My Knees, My Knees

Years ago I experienced a lot of knee pain; missed lots of work because of my knees, took lots of pills because of my knees, received injections because of my knees and even had surgeries because of my knees. Eventually, the orthopedic surgeon who performed the knee surgeries sent me to consult with a specialized orthopedic surgeon, a knee replacement surgeon. Oh No! I was both relieved and distraught when he refused to do the knee replacement surgery – for now. “You’re too young” he told me. “If your knees are replaced now, they won’t last until the end of your life and it will be too risky to replace them again when you’re elderly. The optimal age we are shooting for is sixty-three.” Sixty-three?  but I’m only forty-one! What do I do until then?” I asked. The doctor suggested pain management, mostly with pharmaceutical drugs until I was either of optimal age for the knee replacements or when I reached the point where the pain was no longer manageable or bearable.

Though I didn’t realize it at the time, many of my lifestyle choices; mainly what I was putting in my mouth, were significantly contributing to the pain I was experiencing in my knees. For a number of years prior to the start of my knee pain, I (and my husband David) worked 12-hour shifts at night. While working those long hours, I rationalized that I didn’t have time to cook (and David didn’t know how) so we ate almost exclusively away from home; fast food on work days and sit-down chain restaurants (“rewarding” ourselves for working so hard) on our days off. When I did cook at home, it was mostly rich, decadent foods. During that same time, I was also gaining weight at a tremendous, almost unbelievable rate so I was always riding the diet roller coaster, chasing ever empty promise that any and every diet presented.

Then I stumbled across a book written by Dr. John McDougall, The McDougall Program for Maximum Weight Loss. This guy seemed to be absolutely crazy. He asserted the exact opposite of what we had been told – that carbs are bad! Instead his message was that we could eat all the potatoes, rice, pasta, pancakes, bread and other starchy foods we wanted while losing weight and improving our health. What? Okay, anything to sell a book I thought to myself. But what if what he wrote was true? I had nothing to lose but pain and weight and I loved starchy foods. I bought the book and started following his craziness right away. It took a number of years of stumbling back and forth before I completely transitioned to eating starch-centered, whole food, plant-based. Most of the foods I had been eating were/are highly addictive and it took time to work out all those addictions. However, each time I wandered back to the old foods, I found them to be less satisfying and the longer I was on the other side of the addictions, the more I could feel the negative impact the old foods had on my body and my health.

Today, I am free from the allure that those old foods once had and the knee pains are completely gone. I have not yet reached the optimal age for knee replacement surgery, never started the pain management drugs or returned to the specialized orthopedic surgeon. Since becoming a Starchivore, no further action is required.

Dr. McDougall offers a wealth of information and resources on his website. Be sure to check out the free McDougall Program on his website and Dr. McDougall’s Color Picture Book