American College of Lifestyle Medicine and Food for Life, baby!

A brief caveat:  I haven’t written anything besides an evite since nursing school and I’m sure I’m going to struggle finding my voice in this blog.  I know I used to be a good writer lo, these many years ago, and I’m excited to get back to that.  Please, God, let me get back to that.  I’m cringing right now, reading my stilted prose but I promise to get better, as fast as humanly possible…

Almost a year ago, my husband and I went to the American College of Lifestyle Medicine’s conference in San Diego.  It was an event for a couple reasons: it was the first solo trip my husband and I had been on since our daughters were born 3 and 5 years prior (cue angels singing) and it was a veritable who’s who of nutrition dignitaries.  Dean Ornish, T. Colin Campbell, Michael Gregor and Caldwell Esselstyn were just a few of the notables speaking; I geeked out just being on the same elevator as Michael Gregor and even though I’d basically heard his speech before, somehow hearing it from HIM made it better.  The other thing was that the conference was at least 500 people, correction, 500 like-minded people who all believed that Americans are slowly killing themselves with a knife and fork AND that we have the power to prevent and even, reverse disease.  It was a heady experience.  Oh, and the food was amazing.  A-MAZing.  I felt bad looking at the boring food other conferences were being subjected to.  Well, not that bad.

Prior to this, I’d worked as a pediatric nurse, mostly in the intensive care unit.  I applied to Master’s programs in both peds and adult medicine but the latter was very begrudgingly;  I didn’t like working with adults and their co-morbidities and there was always the vague blaming going on.  Blaming, in that they had brought this on themselves because they didn’t have enough will power to put down the potato chips, cigarettes and candy.  Graduate school was delayed by the birth of my daughters and in that time, I started eating plant based, then started eating healthy plant based and learning more about how the food industry stacks the deck against people being healthy AND I started working in an adult ER.  This was eye opening, mostly in that now I had individual faces who were suffering, it wasn’t faceless statistics on obesity, heart attacks, strokes and diabetes.  I was seeing people losing digits and limbs from diabetes, losing their lives from clogged arteries and knowing that it was all so preventable made me angry, but I still felt powerless.  I’d gently mention a plant based diet here or there, answer vague questions on protein and calcium  but I could tell I wasn’t getting through.  I felt like I didn’t have the credentials to persuade people and I was leery about my ability to counsel someone through a change.

At the ACLM conference I found out about Food For Life, the PCRM’s community outreach arm (at least, that’s what I call it) and the spark that had been being nurtured burst into flame.  Here was a turn-key, guided nutrition program with recipes, scripting if desired and the full support of the prestigious Physician’s Committee.  I went for it, hook, line and sinker, turning in my application within a month (had to get my cooking demo just right, ya know) and then realizing that the deadline for submission was 5 long months away.  Finally, June 12, 2015 came and when I received my congratulatory email, I may or may not have screamed, startling my 5 and 3 year olds who then joined me in a celebration dance around our kitchen.  I was going to go to Washington D.C. in August.

What happened in August?  That’s a topic for next time, my lovelies.

Jumping in!

I’ve been thinking about doing this blog thing for a long time now; I’m definitely late to the game.  For awhile I was content to read what others had to say, maybe comment (maybe not) but more and more I’ve been feeling like I have something to say, hence what you’re reading now!

My name is Elyse and I’ve been vegan for over 4 years.  Being vegan wasn’t something I thought I’d ever be, wasn’t on my radar at. ALL.  Soon, I’ll write about how I came to this way of eating and living but for now I’ll stick to why I started this blog.  When I started eating vegan I initially replaced all my favorite foods with vegan versions which, while delicious and lacking cholesterol and saturated fat, could hardly have been called healthy.  Over time, I started eating a less processed diet and moved to one very low in oil, sugar and salt.  I haven’t eschewed them completely but the use of them is few and far between.  Currently, I work in a busy emergency room and while I can’t quote exact statistics, I’d say a large majority of the patients I see have problems stemming from their consuming what is known as the standard American diet (SAD).   I’ve been trying, when the opportunity presented itself, to tell people about the benefits of eating plant based, of how to get their calcium, protein, etc. without meat, dairy or eggs but I’ve felt like I can only reach a few people that way, and I haven’t felt confident enough in my ability to express myself in a persuasive way.  To that end, I took T. Colin Campbell’s eCornell plant based nutrition course and I’ve just become a Food For Life instructor through the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (hereafter to be known as PCRM; I do not type fast and the less characters I have to go through, the better!).  I’m beyond excited to start teaching people through actual classes about how easy and delicious this way of eating is.  I’ll be back regularly with posts about various nutrition topics, about how I went vegan, and about classes I’m going to teach.  I look forward to “meeting” you!