My slumber party in cardiovascular intensive care

This past week I've spent time on a cardio intensive care unit at the bedside of my elderly father who's been battling pneumonia. The first night, as the early morning dawn was filterhing through a closed blind, I finally fell asleep curled up on a hard chair as I snuggled three pillows that a nurse kindly provided for my comfort.

One has much time to think in ICU as there’s not much else to do except watch the beeping monitors and listen to the quiet scuffles at the nurses’ stations. However, every once in a while a new arrival is wheeled past by an entourage of attendants; fresh from the recovery room.   

I was talking with one of the nurses, and she was telling me that most all of the patients in that particular unit were transferred there directly from heart bypass surgery. Looking through their glass doors, each appeared to be about my age; some looked a bit older, but most were "younger" looking. AND I'm sure that many will go right back to consuming chicken breasts, fries, and hot fudge sundaes as soon as they can get their hands on them again. After all, I’m almost certain that they were going to be sent home with a generous supply of Lipitor and Plavix so they could continue to participate in a gluttonous lifestyle. 

I'm beginning to think that perhaps it’s unethical to consume foods that promote disease. It's an astronomical burden not only to our health care system, but to the families who care for, and financially support these loved ones.

I don't know, do we have a moral obligation to consider the well-being of others who may be left with the overwhelming responsibility of being a caregiver?

Do we have a moral obligation to not squander the world's food supply and financial resources upon ourselves?

Note the image above. The obese, depressed woman in the middle was me four years ago. Back then I had to consume nearly 3700 calories a day just to maintain 100 lbs of fat. Oops, pardon me, I’ll be politically correct and call it "adipose tissue". That's enough food to feed two or three people. Was that morally right?

Should any of us be devouring the resources of this world while children starve in third world countries; or worse yet, have no clean water to drink?

What is ethical?

Do we turn heads to the cries of the needy to indulge in pleasures that never satisfy?

Recently, I was on the Dr. Oz show. Yes, it was fun. Yes, it was a hoot to be able to inspire the women of America to shed pounds the safe and healthy way. No doubt about it, it was an experience of a lifetime; something that I can tell my future grandkids someday. Yet, I can't help but wonder why we, as a culture, have made eating for health such a negative, foreign thing as if it is to be avoided like the plague.  

Eating for health is never a "have to" . . . . oh my, just the opposite. We have an amazing PRIVILEGE given to us!!!

It's a "get to" . . . . to know and apply information that will literally save us kazillions of dollars and millions of minutes of needless suffering and shame!

What a joy.

What a privilege.

What an indescribable blessing to have the gift of health available to us, literally, everyday for the rest of our lives!

For anyone discouraged. For anyone down-in-the-dumps. For anyone feeling like food cravings are just too big of an obstacle to successfully and permanently overcome - don't believe the lie. There are some real down-and-outers out there; be free by running in the opposite direction of their negativity, and tune into the voice of Dr. Fuhrman's nutritional recommendations instead! Don't get ensnared and entangled by their ignorant deceit. They are only satisfied when they have enticed you into their net of captivity.


The truth of the matter is . . . disease is just too big of an obstacle to deal with.

Repeat: Disease is just too big of an obstacle to deal with.

No human should suffer needlessly. Our bodies weren't made to lie in ICU beds on beautiful days in May, hooked up to machines, and caught in a vicious cycle of expensive medications, lab tests, and doctor appointments for the rest of our lives. No way! Our bodies were designed to function in full health. Vibrant health. Unburdened by rolls of fat, aches, pains, and chests cut open & torn apart to temporarily repair the senseless damage within. We are masterpiece works of art - designed for beauty, fresh air, and a fully functioning body!

Kick fat and disease out the door.

Go for it.

Do it!

Don't hang out with those who think you are crazy for earning health back. Don't listen to those who think you are an odd-ball because you eat only when hungry.  Turn a deaf ear to the naysayers.  Cultivate new and healthy friendships; AND be willing to be laughed at, scoffed at, and ridiculed for living in health!

Be normal. Be free from addiction. Be vibrant. Be healthy!

Let's all replace the gluttonous hoarding of resources with selfless generosity by living in the best health that’s possible. 

Freedom to all!


