“The procedure was a success, however when your husband fell, it caused fairly extensive nerve damage,” choices told Stefanie Ignoffo. “It'll be six months before he can use his arm again.” The Illinois mom of three felt panic spread through her body. John, a self-employed mechanical engineer, needed his arm to work. This is our family's ninth surgery this season without any insurance, she thought, her heart pounding. Six months with zero income means-we'll lose our house. Stefanie – who'd carried as much as 278 pounds on her five-foot-two frame – was in such bad shape, she was considering getting a walker and couldn't even manage a part-time job. What were they going to do?

The day passed inside a blur, but eventually reality hit Stefanie: There's no money for the knee replacements the doctor says I want. But if I slim down, everything could easily get better – my knees, the GI trouble, migraines, hypertension, fatigue. Then I could find work. Obviously, she'd tried diet after diet her very existence. Why would this differ? Try something completely new, she thought. Her animal-loving daughter Hailie, 15, desired to begin a plant-based diet, and Stefanie had researched to see if it had been safe. Studies suggested it might be the world's healthiest diet. And I remember photos of ladies how old irrrve become who lost hundreds of pounds, she recalled.

After John was discharged, they hit the drive-thru and headed home. Everybody was eating burgers and fries when Stefanie cued up a documentary she'd been meaning to watch. It was all about plant-based eating. By the end, Stefanie was stunned that even 18-year-old Zakary was aboard.

How do plant-based meals with fiber help?

Stefanie hit the web and located great resources, including Dr. Neal Barnard's 21-Day Kickstart plan with family-friendly meal ideas like veggie-and-hummus wraps and chili. These look easy and they're from the doctor. Perfect! she thought. She boxed up the family's processed food, cheese and meat to give to friends. Is this crazy? she wondered. There was just one way to find out.

The Ignoffos' first plant-based meal was pasta marinara and salad. “I read we should really fill up therefore we will not be hungry later and start thinking about our old foods,” she said. Everyone dug in and seemed happy. Because the week continued, she offered oatmeal, stir-fries, and rice and beans. Not everything was a hit. “Let's stay until we find favorite new meals,” she said following a so-so veggie loaf. Her 13-year-old, Izabelle, chimed in: “Can you make us pancakes?” All the kids nodded. So Stefanie found a recipe, and it was all smiles in their next breakfast. Specifically for Stefanie and John. Both felt less pain and were sleeping better. Stefanie was already down 12 pounds.

The family gently settled into their new habits. Once, Zak decided to get regular pizza with friends, “but I felt sick afterward,” he reported. Because he said it, it occurred to Stefanie that her own constant tummy trouble – reflux, bloat, IBS – vanished. After many years of urgent bathroom trips and meds that did not work, she was healed.

Why is fiber important?

Breakthrough research In a study by Dr. Barnard, a whole-foods, plant-based diet beat the lauded Mediterranean diet for weight loss and overall health. One big reason: Plant-based eaters get far more fiber along with a much better variety of fiber, giving an enormous boost to trillions of “good bacteria” in the GI tract. “These bacteria act as a strong bonus organ that can help every aspect individuals function optimally,” he states. Digestion, blood sugar levels, inflammation, brain function, plus much more improve. And while 93 percent people don't get enough fiber, going plant-based reverses the issue immediately.

Further evidence shows that plant-based eating improves gut bacteria in a manner that targets the midsection. In one test, volunteers melted “up to seven measuring cups' price of belly fat in 16 weeks without limiting portions,” says the doc. “As plant-based eating makes your gut healthier, wonderful things follow!”

What were the results?

Before long, Stefanie tried on a size-smaller set of jeans. These are too big. Holy cow! she marveled. Down three sizes in 3 weeks, she spoke with her doctor. “Is this normal?” she asked. The doctor laughed. “It's better than normal,” he said. “You have no need for blood-pressure meds anymore!” Through the six-week mark, John, noticeably leaner, had regained the use of his arm – 4 months ahead of schedule.

“After a while, I was bouncing from the walls with energy. I attempted going for a walk,” Stefanie recalls. “I went a whole mile. My knees felt great, and I was so proud.” Soon, the entire Ignoffo family was hiking together. After 10 months, John had shed 45 pounds and Zak had lost 80. Stefanie dropped an astonishing 102 pounds. “My husband and that i are both off all medications. My GI issues have left. And I sense within my heart I've set my kids up to find the best life they are able to live,” she says. “Anyone available looking for an inexpensive method to feel amazing, make an effort to: Eat your plants off!”