Hello! My name is Zana and I come from Slovenia. I am a computer science engineer but I am passionate about plant-based nutrition. I am also a T. Colin Campbell Plant-based Nutrition graduate and the owner and founder of Plant-based Tips & Tricks. I love to cook and invent recipes for simple but delicious plant-based meals that are affordable and nutritious! I am also the founder and creator of the project My Plant-based Story, the website you are currently on.
Join me on my instagram @plantbasedtnt.
What was your diagnosis and which health problems did you face?
At the end of high school, I started gaining weight. I thought I was eating too much and not exercising enough. When I was in college, I started running and cycling, but I was still continuing to gain weight. At the student’s medical exam they told me, I was overweight and developed hypertension. I weighed 68kg (I am 160cm / 5 ft 3 tall) and my blood pressure was 160/100. At 22 I got my first student job. The stress levels got higher, I was always on the go and had little time to eat. So I mostly ate pizza and my digestion was getting worse and worse, I was heavily constipated. In the fall of 2012 that excruciating pain came. I ate my last pizza and went to the emergency room. That was when they gave me the diagnosis of Crohn’s disease, an incurable autoimmune disease. A few years later I also got the diagnosis for Rosacea, which I later found out, is closely related to gut health.
How did you come to know about the plant-based diet?
I wasn’t willing to come to terms with the notion of an incurable disease. I couldn’t accept it. Then I got a hint from a doctor in the hospital where I was staying. He said, that my condition is a consequence of my eating habits and that I should strongly consider changing them. He warned me about the dangers of red and processed meats, which were my favorites at the time. When I got out of the hospital I got a dietician guide for Crohn’s disease patients. It was strictly forbidding all fresh fruits and vegetables and focusing on meat and dairy. It made me very confused, getting so many different recommendations. So, of course, I said screw you confused people, opened up Google and typed “How to cure Crohn’s disease”. There I found a few stories of people, that we’re able to keep their Crohn’s disease in remission. They all had one thing in common. A change in diet to a plant-based diet. I had nothing to lose so I was willing to try.
What were the benefits of adopting a plant-based lifestyle for you?
I first adopted a vegetarian diet. In the beginning I tried to eat mostly raw fruit and vegetables – exactly the foods that were forbidden in the dietician’s guide. After a few months when I had my follow up exam, my doctors were surprised to find out, there was no new damage to my intestines. What was even more odd to them, all my previous injuries healed perfectly in a relatively short time. One of the nurses asked me if I’m a vegetarian because she heard that you could do that with diet. When I asked the doctor what does he think, he said that this is only a temporary remission and that it will come back. At the time of this interview, almost 8 years have passed and I have had no symptoms. My digestion is perfect and I’m feeling great. When I started to study nutrition in the beginning of 2018, and finally understood what it’s all about, I adopted a whole food plant-based diet. In the first year, I got rid of all of my excess weight, eating as much as I wanted and not doing any excessive sports. In total, I got rid of more than 10 kilograms of weight, the last 5 when I got rid of all the processed foods and all the oils. I was vegan for about a year but eating lots of processed foods and substitutes. When I switched to WFPB, even my blood pressure dropped and is now at the optimal 110/70, also my pulse is about 25% lower. I achieved my optimal weight goal which is at 54kg. In the second year after going WFPB, even my Rosacea started to get better.
What do you like the most about the plant-based diet?
I love the endless possibilities it provides, I love to cook and experiment and invent new recipes. I also love that I can eat as much as I want and not gain weight or feel sluggish after a meal.
What would you say to people that are facing similar health problems as you have?
I would say go plant-based. It’s the best thing that has happened to me. I feel like I was reborn and I have much more energy now.
Are there any web resources you would suggest, that helped you the most when transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle?
Yes, my favorite sites are Nutrition Facts by dr. Greger and Nutrition Studies by T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies. These sites really help you understand how a plant-based diet works and why other diets don’t. When adopting a plant-based diet it is also crucial, that you learn how to cook but don’t let cooking consume your life. I also strongly recommend Plant-based Tips & Tricks for everything you need to know about whole food plant-based cooking and living.
Anything you would like to add?
I wouldn’t be where I am today if I wouldn’t have found the testimonials people shared on the internet. That is why I think this project is incredible and I hope it will grow and help many people. For the people who came here looking for inspiration – this is it! Knowing it can be done and that somebody else has already done it, is the best inspiration you can get!
Share your story and help inspire others!