As some of you may already know (especially if you follow my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/loveyourgut.ca), I am fresh off a weekend in Los Angeles where I attended a conference called Farms2Forks. In fact, as I write this, I’m still here. It was an Engine 2 Diet and Forks Over Knives immersion. I ate delicious vegan food for 2 1/2 days, and was so excited to be fortunate enough to listen to lectures by some of America’s leading plant-based physicians. Not only are these amazing individuals vegan, they treat their patients (whether it be heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or any other chronic illness) with…what else? A low-fat, plant-based diet. That’s it, folks.
The line-up was as follows:
Rip Esselstyn, author of The Engine 2 Diet and son of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, who is internationally recognized for his plant-based clinical research and practice at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic. (Dr. Esselstyn is partially credited for convincing former United States President Bill Clinton to adopt a vegan diet.) One word to decribe Rip? ENERGY. The man was a former professional vegan triathlete! Rip gave lectures on:
1- “The U.S. Heathcare Crisis” and defined the standard American diet. (Which Canadians also follow.) The acronym for this type of diet is appropriately S.A.D.
2- “Strategies for Eating Out.” (Plant-based)
3- “How to Dramatically Change Your Health in 28 Days.” Can you take a guess? Eat plant-strong!
Jeff Novick, MS, RD, LD, LN. (Yep– that’s alot of education!) Jeff was seriously hilarious. I kinda felt like I was watching stand-up when he was lecturing. Jeff’s participated in the publication of more than just a few books and DVDs, including the ones listed here. He gave talks on the following:
1- “Lighten Up: Weighing in on the Weight Debate.” Why is American so heavy? Ask Jeff. He’ll tell you it’s because we eat WAY too much crappy food.
2- “Calorie Density: How to Eat More and Weigh Less.” Calorie density. How many of you know what that means? (I was hazy on it…) Essentially, calorie density refers to situations like this: if one pound of kale has as many calories as 1/4 cup of sesame seeds, which would fill you up more? The kale, right? Kale has low calorie density; seeds are high. So, when we choose our food, we should try and eat foods with low calorie density, and that way we can eat more, and feel full.
This is the example that Jeff gave: say you go into a restaurant, and ordered a pasta. (High caloric density.) Instead of getting a whole plate of pasta, ask the server to give you half the pasta, but fill up the other half of the plate with veggies. You still get a full plate of food for dinner, but because the veggies have a much lower caloric density, you end up consuming a little over half of the original calories. Get it? Same amount of food, half the calories.
3- “Should I Eat That? How to Choose the Healthiest Foods.” This lecture was all about how to grocery shop and read labels properly. I wasn’t very surprised to learn that food labels are PURPOSELY misleading so that consumers get confused and buy products they shouldn’t. I know– shocking. Here’s an example:
4- He also showed all 300 of us how to cook awesome, plant-based meals in under 10 minutes. He was truly a superstar. 🙂
Dr. Doug Lisle, Ph.D: this man is FUNNY. A former lecturer in psychology at Stanford University, Dr. Lisle showed us all how get the hell out of “the pleasure trap” and get serious about eating well. He lectured on the following:
1- “The Pleasure Trap.” How to understand why we eat the way we do, and break the cycle. Mucho informative and humorous as hell.
2- “Getting Along Without Going Along.” This lecture was extremely helpful for those of us who feel that they are constantly under fire for not eating what others think we should. One of his strategies that I personally found hilarious, was regarding how to respond to the question that every plant-based eater gets asked CONSTANTLY: “How do you get your protein??” His purposely humble answer? “I don’t know.” Kinda diffuses the situation immediately, doesn’t it? I’m laughing right now as I write this…and laughing again as I edit it.
An interesting piece of info I learned from Dr. Lisle is that our bodies are constantly recycling proteins. It’s something we all do, and we will never have a protein deficiency unless we’re starving. He says that when people ask where vegans get their protein, we should answer “human flesh.” (lol) He says, “You know how you test for protein deficiency? If the patient is able to walk into my office, he doesn’t have one.” FUNNY.
