Why I Eat A Whole Food Plant Based Diet
Whole-Food, Plant-Based

A Plant-Based Journey | How a Road Trip Changed My Life Forever

This is an unsponsored post about why I began a whole-food, plant-based (wfpb) diet in 2021. This is not medical advice. I only feature products or ideas on Peaceable Mom with which I have personally had a reliable and positive experience. This post includes affiliate links.

A Road Trip to Disney World

In 2021, I gave my daughter a trip to Disney World for her eighth birthday. As a homeschooling family, we planned to road trip for two months alone the Gulf Coast visiting various educational and historical sites, ending with a week of fun in Orlando.

Things were finally opening up after the public health crisis, and we felt confident and safe hitting the road. So, we did.

Leaving Colorado we started our journey in Taos, New Mexico visiting the Rio Grande. We explored art in Santa Fe, and had fun with Big Texas and camping in Amarillo. We were having a fantastic time.

After visiting with some family in Dallas, we drove to Beaumont, TX where we decided to spend a couple of days exploring that region before continuing on our journey. I discovered a reptile sanctuary there and, being the road trippers that we are, we went to check it out. We visited with the animals, and fed some alligators hot dogs. It was a new and exciting experience for us.

Gator Country | Do alligators like hot dogs?

Was It The Pizza?

We were feeling jolly as we headed back to the hotel and ordered some pizza. It was time to relax, and settle in for the night. After eating that pizza – road trip food – I started to experience some severe pain in my right side and central chest area.

While the pain was significant, I assumed it was just indigestion. So, I tried to be patient with it. I picked up a couple of different antacids to help things along, and was still confident that I would recover and feel better soon.

Unfortunately, as time passed, the pain only intensified and I was writhing. So, there we were – my eight-year-old daughter and I – alone in a hotel room, 17 hours away from Colorado and hours from any family or friends. I was starting to be very concerned.

Nothing I tried was helping. I rested, drank calming teas, took a hot shower, and meditated. I tried anything that I could think of to support my body and my system through whatever it was going through. But the pain just – it was relentless and wouldn’t go away.

A Difficult Decision

Finally, I made the very difficult decision – in the middle of this road trip – to drive myself to an ER.

In the ER, they noticed that I was jaundiced, and performed a scan of the area where I was experiencing pain. They discovered that I had a gallstone blocking my biliary duct.

Rude Awakening

I was relieved. In my mind, a gallstone was an easy fix. My daughter, however, began to cry as her worry increased. She was understandably upset. This was not how a Disney trip was supposed to go.

So, I tried to console her with a cool and nonchalant demeanor about it in front of the doctor. I told her “Oh, the gallbladder. That’s not too bad. That’s a very easy procedure. They’ll probably have me in and out in a couple hours”.

And that is where this kind doctor gave me a reality check. No, they wouldn’t have me out in just a couple of hours. This emergency was going to be put me in the hospital for days.

Unfortunately, I was going to need two operations. First, they would remove the stone that was blocking my duct, and then they would remove my gallbladder. Well, that scared me, too. All of a sudden I was facing two operations in the middle of what was supposed to be a very joyful trip.

Ambulance Ride to Galveston

Not only did I need two operations, but they couldn’t do them in Beaumont. So, it was a two hour ambulance ride from Beaumont, Texas to Galveston, Texas where I was admitted into the hospital in the middle of the night. Exhausted Sophia sat harnessed in the jump seat of the ambulance as I worried what to do. I knew they weren’t going to let me keep Sophia with me in the hospital, and I wanted to avoid the system retaliating against me for simply daring to be a single parent on vacation by taking my child away.

Thankfully, UTMB Galveston was very kind to let her stay with me until morning, while my incredible family near Dallas drove the ten hours round-trip to take her home with them while I recovered in the hospital. It’s a situation for which I felt – and still feel – incredibly grateful and touched.

Being a single parent in a medical emergency on a road trip was terrifying. My family’s love, selflessness, and willingness to spring into action made the whole thing better for both Sophia and I. Since then I often think of other single parents who may not have anyone to help in a situation such as mine.

