I'm about to share with you an insight into my life and a personal account of my food journey. I encourage you to read on without judgment. We are all different, we all have individual paths, and this is mine.
I didn't plan on writing this blog post until further down the track. I expected to do it when I had the courage, but I realised there might never be a perfect time. I want to share with you my story into why I stopped being vegetarian after 10+ years.
Reminder: Its not always easy but what matters most is growth. Be open to change, never stop experimenting and learn from your experiences, others and the world around you.
My Food Story-
At age thirteen I became a vegetarian. I've always had a love for animals (I still do). I wasn't a big meat eater and didn't like seafood. It was an easy lifestyle change for me.
Throughout my childhood and teen years, I've always had a sensitive gut. I remember complaining of belly aches and stomach cramping way too often. Now at age 24, I finally understand just how sensitive my body is. I have come so far, and I'm finally at a place where I feel confident and nourished in my food choices.
Looking back on my journey I can see many red flags, but at the time I chose to ignore them. During puberty, I was always extremely tired, and I would fall asleep anywhere and everywhere. I spent the afternoons sleeping on the couch from exhaustion and lack of energy. A few years on I took my diet a little further and went strict vegan for three years. At first, I felt terrific, but still, I was struggling with staying awake. My poor boyfriend, we could not watch a film together because I would fall asleep in the first five minutes. The first year or two of veganism was a breeze until my body began to fall out of balance.
My veganism stopped the day I couldn't fight my cravings anymore. I was continually obsessing about food and trying to fight the cravings and signals my body was giving me. I went through a period during this time of binge eating. I couldn't get what my body needed so I would overeat causing more negative feelings.
One day came where I broke. I couldn't fight it any more and consumed vast amounts of dairy and everything I felt I had been missing. I'm lactose intolerant, so this was not good for my body, but I couldn't stop.
Lucky, I began working with a naturopath and found a balance. My natropath advised me to include goats or sheep's yogurt and cheese into my diet and ditch the dairy. This lifestyle worked for me!! I felt much better-eating eggs and goat's products. The six years following on from there I had many up and downs. I also went raw vegan on and off for a few months at a time over these years.
Before moving forward, I want to point out that I am blood type O and I have a 'Vata Dosha' body type according to Ayurveda.
Type O blood is best on a high protein diet including lean meat, fish and poultry. When 'Vata Dosha' is out of balance, I feel spacey, anxious, cold and wired. I now know my body does not do well on light raw foods. I need foods to keep me grounded, balanced and calm. I have so much energy that if I don't eat grounding foods, I feel like I could float off with the fairies and my mind races like wild.
Ok, lets cut to the chase.
WHY I changed my lifestyle.
To heal my gut, I was recently diagnosed with SIBO
I felt out of Balance
I developed an eating disorder due to obsession and restriction
Poor wound healing
Constantly hungry or thinking about food
Extreme cravings and no satiety
Training like crazy but getting no results
I was sick of going through the world at half power
I was eating a diet of no processed foods and working out but feeling worse
Let me express to you that the decision to start consuming animal products was not easy. I felt guilt-ridden, scared and confused for many months. I would eat an animal product then regret it.
Much of the driving force for my courage to break vegetarianism was my will to beat my eating disorder. Deep down I knew that I couldn't fully grow and beat my obsessive restrictive disorder without removing ALL food rules. Setting myself free from all labels was one of the most freeing moments of my life.
Next, I decided to research. If I was going to feel ok with consuming animals and animal products I knew I needed to be well informed and knowledgeable about my choice. The first step was to study how we lived on planet earth 6 million years ago. I had to wrap my head around the cave man diet and how humans learnt to hunt and eat animals to survive.
Below I've included some of my resources when changing my diet-
My certification and studies in the Psychology Of Eating.
Dave Asprey and his bulletproof podcast, book and website.
Steph Lowe from 'The Natural Nutritionist' - LCHF living.
Melissa Hartwig from the best selling book 'Whole 30'.
'The keto diet book' by Leanne Vogel.
I choose ONLY to purchase meats and seafood that are organic, grass-fed and sustainably sourced (for the animals and my body). If it's not organic and grass-fed, I won't touch it. I go to the local co-op or butcher and make sure I know where I'm getting my food.
I buy the whole animal instead of buying one chicken breast. I believe food waste is killing our planet. A whole chicken will feed me for two weeks and give me bones to make broth. If you want to know my reasons for purchasing organic meat please listen or read Dr Mark Hymans book FOOD.
I introduced foods slow and steady to make sure my digestion was ready.
I began by drinking bone broth and adding collagen to my drinks. I noticed my wounds healing much quicker from the collagen increase.
Then I added salmon and seafood to my diet.
After a few months of experimenting with fish, I finally tried some organic chicken. Its taken me about a year to get to the point where I was ready to eat red meat.
Emotionally I had to look at this change as an experiment. What did I have to lose? I didn't want to keep wondering what my health may look like if I changed my diet, I decided I wanted to experience it first hand.
I permitted myself to be free and to have no judgment. I told myself if I didn't enjoy it I could go vegetarian again.
Increase in muscle mass and strength. I've gained 3 kilograms of muscle in all the right places. Hello, baby abs.
Satiety and hunger hormone balance. The days of snacking are in the past! I can now go 5 -6 hours between meals without needing food and still feeling great.
I can workout fasted. I use to rely on glucose to fuel my body before a sweat session, and I would become ravenous between meals.
I believe that we are continually evolving, changing and growing. There is a high chance that I will eat a meat free diet again and if I do it will be a lifestyle that not labeled and organic. In the past year I have learnt many lessons, and if I choose to be vegan or vegetarian in the future, I will be making sure its done in a more wholesome way. With food and nutrient tracking and bi-monthly blood panels.
I'm currently on a strict Gut and SIBO healing protocol. Healing SIBO on a vegetarian diet is very difficult because you can't consume any soy, legumes , grains or vegan protein powders. I am extremely active and would become ill without being able to fuel my body on adequate protein. Changing my eating habits is supporting my body on its healing journey.
Once I heal my Sibo, I will be eating plant-based as much as possible with animal meats and seafood when needed.
Let me tell you something this label-free life feels AMAZING. This past year I have grown stronger mentally and physically. I'm not saying this is only from breaking vegetarian. Its to do with many things like recovering from an eating disorder, balancing my hormones, studying psychology and embracing imperfection.
Some more obvious benefits I can pin point to breaking vegetarian is that im not always cold, I don't need to snack and I feel calm and grounded. In the past two months I feel as though my connection with mother earth and the world around me has gotten stronger. I am more present in life, present in my choices and living the life I hoped was possible.
If you have a story about breaking vegan or vegetarian I would love to hear it.