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Plant-Based Diet for Healing- Linda’s Story

At 78-years-old, Linda Middlesworth loves to share her story of how a plant-based diet helped her recover from health and weight issues and how making the switch completely changed her passion for life.

By: Linda Middlesworth

Feeling sick and tired

In 1988, when I was 44, I  met my new neighbor in Sacramento, California and, as we walked our dogs together, I complained of my many health issues.

I had thyroid cancer, severe heart disease, pre-diabetes, and I was carrying around 50 extra pounds. I could not understand why I was so sick as I was an aerobics instructor and personal trainer. I was also eating plenty of what I thought at the time were healthy foods— chicken, fish, and cheese.

Finding answers

My neighbor told me I should talk to a physician named Dr. John McDougall and that all my health issues could be resolved by eating a whole-food, plant-based diet.

I never met with Dr. McDougall, but I read his book, “The 12 Day Program,” and it made complete sense. In the book, he explained that his patients had reversed their chronic diseases after switching to a starch based plant diet. There were so many people whose lives he saved.

The book and Dr. McDougall inspired me enough to go plant-exclusive immediately. I knew then that I would remain on this diet for life. I also read “Food Revolution” by John Robbins.

More reasons to change

A week later, my neighbor asked me if I knew what happened to dairy cows? When I said they provided cheese that I used to love, she explained the process and torture that the very young mothers endured being machine milked causing them to have swollen breasts and painful mastitis.

She said the babies from the dairy cows were taken away at birth and held in stalls to become veal or milking machines. After completing 4 years of painful milking, the moms were hauled off to slaughter to become hamburger. They normally live 24 years.

That was it. I became vegan and an animal rights activist on the spot. I was also inspired by Peter Singer’s book, “Animal Liberation.” He wrote, “It’s not even whether or not you eat animals, it’s whether they suffer!” I am still an avid animal rights activist to this day working for PETA, DXE, SAEN and any group that helps stop animal pain and suffering.

Getting healthy

When I went vegan, I had no trouble losing 50 pounds. I did not eat a totally healthy diet the first few years. I still drank my nightly wine, morning coffee, and consumed too much sugar and salt. Those vices I gave up about 25 years ago.

Sometimes, with the wine, my weight would creep up a few pounds. I am so thankful I do not have alcohol in my life at all now. I even gave up coffee which was hard to do at first.

I recovered from all of my health issues except for one. I had one radiation treatment for my thyroid cancer only one week before I found out about Dr. McDougall and a plant-based diet. Unfortunately, the radiation treatment that I had did destroy most of my thyroid, so I must take thyroid meds for life.

A few months before my thyroid mess, I had a large lump removed from my breast. It was not cancerous yet, but it was the size of a small golf ball. I now know why I had this lump. When we eat animal products, we produce excess estrogen and this can cause a lump and can become cancerous. I was lucky it was not cancer yet.

Success with a plant-based diet

Today, at age 78, I am the healthiest I have ever been in my life. I am 5’8” at 119 pounds, and I still teach aerobics at a large gym complex in Sacramento. I am the oldest instructor of about 15 gyms.

78-year-old healthy Linda Middlesworth at gym

I am a completely different person now, as I feel light on my feet and I have so much more energy. I do not need as much sleep and wake up at 6 a.m every morning with no problem.

Not eating animals has helped me keep a positive attitude in this life. There is always suffering going on, but now I can deal with it. As a health coach, my life is filled with joy constantly as I watch others regain their health too.

My passion has led me to help put on events like Get Healthy Sacramento, Go Heathy Live, Go Compassionate Live, etc. with our top plant exclusive doctors and influencers as speakers. I am a Food for Life Nutrition and Cooking Instructor for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and earned certification in both Center for Nutrition Studies and The Starch Solution.

There are 5,000 members of my Sacramento Vegan Society Meet-up, and my work and events have helped hundreds of people finally see how they can be healthy and compassionate too. I so love helping people and animals, and knowing that I am not contributing to animal suffering or to climate change by my food choices.

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