Here’s a review of my history with Whole Food Plant Based Eating (WFPB) up to my current status:
I became vegan on July 5, 2005, at the age of 45, because it seemed like a good idea to stop eating animals (and it was!). I waited until after the shrimp boil on July 4 in Biloxi, MS with my family. I didn’t know how to be a vegan so I read a book on vegan nutrition (Becoming Vegan, by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina). I got lucky because that is a really good book. So I accidentally started off by eating a healthy diet. My health improved dramatically and I was shocked because I didn’t think diet had anything to do with health (duh!). I looked around for clues and found Dr. McDougall and Dr. Fuhrman websites. I followed Dr. McDougall for a while and then decide Dr. Fuhrman had the best science backing him up so I joined the Fuhrman forums in 2006.
After about 5 years following Fuhrman I started going crazy with my eating, first bingeing on smoothies and date-nut desserts and even carrots and soups, and then going off plan altogether and bingeing on vegan junk food. The reason for the binges is that you think it is as a last supper kind of thing and you want to get in everything you can before you have to go back on plan. I think another reason is that I wasn’t eating enough. I got really thin after the first few years. You really need to eat a lot when you stay on plan--not so much when you go off plan a lot (the sugar and flour messes with your hormonal balance--insulin, lepton etc). I was influenced by a friend who decided to go the low-fat route and I joined her and we started following Rip and Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. McDougall. Oh what a disaster that was, lol. I binged on low-fat “Whole grain” vegan muffins and cookies. So that didn’t go very well. I figured out I need to stay away from flour and sugar.
I joined Chef AJ’s Ultimate Weight Loss program in Jan 2015. This is a low-fat WFPB program that doesn’t include flour and sugar. I did that for a month but I ate tons and tons of Japanese sweet potatoes and it made me very tired and I didn’t lose any weight.
About that time, Bright Line Eating came along. I wanted to lose weight for a dream-of-a-lifetime backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon so I joined the BLE bootcamp in Feb. 2015. There are 4 bright lines with BLE: 1) no sugar, 2) no flour, 3) meals (3-4 per day), and 4) quantities (weighed and measured). I hated the 3rd and 4rth bright lines, but I white-knuckled the program and stuck to it (mostly) until after the awesome backpacking trip. In retrospect, the weight loss plan was not a good idea for me, an active tall (albeit older) woman. It was way too little food. No wonder it was so hard. I got to goal weight in about 4 months, but then didn’t realize how much I needed to eat on maintenance, and I started going off plan more and more. After the backpacking trip, I gave up altogether and left BLE and waded through the sugar and flour weeks for a couple of months.
So now it was January 2017, and I knew again I didn’t want to eat flour and sugar (really didn’t want to), but I didn’t see the need for the 3rd and 4rth bright lines when you follow a WFPB diet. So I re-joined Chef AJ’s Ultimate Weight Loss program. I didn’t really have much weight to lose, I just wanted to get on track with a WFPB program that doesn’t include flour and sugar--and that’s Chef AJ’s program. I am forever grateful to her and her program because I did get off flour and sugar. I haven’t had any since April 21, 2017 (I had one slip-up after starting her program). So that is 551 days so far. However, guess what, I got really thin again because I wasn’t eating fat, and knew not to binge on Japanese sweet potatoes this time around. The way UWL and also Dr. McDougall’s Maximum Weight Loss program work is that you don’t eat any added fat and you only eat Whole Foods, and the idea is you can eat as much as you like. Well, I love to eat, so I ate a lot. I ate all day long. Then in the Fall, I started getting digestive issues. I think it was the winter squash combined with eating lots of raw veggies all day long (compulsively). I had loose bowels for about 4 months, which interfered with my hiking goals and life in general.
I started thinking: you know what, I need to reign in quantities and only eat at mealtime. Gee, that sounds like BLE’s 3rd and 4rth lines. So guess what, I rejoined BLE in Feb. 2018. I’ve been doing that since, and as of right now I have 180 days of following my bright lines. I’m happy to follow all four bright lines and I eat tons of food so am not tempted to go off plan.
In addition I find that I feel best when I eat a lot of beans and veggies and nuts and seeds and not a lot of starches and grains. That sounds like Fuhrman’s plan, so, guess what, I’m back to doing the Fuhrman plan. I eat tons of beans, veggies, some fruit, some starch if I want it, and 3.5 oz of nuts/seeds per day. My digestion is in good shape and I have a lot of energy. And I’m focused on other things in my life besides food. I eat simply and it takes less time that way.
So that’s where I am now: following BLE and Dr. Fuhrman. It seems to be working for me right now. But stay tuned for my next wishy-washy decision.