Sunday, June 16, 2019

How the Plant Based Diet Healed Me

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First, I should really apologize for not posting. This month has been really amazing, the Vegan Hope Workshop has been going great! I’ll be writing more about that later.

I was reminded today that it was 2 years ago that my life started to take a major turn. It was the month that the neuropathy in my legs was at it’s worse. I had arthritis in both of my feet that was causing severe pain. My blood sugar numbers could not be controlled, no matter what I did. I would take 200 units of insulin a day and it wouldn’t do much. I would try to work out for hours a day, I was on what everyone said was a healthy low fat high (animal)  protein diet. I was on 13 or 14 medications at the time, one of those was for the neuropathy and arthritis, it was meant to deaden pain and make me forget that I was in so much pain all the time.

At the same time my depression had reached an all time high. Depression and diabetes go hand in hand, and in the years prior to this month depression and panic was just part of my daily life. But this month things got particularly bad. I would also get an infection in my leg that was not healing, and that the doctor I was seeing was afraid that I would have to have a partial amputation unless something drastic happened.

I would sit in my house sobbing for hours. I could not manage to get dressed most days or even take a shower. My husband would stay home with me, and the days where he could not he made me check in with him and he had some close friends and family call me to check in on me. He had to put the numbers of all of our good friends in his phone, because he feared for the worse.

He had a good reason to be afraid. I was losing the will power to live any longer. Diabetes had taken a toll that was more than my health, it took who I was away from me. It made me a person I hated and loathed. I was told by doctors that I would be lucky to make it ten years if things progressed the way they were going. I was not going to be able to walk much longer with out assistance and I was looking at a partial amputation, and once amputation starts, it really just keeps going. In addition, I already had nerve damage in my eyes, and was told that there was not much hope at all in changing that.

Needless to say my life was not going all that well. I thought about taking my life every day. I thought that this would be the best thing for my husband as well – I did not want him to have to take care of his obese, diabetic wife who was blind and an amputee. What kind of life would that be?

I stayed up hours and hours every night, crying and hoping that somehow some drug or some injection would help. I had been on so many drugs at that point, for every thing including high cholesterol, high BP, hormone issues, diabetes, obesity, neuropathy, arthritis and more. I was taking a cocktail of drugs every day, and I took it with out asking questions, just popped the pills.

One day I decided to look up the arthritis and neuropathy drugs that I had been put on – I was having stomach issues, and thought maybe it was one of the drugs I was on. To my shock and horror I found out the drug I had been on for a few weeks was being “black labeled” because of the very alarming amount of people who had attempted or who had committed suicide since being on the drug. It turns out, that it wasn’t just deadening nerves in my legs/feet but it was doing the same thing to my brain. I called the FDA and talked to someone for about an hour, and she told me it wasn’t just suicide, it was reports of uncontrollable depression and panic, and that they were looking at a complete ban of the medication.

I called my doctor right away and told him about the severe depression and the call with the FDA – he told me he didn’t know about it, but maybe there was something else I could take.

It was one of those tipping points for me, I looked at the bottles of medication and was completely disgusted. I wanted to get rid of every single one of them, I wanted to throw them all out the window and just take my chances. Every single medication causes side effects, some worse than others, and I was tired.

But there I was with severe problems with my legs and feet and not to mention a really bad infection that was not healing or responding to anti-biotics. My legs would swell so badly, they hurt constantly and my edema was so severe that my legs literally were ‘weeping’ which meant liquid was coming out of my legs.

Most of you know my story from here. On one of the darkest days my husband told me it was absolutely mandatory that I get out of the house (lovingly of course). It was on that day that I happened to go to a water aerobics class at my gym, taught by a good friend of mine. And it was on that day where she told me something that would change my life – to look at food as medicine. It lead me down a path that I could have never imagined, a path that I would have told you was absurd and idiotic 2 years ago. I would have told you that doctors know what they are doing, and if they had the cure for type 2 diabetes they would have told me. I would have told you that I had tried every thing, and nothing worked. I would have told you that you were a crazy conspiracy theorist who needed to get their facts straight.

I found the answer in what I was eating and what I was not eating. I’d found out that eating with animal proteins, animal products was what helped me get diabetes, and what made my diabetes become as bad as it did. And I’d find out that eliminating these products would start to heal my body, rapidly. As you probably know, in a month I was off of all of my insulin. It took me a few more months to get off of all my diabetes and other drugs. (I stopped taking the nerve damage medicine the day I found out about the side effects) but in a month, my legs started to feel better, the infection went away and the edema has never returned.

Sometimes I still feel weird about writing or telling my story. I feel like it’s one of those crazy infomercials about some miracle hair shampoo or something. I don’t know how to tell my story any other way though – it was real and the outcome and answer was just as real. Every day I meet more and more people who have reversed major diseases through what they eat, it is something that is becoming the norm for more and more people. It’s so simple, it should be criminal that doctors do not inform their patient that there is another option that will result in reversing disease and getting off the dangerous medications that are pumped into their bodies for absolutely no reason.

