Back to school…and how I really do wish this was pie…

by Erica on May 8, 2012

This cracks me up every time I see it...

For the last four weeks, I’ve been immersed in eCornell and the T. Colin Campbell Foundation’s Certificate in Plant Based Nutrition program.  There are three two-week classes in the program, and I’ve been taking them back-to-back.  I completed Nutrition Fundamentals two weeks ago, today I will wrap up Diseases of Affluence, and tomorrow I begin my last and final class for the program- Principles in Practice.  Once my third class is complete, I will have earned my spiffy new certificate.

If you’ve been wondering why I haven’t been writing as much these last couple of weeks, that’s why.  I tried on numerous occasions to write about the class for my blog, but I kept having trouble figuring out what to write about.  Please know it’s not due to a lack of information- quite the contrary.  I can’t even begin to tell you how packed this program is with useful information- much of it quite shocking and inspiring, all at the same time.  It’s taking some time to sort out how I want to write about it.

Before you think I am a vegetarian or vegan, please know I’m not.  I grew up eating the normal, standard American diet.  I have always loved vegetables and fruit, but I also enjoyed loads of animal protein, pastas, junk food, pre-packaged foods, frozen dinners, sodas, and fast food.  I’ve been trying to eat healthier over the last few years, and I thought I was finally making some progress.  Until…I saw a copy of the New York Times Bestseller, The China Study.  That’s when I started to rethink this whole food thing.

Turns out that the author of The China Study, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, is a professor at Cornell University, and he created the Certificate in Plant Based Nutrition program.  You may have seen him in the movie, “Forks Over Knives.”  I was interested in the program a while ago, but when I learned a couple of months ago that I could also knock out some of my continuing education requirements for my CHES certification, I signed up.  (To my fellow milspouses out there- the MyCAA program will pay for it too if you qualify.  And, I need to give a shout out to my friend Isheka who reminded me about the MyCAA program- thanks so much!!)

Boy, am I happy that I signed up…  As I’ve been learning, there are so many incredible health benefits to living a healthy lifestyle and eating a whole foods plant-based diet, and I plan to blog more about them throughout the coming months. Some of them include easy and healthy weight loss, having more energy, looking and feeling younger, lowering your risk of prostate, breast, and other cancers, preventing and reversing heart disease, vastly decreasing your need for prescription drugs, preventing and treating diabetes, keeping your bones strong, avoiding stroke, preventing kidney stones, lowering blood pressure, avoiding Alzheimer’s Disease, overcoming arthritis, and avoiding impotence, among many, many other benefits.  The best part is, if we cut out all the crap from our diets that we normally eat, we can eat as much as we want to.  There’s no counting calories, carbs, fat, etc.  We’d be eating real, whole foods, and plenty of it.

While I’m not a vegetarian or vegan right now, I definitely plan to move further towards a whole foods plant-based diet.  Also- just to clarify- the term vegan usually refers to individuals who don’t eat meat or dairy, and for many, a big motivation is how animals are treated.  A whole foods plant-based diet is very similar, but it identifies what to eat (actual fresh whole foods), instead of what not to eat (meat and dairy).  Technically speaking, vegans can eat processed foods, fast food, etc, as long as it doesn’t have meat or dairy in it.  Some don’t, but many do.

People who follow a whole foods plant-based diet eat very, very little meat or dairy, if at all (most do not), nor any processed foods, or junk food.  It doesn’t mean they can’t sneak a few chips or a burger in here and there, but generally speaking, this is how they eat.  They eat an incredibly nutritious and healthy diet.  I know it sounds like a huge leap from how many of us eat right now, but it’s totally do-able, and it is hardly boring or awful.  Believe me, I wouldn’t be interested in it if it were…

So, my apologies to my blog peeps for not writing as much as I had planned to these last few weeks.  But, please know my wheels are turning with loads of blog ideas, many of which are inspired by the certificate program.  And, I look forward to sharing this info with all of you.  After all, good health is contagious- and we need to pass it on!           

