My name is Joya Wesley and I liked to call myself a foodie back when I was still SAD and so addicted that I couldn't imagine life without butter. Then God tricked me into the whole food plant based lifestyle, and showed me an easy, delicious and delightful way to live it. Now, I’m an Easy Breezy Whole Foodie, here to pay it forward by helping others opt out of the Standard American Diet.
With sincere thanks to God and credit to the dozens of doctors, documentarians, authors, teachers and everyday successes who have educated and inspired me, and virtually welcomed me to this previously unimaginable alternate reality. I saw 60 pounds melt quickly away, along with the dieting and hunger, hypertension, brain fog, fatigue, anxiety and mild depression that I had come to accept as normal.
I’m now part of a community of people who share with me the desire to spread the word about this healing magic we wish we’d understood sooner. Overweight since my age reached the double digits, I spent more than 40 years dieting and rollercoastering with my weight, which soared to high of 329 pounds. In my decades of fervent reading and studying and seeking, I did encounter beautiful people who encouraged a plant-based, low-fat way of eating, but whenever anyone said anything that sounded like “no butter,” my ears would switch off, and that would be the end of that. Until now.
Through a fortunate series of events, my old SAD life had a delicious grand finale and even did a yummy little curtsy in December 2019. As 2020 dawned, I entered a new world. In this world — by edict of each one of us, with the power vested in us to choose what we put into our mouths — the Standard American Diet has been completely abolished. Instead of eating processed and fast “foods” and animal products, we only eat the plant foods our designer gave us when She embedded our life programs in this abundant and abundantly delicious hunk of space rock.
There’s a party going on! I had no idea. You have no idea. Heart disease and type two diabetes are disappearing. Former 400-pounders are getting trim and becoming athletes. And anyone can do it, most anywhere, simply and affordably. All it takes is willingness and this information.
I’m using butter to mean the actual dairy product and as a metaphor for everything fatty I ever enjoyed. I remember being served hot dogs with margarine and mayonnaise in kindergarten, and thinking even as a 5-year-old that was excessive, but I ate it and liked it and developed very greasy dietary predilections from there. I now understand from reading The Pleasure Trap that I had a full-scale addiction, not unlike an alcoholic or cocaine addict, and that rehabilitation was not only possible, but easier than I thought.
Pre-rehab, last December, I was hanging on to hope that my last two SAD diet gurus were right, because their plans allowed butter and bacon, and I was able to get down to a respectable (for SAD me) 170 pounds. But as I drank clean coffee with clean, grass-fed butter and ate clean grass-fed egg and bacon low-carb burritos in the California sunshine, my weight crept back up over 200, and my eating veered further and further away from the straight and narrow.
Before the December breaking point, I didn’t think I was SAD. Butter was the only dairy item I hadn’t long ago renounced, along with most processed sugars and flours and fast food. I frequented farmers markets and already ate bunches of vegetables. But thought I would be sad, forever, if I had to give up butter, and I never would have willingly done so if not for God’s tricky grace.
So, I was SAD, but I was not unhappy, except with my weight. I had a blessed life.
I lived in Los Angeles, my hometown, and had worked more than a decade in a dream artist management job that allowed me to travel the world. Fabulous meals were part of the deal, and that month was extra fabulous in that it included a four-day residency where the host made a point of showing off all of his town’s culinary points of pride. I ate and ate and ate. After that was a trip to London, where I put a hurting on our hotel’s traditional English breakfast buffet for another four days. Finally for Christmas I scored an invite to a lavish dinner party that put the cherry on top of my out-of-control SAD sundae.
As the new decade approached, I knew I needed drastic measures to get back on track. Shuffling back through the 38 diets I had tried over 40+ years (I counted), I remembered the old Rice Diet, which I knew would reset my taste buds. I found the book, The Rice Diet Solution, which offered a simple plan I began following on Dec. 31, thinking it would be temporary. While I was following the plan, which quickly begun taking off pounds and normalizing my high blood pressure, was the exact right time for me to discover Dr. John McDougall and his Starch Solution.
Because I was already having success with what was essentially the same plan, I didn’t bristle and shut down as I normally would have at his often repeated quotes including “The fat you eat is the fat you wear” and “People love getting good news about their bad habits.” The latter refers to research proving the merits of eating butter, which I had happily swallowed previously, but now was in a headspace to finally reject.
As it happened, Dr. McDougall gave me good news about the good habits I had temporarily adopted, and that led to finding escape from the Pleasure Trap and a doorway into this new life.
Today I live in a size 4 body, smaller, healthier, happier and more energetic than I ever would have imagined possible. My wish is for all who struggle with their weight and health as I no longer do to experience the same deliverance.
Me in Italy, 2017, photo by Roberto Sinigaglia.