No Longer Fat, Sick And Hungry: We Cured Arthritis And Pre Diabetes With Vegan Diet

Diane McConnel and Judith Fiore completely changed their lives with a plant-based diet
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Diane McConnell has completely turned her life around eating a plant-based diet

Diane McConnell has completely turned her life around eating a plant-based diet

It
was a damp, cold day in the west end of Toronto,
in the fall of 2012. As I rolled over in my bed, I could feel my swollen knees
aching beneath me. My other hip was hurting too, the one that had not been replaced
three months before. 

My lower back throbbed when I moved. My fingers were
swollen like balloons, painful as red hot pokers. 

I knew then that I was in big
trouble. I had thought that all my health troubles
were over, once I'd had my hip joint replaced at age 59, never anticipating
that my arthritis was progressive and would start spreading to my other joints.

'Expert'

I
waited in the crowded office of a doctor who specializes in arthritis,
surrounded by others who were overweight, in pain and struggling with walkers
and wheelchairs. 

This expert offered no hope of recovery. I was given a
prescription for an anti-inflammatory and another for pain management. 

The side
effects of these medications are severe, including bleeding from the rectum,
with the increased risk of heart attack and stroke. He also suggested that I
sign up for a government funded program on how to live with arthritis. My
future looked dismal and I was scared.

Dr. McDougall

I
couldn't help feeling that something must be causing this, something must be
aggravating my body's delicate balance of chemistry. If I could just find out
what that was. I started searching the web, looking for
answers. 

I typed in 'cure for arthritis' and stumbled across a doctor in California who is curing
not only some forms of arthritis, but heart disease, diabetes, high blood
pressure, high cholesterol, digestive issues and many other ailments. 

How, you
ask? He is administering a simple, whole food, plant-based, no-oil diet. Yup,
that is right, a diet that excludes the ingestion of all animal products. You
have got to be kidding.

I
watched Dr. John McDougall's lectures on YouTube for hours and then decided I
was going to give this plant-based diet thing a try. 

I had nothing to lose at
this point, so I decided to dive right in, to go all the way. I would give it
three months. I was going to see if there would be an improvement in my
condition. Let's see if this crazy idea of eating only plants actually works!

Dr. McDougall is known to have helped many people with their health (Photo: Facebook)

Dr. McDougall is known to have helped many people with their health (Photo: Facebook)

'Horrified'

I
was living with my father, nephew and niece at the time and informed them that
I was going to stop eating meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products for
three months. Instead, I would be eating fruits, vegetables, grains, beans,
nuts and seeds, and see if I could stop the progression of my disease. 

My nephew
was horrified that I was no longer going to eat meat and cheese. What will you
eat? How will you get your protein? Will you ever feel satisfied and satiated
again?

I
believe that if you are in pain as I was at the time, that giving up cheeseburgers,
pizzas and racks of ribs would be easy if it meant you could cure your heart
disease, diabetes, obesity and arthritis. 

I thought, if this will give me my
health back, then I have to try it. I would challenge anyone who is desperately
sick, that this simple diet change is well worth the effort it takes to get
your life back.

Plant-based

I
downloaded Dr. McDougall's free 10-day meal plan from his website, drmcdougall.com. The brilliance of his program
is its simplicity. You prepare a starch as the centre of your meal, and
surround it with fruits

and
vegetables. Starches provide your body with all the energy, protein and
nutrient requirements that your body needs each day.

Mashed
potatoes, steamed veggies and vegetable gravy are a favourite
meal of mine. Steel cut oats piled high with fresh berries and served with
almond milk, spaghetti in Marinara sauce and a green salad, lentil shepherds
pie, and vegetable chili with crusty bread are a few
of my favourite dishes.

I’ve discovered there is absolutely no deprivation. The food is 100 percent delicious, satisfying and the best part of all is you can eat as much as you like. This is a highly effective diet for losing weight easily without struggle. When that monster hunger drive of yours rears its ugly head, go ahead, eat all the food you want, just be sure it is the right kind of food. Just be sure it is all plant-based and oil-free food.

A whole food plant-based diet has done wonders for McConnell

A whole food plant-based diet has done wonders for McConnell

Cured

When
I started this way of eating I had no idea what impact whole plant food would
have on my body's ability to heal itself. 

Within seven days my arthritis was
completely gone. Yes, you read that correctly. Seven days! The inflammation was gone, and the pain was
gone. I was thrilled!

 That
was five years ago. My arthritis is in full remission, as long as I follow a
whole food, plant-based diet. I am no longer destined to a life of misery,
heading down the road to being confined to a wheelchair.

My
life has changed in every way. I have no pain. I don't take any medications or
painkillers. I can move freely without joint restrictions. I can walk for miles
and miles now. I have stamina and strength. I can do yoga.

