Combating Lyme Disease With a Plant Based Diet
I am so excited to share this guest post by my new friend Kristy Crippen! Kristy and I connected last year through social media when she expressed interest in sharing the journey of she and her husband into plant based living. I had no prior knowledge of what prompted she and her husband to make the switch, so when she sent me the following, needless to say I was blown away.
Their story is another example of how changing your dietary lifestyle can reap incredible benefits. I ask you to please take five minutes and read her remarkable journey. Thank you so much for sharing Kristy!
Kristy and Ken Crippen's Journey to Veganism
My husband Ken & I live in Bucks County, PA (just outside of Philadelphia). We began our journey on April 17, 2011 and our transition to veganism has had such a profound impact on our lives and in so many ways. Here is our story!
First, it should be noted that I was urged by my internist several years before this time period to try a plant-based diet in an effort to help aid me in my battle against Lyme Disease (he told me that more and more research was showing that patients who are fighting Lyme and had adopted a plant-based diet had seen dramatic improvements in their health by not providing animal proteins to the Lyme bacteria as a food source). I must confess that when we initially tried adopting a plant-based diet on the first go round that it didn’t last and we attribute that to our not being fully committed to it. We just didn’t want to give up certain things and as such, we were destined to remain as we were until we reached a plateau and fully committed ourselves mentally, emotionally and spiritually to the endeavor.
So, we continued to do what was familiar to us and kept the same diet that we had known our entire lives and not surprisingly, we continued to see the same results: Our overall health – mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually – continued to spiral downward. We continued to live life in sluggish, overweight bodies, and felt listless and fatigued much of the time. We continued to spend a fortune on our groceries every week.
My physical health continued to deteriorate: By the time April of 2011 had approached, I’d been fighting Lyme for over 6 ½ years. When my internist tested me – I had switched to him in the summer of 2005 – Lyme was in my system for over a year at that point. He discovered that there were several tick-related diseases in my body (including the Lyme) and I was put on a heavy round of antibiotics. I continued on and off with the ABX for years; my symptoms would improve in some areas and yet weaken in others. And then those symptoms that had improved would take a nose dive all over again. I felt defeated much of the time and thought I would never feel normal again.
I was about two years into the illness when the joint pain and inflammation began to take hold over my body. By the time I went back to my doctor for a follow up visit in mid-April 2011, the pain was migratory throughout my body, and there were concentrated areas of discomfort in the front of my shoulders and in my hip areas. I had lost much of my mobility and had required the use of a cane for well over a year.
I sat down with my doctor to evaluate my symptoms and overall health. He smiled kindly, like he always did at the start of our sessions, and gently asked, “So, how are you feeling, Kristy?” I broke down in tears and told him that I couldn’t take it any longer. I couldn’t take the pain, the lack of mobility, the feeling of continually being trapped in an ancient, rickety body. I told him how very much I appreciated everything he had done for me for so long and that I felt like I was ready to try something new in terms of my treatment. I told him that I just needed relief and to feel alive again.
He started to speak & in that moment, I knew exactly what he was going to say even before he uttered the words: “Kristy, I really think you should try the plant-based diet again. My patients who are in your shoes who have tried it have seen real, concrete results from it and I really believe that you can, too.”
The difference this time around compared to the very same words uttered a year or two before was that not only was I totally open to the suggestion, but that I also felt a wave of relief wash over me as he made the suggestion. I felt as if I had come home. Deep down, I knew that once I committed myself to this path that I would have to maintain it for the sake of my health, and that this time, I didn’t feel deprived. I didn’t feel as if I was going to be missing out on something or having to make this huge sacrifice.
My doctor gave me a sizeable stack of recipes that he said would get me off to a great start. I felt excited as I sat in his office reading through them and he pointed out different ways to change them up. I could feel myself tapping into a much more creative side of myself! I began visualizing myself pushing my shopping cart through the produce department and my eyes feasting on all of the beautiful colors and textures of the yummy fruits and veggies that awaited me.
My husband, who has been my absolute rock and such an amazing support system for me throughout this whole ordeal, listened quietly and respectfully as I told him my news and my decision to eat a plant-based diet. I told him that in no way did I expect him to make this journey with me but that if he elected to travel down the same path as me that he would have a completely cordial invitation. He nodded and told me that he felt that it would be the right thing for him to do and that he felt that it was in line with his spiritual beliefs.
As I listened intently to his words, I couldn’t help denying how I’d felt for so long: That I too, shared the same spiritual and moral belief that it was a much kinder way to live. Kinder to these amazing animals, kinder to the beautiful planet that we call home and kinder to ourselves. I felt hugely inspired and realized that the more I thought about our decision, the more I knew it was the right path for us to take.
I knew that if we were to really succeed this time that it would require many changes on our part. Would it be a change in buying habits at the grocery store? Yes, of course it would be. Would it mean a different way of thinking when we cooked our meals or went out to eat? Absolutely! Would we possibly be met with criticism from some when we told them of our decision? Yes, but we were okay with it. I was at peace with people not being fully supportive of this decision because I knew that it was the right one for us.
To be perfectly candid, it feels good knowing that we are actively supporting the rights of animals as sentient beings by choosing to not consume them as a food source any longer. In fact, so many of our friends and family have not only been supportive of us in our decision, BUT they have also shared with us how they themselves have been cutting back on their own consumption of animal products, too!! How amazing is that? Granted, like so many other like-minded individuals with whom we are journeying down this path together, we would never dictate to people what they should and shouldn’t do. Instead, we thank them for their support and let them know that if they ever feel like exploring a plant-based lifestyle to let us know and we we’ll totally be there for them.
We’ve noticed HUGE improvements in the quality of our health and attribute so much of that to our decision to eat a plant-based diet. Within four or five days of embarking on this journey, I myself noticed that the severe pain in both my shoulders and hips that had become a daily part of my life had really begun to decrease, and that my range of motion had steadily increased. I began to feel lighter, more energetic, less tired & fatigued. My skin’s appearance began to improve in terms of my complexion clearing up – my skin was definitely clearer and my cheeks rosier. Even my fingernails had noticeably become stronger and did not break the way they used to when they were so weak.
I started to notice that I slept more soundly at night and that I was so much more at peace both mentally and emotionally. Granted, my Lyme symptoms were – and still are – a daily presence in my life, but the reality is that they have improved dramatically.
We absolutely do not feel deprived in terms of the old question, “What are we going to have for dinner tonight??” There are more vegan websites sharing delicious and nutritious plant-based recipes than you can shake that proverbial stick at, and it is so easy to swap out ingredients to create an entirely different recipe (or, just make a few minor tweaks here and there to give a favorite meal a bit of a makeover). When we cook, we usually double – and sometimes even triple the recipe – so that we have a ton of leftovers. And we all know how great it is to have something that is readily available after a long day!
We have saved so much money by staying away from the meat and seafood departments, and the deli counter. We stock up on sales of canned beans, vegetable stock and whole grains, and have our staples at hand so that all we need to do is pop into the grocery store for a quick spin around the produce department so that we can round off our meals for the next day or two. We have a fantastic farm not far from our home that sells absolutely gorgeous freshly picked produce and we love to stop by during the summer to help support our local farming community.
For those of you who are reading this who may be considering stepping foot onto the path of a plant-based diet, we wholeheartedly support you and encourage you to GO FOR IT! It will change your life for the better, I can promise you that. Your health will improve dramatically and you yourself will feel better knowing that you are participating in a truly supreme act of kindness and compassion for our fellow animals, our planet and for yourself.