As we at MamaSezz well know, changing to a plant-based diet can change your life in ways you never expected. In this series, we talk with some of the world’s most soulful, dedicated (and often funny) individuals. We get to hear their stories of suffering, transformation, and service — and we learn how food is an essential part of their journey.
This week, we talked with Debbie Keele, a RN who was sick of yo-yo dieting, insulin shots, restrictive eating, and all of the aches and pains that came with obesity. When she came across Dr. Esselstyn's book Preventing and Reversing Heart Disease (the same book that inspired the MamaSezz co-founders), Debbie decided to do a deep dive into the benefits of a plant-based diet. She was shocked she never learned of this lifestyle in nursing program, and decided to give it a try on her own. The results were life-changing.
What prompted your interest in a plant-based diet?
I lived obese and diabetic most of my adult life. I was on medications for diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides. I was constantly on a diet yo-yo. I could loose weight for a little while on some kind of food restriction, then I would gain it back and usually more when I went back to "normal" eating. My normal diet was meat, dairy, a few veggies, diet sodas, lots of refined foods. I felt hopeless to ever find a way to manage my health well.
Here is a photo of me a few years ago in my "before plant food" days:
In January of 2017 I read Dr. Esselstyn’s book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. I also watched the Mastering Diabetes summit.
At that time I had been a registered nurse for 38 years. I was shocked to find out that heart disease and diabetes could be reversed. In all my years of nursing I had never heard that. I was almost angry that I had never been told this information. But I was so grateful to have finally heard the science and news that reversing my health problems was possible.
So on January 24, 2017 I adopted a whole food plant-based lifestyle.
How were you able to stick with such a dramatic diet change?
I was able to to stick with it because it was delicious! And it was so fun to see the weight come down without much effort, amazing to see my doctor so surprised at needing to take me off of medications, and because I felt sooooo good!
It also helped that my husband loved what we were doing and had his own dramatic health transformation — his allergies that plagued him literally every day disappeared, he lost weight, and got off of his BiPAP for sleep apnea. He loves the way we eat. There is so much variety to plant-based food and so many amazing flavors and foods. Meals are never boring.
What is your life like now? How did a plant-based diet impact my health and life?
I’m no longer diabetic!!! I don’t take any pills or injections for blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, or diabetes. I have more energy than when I was young and raising little kiddos more than 30 years ago. I actually enjoy exercising. I am happier. I just plain feel great!
Here is a picture of me with a different grandbaby recently:
What is your greatest success story with a patient that went (mostly) plant-based?
I share what I do with anyone interested. Recently a new nurse started working in our office. He asked about plant-based eating. He and his wife began moving to a mostly plant-based way of eating. In only two months he lost over 20 pounds, had some of his medications reduced, and normalized his blood work. His doctor was blown away and told him to keep doing whatever is was that he was doing!
What challenges do you face as a plant-based medical professional?
I live in the south. The traditional Southern diet is very animal-based and rich in sugar and fat. Though people I work with are impressed with what I have done with my health, the culture at the hospital is not receptive to whole food plant-based eating. The foods served to patients and in the cafeteria for staff and guests is very sad. I am hoping to make an impact that will help help improve the foods offered at my hospital. My goal is to become a Food For Life instructor with PCRM.
Need help kickstarting your own plant-based transformation?
Join the MamaSezz detox+reboot and unhook from processed foods so you can live your best plant-based life...in just two weeks! Learn more here.