In a recent interview, the Surgeon General has declared that overweight and obesity have reached epidemic proportions in the United States. Currently, about 35 percent of women and 31 percent of men are considered seriously overweight, and 15 percent of children between the ages of six and 19 are overweight. American lifestyles are dangerously out of whack, with healthcare professionals seeing earlier onsets of Type 2 diabetes (normally an adult-onset disease), cardiovascular disease and obesity-related depression in children and adolescents.
“Lean meat, processed meat, red meat – all meat – causes disease,” says Neal Barnard, M.D. “The same can be said for low-fat dairy products. Nutrition is the most important part of medical treatment for diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and many other conditions.”
The truth is vegetarian diets reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, and other health problems, such as high cholesterol, which was the catalyst for Heather’s initial interest in plant-based nutrition. “Even though my husband was active and didn’t overeat, his cholesterol was always well into the 200s, and doctors tried to get him to take medicine throughout his twenties. The final tipping point was when his cholesterol reached 311. I started to learn more about nutrition, and I discovered incredible clinical evidence that eating more plant-based foods would reduce cholesterol levels given its fiber-rich and low-fat nature.“ Eventually Heather’s husband tried a plant-based diet for 6 weeks and his cholesterol dropped a shocking 80 points.
“Our experience is just one of countless examples of how genes do not have to decide our fate. Genes load the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger.”
The purpose of these classes is to not only educate the public on the benefits of a plant-based diet but also to refute the stigma that such a diet is boring. “My experience with educating the community on nutrition and basic cooking has taught me that people genuinely want to eat more healthily, but they just don’t know how to do so in a sustainable and practical way. I soon realized that people are initially hesitant to experiment in the kitchen, but become incredibly adventurous and creative once given the basic tools, resources and know-how,” says Heather.
The current series of classes will be held Wednesday evenings from 6:30 to 8:30 at UNF’s Herbert University Center, throughout the month of April. For registration information you can visit www.learnjacksonville.com or call (904) 620-4200.