Karla Rodriguez, DNP, CNE, RN

Karla discusses her past, sometimes "unhealthy" vegan diet and how a gallbladder attack encouraged her current healthier plant-based diet.

As nurses, I like to think we realize that there is a strong relationship between lifestyle and health. I have been a registered nurse since 1999, and yet, I have seen a surge in chronic health conditions, all of which, for the most part, can be prevented with dietary approaches. Although there were good intentions, it did not help that when I was a bedside nurse, we would always receive treats or foods from the patient's family or compliments from the hospital that were not necessarily healthy for me.

I always dealt with weight issues growing up (my highest weight was 160 pounds) and I know that I would have already been on my way to becoming a diabetic along with cardiac problems since I have a family history of that. In 2014, I had a gallbladder attack and a cholecystectomy was warranted. I was vegan at that time, but again, I was consuming processed vegan foods which were not healthy for me. Luckily, this was a warning call to make a change in my lifestyle habits as I still wanted to continue being vegan and I was now entering a phase where I was staying vegan for ethical reasons as well. 

I tried all types of diets in the past and ended up sustaining on a plant-based diet to date. I was a vegan on and off before becoming plant-based and the difference is "vegan" foods can also consist of processed foods devoid of animal products, such as diet soda and Oreo cookies. I found that there can be just as much junk foods in the vegan family as well. I switched to plant-based which consists of potatoes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, fruits, and vegetables where minimal oils are used. I found that what works for me is to consume a plant-based diet which minimizes use of oils, sugar, and salt. It involved a reprogramming of my taste buds as I had a proclivity for sweets and foods with oils.

As an educator, we speak about patient education and how lifestyle is a major role player in taking care of oneself. I acknowledge that there is more than one dietary approach for everyone based on preference. I found that a plant-based diet works for me as I have luckily been able to sustain my weight with a 40 pound weight loss along with getting to the root of the cause of my proclivity for high processed foods. Incorporating a lifestyle of yoga, exercise, and meditation also helped me become a more productive person.

Karla Rodriguez, DNP, CNE, RN is a Clinical Assistant professor at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing in New York, NY.

Are you a #HealthyNurse? Would you like to be highlighted in our next #HealthyNurse Spotlight? Contact us here.

Have you joined the Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation (HNHN) Grand Challenge yet? Join us today!
Posted by Holly E Carpenter, RN, BSN on Jun 3, 2019 3:50 PM America/Chicago

Blog Post Comments

Log in to post a comment.

Here's my issue: I am 2 years post esophagectomy and now suffer from malnutrition. Nuts and seeds shut my gut motility down. Fruits and vegetable fill me up with no real calories. My dietician recommends high fat for caloric intake. Happy to have me eating potato chips and dip and to add whip cream to my eggs to scramble.  I can only eat so many Avocados. Any recommendations??
  • Posted Fri 07 Jun 2019 07:10 PM CDT
Thank you for this Dr. Karla!  I struggled with the same when eliminating some meat products out of my diet.  Using the term plant based helps keep me focused.
  • Posted Fri 07 Jun 2019 01:04 PM CDT

Join Now - It's Free!

Join now to get immediate access to:
  • Health surveys with customized results and recommendations
  • Fun and engaging monthly health challenges
  • Giveaways, discounts and chances to win health-oriented gifts
  • An online community to connect you to others with similar goals – share stories, gain best practices

Log In or Join Now