Weight loss

The
bonus is I have lost 53 pounds as a by-product of eating this way, bringing my
weight down to a normal BMI of under 25. I am not fat anymore, so I feel better
about myself and of course I am healthier. I know I have stopped damaging my
arteries. 

I know that all the sludge and plaque that built up in my arteries
for 60 years is now clearing. The arteries to my brain are clearing. I know it
is highly unlikely I will ever have a heart attack or a stroke. I know I will
probably never have to take blood pressure pills, cholesterol pills, diabetes
pills, or painkillers for arthritis. I'm pretty sure I won't ever have to take
any medical drugs for any condition because I won't be developing any more
conditions! 

Now that I eat a healthy, wholesome, plant-based diet, I have added
thirty years of pain-free, active living onto my life. It was the food that was
making me sick. It was the meat, dairy products, and junk food. Who knew?

McConnell lost over 50 pounds by eschewing animal products from her diet - and eating starchy plant-based foods

McConnell lost over 50 pounds by eschewing animal products from her diet - and eating starchy plant-based foods

Cause

As
Dr. McDougall and a handful of other doctors have discovered, it is the food,
the standard Western diet, that is causing most of these chronic diseases like
my arthritis. 

The big killers are heart disease, diabetes
and cancer, and they are most likely to be prevented by eating a whole food
plant-based diet. 

It is the meat, dairy, and junk food that is making you sick.
You are injuring yourself three times a day, at breakfast, at lunch, and at dinner
with these typical bad food choices. 

You have to change the types of food you
are eating to get well again.

Pre-diabetic

Not
too far away, in the High
Park area of Toronto, Christmas was
approaching in the year 2011. Judith had to stop climbing the stairs half way
up, to catch her breath. She was only 52 years old, but felt winded and
exhausted. 

Her doctor had just told her because of her excess weight, that she
was pre-diabetic, with high cholesterol levels. This doctor was not only
suggesting medications to manage the cholesterol and diabetes, he was also
pushing her to have bariatric surgery. Anger flared up as she caught her breath
on the stairs, and she contemplated firing her doctor for good.

These
high test results were setting off alarm bells in Judith. Although she knew
this was a serious health situation, she had bargained with this doctor to give
her six months to lose some weight and get her
numbers back under control. 

She knew once she started taking pharmaceutical
drugs, they would be the first nails in her coffin, and a long painful road of
physical decline.

Judith Fiore was pre-diabetic

Judith Fiore was pre-diabetic

Weight

Christmas
came, and Judith went to town with the food. She ate everything in sight. She
knew she would start the diet in January so she decided to have one last
'hurrah' of all the treats she liked to eat. She remembers it was January 2nd
when she got on the scale and wasn't surprised at what it said. 

She now weighed
over 300 pounds. Never did she believe in this life time that her weight would
ever have gotten so out of control. Okay,
where to begin losing all this weight? 

Judith knew that cheese and dairy are
full of saturated fat and high in calories. She had done some research and also
saw a video showing terrible cruelty in the dairy
industry. This would be a good place to start, by cutting out all the dairy
products. 

Although she was addicted to cheese, she was committed to becoming
100% vegan, and to stop participating in the suffering
and killing of farm animals. Her conviction overruled her addiction and she
gave up the cheese permanently.

Eliminating animal foods

Next
she tackled the issue of eliminating meat, fish and eggs. She managed to slash
all the animal products from her diet, but was still eating tons of sugar. She
was still eating cookies, granola bars and vegan
ice cream. She was still eating a lot of pre-packaged junk. 

This is typically
known as a junk food vegan diet. No wonder she still wasn't feeling that great.
Somehow she believed that by eating lots of vegetables it would be alright to
indulge in the many vegan treats that are on the market today.

By
the end of June, Judith was back to see the doctor and got on the scale. She
had lost 33 pounds in six months. Her cholesterol had dropped back to normal
and her pre-diabetes was gone. 

Her doctor was pleased with her weight loss, but
still wanted her to have the bariatric surgery. That was it, she never made
another appointment to see this doctor again.

Fiore started seeing the extra pounds melting off when she adopted a plant-based diet

Fiore started seeing the extra pounds melting off when she adopted a plant-based diet

Life-saving

For
her next challenge, Judith decided to focus on nutrition and eating healthier
plant-based foods. She still had a lot of weight to lose and knew her health
wasn't exactly stellar at this point, even though she was
having lots of greens and fruits. The oil, salt and sugar in packaged food
still figured prominently.

A
severe bout of pericarditis nearly took Judith's life in the summer of 2014.
She believed that her vegan diet kept her alive during that difficult time. 

However, her blood pressure was high and her cardiologist put her on medication
to lower it. Judith took the pills, but her health was steadily worsening.

'The Starch Solution'

In
the spring of 2015, looking for a plant-based way to lower blood pressure,
Judith found Dr. John McDougall's website and bought his book 'The Starch
Solution'. 

