By Katricia Kelly, MindBodyGreen
I will not use my inhaler ever again! That’s what I said to myself a year after I was diagnosed with asthma in 2010. In the summer of 2011, I decided to make a career and lifestyle change and enrolled in a health coaching program to learn more about nutrition. During that time, I did extensive research on asthma, some of the causes, side effects, and if there were any cures.
I found that a plant-based diet was very beneficial for people with asthma. Diets high in meat, especially fatty meats like beef and pork, can be big asthma triggers. A diet consisting of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, oatmeal, brown rice, and whole grains is best. It should also include significant amounts of protein.
I immediately started to incorporate more vegan meals daily until I was comfortable with the change. I started eating about 75 percent vegan and I saw results in about 30 days. I didn’t need my inhaler anymore, and I haven’t used it since.
No one really knows what causes asthma, but it’s important to know some of the triggers and what to avoid. In my case, the cause is still unknown, as I didn’t get asthma until I hit my 40s.
I became aware of my shortness of breath immediately after eating or drinking certain things like desserts, wine, peanuts, and cheese. Consuming these items can trigger your asthma, in addition to other items such as:
- Cow’s milk (cheese, ice cream, yogurt)
- Processed foods (packaged, canned, boxed, frozen)
- Soft drinks
- Fast food
- Alcoholic beverages
- Bottled juices
- Food coloring
- Desserts (made with sugar, artificial ingredients and high contents of fat)
Asthma can also be brought on by exercise, smoking, allergies, pet dander, dust mites, and even stress. Shortness of breath, wheezing, and tightness of the chest are some of the symptoms among people with asthma.
It’s important to not diagnose yourself, but to seek medical advice (as I did!) with any type of physical discomfort.
As the root of my discomfort was revealed, my determination to get rid of it grew strong and so did my love for whole foods and a healthy lifestyle. Pounds slowly started shedding, and they continue too — 25 pounds and counting. It was all mainly a process of elimination for me. I keep track of what bothers me and what doesn’t now, and I avoid those items that will cause me discomfort as much as possible. Here is a list of some of my favorite items I enjoy weekly. Some of them have good sources of protein (listed in grams) per serving:
- Quinoa – 6 grams
- Walnuts, cashews, almonds – 5 to 8 grams
- Avocado – 10 grams
- Sweet potato – 5 grams
- Spinach – 5 grams
- Broccoli – 5 grams
- Garbanzo beans (hummus) – 14.5 grams
- Oatmeal – 6 grams
- Sprouted grains – 7- 10 grams
- Nut butters – 8 grams
- Cannellini beans – 13-15 grams
I’ve slowly started adding back some poultry and fish occasionally as my body craves it sometimes, and you should always listen to what your body is telling you.
During the colder months, I need a little more, and that’s okay. I just do my best to select items that are cage-free, fresh, and organic as often as possible. I don’t eat 100 percent vegan, and I’m not sure that I ever will, but the nice little changes that I’ve incorporated have given me amazing results.
In addition to my dietary changes, I’ve also incorporated meditation and Bikram yoga into my lifestyle as well. It’s really all a package deal when you think about it. A sound mind equals a sound body.
Photo by Jenny Earnest.