PS   For those unfamiliar with my story, almost four years ago I lost 100 lbs (it took about a year); and most importantly, I got rid of toxic food cravings that controlled my life for over twenty years, high blood pressure, heart disease, and pre-diabetes.  I had literally starved myself to obesity by eating the standard American diet.  

My success tip is to follow Dr. Fuhrman's nutritional recommendations, no matter what. 

No excuse (to not do it, or to give up) is a valid one . . . .for to live in denial of food addiction's power is to remain its prisoner.   



image credits:  children; flickr by Feed My Starving Children (FMSC)


Eating for Health in Action: My Interview with Myra

I feel pretty grateful. Over the years at my now almost alma mater (one week until I will be able to hold (actually make that hug) my diploma!), I’ve met some wonderful, health conscious friends who view food as medicine, just like I do. This wasn’t always the case, especially during freshman year of college when I couldn’t find a sole who would rather consume a large salad over a greasy bowl of fries. I’d find myself in uncomfortable social situations, wishing I could just get my hands on some kale chips or fresh fruit while my new friends were cooking up hamburgers and pasta. Lucky for me, I’ve met health conscious friends over time and I figured it’s high time I interviewed one of these special friends so that they can share with you their experiences living health consciously in our world of junk food ubiquity.

My friend, Myra, is super cool. Not only does she share my love of salads with unusual toppings like eggplant and figs, but she also is never one to turn down an opportunity to keep her body in shape. Not only does she have experience dancing, but she currently teaches Zumba classes (a Latin dance inspired aerobics workout). Myra is as passionate about making the right food choices as she is about having a fun workout and we immediately bonded over this. She is an inspiring voice for anyone wishing to make superior eating choices and follow an active lifestyle. She gushes with enthusiasm about how both her nutrient-rich diet and creative workouts make her feel energetic, de-stressed and ready to tackle even the most frustrating term paper. Welcome to Followhealthlife, Myra!  

1)     What was your diet like growing up?

In elementary school and middle school, life for my family was all about convenience and what foods were at hand. We ate a lot of frozen foods, fast food and deli meats. My mom had a full-time job and our priority was always speed rather than health. As I got older, we began learning about the importance of making conscious food choices and our eating habits changed drastically. I haven’t touched fast food since middle school.

2)     What motivates you to make the right food choices now?

I like waking up feeling like I have energy and am ready to conquer the day without having to rely on coffee to get out of bed. I want to look and feel my best, and of course, this means eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. I’ve lost a bunch of weight eating more green vegetables, raw veggies and fruits and I’ve never felt better. Teaching Zumba classes means that I have to have enough energy to motivate others. I can’t do this if I fuel myself with junk foods. I’d actually feel nauseous or sick if I ate processed foods before a workout.

3)      How do you handle events with friends who eat conventionally?

I find it useful to have premeditated guidelines in my head of what foods I should eat for lunch or for the evening. Most restaurants are pretty accommodating when I ask for a salad with walnuts instead of cheese or a vegetable dish without salt. Knowing what type of foods I want before I go out helps me make the right food choices rather than ordering something spontaneously that I might regret later. 

4)     What advice do you have for those wishing to become more physically active?

People tend to think of exercise as something that they have to do, but it’s important to change your mindset about it. Exercise can be fun, used as a stress reliever, and an opportunity to focus on yourself. It doesn’t have to be painful the same way that healthy eating doesn’t have to be bland and taste awful. If you are more open to the idea of beginning an exercise program, there are certainly ways to make it fun and something to look forward to. It’s important to be honest with yourself and your goals and there are so many different types of exercise programs to try- it’s important to find a form of exercise that’s suits your personality.

Myra is a wonderful role model for her students, but an equally nice person and friend. The picture here is of Myra and I at the dock by our local farmers market. Thank you for the inspiring interview, Myra!


Happy Mother's Day!

This Mother’s Day we salute all the mothers who are raising children to appreciate and embrace eating for health. It’s no easy task in the midst of a culture fixated on junk food that’s readily available everywhere one turns.  And it’s even more difficult if we, as moms, are getting a late start in establishing healthy eating habits ourselves.

