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cheeseDon’t you want to have strong teeth and bones?
As children we were told to drink our milk.  It’s a staple for most kids’ breakfast. After all, what else are you going to have with your cereal. We enjoy dairy products in the form of cheese, ice cream, yogurt and so on.  In addition to having strong teeth and bones, we need to make sure we have enough protein, right?  What better way to get protein in your diet than to order a green chile cheeseburger or a steak cooked to perfection.  It’s great tasting, it’s convenient and chances are, it’s what we all grew up on. But are dairy and meat products truly good for our bodies? Search the internet and you’ll find as many blogs, stories and articles that support meat and dairy consumption as you’ll find that are against it.

So who do you believe?

A few months ago I came across a movie that really had me thinking about what I was eating and how it was affecting my body. The movie is called Forks Over Knives. (If you’re interested, you can view the movie on the official website at http://www.forksoverknives.com/rentonline/ or on Hulu http://www.hulu.com/watch/279734 ).

A quote from the official website states, “The animal protein, fat, and cholesterol (even nonfat/skim milk contains cholesterol) all contribute to heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, and other major chronic disease.” What does that mean to me? I’m a fairly healthy person. I have no major health problems. My cholesterol and blood pressure are low. As far as I know, there are no existing factors that put me at risk for diabetes or any other illness. So, why should I be concerned about my consumption of dairy and meat?

The movie made me wonder, would my health be different if I changed my eating habits? After all, I do have some minor issues with lactose. I would not say that I am 100% lactose-intolerant. I do eat cheese, cottage cheese, some types of ice cream, yogurt, and none of those seem to cause any issues for me. However, I cannot drink milk without feeling the effects of it. The same goes for certain brands of ice cream (weird, huh?) or eating cheesy entrées from restaurants such as fettucine alfredo or cheese ravioli. So, if lactose only bothers me some of the time, but not all the time, am I lactose-intolerant? I don’t know the answer to that, but as a precaution, I am usually careful when eating dairy.

What about meat? Does my body react negatively to that as well? As odd as it sounds, yes, it does. The percentage of the fat content in meat (primarily ground beef) will cause distress as well. It happens infrequently, but just enough to know that my body didn’t like what I just ate. Yet, that doesn’t stop me from enjoying a good burger or steak. I enjoy chicken and pork as well, especially around the holidays. Nothing says winter is here like a steaming bowl of posole with a tamale on the side.

While I watched the movie, I thought not only of my health, but the health of my family. Would we see a drastic change in our overall health if we made different choices? Would it be hard to break the bad habits of grabbing for a soda and chips as opposed to reaching for an apple or a vegetable?

I didn’t have the answer, but I was willing to find out.

I’m a meat-eater. My favorite vegetables are potatoes and corn. I didn’t eat salads until I was in my 20’s. On any given day, the number of vegetables I would consume would be zero, unless you count the lettuce that comes in tacos. I never drank water. My main source of liquid nourishment was Pepsi. If I had a piece of fruit and a bag of chips in front of me, I would grab for the chips and end up throwing the fruit away when it started to rot. It was always easier to reach for fatty, processed food than it was for me to peel a banana.

So how is a junk-food junkie supposed to make these changes? Would it be possible? Or would I cave within the first 24hrs?

Yesterday, on Cinco de Mayo Sunday, I started my transition. I went shopping and bought more vegetables than I would have probably eaten in an entire year. I added a variety of fruits to the shopping basket, as well as pre-made vegetable & fruit juice (no preservatives or added sugar).

This was the day that I decided I was going to stop eating meat and dairy and add more vegetables to my diet. I love fruit so that was not going to be a difficult change. I just needed to actually eat it before it sat and rotted on the kitchen counter. So, for breakfast I had a fruit and green juice smoothie. For lunch, I had pasta with tomato sauce and for dinner I caved in and had chips & salsa. Wait? Did I fail already?  Not at all. Tostitos are made from corn, right? *grinning*. Obviously not the most healthy choice considered the chips are a processed food. Can I help if that they were taunting me from the kitchen counter? I had to show them who’s boss!

Now that I’ve started my week off by eliminating meat and dairy from my diet, am I going to starve? Will I feel deprived and unsatisfied?
Check back in with me in another day or two and find out….. 🙂