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Maria May 8, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Great post! I’m right there with you, trying to eat better because it’s so easy to fall into grabbing pre-packaged crap when life gets hectic. Last week I actually brought some strawberries to work with me for a snack. OK so I also brought a rice krispies treat and chocolate chip granola bar… but I did eat the strawberries, too. I’m taking baby steps to healthy eating. I found it very ironic recently when I read that the soybeans in kashi (owned by Kelloggs) contained pesticides and carcinogens. I don’t buy kashi, but it really made me think about what my family does buy and eat (like those rice krispies treats and granola bars). I no longer believe cereals are part of a nutritious breakfast, and I’ve really become one of those people who believes that if you can’t trace your food back to its source within the first one or two ingredients, you should not eat it. And one more thing that bugs me (LOL)– ever wonder how Applebees, Wendy’s, etc. can get their food tasting exactly the same every time no matter what location you get it from? I’m thinking it’s because the ingredients were developed in a chemistry lab. Home-cooked dishes come out slightly different each time, from my experience. Anywasys, thanks for another thought-provoking post! 🙂


Maria May 8, 2012 at 3:16 pm

BTW, found this site interesting in figuring out what GMO means:

According to this site, there were no genetically modified crops in the US before 1994. I find it ironic that it’s only been in the last 10 years or so that I’ve been hearing about dramatic increases in autism, food allergies, and certain types of cancers…


Erica May 8, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Thanks so much for your posts Maria! I think most of us are just so used to eating the foods we’ve always been given to eat, that we rarely question the nutritional value. Eating is more of a hobby at this point, than it is an activity that provides our bodies with nutrition. Glad you found my post thought provoking- and I will definitely check out the link you shared! I know it feels overwhelming, but small improvements in your nutrition really do lead to larger ones as you keep moving forward. Great job- keep it up!! 🙂


Alyce May 10, 2012 at 10:55 pm

My mouth is watering with all this talk of Whole Foods…I’m running to my frig for some blueberries and strawberries!!


Erica May 10, 2012 at 11:33 pm

Fresh fruit is the best snack, isn’t it??? That reminds me Alyce, I have raspberries in my fridge… 🙂


Tb0nita May 17, 2012 at 10:24 am

Hey, I heard about your blog througha friend of yours, and it is looking great! I’m excited for you and your journey. Here ( ) is a site I think you might find interesting with an elaborate discussion of “The China Study.”


Erica June 1, 2012 at 12:07 am

Hi Tb0nita! I’ve been meaning to let you know I checked out the blog you recommended. Very interesting discussion on The China Study. I think it’s always important to read varying opinions, especially about something so important. Thanks for sharing it with me, I appreciate it!


Erica May 17, 2012 at 11:52 am

Hi Tb0nita! Good to hear from you!! Thanks for your kind words. I will definitely check out your link… 🙂


Patricia May 31, 2012 at 10:28 pm

I am so excited that Google led me here!! I love your blog. Incidentally I was searching for information on whether or not I could use MyCaa to pay for the Plant Based Nutrition Certificate and according to you I cannnnnn and I’m SOOO excited right now because I almost signed up last week but didn’t because it hurt my heart too much to take $1200 out of my savings account.

Could you email me with any tips on how to use MyCaa for the course? I want to try to register ASAP so as to finish the course before starting grad school in the fall (with my GI Bill, yeah free education is how I roll) 😉 thanks!!!! so excited. so. excited.


Erica May 31, 2012 at 11:44 pm

Hi Patricia! So good to hear from you, and I am so glad you found my blog!! Yes, I used My CAA to pay for eCornell’s certificate. I started the process on a Sunday, and by Wednesday, everything was approved and ready to go. It was very fast and easy to do.

First, call Military One Source and confirm you are qualified for it, etc. Their number is 1.800.342.9647. Once they look you up in DEERS and confirm you, they’ll email you information and directions on how to register online in the MyCAA portal. Next, you’ll have to come up with your “educational plan” in the web portal. I think I selected something like “health and wellness prevention specialist.” Once the plan is approved, you can start adding courses to the plan. I had all three classes approved at once. If you have any problems, talk to a rep from eCornell- they helped me a lot.

Just a heads up- the program is great, and is packed with loads of info. I took all three classes back to back, but if I had to do it over again, I would have given myself at least 1-2 weeks off in between them. A break would have let me absorb more of the info.

Keep in touch, and let me know how the certificate program goes! Hopefully I’ll “see” you again on the blog. 🙂


Erica May 31, 2012 at 11:50 pm

Patricia- meant to share that if you haven’t found my blog on FaceBook yet, please do. (The “We’re on FaceBook” link above will take you to it.) I post my new blog posts on the FB page, and some other fun stuff I find along the way. I’m also on Twitter, and the link to my account is also above.


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