She was beside herself with joy because here was a medical doctor
who has a comprehensive, healthy, whole food, plant-based program that is
backed by nutritional science. No more guess work. And the best part is she
didn't have to limit her carbohydrates. 

She could eat all the potatoes and rice
she wanted to. Dr. McDougall has demonstrated that the science isn't wrong. The
research shows that unrefined carbs are good for you, and Dr. McDougall's
followers show you can still lose weight by eating lots of potatoes, rice, and oatmeal.

Fiore has lost 65 pounds so far on the diet

Fiore has lost 65 pounds so far on the diet

Improved health

Judith
has been following Dr. McDougall’s guidelines for two years now and things in
her life has improved. She still has some bad days, but her general trajectory
is towards improved health and weight loss. 

She has dropped 65 pounds so far
and all her health indicators are well within normal ranges. She is off her
blood pressure medication, and her last reading was 118/80, down from an
average of 166/110.

When
Judith was on blood pressure medication she couldn't walk around the block
without feeling awful. She couldn't walk up and down the stairs without feeling
winded. Now she can walk up and down the stairs
without a thought. She walks daily for at least an hour at a good pace and
feels great. Every day she is getting stronger and feeling better.

Hope

How
has this lifestyle changed Judith's outlook? It has given her hope. It has
allowed her to think she has a future. Even though she still has weight to
lose, without this program Judith would never have had a shot at getting to a
normal size again. It's exciting. It's happening. 

This food plan is the means
to a normal body weight. Before this diet Judith felt hopeless. She would
regularly have thoughts of why bother, what's the point. She thought she was
never going to get healthy again, that she was just going to continue to decline. 

Judith has also noticed a new calmness in her demeanour and her mind is a lot
sharper with this change in her eating. She is looking forward to the future,
making plans and living a much happier life.

Judith
and I have literally saved our own lives by taking responsibility for our
health. 

We as individuals can control what foods go into our bodies. We can
control the exercise we do daily. We can control how interactive we are with
our friends and family. We can control how much sleep we get. 

All of these
things lead to improved health and wellbeing. And when you feel better, you
laugh more because you’re just happier.

McConnell and Fiore's book, Fed Up With Being Fat & Sick, is now available on Amazon

McConnell and Fiore's book, Fed Up With Being Fat & Sick, is now available on Amazon

Meetups

I
decided I wanted to meet other people in Toronto
who were eating the same whole food plant-based way that I was. I discovered
The Toronto Starch Solution Meetup Group. 

This group, with 170 members, follows
Dr. John McDougall's simple, whole food, plant-based lifestyle. We meet monthly
for a vegan potluck lunch, sharing the delicious foods we've prepared and
savouring each other's company. Our group is full of ordinary Torontonians who
have recovered from life-threatening illnesses by eating just plants.

This
is where Judith and I met and we have become extraordinary friends. As one of
the group's founding members, Dr. Judith Fiore, a naturopathic doctor, had the
brilliant idea of writing a book of stories about our group's members and what
happened to our health and weight when we started following this vegan
lifestyle.

As a group, our blood pressure and cholesterol meds have been thrown out the window. We are off 25 medications! Annoying little things like acid reflux, sciatica and back pain, psoriasis, menstrual cramps, and general pain are long gone. 

The best part is most of us are now at a normal weight. We have all kinds of energy and a new outlook on how the rest of our lives will play out. We've improved our outlook to the point where a few of us no longer deal with depression. This is nothing short of miraculous!

Book

Well,
Judith and I did write the book. 

'Fed Up with Being Fat and Sick' contains the
stories of 12 middle-aged, ordinary folks from Toronto who cut out the food poison of meat,
dairy, eggs, fish and oil, and follow Dr. McDougall's food plan. 

As a bonus, we
have a full interview with the man himself, Dr. McDougall. Three of the 12 of
us lost over 100 pounds each. In total, we have lost over 700 pounds. Three of
us cured our arthritis, three of us reversed our diabetes and three more got
off the pre-diabetic list. One of us reversed her heart disease and hasn't had
another incident in over twelve years.

Our
book, 'Fed Up With Being Fat & Sick' and is available on Amazon as a paperback
or Kindle publication. If you are suffering from a chronic illness, have small
or large amounts of weight to lose, and are not sure of where to turn, let us
inspire you with our stories. 

This is a book about hope: hope for a better
future, hope for getting your health and weight back on track, hope for knowing
your disease and weight aren't too far gone and that you can turn this thing
around, hope in knowing this is the true answer to improving your health and
losing weight that you have been in search of. 

When you are living pain-free,
disease-free, and you have bountiful amounts of energy along with having lost
all that excess weight, you feel wonderful. This is easy. Just eat potatoes,
corn, rice, beans, fruits and vegetables, and your future will hopefully be so
much better!

You can order 'Fed Up With Being Fat' & Sickhere

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