I was recently asked by one of our faithful realders for suggestions on how to actually practice a plant-based diet, so here is an article about my suggestions.
First of all, let me state my qualifications: I’ve been a junk food and compulsive eater for over 20 years. I was almost 100 pounds overweight. I now have neurological problems in my legs and I think this have been caused my over-20-years of consuming Diet Cokes – with its aspartame. I have tried all kinds of ways to control my compulsive eating, including Weight Watchers, Overeaters’ Anonymous (ok, I broke my anonymity), and tens of books. Everyone has a theory on how to loose weight. None of them worked for me……until the Uchee Pines’ diet (which is a version of the 7th Day Adventist diet and the standard vegan diet).
I recently went on a 17-day program at Uchee Pines, which is a natural healing, 7th Day Adventist health institute. They put me on a whole-food, plant-based, vegan, healthy diet, and then added counseling, medical exams, medical evaluations, prayer, education, support, and exercise. After going through this program three times in five years, their message may have sunk into my thick, oppositional head. I’ve been successfully practicing their diet now for over three months.
Here are my tentative conclusions. They are “tentative” since I could fall off this diet any time (as I have often fell off diet plans), and then I will have no suggestions to give to anyone.
First, I will briefly describe the diet. It is as simple as it is difficult.
- Eat only plant-based, mostly whole foods. Strictly vegan. Take B vitamins, especially B-12, if you like.
- Eat only 2 meals a day, and nothing – not even a morsel of food – in between. These meals consist of a healthy, full, satisfying breakfast, which can be the biggest meal of the day. Then eat a smaller, but still full, healthy, and satisfying dinner between 2 and 4pm. Then, if you really need to, have a very small healthy snack about 6 or 7pm, for example, a piece of fruit or something.
They say: “Eat like a king in the morning, eat like a prince in the afternoon, and eat like a pauper at night.”
- That’s it! Nothing complicated, just completely revolutionary and counter-cultural.
What is counter-cultural about this diet is that you eat for health and energy, and not for pleasure or socializing. But as an antithesis, you may socialize more!
Eating two full, probably home-cooked meals often means that you eat with family or friends. Also, because you are totally fasting in-between meals – ingesting only water and un-sweetened tea – each meal becomes a literal feast! Food, even plant-based food – especially if home cooked — will taste utterly fantastic (1).
Polluting the American mind
Another aspect of the counter-cultural aspect of this diet is that you will be thinking clearly about nutrition. The whole society seems to have their minds polluted with hundreds of billions of dollars a year of advertisements spent by the sugar and animal products industries. One of the goals of these advertisements seems to be, not necessarily to convince you to buy their products, but rather to confuse you about what is healthy and what is not.
Once you practice this diet for a while, and experience its validity, you may perceive a seeming reality about the food industry: in general, they don’t care much about human health. With a few exceptions, their main interest is profit and financial survival.
You are constantly being confronted with advertisements, for example, Pepsi advertisements in the sports world, and statistical studies showing, for example, how we need animal products for protein; how we need milk for our bones (2); and how aspartame has not proven to be harmful. Being barraged with these messages, we may develop the cognitive belief that, “Well, no one really knows what is healthy and what is not, so I may as well eat whatever tastes good.” (That is, foods that contain fat or sugar.) (3)
A theory behind this mode of eating is that you are continually fasting. You are giving your body a rest – to digest the food and fight disorders – between each meal. You are not putting in any more food into your digestive system until the food that is already there is fully digested. Once on this diet, you can feel this happening. You can sense authentic hunger versus hunger pains caused by a desire to eat compulsively.
As an example, you can eat breakfast at 8am and dinner at 3pm. Then you will have a 6-hour fast between these two meals and then a 16-hour fast between dinner and breakfast the next morning – every day! (3a)
If you need to lose more weight than on this diet, you can fast one day a week – which is now easy to do since you have developed the habit of fasting 22 hours every day! This one-day fast could begin at 4pm and end at 8am the day after next. This amounts to a 40-hour fast!
Break(the)fast will never taste so good, or be so healthy.
Another theory involved in this continual fasting is that you give your body a chance to work at cleaning out your system and fighting all the enemies – viruses, germs, bacteria, pollution, etc. – that enter your body every day.
The theory for eating dinner early in the afternoon is that you shouldn’t go to bed with undigested food. Sleeping is time for your body to recuperate and rebuild itself, not to digest food. Plus, by eating late at night and then having a good breakfast the next morning, the food from the night before may still be undigested in your stomach, and it may stay undigested throughout the day, while your digestive system works on your breakfast and dinner. You can imagine what this undigested food looks like.
The goal of this diet is to get your body into maximum health, with all the body functions working in harmony.
What is going on inside your body is continual warfare: the good guys fighting the bad guys. With this diet, you are not aiding the enemy by feeding your system all kinds of junk and toxic food. And you are not tying one arm behind the backs of your allies (your blood, circulatory system, and white blood cells) by stuffing your system with compulsive eating. You are not clogging up your veins and arteries with fat from animal products.
Even after a few weeks of this diet, with proper exercise, you may feel your body working on all 8 cylinders. If you fall off the wagon and stuff yourself with unhealthy food, you will be able to feel the dysfunctional affects.
