North Texas Plant-Based Nutrition Leaders Sound Off
Apr 30, 2020 08:23PM
By Annalise Combs
Nutrition professionals have the education and experience to advise clients on many aspects of general health and disease prevention in particular. Here, some of our local experts express their firsthand experiences in their own words, along with advice and wisdom for us all.
Patricia Thomson says, “ At the age of 59, my dad underwent a quadruple bypass. Eleven years later, he would succumb to heart disease, leaving a wake of grief behind. Around the time of his death or shortly thereafter during an annual medical exam, my doctor diagnosed me with high cholesterol. They convinced me that I was following in my father’s footsteps and that I was destined by my genetics to have heart disease. At 41, I was fairly active, ate what I thought was a very healthy diet, consumed very little fast food and included fruits and vegetables in my food choices. I walked out of there stunned. I went on cholesterol-lowering medicine and went on my way until I came across a radio broadcast by a doctor talking about how food can determine your susceptibility to lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, autoimmune disease and even cancer. The bottom line was that a whole food, plant-based diet could help prevent and reverse most lifestyle related diseases, and that we did not have to be victims of our genetics.
“Fast forward 10 years later, and I have lost weight and gained wonderful health. I admit I do spend more time in the kitchen cooking, but I have learned fast and easy ways to prepare healthy and delicious foods. I do meal preps so that I have meals in the refrigerator and freezer at all times. I have saved money eating this way since I am not buying expensive meats, cheeses, processed foods and fast foods. I created TS Wellness and have now dedicated my life to helping others transition to a healthier way of eating and living their lives. I conduct cooking and nutrition classes and created the Food as Medicine Summit & EXPO as a way to bring the experts together to share this information with the general public.”
Patricia R. Thomson, Ph.D., is the founder and president of TS Wellness and the Food as Medicine Summit & Expo, held Aug. 28 and 29, at the Richardson Civic Center. For more information visit TSWellness.com and FoodAsMedicineSummittTX.com
Brooke Ali states, “Friends invited me to an event at a mansion in Beverly Hills. The last thing I expected was to be sitting on a beautifully manicured lawn listening to testimonials from people from a food bank that participated in a documentary about going plant-based. One after another, these participants shared how they lost eight to 32 pounds over the course of two months. They went off of their medication for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression and Type 2 diabetes. I was in awe. I had no idea that food could actually be healing. Nor did I know that the standard American diet was the main source of typical diseases we suffer from in the West. How did I not know about this magic? It has been 11 years, and the only thing I wish was that I learned about this well-kept secret sooner. I also vowed to help people eat more plant based if they asked.
“Here’s my advice on transitioning into a plant based lifestyle: take it at your own pace and take it as far as you feel comfortable; go cold to-furkey or gradually reduce the amount of dairy and animal products you consume; start with breakfast until you are comfortable and move on from there—for example, replace the milk in your cereal with oat milk or any plant based milk you prefer—other ideas for breakfast could be avocado toast, a smoothie, tofu scramble or oatmeal—once you are comfortable with breakfast, move to lunch, then dinner; watch documentaries such as What the Health, Forks Over Knives, Cowspiracy and Game Changers to help you to transition; and Google any recipe you want to make by just adding vegan in front, such as ‘vegan mac and cheese’.” Her recipes are posted on Instagram at BrookeAliatVK.
Brooke Ali is founder and co-owner of Viridescent Kitchen, in Plano. For more information, visit ViridescentKitchen.com
Katherine Lawrence shares, “I grew up Cajun—delicious food, but not synonymous with healthy. I ate this way growing up, through my time in the military, and it eventually caught up to me in my late 20s. At 27 years old, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 endometriosis, ovarian cysts and complete infertility. At the time, I had excess body weight, high cholesterol and very little understanding of the connection between my food and my health. I was told I needed a full hysterectomy, because I was too high-risk for endometrial cancer, and that I would never have children! Rather than take such an aggressive approach, I began working with a nutritionist. She helped me change my diet, my cookware and my life. I remember her telling me I needed to remove meat and dairy from my diet and my first thought was, ‘Umm… all that's left is sugar!
“With her help, I transitioned to a whole food, plant-based diet (WFPB) and my life was forever changed. It took about six months, but we reversed all of my reproductive issues. I also lost 55 pounds, reduced my cholesterol naturally and experienced many other benefits along the way. Eventually, I went on to have three healthy boys! They are a daily reminder of the importance of our food choices and the power we have over our health. Since healing, I’ve gone to school for nutrition and taught over 8,000. In that experience, I’ve concluded that there are two necessities for an effective transition to WFPB. The first, is we must have a ‘why’; a compelling reason to change your diet, whether it is to reverse disease, prevent disease, reduce your carbon footprint, protect animals, etc. The second necessity is to find recipes that you truly enjoy eating. These two things will sustain you on this journey. Plug in, find a community, experiment in the kitchen, educate yourself and reap the many benefits that come along with this way of eating!”
Katherine Lawrence is the owner of Food Saved Me online Nutrition & Cooking Classes. She specializes in disease prevention and reversal through food and has been empowering people for more than 12 years. For more information visit FoodSavedMe.com.