Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Why Vegan?

I've struggled with how to write this post and as I begin to write I'm not sure what exactly I will write. I want to be honest but Biblical, transparent but I'm really tired of being vulnerable.

Last spring and this summer, as many of you know, was rough around our home. I found food compulsions I thought were long gone resurfacing. I was sickened and filled with shame. I realized during this time  I was made for MORE than this. Really, I was. I also felt hopeless and fairly stuck in the cycle. 

I was speaking on a couple of spiritual disciplines at a local PWOC retreat in May. Part of the time was an hour to go away alone and listen and process what God was sharing with each of us. I had spoken right before this session on surrender. I asked God what He would have me surrender. He said "Chocolate." I argued. Really. How about Thailand? "Chocolate." This is SILLY. "Chocolate." For how long? "Chocolate." Alright then - chocolate. I gave up Chocolate on May 20, 2012. I have no idea how long this will last. I did have a few tastes in July and I did have a few bites of cake last week. I know that I'm to give up chocolate until it no longer masters me. 

I learned a lot through this. God has given me the fruit of self-control as I yield, surrender to the Holy Spirit daily.  I can be rebellious. Chocolate was far too important, craved and loved. I also continued to have I knew chocolate was not a migraine trigger for me and some day I may be released to eat it in moderation. The thought gives me joy. 

I began traveling in June. I was doing great with skipping chocolate. I was working out. I still wasn't losing weight. I knew I wanted God to break the power of compulsively eating food in my life. I saw myself in a dressing room mirror at Yokota and was APPALLED...I had FAT knees and thighs. I bought a journal and told God I was ready for Him to lead me on a journey out...and I planned to journal the trip. The next day I heard my father in law had died. We went to the states. I gained weight by the time we came home 7 weeks later.  I was still studying spiritual disciplines and asking God to SHOW me what to do about my health. 

I began to be led to an extended fast. I don't take those lightly given my background with food issues. I had been told too that to eat less than I was would kill my metabolism (hypothyroid). I couldn't get away from the idea that I needed to fast. A friend posted on her FB a quick blurb about a fast she'd finished. I emailed and asked questions and was reminded about the Daniel Fast. This seemed an answer to prayer. I could fast and not kill my metabolism. I did some research here and read The Daniel Fast and  A Woman's Guide to Fasting. This is the book Tara, as well as  several other friends recommended.

I talked it over with Michael to make sure I wasn't simply justifying another crazy eating experience. He thought it sounded good. He made a comment that Daniel wasn't fasting - it was his lifestyle of eating. That turned out to be prophetic, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Michael joined me for 40 days.  I decided I'd obey and put the weight thing on hold even if it did mess up my metabolism. I fasted for 4 items. I won't share them here. I prayed about how God would have me walk this out. I knew I was to focus during this time on prayer (reading, studying, practicing). 

At some point I realized I needed some recipes and that what we were doing was Vegan plus. No added sugar (even "natural sugars"), no leaven (yeast), no meat (or as I say, nothing with a face), no dairy (milk,  CHEESE), no eggs, no chemicals, nothing processed. No soy substitutes for me as soy is thought to suppress thyroid function.

As the fast neared it's end, I continued to pray about how God would have me end the fast. I wasn't sure I should go back to eating the way I had been. During the fast I expected clarity in prayer, deeper intimacy with Jesus...but some unexpected rewards have come my way....

  1. I haven't had a migraine since this began over 7 weeks ago. 
  2. Food compulsions are losing their grip on me.
  3. I began to have hope and enjoy walking in victory. 
  4. I lost 25 lbs in 6 weeks. 
And those are only rewards to do with my battle with food compulsions. There were so many  clear answers to prayer and comfort as I walk through a transition in my life which is bringing me quite a bit of sadness (but that's another post). Michael and I talked. He planned to go back to  meat - but way less. I asked him what he thought about me staying vegan plus until I reached a healthy weight and then adding some foods back in later as I researched. The fact that I've not had a MIGRAINE is huge. Obviously, something I ate was triggering them. I have no desire to have migraines and gain weight, and I know that will happen if I return to "normal".  

We agreed this seemed sane. Please note I do not think EVERYONE has to eat this way. I still hold to the principles in What the Bible Says about Healthy Living, but obviously something in that "healthy" list was causing the migraines. LOL 

I have been told by FOUR doctors I would NEVER go off Zocor. In May my cholesterol began to rise though I was on Zocor. They upped the dose. I also heard the lecture about heart attacks being the "number one killer for women my age." Then Michael had that heart scare. Go figure.  I had been eating healthy and begging God for HEALTH....still I didn't expect this fast to affect that...but wow. 

Today I saw the PA.  He was suitably impressed. He said I'm doing excellent and to keep doing what I'm doing. He said he thinks I can get off Zocor. I will have my numbers rechecked in 3 months. If they're still this good, he'll cut the Zocor in half with the goal of being totally off of it in six months. When I told him I'd gone vegan - he said he could tell. He said he'd like me to add fish back.  I've not decided.  The results today after 6 weeks on a vegan plus diet (because I had the blood drawn after the fast): 
  1. My blood pressure was 115/75!!!  It's usually more like 130-140/90. 
  2. My LDL is only down 6 points - really not a movement according to him. 
  3. My HDL however is up 14 points. He says it's hard to raise good cholesterol. 
  4. My triglcerides are down 71 points....112 now and he said anything under 150 is gold. 
  5. My cholesterol from 200+ down to 150! It's not been that low in years and years. 
He also adjusted my thyroid  meds to what was working before. The only problem I had at that dose was insomnia...but he said my body may adjust to that. We'll check that in 6 weeks. 