However, we must persevere and creatively find ways to feed our children high-nutrient foods even if peers, close friends, and extended relatives are eating for disease. The childhood years are laying the foundation for cancer and other diseases to occur later in life; it’s not the time to throw-in-the-towel and give up.

Dr. Fuhrman wrote in Onlyourhealth Your Child, “I tell parents that if they follow my advice their child will no longer require frequent visits to the doctor. With most frequently ill children, more medicine is not the answer.”

“More and more evidence emerges each year that the diets we eat in our childhood have far-reaching effects on our adult health and specifically on whether we get cancer. Similarly, there is an abundance of scientific research that supports the need for a dietary lifestyle that protects our children from other serious diseases.” 1


Moms, let’s keep keeping on!

Happy Mother’s Day!

The above picture was submitted by one of our Onlyourhealth readers; this is daughter Clara, age 10, enjoying a green smoothie made with papaya, banana and spinach.


Blended Mango Salad
Serves: 2

2  ripe mangos, peeled and chopped or 2 1/2 cups frozen mango chunks
1 cup chopped spinach
4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1/4 cup unsweetened soy, hemp or almond milk

Place mangos in a food processor or high-powered blender.
Add the spinach and half the lettuce. Blend until well combined. Add the milk and remaining lettuce. Blend until creamy.


Waldorf Blended Salad
Serves: 1

1/2  cup pomegranate Juice
1 apple, peeled and cored
1/4 cup walnuts
4 cups kale and/or Boston lettuce
1/4 cup water or ice cubes 
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Blend all ingredients in high powered blender.


 Related post: Moms, we have the most influence 


PS  For the fun of it I'm posting two pictures below that were taken on Mother's Day weekend, exactly four years a part.  The image on the left was taken in 2008, and the image on the right was taken this Mother's Day weekend.  Little did I know twenty-five years ago, when I was pregnant with my first child, just how important it would be for me and my family to eat a high-nutrient diet. 

Moms, it's up to us to lead the way and set the example for our children to follow.   We set the pace.  We purchase over 90% of the nation's food supply.  What a privilege and responsibility we have to change the food culture for generations to come. 

Go greens!  Go Moms!   


1.        Fuhrman, M.D., Joel, 2005, Onlyourhealth Your Child, pp. xxi,xxii, Martins’ Griffin, NY 

Have a plan and stick to it

Getting out and staying out of food addiction isn't that hard per se, but one must be vigilant and persistent at all times. 

I liken it to learning to ride a bike. 

A beginner may have some spills before he/she learns proper balancing skills to ride a bike without falling.  It may even take some extra reinforcement like a parent’s helpful hand of guidance, or a pair of training wheels attached to the bike for stability, but eventually with practice, one learns to successfully ride without thinking about it anymore. Riding a bike becomes automatic, and then one is no longer focused on the learning process, but instead enjoys the pure pleasure of the scenic ride.  

However, one must always be careful not to ride too fast on gravel, not to ride near the edge of pavement, and pay close attention to busy intersections; otherwise a major accident could happen, even to the most seasoned cyclist.  Likewise, I’ve learned that it still takes careful planning and diligence on my part to continue to make wise choices that prevent me from wandering back into food addiction.  

For instance, it’s typically my habit to get up at the same time every morning, sit and read with the therapeutic light, exercise, and then shower and get ready for the day. Those times that I make repetitive, unwise choices like staying up too late the night before, resulting in my early morning routine thrown out the window – if habitually repeated, I eventually become psychologically out-of-sorts . . . and then I become apathetic. [I’m not referring to an occasional late night or two here and there, because life happens, but repetitive poor planning stringed together for several days on end.]

For me, apathy is dangerous, because the “I don’t care” attitude is the stepping stone into the slippery slope of addiction.  Even with the physiological cravings for the standard American diet gone; practically off the radar screen of desire anymore, I could still revert back to psychological and emotional attachments to food if I’m not careful. I could easily eat oat bars with almond butter when stressed, or fruit sweetened ice-cream when not hungry.

For recovering food addicts it’s important not to fall prey to the “I don’t care” trap as a result of poor planning and unwise choices.

Have a plan and stick to it, no matter what ~ one of the keys to ongoing success.   



image credits:  flckr by paulhami and Team Traveller