Tuesday, 1 January 2013
What motivates me?
The truth is: I'm no stranger to pain! Sprains and strains, knee pain, back pain, injuries, IBS... It's the latter that motivated me to change my eating habits. Not that I was ever an unhealthy eater per se, but I am a product of this culture with all it's meat, wheat and dairy. After suffering my entire adolescence and early adulthood with (sometimes) incapacitating, mind numbing, put-me-to-the-floor kind of gut wrenching pain (literally), I decided I was willing to try something most would consider pretty extreme which was..... Drumroll.... A vegan diet!! It was lent 2009 and I vowed to give up all animal products for the duration, which that year was 47 days. I did a TON of research to prepare, attended a whole foods workshop with the amazing +Meghan Telpner (www.meghantelpner.com). Learned about plant based sources of nutrition we commonly associate with animal products like; iron, protein, B12, calcium... Etc. I figured out how to build meals that would allow me to complete protein strands, absorb iron and get enough healthy fats, to keep my system running and sustain my activity level, using only plant sources. This was especially important (and worrisome, if you were my mother at the time...) because I was pretty seriously iron deficient and my GI tract couldn't tolerate iron supplements, even the "gentler" kinds.
So there I was, research in hand and a kitchen stocked full of 3 different milk substitutes (oat, hemp and almond), beans, nuts, greens, oats, quinoa (which was entirely new to me at the time), etc. I spent the next 47 days eating my way, not only to a pain-free gut, but also my iron levels are now considered on the HIGH side of average for a woman my age. Which makes me wonder if my previous diet was simply preventing my body from absorbing nutrients properly because my digestive system was so irritated. On the down side, I also lost about 10 lbs, which for those of you who know me is not ideal (at the best of times I usually weigh in the neighborhood of 110-120 lbs). When the 47 days was up I decided I missed cheese and eggs far too much and I didn't want to continue to lose weight... So I spent the next 2 years being vegetarian. However, I was now armed with the power of variety! What I mean by that is that I knew how to get what I needed out of food without having to always include animal products. Now I knew that a balanced meal didn't have to include the traditionally accepted western elements of a "complete" meal. I have since reintroduced meat into my diet (for many reasons but that's a whole other post...) however, I'm no longer a slave to it.
So this month I embark again on a short vegan detour to start the year on a clean and healthy note!
Have a happy day!! All the very best for 2013!!