MEET CAROLYN MENDENHORP
It all started when I saw Forks Over Knives last fall. I was completely blown away by what I learned from the film and could relate to the individuals in the film because I was obese, had diabetes, high blood sugar, and knee pain. I was aware that my own health wasn't optimum, but was inspired by the transformation that I witnessed the people experience in Forks Over Knives through eating a plant based diet. I joined The Wellness Forum immediately and was excited to get started with this new way of eating. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm was put on hold due to some outside circumstances. A few months later though, I still was thinking about all that I had learned from the film and signed up to take the next Wellness 101 class series with Sue Scharf in Grand Rapids.
Even after only one class, I was confident that I would be able to follow the program. Everything Sue told us just seemed so doable. She was such a great leader and provided us with all kinds of ideas for new recipes, tips for substituting to make our own recipes healthier, and lots of other ways to make the transition to plant based as easy as possible. Each class I learned new things and felt empowered with all this knew knowledge. Forks Over Knives told me that eating this way was the right thing to do and then Wellness 101 taught me how to do it.
Even though I was enjoying embracing these changes, I wouldn't have been able to stick with it if the food didn't taste so good! One of the most fun parts for me has been getting to eat all of this food that is so fresh and vibrant. I've looked at it as a "learn as you go" type of process. I've enjoyed coming up with new meals and I love to mix different ingredients and flavors together to create new recipes. I have found that I don't even miss my old ways because the new foods I am eating are so satisfying. Who doesn't like a bowl of pasta with tomato sauce and fresh vegetables or sweet bean and veggie chili? These are the types of things I get to eat all the time on my plant-based diet. I never feel like I am being deprived of anything and, instead, feel so grateful for all the delicious foods that I get to eat everyday. The other day I made a strawberry shortcake recipe and it got the official seal of approval from my granddaughter (she couldn't even tell it was vegan)! What's even better is that eating plant based allows me to not have to restrict the things that I enjoy. I can eat foods I love and not have to limit myself to tiny portions or feel guilty about what I put in my body. I can honestly say that I've never gone hungry since I adopted this eating style.
Since my switch to a plant-based diet, I have noticed so many improvements in multiple aspects of my life. From a biomarker standpoint, my blood sugar has decreased, I have reduced my medications, and am losing weight. Not only has my physical health improved though, I also feel better emotionally and have more mentally clarity as a result of eating this way. I know it may seem scary or bizarre to consider changing something as personal as your eating habits, but I can tell you that it is very doable.
My advice for anyone who is considering a plant-based lifestyle is embrace it head on. Commit yourself to it whole-heartedly for just three weeks (anyone can do anything for that amount of time) and you'll start to see the positive payoffs, then you'll really be a believer. I promise you - the results are to die, or rather, to live for!