It’s no secret that I am a little obsessed with American presidents. That might even be an understatement.
I have two shelves on my bookcase devoted to presidential biographies.
I used to quiz myself nightly on presidential trivia.
I was even “pen pals” with Bill Clinton back in the ’90s. By that, I mean, I wrote letters to him saying I would “vote for him.” In return, I got generic White House thank-you notes. It was special.
Once I got older, however, I realized that Clinton didn’t always make the best choices… And I’m not even referring to a certain Ms. Lewinsky incident.
Rather, Clinton was not a very good role model for healthy living.
Predictably, after years of campaigning at fast food restaurants and snacking on hamburgers, the saturated fat caught up to him in a bad way: In 2004, Clinton underwent a quadruple-bypass to clear deadly blockages in his heart.
After the near-death experience, Clinton began making some serious changes to his diet. He cut back on calories and fat. He became more aware of healthy and unhealthy foods. He lowered cholesterol in his diet.
Yet, it didn’t seem to be enough. Last year, Clinton had to undergo another heart procedure.
While recovering, Clinton was hit with some more hard news from his friend and heart specialist, Dean Ornish. Ornish said that because of a family history of heart disease, the changes that Clinton had made to his diet may not be enough to prevent the progression of heart problems. Instead, Ornish proposed making even more intense changes to Clinton’s diet.
In Clinton’s words, “That’s when I made a decision to really change.”
Out went the meat, dairy, eggs and most oils. In came more vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole grains.
In essence, it is a vegan diet. But, the real point is on improving his personal health. And, in just one year, the changes are already paying off for Clinton.
“All my blood tests are good, and my vital signs are good, and I feel good, and I also have, believe it or not, more energy,” Clinton said. Now, Clinton is directing his increased energy to the cause of improving health and nutritional knowledge among children through the Clinton Foundation.
In my eyes, that’s good enough reason for redemption.
Similar to Clinton and millions of other Americans, I have heart disease a little too close for comfort in my family history. In fact, that is one of the reasons why I decided to become a vegetarian. Although I know that may not be the right idea for everyone, Clinton’s example now goes to show that diet does play a large role in overall health. It also shows that it’s never too late to change personal diets and improve health. That’s something worth talking about…
Questions: What do you think? Do you think there are real benefits to Clinton’s diet?