On Nov. 21, the day before the Little Guy turned 10-months old, our family hit its six-month anniversary of being plant strong. Since May 21, 2012 we have eaten a whole food, plant-based diet with no added oil or white sugar.
In that six months, my husband lost 46 pounds. I have returned to a number on the scale I haven’t seen since college (although the weight is in different places, thanks to the Little Guy). In addition to the weight loss, I have clearer skin and I truly believe it has been a factor in the speed of my recovery from pelvic reconstruction surgery.
Our son has been plant strong for three-fifths of his life. His transition to table foods was a primary impetus for our complete lifestyle makeover. The other major factors were eliminating obesity for my husband and for me the fact that my father and his brother died because of complications of type 2 diabetes.
Now, in addition to typically 24 ounces of soy-based formula each day, the Little Guy eats what we eat. And even though he is a very low weight for his age and that caused his doctor to ask us to keep a food diary and diagnose him with “failure to thrive” (which, in turn has lead to pending interaction from early childhood special education services), we are confident that he gets a balance of complete nutrients. For Thanksgiving, for example, we all ate a wonderful meal of roasted vegetables, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing and peach pie. My husband made all of those things from scratch and the meal was truly amazing.
My husband and I are happy and committed to our choice. But it was our choice. As the Little Guy gets older, I know he will want to be like the other kids. And, ultimately, I know he will need to decide for himself how he will eat when he leaves our “nest.” I hope we give him the tools he needs to make an educated decision when the time comes. Until then, I know that when he is at home he will eat what is served for dinner. And I know we will pack him plant-strong lunches. But when he is not with us, he will need to make choices.
I must have been thinking about this a lot yesterday because I had a dream about it. In the dream the Little Guy was about 6 or 7 years old. He had just come home from spending time with friends and was sullen. My husband and I were both home and when we asked him what was wrong he said his stomach was upset and burst into tears. Sobbing he said: “I’m going to die like grandpa.” And then, gasping after each word “I. Ate. A. Cheeseburger.” The dream ended with me explaining to him that my father ate unhealthful things for many, many years and didn’t change his ways like the doctors advised for many more and that there was no way he would die like grandpa from one cheeseburger.
I hope that never happens. I hope we can teach him that we eat this way because we want to live long, healthy, productive lives free of the complications of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other so called Western diseases. I hope he feels free to make his own choices. But I also hope that the commitment we’ve made teaches him the values of good nutrition, what real food should taste like and not to be afraid to try new things.
He’s already eaten foods I didn’t encounter until college: Purple potatoes, rutabaga and lentils among them. His favorite meal of all is black beans and rice. And, because we know the ingredients are sound, he’s even had peach cobbler for breakfast. Can’t beat that, right?