Two years later, I could not be anymore happy in my life. My husband and I picked up every thing and left where we had been living for a while and started to travel full time, something we could have never dreamed of before. I am over 150 pounds lighter from my highest weight. I am on no medication at all, my blood sugar is completely controlled and my legs are still attached to my body. Most importantly, I’m alive.

I wanted to thank those who have helped me and inspired me in these past 2 years, those who cared and loved me through my darkest times and those who continue to do so.

My friends who put up with a lot of my Vegan ranting Rachel and Mark – who were there for me even when they didn’t know that I needed them the most.

My dear friend Helen who taught that water aerobics class that day and told me that I needed to look at food as medicine.

My good friend Liz who loved me and supported me and was my personal cheerleader every day.

My friend Pauline who would talk to me and let me tell her anything, anytime.

Our Aunt Anne (and Daniella and Uncle Fred)- I can’t even say how much she has done for us in our lives. She has been an encouragement and light that I can not even describe. She has shown us love in ways that I did not think were possible.

My brother Timothy – who would talk to me until 5AM, and get my mind off of a lot during the worst of it – and who has been so supportive of our vegan life and helping me learn how to cook some awesome meals.

Ryan and Mac Michael – when I met them (doing a photoshoot) and they found out I was a brand new to this plant-based life they sent me books, and helped me get to the path of not just being plant-based, but being vegan.

The people we’ve met in our travels – like Michelle and Heather from Herbivore in Portland and Sue from Counter Culture in Austin. (and the MANY more folks who we have met on the road)

And Jen, who probably doesn’t remember the IM conversation we had one night where I said we should talk in a year and tell each other how much our lives have changed for the better. And how amazing we would be.

My Mom – for making me laugh, even when she does not intend to, and for jumping on board the plant-based life after listening and understanding how passionate we were about it.

My DGMS family – and all of the support and encouragement – and especially for ALL of those who have also jumped on board the plant-based life with me.

Elaine (who happens to be my sister-in-laws mother – I’m not sure what that makes her to me) who sent me an e-mail once at just the right time, and I don’t think she even knew.. she has been so encouraging and supportive and we are both thankful that she is in our lives.

My nephew Edward – even though he was just 2 years old, when we’d hang out I would forget every thing, and just enjoy his tremendous joy and energy.

And most of all, my husband. I would never be able to write every thing that my husband has done for my life. He is with out a doubt the most amazing person I have ever known. He has loved me every single day, he has never complained, or become angry. His love for me is something that I am completely amazed by each and every day. And not only did he support me, he educated himself and learned about the plant-based Vegan life that I had jumped into, and did the same for himself. He had no idea that when we said “in sickness and health” how much that would be true – just a few weeks after getting married, when it looked like “till death do us part” would be something that could very well happen.

There are so many people – that have been there for us, who have supported us, encouraged us, and have been there for us – I am just so thankful for each of you who has been on this journey with us, and who have showed us care and love through all of it. We both appreciate you so much.

*If you are interested in health, preventing diseases like t2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, stroke, dementia, Alzheimer’s and more, the best thing you can every do for yourself and your family is to educate yourself. Start with : The China Study, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, Eat to Live, Dr. Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes, Breaking the food Seduction, or any other of the science based health books. You do not have to be a sitting duck when it comes to disease, become proactive in your life and your health.

17 COMMENTS

  1. Andrea

    Congratulations again! For everything you did and do for yourself, for other people, and for the animals of this world!

  2. Annie

    I feel the same way when I talk about how I got rid of my cancer with out drugs or traditional treatments! I feel like it’s too good to be true or something, even though I know better and it’s totally science based!

  3. jen

    Nat, you are inspiring! It is so important for people to understand that their health is 100% their responsibility and 100% under their control. Your choice to take the reigns in your battle with type 2 diabetes and your willingness to share your story will help others see that.

  4. Beth

    I went vegan and got healthy a few years ago, even though I didn’t have anything as bad as you did, I could not believe how much better I felt! Not just about my health, but doing what was right for animals and the earth, there is just no other way.

  5. Elaine

    I am so thankful that your health has come such a long way … and that you are HAPPY to be alive, instead of contemplating suicide. I thank God for your wonderful husband who has supported you all the way! I am praying for you daily, that you and Matt will allow God back into your lives. He cares about both of you – He is quietly waiting for you to reach out to Him again. He definitely exists, and He loves you as I do. My email of 2 yrs ago, is still good – I will be there for you. Elaine

  6. Kris

    Nat,

    I’m so fortunate to have met you and your husband, first online, and recently in person. I haven’t gone through half your health struggles, but like you, becoming vegan (with a focus on whole plant foods) changed my life by giving me better health than I would have imagined possible.

    Your story does sound like the “too-good-to-be-true” infomercial, but you’re one of the most sincere, real people out there. I admire you for your ongoing strength and willingness to selflessly share everything you’ve learned with others. You are a hero, and a wonderful person on top of that!

