Not long ago, Luverne Dickinson Adamson, 59, of Vestaburg, began her day with a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, fried potatoes, toast with butter and coffee with creamer and artificial sweetener. She enjoyed traditional American foods — cheeseburgers, fries, coney dogs with all the fixings, and onion rings — and frequently ate out on weekends. Dinner often included salad soaked in creamy ranch dressing, steak or a chicken fillet, a hot vegetable and a baked potato smothered in butter and sour cream.
Over time, Adamson became concerned about her health. In addition to having high cholesterol and blood pressure, she was an insulin-dependent Type 2 diabetic. As a nurse, she understood the severity of her condition and decided to change her lifestyle.
Taking back her life
“Once you start taking insulin, most people, over time, have to keep taking more and more,” she explained. “There’s a physiological reason
By doing CHIP, I’ve been able to reduce my insulin usage by 50 percent and my cholesterol’s gone down 120 points.”
Her journey to good health began in January 2012.
She attended a five-week series of CHIP (Complete Health Improvement Project) meetings. CHIP advocates a vegan diet, which focuses on whole (unprocessed) plant-based foods and no meat or dairy. She learned about healthy fats, natural sweeteners, protein options and basically how to implement whole foods, fruits and vegetables into daily meals.
“As a nurse, I really appreciate learning about the science involved,” Adamson said. “The topics are all cutting edge. Some of these people are facing serious health problems — surgery, disease — and are looking for answers. CHIP gives them that.”
Because CHIP encourages greater amounts of unrefined carbohydrates, her conventional medical wisdom caused her to worry about the effect it would have on her diabetes. However, her new fiber-rich diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes regulated blood sugar fluctuations and energy levels.
“I was initially very concerned and skeptical about that aspect, but discovered happily that my diabetes responded favorably and saw a steady descent of my glucose numbers and insulin usage,” she said.
This transformation in her diet and new outlook on life allows Adamson to enjoy meals in a more healthy way. Her husband, Steven, adopted this new diet, as well.
Eating smarter, getting more active
Breakfast at the Adamsons’ is now the biggest meal of the day. It usually consists of a bowl of oat groats (whole, minimally processed oats), a mixture of nuts, seeds and fruit with coconut milk and a slice of whole grain toast topped with mashed banana or a bit of coconut fat.
At lunch, they may eat a half pita filled with hummus, fresh veggies, spinach, a piece of fresh fruit and herbal tea.
Dinner is a lighter meal of salad greens, brown rice or beans and fresh fruit or just a simple fruit salad. There’s always a bowl of fresh fruit and raw veggies available for snacking.
Restaurant outings are still permitted, but happen less frequently and food choices are meat and dairy free.
“We routinely ate out and that has really changed,” Adamson said. “Now, we save eating out for special occasions and have found restaurants with vegan menu choices.
Adamson suggests, when eating out, ask for substitutions for certain items on the menu.
“Leona’s (Restaurant) in Vestaburg has been accommodating and has several offerings that we can choose from,” Adamson said.
In addition to eating better, the Adamsons are more active. They enjoy biking and walking their 160-pound Great Pyrenees, Zeus.
“Evenings used to be spent watching television,” Adamson said. “But with new found energy, I would much rather go down the road walking the dogs or hit the Heartland Trail for a bike ride.”
The Adamsons’ new lifestyle led to a complete turnaround in health, as well as a 42-pound weight loss for Luverne and a 52-pound loss for Steven. They currently are attending a second series of CHIP meetings as table hosts to offer advice and encouragement to other participants.
“I feel like I have my life back,” Adamson said. “When I started, I was in so much pain; I hurt all over; and my energy was terrible. Facing this problem with diabetes, I was at risk for heart attack and stroke. Now, I feel I have control in what happens to me.
“If I keep this up, there may come a day when I won’t have to take insulin and that will be a happy day for me,” she added.
LOCAL CHIP MEETINGS
CHIP meetings, which are held three days a week at The Heartland Center in Cedar Lake – begin with a vegan meal, followed by a video and lecture by Blanchard dentist David Barroso.
Weekly topics include heart health, cholesterol, osteoporosis, exercise, hidden fats, fiber, water, salt, calcium, cancer, medicine and smoking.
Additional resources — cooking classes, recipe exchange and shopping tips — provide extra support.
For more information about CHIP, go to www.chiphealth.com, or call The Heartland Center at (989) 427-5036.