Steve’s Diet for Heart Rehabilitation

Many have asked what we decided to follow for Steve’s heart rehabilitation. When we shared about the stents, we received blog comments that started us reading and researching. 

We (Steve and I) ended up following Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s The End of Heart Disease protocol (Titus2’s Amazon Affiliate links are in this post, see our privacy policy). We liked the carefully evaluated studies he quoted and the fact that his information did not appear to have a personal bias.

Background

About 17 years ago, Steve was diagnosed with high cholesterol, and it was recommended he be on a statin drug. He didn’t want to do that. At the time, through our Christian health-care, cost-sharing program, we were introduced to Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s Eat to Live book and followed that protocol for six months. Steve lost 45 pounds (he started out weighing over 200 pounds) and brought his cholesterol down with food only. (When Steve’s doctor saw the results he was amazed and said “keep doing what you are doing.”)

However, we then read other heart/cholesterol information that led us to believe what was most important in regard to heart health had to do with blood glucose and insulin. So we began to eat things that weren’t allowed in Eat to Live, but that we liked and monitored our blood glucose. Our blood glucose was okay so we continued on that way. 

Steve gained back much of the weight he lost but didn’t think it mattered since he was exercising, and his blood glucose was fine. However, as we sat in the cardiologist’s office on March 4th, 2019, facing a heart catheterization and possible stents, we looked at each other and asked, “How did that work for us?”– obviously, not so well.

Current

With The End of Heart Disease eating plan, we (Steve and I) don’t eat: meat, dairy, sugar, refined grains, oil, or salt (For those who are healthy, small amounts of meat are acceptable according to Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat to Live.) We eat vegetables, fruit, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, and whole grains. We have learned a whole new way of eating and even preparing food. Who knew you could stir fry without oil or cook without salt?

Steve has lost 30 pounds, and according to Dr. Fuhrman’s recommendations has a few more to lose (possibly 10). I think he looks great, he feels good, and we recently climbed a 14er in Colorado. His cardiologist says with what he is eating, he is fine not being on a statin. The most amazing part is: after jettisoning everything we knew and loved about food, we are actually enjoying this new way of eating. 

Trusting in Jesus,
Teri

Steve and Teri Maxwell, Handies Peak, August 2019

“For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable
unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of
that which is to come.”
1 Timothy 4:8 

47 thoughts on “Steve’s Diet for Heart Rehabilitation”

  1. Wow, good for you two! It’s hard to make such a drastic change like that. Congrats to you both! I’m excited to read the book. Do you supplement at all with B vitamins? Thanks so much sharing what worked for you all.

  2. This is so helpful! Now I would love to see recipes and what you actually eat. It seems like such a high learning curve to actually eat that way but we’re trying and get a little closer each day.

    On another note, I really appreciate you mentioning that you tried just stabilizing your blood sugar and it didn’t work. I think right now that is a huge trend in Christian circles, and the more I read about nutrition, the more alarmed I become for many of my friends. I have been wondering for many years what the effects of some of these health hypotheses would be and it sounds like maybe they’re not the way to go.

    1. We can post our menus and favorite recipes, but I just don’t know how many would be interested in them. It is pretty interesting because eating this way has reduced Steve’s blood sugar even more favorably. Although before eating this way Steve’s fasting, morning blood glucose was a little under 100, so in the acceptable range, now it is under 80.

      1. I would be interested in your menus! 🙂

        As I write, my 85 year old FIL is being discharged from the hospital after having had his heart valve replaced. In the last few years, he’s had three stents put in. His own father was in his 50’s when he died of a heart attack. I don’t want my husband to follow in their path, so I’m ready to learn more about healthy eating.

      2. That’s amazing, Teri and Steve! I’m so proud of you. I’m encouraged that other Christians are following this way of eating. I recommend “Breaking the Stronghold of Food” by Dr. Michael Brown (pastor and apologist)and his testimony on YouTube. he also follows the Fuhrman diet. Bless you both!

  3. Good for you – it isn’t easy to make such changes in one’s diet. I am curious – when you eat meals (mainly dinner) do you prepare separately from all the others at home, or do you all eat the same meal?

    1. The family has a salad bar with the vegetables I have prepped twice a week. Sunday is our lunch with the marrieds which is salad and bean burritos. We can all eat that. So that leaves four other main meals a week. The girls have set up a meal plan rotation and have that meal responsibility divided between them. So they are preparing their separate meal.

  4. How wonderful! The group Forks Over Knives website has great recipes as well. Vegan, refined oil/sugar and flour free. Blessings on this health journey and thankful you are doing well.

  5. Yes, I too would love to see how you make this diet work on a daily basis, i.e. recipes, meal plans, etc.

    Also, I am curious if Teri has reaped similar health benefits?

    Thank you for sharing about your health journey! I have been looking forward to this post. 🙂

    1. I lost weight, and my blood glucose improved although it was fine before too. I don’t know about cholesterol since I haven’t had any blood work done. I have had a couple of other unexpected health benefits, I feel good, and I am very grateful for that!

  6. I am glad to see that this has worked for you .. it’s basically a wholefood Vegan diet . Have you read the book ‘How not to die ‘by Dr Greger? Really helpful .. and make sure you get your omega fats if not using any oils .

    1. We haven’t read Dr. Greger’s book, but we do get information from his website NutritionFacts.org. We supplement with DHA/EPA from algae and get other omega 3 fatty acids from flaxseed and chia seeds.

  7. Be encouraged! Such great results, well done! We follow a similar diet here to, we hope, prevent heart disease in the first place (family history) does not bode well. I think many would be interested in your meal plans and recipes.
    I also have to ask, with the greatest respect, if such a way if eating is healthful for you, why is it that your dear youngsters are waiting to have health difficulties diagnosed before adopting the same measures? Isn’t prevention better than cure?