Get back on the wagon
If you fall off the wagon, no problem. Just climb back on as soon as possible. Let go of the sinful temptation to beat yourself up or use the fall as an excuse to stuff yourself with thoughtless eating for days on end. Just fast until the next meal, and then eat a good, healthy and satisfying meal. You’re back on the road to maximum health.
Garlic, one of the healthiest foods, is anti-viral, anti-germs, and anti-social
Like garlic, the Uchee Pines (ucheepines.com) diet can be anti-social. When everyone is eating dinner at 7pm, and snacking in-between meals as a social medium, you will be saying, “no thanks.” When at a restaurant or a friend’s house, where there is no healthy vegan food, you will be again saying, “no thank-you,” and fasting.
But this is the price you pay for living a healthier life. Sure, you may be able to get away with unhealthy eating habits for 30 or 40 years, but then you will have to pay the piper. It’s your choice.
Make no doubt about it: this diet involves hunger, suffering, and pain. After every great meal is a long fast, instead of feeding the monster of millions of pathological micro-bacteria in your microbiome, who are all craving to be constantly fed unhealthy food. You will be fasting, instead of giving in to every whim — disguised as hunger — to eat tasty food. (This may be simple gluttony.)
Perhaps, after a while, the diet will become easier. The desire to eat all that delicious food – sugar, cheese, meat, milk, and fish – may always be there. But the reward for your self-discipline may be: to attain, and stay at, your ideal weight; to have your numbers (cholesterol, blood pressure, and insulin) return to normal levels and stay there (without medication); and to have a greater sense of dignity and health.
One way you can deal with the pain and suffering is to simply accept it. There is also pain and suffering in necessary exercise. So what? That’s life. Fully experience the pain and suffering, get to understand it, and watch it eventually go away…..until the next bout. This pain and suffering may be better than the pain and suffering from being fat, being in bad health, being out of shape, or dying from cancer. (4)
Veganism can be unhealthy
A basic fallacy that is common with people practicing veganism is that it is always healthy: just don’t eat animal products – especially as a neurotic religion – and you will be healthy, wealthy and wise. NOT.
The fallacy here is that you must still refrain from eating unhealthy food, including eating as little processed food as possible. You need to stay as close to the plant foods’ natural state as possible. That is, eat a salad rather than canned vegetable soup; eat an apple rather than drink apple juice; eat boiled vegetables rather than a frozen dinner. Lay off as many toxic chemicals as you can. Give your body a break. Be a friend.
It’s no secret what is healthy food and what is not. Just google it. The problem is developing the self-discipline, the sacrifice, and the habit of healthy eating.
An ideal diet
The Uchee Pines’ diet can be seen as an ideal diet — the best. If you can’t do it completely, fine, it isn’t a religion. But you can try to get as close to it as you can. For example, if you have concerns about not getting enough nutrients without animal products, perhaps not enough B12, go ahead, have a serving of fish once a week.
What if I can’t practice this radical diet
No problem! If you can accept this diet as the most healthy diet available, then you can practice a more doable version of it, one that fits into your level of willingness to sacrifice and your level of a having a disciplined will.
For instance, you can try your best to fast in-between meals. You can have three meals, instead of two, with the last meal befor 6pm and with only food for a pauper. You can fast for a day when you feel your body is full of toxins (for example, alcohol toxins from over drinking). If you can’t fully fast, you can have a day of vegetable-juice fasting. You can eat as little animal products as possible. You can exercise every day. And on and on.
But if you find yourself with a serious illness or disorder, it maybe time to think about practicing the diet rigorously — at least until you get better.
Save the planet
Being a healthy vegan is doing the most effective thing you can do – as a humble individual – to save the planet from global warming and the depletion of non-renewable resources. It may be enough. You could be doing your part in the struggle. You could be proud of doing your duty in developing a healthier body and a (little) more healthy earth.
Get ready, get set, go!
Here’s a joke for you: Veganism conquers the fear of death. Once you practice a fully vegan diet, you can’t wait to die!
(1) Although not recommended by the Uchee Pines diet, recent nutritional research has shown that coffee and red wine may be healthy. So, go ahead and have a cup of (decaffeinated) coffee or glass of red wine with your meal. You deserve it, you will be fasting for the next 16 hours!
(2) On Netflix, see the documentaries, “What the Health” and “Forks Over Knives.”
(3) Read “The China Study” on Wikapedia for a summary of this revolutionary statistical analysis.
(3a) 16 hours seems like a lot, but it really isn’t, once you consider that it involves, say, 8 hours of painless sleep (And some health experts say you should sleep 8 hours for maximum health. Uchee Pines says that 2 hours of sleep before 12am is equal in health benefits to 4 hours of sleep after 12am. )
For example, if you finish dinner at 4pm and go to sleep at 10pm, that’s only 6 hours of fasting. Then if you wake up at 6am and eat breakfast at 8am, that’s only two hours of fasting. It’s doable.
(4) There are tens of diets that promise you can loose weight and regain health with a diet where there is no pain and suffering. This cannot be; it is false advertising. As with every other aspect of life — like sports, career attainment, or even romantic love — there is pain and suffering involved. An antithesis to these fake diets is the still unproven maxim:
“No pain, no gain.”
Another seemingly ageless maxim is:
“Easy choices lead to a hard life. Hard choices lead to an easy life.”
Also, developing self-discipline with your eating habits can help you develop self-discipline in other areas of your life.