• Lydia Chu

Why I changed my diet

Updated: Apr 4, 2019

Changing the way I eat has dramatically changed my life. It has changed the way I think about food, where it comes from, and what it can do for our health and our environment.

Two years ago, I decided to change my diet to Whole Food Plant-Based (WFPB) along with eliminating most of the processed food that includes white flour, oil and sugar. This all happened by chance. One day, I found myself with a minor health problem which led me to discovering a whole new way of eating. I came to realization that what we choose to put into our body has a profound affect not just on our bodies but on the environment as well. If we nourish our bodies with the right kinds of food while keeping an active lifestyle, we can increase the chance of enjoying a long and healthy life.


For most of my life, I didn’t have a lot of problems with my weight, so it wasn’t about my weight but mostly about my overall health. When I was growing up, I mostly ate seafood and avoid eating red meat even though the rest of my family loved meat. My mom would cook up Bulgoki, a famous Korean marinated beef as well as Galbi, a marinated rib. In Korea, back when I was younger, meat was a luxury item and usually too expensive for most people to enjoy. Therefore, it was common for most people to eat mostly seafood and vegetables. So, when we moved here from Korea, my family feasted on meat and plenty of it. Luxury or not, I avoided eating most red meat especially chicken. I never liked the taste and the way they looked.

Family picture before moving to the US in 1976

We moved to the United States when I was 10 years old. I was the middle child. As you can see in the picture, we were all very thin. Even though we still ate a lot of Korean food which is far healthier than most American food, it wasn’t long before we started enjoying Standard American Diet (SAD) including a lot of fast food. My family’s favorite fast food restaurants were KFC, Long John Silver’s for me, and Burger King. Well, it didn’t take long before we all started gaining weight with the exception of my dad.


My dad in the 40 plus years he has lived here never really had a weight issue. It’s

because he's a very active guy and doesn’t indulge much on Standard American Diet. My dad is now 84 years old, but it’s amazing how active he still is. He’s more active than most people in their 30’s. His current daily activities include 1 hour of playing ping pong, half an hour of swimming, daily cleaning and gardening around the house. His diet consists mostly of vegetables, legumes and whole grain with a little bit of meat. (No matter how much I try to tell them, my parents still think consuming meat should be an important part of a healthy diet). I don’t ever remember my dad going to a doctor for any serious health issues. My dad is a poster child when it comes to living a long healthy life. He doesn’t even wear reading glasses! I know, hard to believe, right? I’m not kidding. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.


So, until two years ago, I had no knowledge about the affects of diet on our bodies. I never thought twice. I just assumed that everything that’s sold in the stores were food and never gave a second thought about where it came from and how they were made. Even though I stayed away from most meat, I did eat a lot of processed food over the years. I, especially, enjoyed sausages, hot dogs, pizza, cheese and of course, ice cream! Growing up, I used to have banana splits as a meal. I also had my share of soft drinks like coke. Well, that all caught up with me two years ago. Even though I had been running and living an active lifestyle for the past 7 years prior to changing my diet, I started noticing minor problems with my health. Not only was I starting to gain weight with no significant changes in my diet or lifestyle, but I started feeling more fatigue with low energy level by mid afternoons which always led me to be more cranky and edgy by the time I got home from work.

Well, I went to see my doctor for a standard physical and was told that I had some gallstones in my gallbladder. My doctor told me that it might be causing inflammation in the liver and was advising me to get an MRI done to see if it was blocking the bile duct. This was also going to cost me well over $1000 even with insurance. I called my two brothers up (one is anesthesiologist and the other one is oncologist) to see what they had to say. They both recommended that I follow my doctor’s advice. My brother who is an oncologist said I might have to have my gallbladder removed and reassured me that it’s a common procedure. Well, I decided that I wanted to look for an alternative and started to do some research on my own. This is when I came across a book called “How Not to Die” by Michael Gregor, MD. It’s a book about Whole Food Plant-Based (WFPB) diet which entails eating real food while eliminating all processed and refined food including sugar, white flour and oil. As soon as I read the book, I knew it was going to change my life. I thought to myself “Why didn’t I know about this earlier?” It all made sense, so I decided to try the new diet myself.


Immediately, within weeks, I started noticing the changes. Right away, I had more energy and my afternoon fatigue went away. Not only that but even my eyesight improved especially my night vision. My cholesterol level fell by 40 mg/dL in just a matter of weeks and that annoying weight gain I was experiencing just disappeared without any effort. Even my seasonal allergies I had experienced over the years didn’t come back. I used to have problems with allergies where I would get itchy eyes, runny nose and sneezing mostly during Spring and Fall. Those all disappeared along with my asthma. As long as I could remember, I had problem breathing especially if I was anxious or stressed. I had to take deep breaths periodically. I never took inhalers or used medication, but it always came around when I was anxious. Since changing my diet, I haven’t had a single incident. I also suffered from stomach ulcer since I was a teenager. Frequently I would skip lunch at school and that’s when I started having excruciating stomach pains. It became more frequent if I was under stress or skipping meals. I tried a lot of different medications over the years including prescription drugs but nothing helped until I changed my diet.


Even though I tried to go 100% Plant based right from the start, it wasn’t easy. There were a lot of temptations all around me. Since I loved seafood so much, it was hard for me to give up seafood. So, in the beginning, I was still incorporating a little bit of seafood and dairy occasionally. I still felt good and noticed big changes, but once I realized that what I choose to eat not only impacts my health but also the health of our environment, I made a commitment to go 100% Plant-based. It’s been almost a year now since I’ve made that commitment and I’m so glad I did. I feel great about taking care of my health as well as taking care of our precious planet.


Patagonia February, 2018


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