Lowering high blood pressure with a plant based diet and joyous lifestyle

3 years ago when I got a shock of stroke-high blood pressure I was baffled. 190/97 are you kidding?!  I didn't weigh more than I did 20 years ago. I cook almost everything I eat from scratch. I eat my vegetables. I get 8-10 hours of sleep. I am pretty damn healthy. What gives? Is this a big Welcome to 40 party for me that I never got invited to?

Under no circumstances will I take medication for anything so me, the certified wellness coach had to practice what I teach:  Fix that condition with lifestyle! And of course I did. Many of these lifestyle conditions like arthritis, skin problems, moodiness, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure can be reversed relatively quickly with a lifestyle remix. Initially I did get my BP down with upping exercise and intermittent fasting which I still do but switching up my eating took things to a new low.

Stress was a factor (I have since eliminated the source of that-now my motto is protect your joy fiercely and take no prisoners!) but here and there I was having some food that contributes to high blood pressure.  I also switched from walking to jog- walk intervals and I do that 5-7 days a week for 40-90 minutes.   I drink less alcohol too.  Just tweak some bad habits so they lean toward good habits every single day.  

Every Choice Counts

Every choice every hour of every day adds up.   What time you choose to go to bed. Choosing to sit for more than an hour straight. How you choose to react to bad news. Don't let it overwhelm you and look far ahead. Just look at now and chose choices that support your goal. My goal is to enjoy a healthy independent pain free body til I die. Isn't that what we all want? We have to live daily lifestyles that support that. Our bodies are the result of the life we live so if you're not experiencing vibrant health and energy with no cravings you may want to step back and look at what your environment and day to day choices are like.

I switched my eating about 3 months ago to mostly a McDougall style of eating. Starch based meals with no added fat coupled with tons of yummy vegetables and a little fruit. I am not 100% but I am 90%.  I avoid restaurants as much as I can (I am a food writer so I do need to eat what I am served but I don't have to eat all of it to give a well formed opinion).  I never had my cholesterol or  blood glucose checked prior to this way of eating but I did have them checked this week and those numbers are just fine and my blood pressure is now consistently healthy.  Here is today's reading:

 That bottom number under 80 is PURE GOLD!

That bottom number under 80 is PURE GOLD!

A Happy Lifestyle. What is your Happy?

I am fully aware I live a unique unrelatable lifestyle- a reflection of my conscious choices. It's my happy bubble.  I knew very young I wanted to be my own boss, work from home, not be a mom and not be married. I do not want day to day monotony and that kind of responsibility. I love freedom, options and variety in my life so I have to make life choices that support that.

I am able to cook everything I eat every day if I chose to. I can sleep 8-10 hours undisturbed. I meditate daily (ok I may skip 2 days a month but we can let that slide).  All these factors add up to good health. I have no wrinkles (no botox) and no gray hair (yet). You have to figure out where you can eliminate stress or if you absolutely CANNOT (different than "will not" ---how bad do you want it????) change how you look at that situation. Attitude matters. Don't make life more difficult than it has to be. My life is so easy and joyful on a daily basis. I do what I want when I want and don't answer to anyone and it is HEAVEN.  This is not for everyone so think hard or meditate on it: What kind of life will make your own heaven and start to shift in that direction.  Anything is possible. I promise.

Roughing It

I've always been obsessed with eating enough fiber so if you're not used to 25+ grams per day as you switch to more whole food meals (I get 35-55 grams a day) this will also be your life:

 

 

Baby steps

What to eat? What not to eat?  If you want to ease into meals to help with your cravings, health issues and appetite control start with one meal every day. Lunches or dinner,  that are vegan and no added fat (a little avocado or tahini sauce is just fine).  A pile of no fat added mashed potatoes, oven baked fries (my air fryer gets a workout!) dunked in ketchup, hemp seed ranch or no fat bbq sauce, pasta with no fat marinara with mushrooms and spinach. Maybe a big bowl of brown rice with water or broth sauteed veg and tahini sauce. Salad greens with rice and tahini sauce is a quick lunch at work.   Beans, rice and corn (all cooked with no fat).  Non starchy veg at every meal too. Pick the ones you like. Eat til you're comfortably full. As you move toward making this most of your meals each week you will see more energy, better blood sugar levels, acid reflux disappear, joints are less stiff, better moods and more.  I've seen some miraculous changes in people and they happen fast! As in 2 weeks or just over that.  Don't overwhelm yourself trying to change too much at once. 

For a decade I have logged my food in Cronometer obsessed with getting my nutrition from food and this way of eating is by far the most nutrient dense level of food as a whole in my history and I am a healthy eater! It hits all the marks and then some. Higher amounts of fiber and protein than is recommended daily, super low fat and heart healthy nutrient dense satisfying carbohydrates. Living the dream here!

I will keep posting some meal ideas to help you feel inspired. Meanwhile I have some no fat ikea inspired veggie balls calling me.