  7. Laurie

    I know that you do not believe in God personally, however I see this as such a blessing in your life! I am a Christian and a vegan, I became a vegan after reading China Study! I wish that more people would learn about how God intended us to eat! I believe that God does not want us to suffer with disease or pass it down to our children.

    I meet so many Christians who will not listen to me because they believe they can eat in a way that clearly promotes disease. I do not believe that God would ever want that for us! I eat this way for the same reason I do not smoke, do drugs or huge amounts drink alcohol, even though I could probably argue that the Bible says it’s ok to do those things, even in moderation, I think God gives us the free will to make the decision if we want to harm our bodies and His creation! I for one do not want to put those poisons into my body as a way to honor God and thank Him for giving me the body I have.

    Again, I know you are not a believer, but I wanted you to know that you are a blessing and an answer to prayer to many people! I thank you for the work you have done, and thank God for you and your husband!

  8. Nat

    thank you everyone!

    Beth & Elaine, even though we’re not Christians we have a lot of respect for those who follow the words of Jesus. We have many wonderful people in our lives who are Christian and love them dearly.

    For us we simply aim to live a life that is filled with love and peace. We strive to care for people and show care for people whenever possible. As for our health, we see our bodies as something we are responsible to take care of, and we choose what goes inside of our bodies with the utmost respect for them. We know many vegan Christians and are really glad for the work they are doing in their own communities in helping other Christians learn about their health and how their bodies work.

  9. Mike

    I never thought I would be on a plant-based diet, I still can’t say vegan. I know we are about as opposite as they come. I a conservative Christian father who has served his country for more than 20 years now. That does not change the fact that what you are teaching is the truth, you helped save my daughters life and you helped open my eyes to the truth that I didn’t want to learn. The day you talked to our group you told me that I wasn’t a bad parent for not knowing that the way I was feeding my family caused my daughter to get pre-diabetes, but you told me I would be a bad parent the next day if I continued to feed my family the same way, you also asked me if I cared about my steak more than my daughter.

    I was angry for several days, but as you know I did research and educated myself. As a proud American, I see no other way to love our country but to teach our children how to eat, we will lose our best and brightest if we don’t stop what we are doing.

    I’m not one of those vegan types, but I am a proud father, husband, Christian and American, and I believe that how I eat and feed my family reflects that now.

    Thank you again.

  10. Nat

    Thank you Mike, your comment means so much to me. I’m so glad that you and your family have made the healthy changes! I am also happy to hear that you have started to help other Military families, you are awesome! You don’t have to call yourself a vegan 😉

  11. Monica

    Amazing story. Your life was created to heal the lives of others. It is a blessing to know you. I know you will continue to walk strong in your beliefs and inspire many to live healthy, happy lives.

  12. Mel

    Your journey is truly inspiring. Please never be embarrassed about the choice to go vegan – you don’t sound like an infomercial at all 🙂 Wishing you all the best!

  13. Mik

    You my lady have inspired so many. Your story is powerful. Congrat’s to everything you have accomplished. You spread the word and encourage others to succeed. You are amazing and there is nothing that can stop your passion.

  14. Sarah

    I wanted to know if your family supported you in your decision to go vegan? I am in a very religious family who believes that God wants us to eat meat. The problem is I have a thyroid condition, and my doctor has told me that going on a vegan diet would help me a lot. When I bring it up to my family they tell me that they think I am listening to the wrong people. My condition is not getting better with medicine, and I don’t see how God would rather work through science and experimental drugs than through nature.

    I saw that you have some religious people in your family, and I didn’t know if you had the same issue, or if they were supportive. Any help you can provide would be really nice, I’m really frustrated that there might be an easy answer to my condition, but that my family won’t support me.

    I do love your blog, it has been very helpful!

    God Bless,
    Sarah

  15. Nat

    Hi Sarah,

    If you want to send me an e-mail we can talk about it more. We have a bit of experience on just that subject. It can be a tricky one to navigate, and we have not figured out the best way to communicate with everyone who has much different beliefs than we do, but we have learned a few things in the past 2 years in regards to it. I will say it is very sad to me that something that is so natural and simple, and does not use the intervention of scientific experiments, drugs, and huge money would be something that anyone of any religion would be opposed to. It hasn’t made much sense to me, however we’ve learned that often people use their god and religion to support their addictions, which to me is tragic.

    -Nat

  16. Ryan

    Congrats, Nat! Huyen and I are glad we were able to help you along your way into veganism, but you’d already done the hard part by the time we met you! 🙂

    You continue to be an inspiration with the way you live your life and spread the word. Rock on.

Nat
I went on a plant based diet after diabetes almost took my life. Now, almost 2 years later not only have I reduced my type 2 diabetes symptoms, I have lost close to 200 pounds (and still losing). This is a place where I write about my journey as I continue the quest for health, and living a good life for today, and long into the future. Get hold of me on [email protected]

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