Clear Thinking

Once my gallstone was removed and the pain was gone, I started thinking clearly again. I felt really good, but I was facing another operation. UTMB Galveston happens to be a teaching hospital, and I just happen to be someone with a lot of questions. So, I talked to a variety of doctors, students, and other medical professionals as I worked out the next steps out in my mind. As soon as I wasn’t in pain anymore and, as soon as I wasn’t in danger anymore, I was hesitant about removing this organ from my body.

I understand medicine is currently very nonchalant about gallbladder removal. My personality is far less easy-going about the removal of any bodily organ. I wondered: If I have it, and my body seems to need it, wouldn’t it be better just to keep it in place and use it as long as I can? The varied answers I received surprised me, and showed just how much room for interpretation some parts of medicine leave to an individual practitioner.

Lifestyle Changes

After much polling, discussion, and contemplation, I decided to try and make lifestyle changes as opposed to just cutting out my gallbladder. Some of the medical professionals were very much on board with that. They were supportive and optimistic. They admitted I may never have another gallbladder attack as long as I live. Of course, they warned me lifestyle changes could be difficult and that many people fail at these efforts. Hence the copious gallbladder removals.

Some of the doctors were more “doomsday” about the whole thing. They told me I could walk out of the hospital and be back in 15 minutes if my gallbladder spasms again.

Wow. So, it could happen in 15 minutes or it could never happen again? Suddenly, I was grateful to have dug deeper to understand where these doctors were coming from.

In the end, I decided to try something new. In my heart, I knew change was possible. And, maybe, this health event had happened for a reason – to help inspire a new way of living.

Dietary Hell

But what was that going to be? I had struggled with my weight since I was a teenager. I took diet pills at 13 years old. I tried every diet plan from Keto to Veganism to Vegetarianism to the Raw Diet. I tried calorie counting and fat counting and, sometimes, I’ve altogether just given up.

After more than three decades of trying, nothing had hit the nail on the head for me. I hadn’t found any nutritional way of life where I felt like I could be successful. And, in my case, discipline cannot be blamed. As a classically trained musician, discipline was part of my daily life for decades.

With food and dieting, I would discipline myself for a time, and it felt like a rubber band stretching and stretching and stretching. I would give it all my focus and my concentration. And, at some point, that rubber band – I just couldn’t hold it anymore. It snapped.

There was never a dietary plan that allowed me to let go and relax into it, that didn’t leave me feeling starving while ultimately leading to a binge. I knew I wanted a plan that was supported of my health, but most diets seem to activate the animal part of me that’s going to go after food like a hungry rodent if deprived.

So, I knew discipline was only part of the equation. That, at some point, the animal part of me was going to feel scared about famine, about dying for lack of food or calories. And the rubber band is going to snap back. I needed a new approach. I needed a way of life for the long haul.

A Friend’s Idea

I was kind of desperate. At that point, I knew I didn’t want my gallbladder to be removed, but I didn’t know what I was going to do to change my life. I texted a friend back in Colorado and told her what was going on. My friend mentioned a whole-food, plant-based diet. She doesn’t follow this diet herself, but felt an intuitive nudge that this approach may work well for me. I appreciated that nudge, and started doing research laying there in my hospital bed.

What I found was very interesting. Oil is a processed food? Life without oil? That suddenly made so much sense! Why hadn’t I though of that before?

I was excited to give this lifestyle a try. I also knew it would be challenging to get started, as we were on a road trip. After everything that had happened, I wanted to continue on to Disney World. I did not want to take that away from my daughter after seeing her mom in the hospital. Yes, she would have understood not being able to go, but I knew that another trip to Disney World was unlikely. As a single mom, being able to give your child a trip to Disney World may be a once in a childhood event.

Getting Started

I committed to giving the whole-food, plant-based diet a try. If I failed, my gallbladder could always be removed. So, I left the hospital with my gallbladder.

But I was nervous. The voices of the “doomsday doctors” in my head telling me that it could happen again in 15 minutes were there alongside the more optimistic voices. It felt like I was walking on a tightrope. I felt unsure. Had I made a mistake?