    1. Thanks, Liz. We are very grateful for the results of our new way of eating and for learning to really like it. As to our children’s diet, our “dear youngsters” aren’t youngsters but adults, and they make their own decisions. We don’t dictate what they do and don’t do, including their diets. They are listening to us share the story of our journey and making their choices concerning their eating. Right now the girls are pretty close to our diet with about 3 oz of meat each day included, while Jesse likes to have more meat because of his weight lifting.

  8. Oh, thank you for posting this. I have Dr. Fuhrman’s books and currently eat a whole foods plant-based diet. I also appreciated his research and thorough diet plans. I have been following this since 2016, and it has been a blessing as far as my health and energy. What an encouragement and ministry to your readers! I have not found many Christian leaders in this field of nutrition, and I think there is a spiritual need for those trying to make changes for their health. Also, I would love to hear more about how this looks in your family. As a mother of four children under the age of 16, I struggle with cooking for myself and my husband and allowing them to have choices with their nutrition. The more I learn, the harder it is to make sweets/meals I’ve always made for them, etc. I just don’t want to set them up for future health problems, but I also know being pushy or restrictive with our meals may not be the best either. Any ideas would be welcomed! Again, so glad you shared and thank you so much for being open about your journey. May the Lord be glorified in all you do!

    1. Our situation is slightly different than yours since our children are adults. I generally don’t make them different food than what Steve and I are eating. The meals I prepare are the big salad meals. I sometimes make vegetable soup for them adding some meat in it and a little salt to theirs that Steve and I wouldn’t eat. If they are having foods that aren’t on Steve’s “diet,” they make it themselves. We have lots of conversations here about all of this so they are hearing, learning, and making their decisions – and they have made some changes! Perhaps the more you serve your family delicious meals from what you are learning to make now, they will develop more of a taste for it and choose it themselves. As you feel better and talk about all the health benefits of what you are eating and serving that likely is very helpful as well.

  9. Thank you for sharing your experience with us readers. I would be very interested in your favorite recipe ideas and meal plans!
    My husband’s family has a history of heart disease and we both recently found out our triglycerides are high, an indication we’re eating too many bad fats.
    I cook all our meals from scratch but we eat a Standard American Diet. I would love to learn about your plant-centered meals and how you enjoy them. Do you feel hungrier or weaker? This is our main fear to making these changes.

    1. We don’t feel hungry or weak. We have both lost weight without counting calories but simply by following our new dietary guidelines. As a matter of fact, we eat what seems like a lot of food to me compared to what we were eating before as far as volume of food is concerned. But it is high nutrient food with much good fiber in it too.

  10. Thank you for this post, it has given much me much to think about, pray about, and research. My family follows a low glycemic eating plan that goes along with the idea of controlling blood glucose levels as a way to prevent many health problems. And to be honest, the way of eating you have described is the least appealing of all to us…but if it is the healthiest for our family, we need to adapt to it. I would be among those very interested in reading more about your menu, recipe ideas, and how to adjust to such a big change. Heart disease does run in both our families so this is something we have thought a lot about over the years and if we need to change paths, we will.

    1. Maybe the starting place for you would be to read Dr. Fuhrman’s End of Heart Disease book. That would give you the solid facts to base your decisions on. In future blog posts, I can share what Steve and I have done.

  11. Thank you so much for sharing your diet plan with your readers. It has encouraged me in the Lord. May God use it for His glory!

    1. I think the mason jars look yummy and so beautiful and colorful too. We learned about them from a friend when she described taking food like we were eating on a trip (because there is hardly any place to eat out like this). Then I googled something like “salad in a jar” and came up with our own version of that.

  12. Well done on the new health program, never easy to change your eating habits!
    Sounds very interesting though, thank you for sharing with us all!
    Xxxxxx

    1. Steve is using flavored balsamic vinegars on his salads that we get from local oil and vinegar stores. They are expensive, but avoid the oil and sodium that is in most commercial salad dressings.

  13. Thank you, Teri, for sharing what you and your husband have researched and decided to implement so your bodies (including brain function) will be healthier. A couple of things I believe you and Steve do are: 1.) consider what the Lord desires for YOU, 2.) pray for discernment and a willing spirit to do as He leads YOU, 3.) and you remember that you are not your own – you were bought with a price – and that your body is HIS dwelling place. I think some of us have a difficult time choosing to live in healthier ways because we “forget to remember,” therefore often don’t prioritize honoring God with our earthly tents, so we haven’t chosen to discipline ourselves in saying “yes” to healthier spiritual, physical, mental and relational choices and “no” to our cravings or desires and to what takes lesser effort or doesn’t make us feel uncomfortable. There is more than one “recipe” for a healthy lifestyle, but Scripture speaks to several issues (each associated with “training” and “discipline”: rest, meditation on God’s Word, thought patterns, relationships, etc.) including the chosen diet of Daniel and his friends – in stark contrast to the diet of the other young men in captivity. Living with a God-honoring focus, I think we will eventually be led to understand that honoring Him in words and thoughts and body and deeds go together…but not without some effort and cost. But either way I chose to live (honoring God or not), there’s an outcome beyond the physical.

  14. Thank you for sharing. I have the book he wrote for diabetics and am going to start this healthy eating plan. What do you fix with the jars of food? Stir fry?

    1. The food in the jars is for salads. I will probably post on that in the future. We have listened to the End of Diabetes by Dr. Fuhrman, too. Plus the End of Dieting and Super Immunity. All were great.

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