6 months ago I ate meat for the first time in 7 years. There were many reasons I became vegetarian, stayed vegetarian, and stopped being vegetarian. I was 16 when I first became vegetarian, and I actually started being vegetarian because my friend dared me to be vegetarian for a month. During that month I didn’t crave meat and realized I didn’t like the taste or texture of meat. I was also having issues with food and body-image, and being vegetarian was an easy way to cut calories. So I decided to stay vegetarian and as the months and years went on my passion for the environment, animal rights, and personal health grew.
Throughout my 7 years of not eating meat, I went from being vegetarian to pescetarian (eating fish, but not meat) to vegetarian again to vegan to pescetarian again to pescetarian and gluten-free to grain and dairy-free and now I am just gluten-free. I didn’t wake up one day and decide to eat meat, just like most things in life it was a process.
A few years ago, I started gaining weight like crazy. I couldn’t figure out why I was gaining weight because my diet and exercise regime didn’t change. I decided to workout more and eat less, which caused me to gain more weight and more symptoms. Over a short period of time my symptoms included digestive issues, fatigue, weight gain and bloating. I ended up seeing an endocrinologist and was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, a thyroid condition that can cause weight gain and fatigue. Once I was on medication and my thyroid was stabilized, I continued to have these symptoms. I’ve talked to many endocrinologists about my symptoms and basically each doctor has said most patients with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis don’t ever recover fully from their symptoms. I learned to live with the fatigue, bloating and digestive issues and came to terms with the fact that I might never lose the weight. During this time, I became very dedicated to my yoga practice. Yoga helped me to not focus on the scale, but to focus on gaining strength and flexibility. My yoga practice has evolved into a mind, body, spirit connection, but it didn’t start out that way.
I started to question if I really needed to live with being fatigued, during my yoga therapy teacher training. I learned a lot about different forms of medicine by reading, talking with people in my program, and experiencing the positive effects of alternative medicine firsthand. During this time, I met many people with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and talked to them about their experiences. I actually ran into a woman who is a holistic nutritionist with Hashimoto’s, and after eliminating grains and dairy from her diet, her symptoms disappeared.
I decided to try the autoimmune and gut healing diet, which is a very strict diet that eliminates any foods (including grains and dairy) that may cause a person inflammation. Bone broth was one of the foods that was highly recommended to eat because it is one of the best foods to heal your body. When I started the autoimmune and gut healing diet, I saw really great progress with my symptoms and I started to crave meat. Then after two weeks, my symptoms returned and I knew I needed to see a doctor in the medical and holistic field. I decided to see a Functional Medicine Doctor, who has a Medical degree and a Functional Medicine degree. My doctor is amazing, she switched me to a medicine that is shown to work better with women and encouraged me to eat red meat because the iron in red meat is a great source of energy. I spent a few weeks thinking about whether or not to eat meat.
For the past month my body was craving meat. After years of feeling fatigued and frustrated by the weight I gained, I decided that I needed to listen to my body and my doctor. On Easter I ate meat for the first time in 7 years. I made a healthy cauliflower casserole with turkey bacon.
After eating meat for 6 months I feel SO much better. I have more energy, I feel satisfied after eating, and overall I feel healthier. I am consuming meat in a way that feels right for me, which means buying meat from a local farmers market or buying grass-fed and hormone-free meat. I am listening to my body and fueling it with the food it is craving without judgement. I struggled with whether I wanted to write a blog post about this, because I wasn’t sure how I wanted to tell my story and I was afraid of being judged. Then I realized that we each need to do what is right for our bodies and stop judging each other. What is right for my body might not be right for your body and vice versa. What your body craves overtime changes, so instead of being hard on ourselves or worrying about other people judging us, feed your body what it is craving.
What does your food journey look like? Comment below!