I also knew that this incident – however minor you think a gallbladder incident is – was a big wake-up call. It was just the beginning of health issues. It was my body letting me know that change was necessary if I wanted any quality of life moving forward.

I left the hospital feeling extremely grateful, feeling like I had a second chance to at least try something new. And I did.

Eating Larger Portions With Less Calories

I went to the grocery store with a list of whole-food, plant-based aligned foods. Instead of eating one apple, I ate six apples. Instead of eating one banana, I ate seven bananas. Instead of eating one potato, I ate five potatoes. In this way, my body felt that nice, satisfying full feeling on foods with a lower caloric density.

We continued on our trip. We went to Disney World. The restaurants there actually accommodated me. We had reservations at Cinderella’s Castle, and they made me a green salad without any dressings or oils.


Oil has been the biggest challenge while dining out. Most restaurants like to slop an awful lot of oil on food. Now, I generally don’t eat meals in restaurants, although I have found a couple of restaurants in my area that will prepare certain things without oil for me.

Cooking without oil has been a revelation, however. It was such a big deal to understand how easily I can cook delicious foods that don’t have oil, and that support my body in health.

How Am I Doing Today?

It’s almost two years later, and I have slowly lost about 75 pounds. I’ve had two ultrasounds since coming home from our trip; One immediately after coming home which showed my gallbladder was still inflamed and angry. My blood levels were elevated in all the ways they shouldn’t be. My second ultrasound happened about six months after that, and showed my gallbladder had calmed down significantly. All of my blood levels had returned to normal.

Since then I have been in excellent health, thankfully. I haven’t had a single gallbladder attack since then. I have stayed pretty consistently on the whole-foods plant-based diet. I don’t eat any spicy foods anymore. This has been a major sacrifice, from my perspective, because some of my favorite foods are Indian and Mexican foods. However, I’ve tried to sensitize my taste buds to other tastes, and it’s worked. I no longer crave these addictive, flavor-enhanced food products.

I am still trying to lose 25 pounds, but it’s a slow process. Weight loss on a whole-food, plant-based diet generally happens more slowly.


On holidays I have gone off my plan. On my daughter’s birthday I ate cake, and around Christmas I ate other foods that I previously ate. But, generally, I would give myself an A- for consistency. In my view, perfection isn’t the most important aspect of this lifestyle. Generally, being consistent, committed, and self-forgiving has been far more important. Since I’ve learned to be more forgiving with failure, I find real failures to be fewer and far between.

Going off my WFPB diet around the holidays in 2022 gave me a sensory experience. The tastes filled me up in a certain way, and made me happy in a certain way, but I was absolutely shocked with how terrible I felt afterwards. My body had to work hard to digest these foods. My heart pumped noticeably harder as well. My mood tanked. I was really sad for seemingly no reason many days.

I truly wish now that I had not felt like I needed to go off my plan to celebrate because, coming back on WFPB in the new year, I feel like a million bucks again. It’s true. My mood is awesome. I’m meditating. I’m eating healthy foods again. My body is healthy. My heart isn’t racing. I’m breathing more deeply.

In the end, it was really good for me to feel how bad I felt, and how much I really wanted to get back on my whole-food, plant-based diet.

Going Forward

In the new year I’d like to celebrate more without feeling like I have to go off my plan in order to do so. In our home we celebrate a lot. Let’s face it, life can be over at any time, and it’s important to celebrate the moments we have together.

This year I would like to do more holidays and celebrations (and I’m not going to say all because I think that puts an undue amount of pressure on the situation), without feeling like I need to go off my plan.

I will let you know how I do, if you’re interested. If you have any questions about our road trip, or about the plant-based diet, or anything I’ve spoken about today, please feel free to leave those in the comments on the Peaceable Mom YouTube channel. I welcome them.

I’m not trying to sell you a diet. Really, though, after struggling for over three decades to find a plan that worked for me, I wish I had known about this sooner. I really do.

Perfect is the enemy of the good. Voltaire

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