Dr. Matthew Lederman, MD. This proud, new(ish) papa gave a great lecture on “Western Medicine and Nutrition: A Clinical Experience.” This man is all about us becoming informed participants in our own health and well-being, by understanding and learning to identify and wade through the onslaught of misinformation that is fed to us by our current healthcare system(s). He’s a total advocate for us all taking control of our own health. Don’t you wish you had a doctor like him?
Dr. John McDougall was very anticipated by all of us. A last-minute replacement for Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, who unfortunately was involved in a bicycle accident that has left him recovering for approximately 3 months (get well soon!), Dr. McDougall was incredibly informative. He has penned many books, his most recent being The Starch Solution. He gave a lecture titled “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease,” which he has done with thousands of patients, and has had an insanely high success rate. Remember, his patients are put on a low-fat, plant-based diet. That’s it. That’s amazing.
Last, but certainly not least, was the HILARIOUS Jane Esselstyn, Rip’s sister. Jane is a nurse, a mother, a sex-ed teacher, and an amazing plant-based chef. She gave all of us a cooking demo, was in charge of all of our meals over the weekend, and they were all DELISH! She also got us up and moving, mostly to Katy Perry and Black-Eyes Peas. 😀
Here are some of the crazy, awesome, low-fat, 100% vegan dishes I ate this weekend, thanks to Jane (almost everything had kale in it):
One of the things I loved most about these people, was the fact that they are all SO passionate about getting the average Joe to understand that there is a business behind current heathcare practices, and that our well-being is NOT the number one priority of that business. All of these lecturers are angry at the information that American citizens are being given with regards to health and medicine. They all firmly believe and have shown in their practices and experiences that a plant-based diet is the best medicine one can come by: and it’s all up to us. They can’t force anyone to believe their claims, but the proof is in their patients. And there are thousands of them.
Dr. McDougall believes in the power of plant-food so much, that he actually said, in front of 300 people: “How often does this dietary change (done correctly…no cheating…low-fat, no oil, plant-based) reverse chronic disease? 100% of the time.” That’s powerful.
Here are some of the quotes I took that I thought were worth sharing:
1- “Blaming corn for the health implications of consuming heavily-processed corn products is nutritional schizophrenia.” –Jeff Novick
2- “Don’t stuff and don’t starve.” –Jeff Novick
3- “Never, ever, believe ANYTHING you read on the front of a food package. Ever.” –Jeff Novick
4- In regards to health claims: “You hear one-sided information about things. You have to look at the total picture. You don’t buy a car just because it’s red.” –Jeff Novick (He then went on to tell us that his wife DID actually buy a car just because it was red, but that was an extraordinary circumstance…lol)
5- “What you need to qualify for angioplasty in the United States: a heart, and good medical insurance.” –Dr. McDougall
6- “Good medical therapy: eating well. Changing people’s diets.” –Dr. McDougall
7- “The mass majority of your protein comes from recycling your own tissue. Protein needs are very small, and protein deficiencies are virtually unheard of.” –Dr. Lisle
8- “Diseases of deficiency are rare. What’s the only deficiancy disease we see in the United States? Phyto-nutrient deficiency.” –Dr. Lisle
So, how would I rate my weekend? 10/10! Why do I feel this way? I spent 2-3 days with fun, real, informative people who love food and love life. I learned more in that amount of time, than I would have if I were to read about the same topics for the next two months. I feel like I’m much more confident in knowing exactly what I’m talking about in regards to the countless benefits of a plant-based diet, and I feel much more informed about continuing a super-clean way of eating. I feel inspired, motivated, and empowered. I’m on day 3 of being completely vegan and oil-free, and I don’t intend to look back. All you need to do is take a hard look at the speakers from this conference to see that this way of eating contributes to low body weight, defined muscle, smooth, younger-looking skin, and ENERGY!
It was a good weekend. Now go have a great week! 😀