He said cheese and wine are the two biggest triggers of migraines, and since I don't drink wine, he suspects cheese is the culprit...which makes me incredibly sad. My FAVORITE snack was cheese and crackers (carbs and protein).  There aren't really cheese substitutes over here, and most are soy based anyway. But I'm telling you NO MIGRAINE in over 7 weeks. I even was around a trigger yesterday and didn't get one...though I could feel it threatening. 

I was so thankful for such an amazing answer to prayer! On the way home it hit me....he said, "Keep doing what you're doing."  This really IS what God had been whispering to me...I would need to give up some things for a lifetime, but He would show me the way out of bondage if I was willing to I'm still following....I will be vegan plus for at least another 6 weeks. The doc talked about adding in fish and chicken and red meat once or twice a who knows...maybe I'll eventually be flexitarian! He seems to think I can add in meat eventually and still stay off Zocor.  And Michael was right...the "Daniel Fast," for the most part, is really what Daniel ate day in and out. 

Now, I'm starting to wonder which spiritual discipline will be next....solitude and silence led me to a weekend of QUIET, fasting led me to an incredible experience, study has led to deeper intimacy with Jesus...actually all the disciplines put me in a posture to be transformed by intimacy with Jesus.

*Note 2014 - A resource I am enjoying on Daniel Fasts is this book: The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast - Kristen Feola and website by the author The Ultimate Daniel Fast. 

Choosing Joy!
©2012 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...


Renee said...

thank you for sharing your journey; sounds like it is the right thing for you at this time.

Cynthia said...

Thanks for sharing! The chocolate part reminded me that I was experiencing some really hard to beat chocolate cravings awhile back and my doctor's office said that is an indicator of being low on magnesium. I had been a little lax in taking all of my vitamin supplements, but now that I am taking them all regularly again I noticed my chocolate cravings have gone away! Anyway... something more for you to investigate :).

Anonymous said...

Sis: As always you and your following Christ makes us proud. You seem to have the resolve of Grandma Simmons. I got some of her resolve but not when it comes to some of the things you mention. However sugar is much less to me...PTL :):):) only took 70 years to get to that place. :) PTL and PTL again for the absence of the headaches......... Will be interesting as you add stuff back in (when God allows) to see what it is that triggers those M-headaches. PTL for all He is and has been doing in your life and for the ministry it all produces.

love/prayers - mom t.

Linda said...

So glad about your migraines! That really would be a motivation. Bet you can eat chocolate and cheese in heaven! :) Either that or you won't really care! :)

Lisa in Jax said...

Ah, friend, you know my travels in the food department. It took a huge food elimination diet to find what was making me so sick. Sooo glad to hear that you are feeling better and that you are listening to our Father and your body. :) Good job! Change is hard but worth it. :)

Natasha said...

I love this post! Thanks for sharing. It really touched me to read this..being young the last two times I have had my cholesterol checked it has been moderately elevated =/. Doctors don't seem to be too concerned and just tell me to eat a heart healthy diet and they would check again in six months. I am always the one to ask for the test, so I need to take control myself. I love chocolate and in the last 5 years have had the onset of migraines.. some so bad I had to go to the ER.
When I left home (being an only) my mom went through depression and gained a ton of weight. It took her about a year, but then she gave up sugar and flour and lost 60lbs. She saw similar results as you have with cholesterol, LDL and HDL.

I am so happy to hear your success! I need to make change, but living in Japan I find this very hard. I know that's no excuse and I need to dig deeper.

Unknown said...

Great post, De'Etta! It was the Daniel Fast that also lead me to become vegan. I do not have trouble with migraines, but had constant stomach pain and my cholesterol had been over 200 since I was 25. I have been judged harshly by others in the church for my decision. I was even "unfriended" on FB because he felt my being vegan was just "too liberal" for me to still be a real Christian. But I FEEL great, have major issues with dairy (and, yes, I adored cheese), and my cholesterol is way down.

So glad for your success. Seeing a link between diet and medical issues, especially something so debilitating as migraines can be, is just huge. I know how hard it is.

Kristine said...

DeEtta, thank you for such a brave and encouraging post. I'm grateful that you shared your journey . . . just another nudge that I need to be praying about a few things . . .

I admire you for so many reasons . . .

Love, Kristine

Jodi said...

how awesome that you're feeling so much better and have better levels of bp and such.

Michele said...

Thank you for sharing this De'Etta! We made many changes to our diet over the past 2 years. Although we are not vegetarian or vegan, our diet is mostly plant based and we focus on whole, unprocessed foods - organic as much as we can afford. Some of our friends and family have thought we were crazy. Although no one has suggested that we are too liberal! The benefit? For me, I can't say i notice a tremendous change although by blood pressure is back in the normal range. It has been a major improvement for my husband though. He has lost 105 lbs, he is already off one bp med and they are considering taking him off the other and his cholesterol is 127. He is turning 50 this year and says he's in the best shape of his life! There is a definite connection between what we eat and our health. Congratulations on making such positive changes and I'll pray for you as you make choices day to day!

DeEtta @ Courageous Joy said...

Thanks for your encouraging words, my friends.

Ginger I hadn't realized your cholesterol connection. I've not been under 200 for years and was up to 220-230 again in April. I begged them not to up my dose. I didn't really think I'd make a big change...but the Daniel Fast really showed me how I could walk in victory and how much better I feel when I do. The numbers from the doc are strong affirmation of where God has already led me to break the food strongholds.

Wow Michelle - Awesome. What you are doing now is what we were doing and my cholesterol didn't budge. That was when they told me it was genetic and eating well wouldn't affect it....seems it will if one gets more drastic than what I was doing. LOL I truly think organic, grass fed meat, whole natural unprocessed food is great for most of us. Over here I can't find that sort of meat and so I was eating whatever we could I'm not. LOL