said, I would love to be losing at least 4 lbs per week, every week. That’s not happening. However after my January frustration I did lose 7 lbs, 1.5 lbs, 4 lbs and 3 lbs for my weekly February weigh-ins. So a total of 15.5 lbs this month. That’s pretty decent, all things considered!

IBS: What to do next?

One of the biggest health issues impacting my daily life (aside from my actual excess fat) is IBS-D. I haven’t had true diarrhea, except maybe once, since beginning this way of eating full-time, 100%. However I still have constant urgency, at its worst in the morning. When I need to go, I need to go now, right this second, excuse-me-can-I-cut-in-line, gotta-find-a-bathroom-in-the-next-minute-and-a-half-or-this-is-gonna-get-ugly. It’s always an emergency. I re-read the section on colitis in Dr. McDougall’s Digestive Tune-Up and found that his suggestions were:

  1. Eat a starch centered, whole food plant based diet
  2. Eliminate gluten
  3. Do an elimination diet

I’ve got #1 covered. The only remaining source of gluten in my diet are the bread crumbs in the carrot loaf, of which I still have half a dozen servings in my freezer. I intend to use those up and then continue on 1-2 months gluten-free to see if this clears up. If it doesn’t, then I suppose I’ll have to consider an elimination diet…. not something I’m looking forward to!

Questions and Support from Friends

I suppose everyone gets these questions eventually. I finally started getting them this month… well-meaning friends and colleagues have asked me:

  • Where do you get your protein?
    • Snarky Answer: The same place the cows get it.
    • Real Answer: All plants have protein. Broccoli even has more protein per ounce than some cuts of steak!
  • Where do you get your fat?
    • Snarky Answer: Umm, I think there’s enough on my body to last a good, long while.
    • Real Answer: All plants have fat, even lettuce. Potatoes for instance, are about 1% fat.
  • Aren’t potatoes like the worst food for you?
    • Snarky Answer: Not as bad as beer! (This came from a conversation where a friend was telling me how much money she spent on beer each month. I joked that I didn’t spend any money on beer, but I sure spent a lot on potatoes!)
    • Real Answer: No, potatoes are nutritionally complete all by themselves. They’re very healthy and have been a staple in the diet of many long-lived, healthy populations. They get a bad rap because of how they’re consumed: fried, with butter, sour cream, cheese and bacon.

I have been fortunate not to encounter anyone trying to stop or detract me from my way of eating. Many do not understand, but they’re kind and sincere in their questions. On the opposite side of the spectrum, I have a few colleagues at work who consistently check in on me, wanting to know how I’m doing with my New Years Resolution to eat 100% WFPB for all of 2014 and encouraging me. One colleague in particular recently returned to an all-vegetarian and mostly-vegan diet, telling me that she was inspired by my dedication to a plant-based diet, and she wanted to feel her best again. Like me, the first health issue she had that reversed was acid reflux. What a joy it is to never have to deal with that again!

On Valentine’s Day my supervisor put a heart-shaped box of chocolates in each employee’s mailbox… except mine. In mine, she left a package of nuts and seeds. I thought it was an incredibly thoughtful and supportive gesture…. even though I’m not going to eat them because they have oil on them. Right now they’re stashed in my car to give to someone in need.

Will power: How am I staying on this plan?

The short answer is: I’m not using willpower very much. In Doug Lisle’s talk on The Willpower Paradox, he explains how researchers discovered through a series of experiments that the power in willpower is glucose. In other words, if we are to resist succumbing to foodie temptations, we need to have eaten recently.

I work at a preschool as a Speech-Language Pathologist. I teach several classes per day and consult in others, all of which have a snack time. Even though I’m doling out snack foods that are not WFPB several times per day, I’m no longer tempted by them on a regular basis. There have been two exceptions this month. Once I was tempted by the scent of ‘Nilla Wafers, which brought back a childhood memory of making banana pudding layered with ‘Nilla Wafers, with my uncle. To keep myself in check, I read the ingredient panel on the box and reminded myself I do not want to put those things in my body. The second time occurred last Thursday when I was helping another class with their pizza making. Both the scent of mozzarella cheese as it was grated and the scent of the pizzas baking awakened, to a comparatively small degree, a craving in me even though the actual sight of the pizzas was rather off-putting to me: so oily and grease-laden. Even though I wasn’t truly hungry, I ate a banana while keeping an eye on the toaster ovens. The craving dissipated. The power in willpower is glucose.

My Next Steps

There are several areas that I’ve identified that I need to work on over the upcoming months. In no particular order:

  • Resolving IBS-D/ urgency if it is possible to do so through diet
  • Adding exercise
  • Increasing vegetables
  • Not eating when I’m not hungry and stopping when I’m satisfied

At the moment I’m not particularly motivated to commit to any of them since I have a rather large project for my current doctoral class looming over my head this month along with increased caseload and other pressures at work. I feel like I have enough on my plate. Nonetheless, I know that I can do this… the same way one eats an elephant: one bite at a time… (Is that a poor analogy for an herbivore? TeeHee) and that it would be a disservice to myself to tell myself I can’t. In January I worked on staying 100% WFPB. In February I worked on adding vegetables. In some future month I’ll work on increasing them. For March I’m going to work on adding exercise… and to make it realistic, I’m going to have my goal be to walk 15 minutes 2 times per week. It may not be much in the bigger scheme of things; its certainly not an hour of cardio per day like is often recommended for weight loss. But its what I can do now, this month. It’s a start.

Questions for You, the Reader

So if you’ve made it to the end of this rambling post, I thank you for reading and supporting me in my journey.

Sometime this month I hope to be taking progress pictures! I took “before” pictures and decided to take progress pictures every 50 lbs. I’ve definitely seen more roominess in my shirts and a coworker noticed on Thursday that I’d been losing weight; I hope the camera shows it, too.  🙂

If you feel inclined, I’d love to hear from you…

  • If you lost weight eating WFPB, what was your average weekly loss?
  • Do you eat the same things over and over like me or do you eat a lot of variety?
  • What are your favorite go-to meals?
  • Do you snack?

Until next month-




  1. Great to hear about your progress! Very inspiring! I also have IBS and noticed a big improvement when I eliminated gluten from my diet. Eliminating oil as I’ve transitioned to WFPB eating has helped a lot, too! I did the full elimination diet and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be–the key is to have a plan, and a bunch of recipes that will work with the elimination diet. Good luck!

    As for favorite stand-by meals, lately my favorite things are brown rice (cooked with some herbs and spices) with roasted veggies (cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, etc.–I roast a couple of pans of veggies and cook a big pot of rice all at once–this is enough to last for several days), red lentil soup (cooks fast), and green peas with quinoa (also fast). My favorite breakfast meal is sweet potatoes roasted until tender, with a sprinkle of cinnamon and cloves.

    • Yum, I need to try roasting veggies! Did you find any other foods that were IBS-triggers with the elimination diet or did you do it for a different health problem? How long did it take after going gluten free for the IBS to resolve?
      Thanks for your comments!

      • The elimination diet was for food allergies, not IBS. I’d feel itchy about 20 minutes after eating certain meals, and it wasn’t immediately obvious what the culprits were. I eliminated all the major allergens all at once, and then after a few weeks tried reintroducing things one at a time. It takes a while and is a bit of a hassle, but many of the allergic symptoms disappeared after a week on the elimination phase, and that felt fantastic!

        I wish I could say that avoiding gluten “resolved” my IBS, but it hasn’t. I still get flare-ups. But cutting out gluten did improve the situation. I would say it took about a week to notice the difference. Good luck!

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