I’ve always been overweight. Over the years my weight has been steadily creeping up seemingly despite everything I do. I’ve been a vegetarian since 2000. I work out. I eat more healthily than most people I know but I’m fatter. Honestly, I have the build of a European peasant. I’m gonna survive a famine and still be able to clean out the stables and plow the fields.
Recently new drugs have been approved to help with weight loss. I was interested. I got an appointment with a bariatric doctor to discuss them. Long story short, I’m a super healthy fat person. Too healthy for my insurance to approve any of the good drugs. My only issue is high cholesterol. I am very offended by this. I haven’t had any meat in 2 decades. More on that later.
My 50th birthday was at the end of November 2022. On that day I was at my highest weight ever. Something had to change. Around the same time the husband who also was heavier than he should be (and with a host of health issues) decided that he wanted bariatric surgery.
I was livid. We know a person who had surgery last year and she’s done well. So he was thinking the surgery was no big deal. This is a man who gets all the weird side effects from any medical procedure or drug. Apart from anything that it would do to him, it was going to hell on earth for me to deal with him going through this. I was not having it. I never yell. I yelled. I told him that I was taking control of our diets and he was going to eat it and he wasn’t going to doctor the food to make it unhealthy and he wasn’t going to eat a second meal of snacks after dinner and I wasn’t going to hear any more nonsense about him having gastric bypass.
I had been reading a lot lately about nutrition science and whole food plant based diets. For me, that wasn’t much of a change in my diet.
- I eliminated most processed foods including routine use of vegan cheeses. No more stopping after work to get pretzels or snacks like that. I still use a few things like barbeque sauces but try to choose the ones with the best and least number of ingredients.
- I cut out coconut milk as much as possible. We had coconut milk as our main nondairy milk. It has saturated fat unlike most other plant fats. I’m wondering if that was the lingering cause of my high lipid numbers. I haven’t retested yet so we’ll see.
- I’m cooking for us most nights when I get home at a reasonable hour. Before we made our own meals because our diets were so different. I’m definitely making healthier food since I am cooking for both of us and not just me.
In the first two weeks, I lost 12 lbs. I just melted. I was eating a lot. I was never hungry. The food was really good. I’ve always been mad when people say that on a vegan diet you can eat as much as you want and still lose weight. I was pretty sure I was living proof that wasn’t true. I guess you just have to be a healthier vegan for that to be more true.
The husband was an omnivore. He works out a lot. He loves cheese. He tops his food with entirely inappropriate piles of Parmesan. He is also a diabetic who was not well controlled.
- His blood sugars are almost normal. He’s been gradually taking his insulin dose down. Before he was on a daily dose of insulin with fast acting insulin to use when the regular amount wasn’t handling things. Within a day or two he didn’t need the fast acting. Previously, if his blood sugar got below 150 (normal is under 100) he’d panic. It was a sign he was crashing. He’d get light headed. Now he’s routinely under 100 and feels fine. He’s still on some insulin but it is less than half. I’m hoping that we can get him off of it but he has some pancreatic damage and it isn’t clear how much he is making himself. (See drug side effects mentioned above)
- He lost 15 lbs so far.
- He was adamant that he “isn’t a vegan.” He was really hung up on the label. I told him to use “plant based” if he needed a label. He told me that he would never give up eggs. I ignored him and kept cooking. The other day he threw the rest of the eggs out.
- He’s a convert in the totally annoying sense. He wants everyone to know the Good News of diet changes for health. He’s sending How Not To Die to family and friends. I keep explaining that you can’t forcibly change anyone until they are ready to change. Then I stare him in the soul and say, “Ask me how I know.” I think he spends all day listening to plant based doctors on podcasts. When he was diagnosed as diabetic I tried to discuss this with him but he didn’t want to hear it.
- He kept talking about bariatric surgery and going to pre-op appointments. The cardiologist he had to see told him he thought it wasn’t a good idea for all the reasons that I said but he listened to the doctor. Now he doesn’t want the surgery anymore. Whatever. I’m just glad that is out of his head.
After the first two weeks I stopped losing weight. I didn’t gain any back but I stopped losing for six weeks. I still had a lot to lose. The other day I tweaked a few more things.
- I cut out artificial sweeteners in the form of Mio flavoring for water. I’ve either added some frozen fruit as ice cubes to my water or I’ve added a few drops of really high quality flavored balsamic vinegar to it. The vinegar has freeze dried jackfruit and peach so it is sweet and it is really good. I just ordered a bunch more flavors.
- I started drinking a small cup of warm water with 1 teaspoon of dried ginger in every morning. That has been shown to increase the body temperature enough to jump start some fat loss. I like ginger so I figured why not try it.
The next day I started losing weight again. None of those changes are supposed to be effective that quickly but I’m not going to quibble. I didn’t change anything else.
At the end of this week I’m going on a work trip with people who eat terribly. Their main food group is Taco Bell. They have been talking about trying to eat better. I offered to cook dinner some nights but they have to eat what I make. They know they will be getting vegetables. One is scared but the rest want food they don’t have to make. This will be interesting.