By the time he reached the White House, Bill Clinton’s appetite was legend. He loved hamburgers, steaks, chicken enchiladas, barbecue and french fries, and wasn’t picky. At one campaign stop in New Hampshire, he reportedly bought a dozen doughnuts and was working his way through the box until an aide stopped him.
Clinton now considers himself a vegan. He’s dropped more than 20 pounds, and he says he’s healthier than ever. His dramatic dietary transformation took almost two decades and came about only after a pair of heart procedures and some advice from a trusted doctor.
His dietary saga began in 1993 when Hillary decided to inaugurate a new, healthier diet for her husband.
But, even with the revamped White House menu, Bill battled his weight throughout his two terms as president. At his annual physical in 1999, the White House physician noted the president had put on 18 pounds since a checkup two years earlier. The prescription: refocus on exercise and a low-calorie diet.
Clinton didn’t know it, but weight was not his biggest health concern. He has a family history of heart disease, and plaque was building up in the coronary arteries leading to his heart, undetected by White House doctors.
In 2004, less than four years after leaving office, the 58-year-old Clinton felt what he described as a tightness in his chest, Days later, he underwent quadruple bypass surgery to restore blood flow to his heart.
“I was lucky I did not die of a heart attack,” Clinton said. After the surgery, he cut down on his calories, but his heart troubles were not over.
Last year, he was advised to have another heart procedure: two stents to open one of the veins from his bypass surgery, which had become, in Clinton’s words, “pretty bent and ugly.”
Clinton then decided to make profound changes in the way he eats.
He now consumes no meat, no dairy, no eggs.
“I like the vegetables, the fruits, the beans, the stuff I eat now.”
“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. His latest goal: getting his weight down to 185 pounds, what he weighed when he was 13 years old.
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