a piece of My Story…

I was an insulin resistant, hypoglycemic, sugar-addicted, chronically stuffed up, yeast infested, tendinitis, toting, acne-faced, pre-menstrual symptom plagued….”Healthy” vegetarian for much of my life.  While I have always been searching for health, most people look at my funny when I tell them about my latest discovery in my quest for well-being because I am already one of the healthiest people they know.

It’s hard to pin point exactly when the shift started for me, because even as a young teenager I was reading my mom’s books about eating well – Acid/Alkaline balancing, Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type, The Yeast Connection, etc.  By the time I was in my mid teens, I knew that consuming sugar gave me a stuffy nose, and eating nuts and fruit together usually gave me a stomach ache.  My family started eating protein and veggies for breakfast most days and I think that was a major step for me.  I began to see that I didn’t have to feel totally spaced out and cranky by 10:30 in the morning – as I often felt when I ate grains and fruit for breakfast.  Even a hearty granola with fruit and yogurt wouldn’t last me until lunch time; I’d be ravenous by mid morning and I needed to eat every 2-3 hours in order to keep my tummy happy, and my mood stable.  I found that I could sometimes keep my blood sugar stable between meals by eating a balance of veggies, fat and dairy- or plant-based proteins, but if I let my hungry belly wait for too long, it would start to feel as though my digestive juices were beginning to eat my stomach, and it would sometimes take the rest of the day to calm it down.  Reading the Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type was very much a revelation for me because it introduced me to the idea that there is not a universally healthy diet, there is not one way of eating that works for everyone.

I was still a very devoted vegetarian (my recipe book that I started around that time has a quote on the cover “animals are my friends and I don’t eat my friends.”…hmm) but I think that reading about how my ancestors were hunter-gatherers and subsisted mostly on animal protein and plants may have started to open me up to the possibility of changing my vegetarian status.  My whole family made a few changes in our diet and they really stuck with my as I searched for a diet that made me feel good.  We switched to using spelt flour in place of wheat and this showed me how easy it was to make a change in my diet when it felt like a good one.  I got to the point where baked goods made from wheat flour didn’t even taste as good to me anymore.  We reduced out intake of corn and potatoes and dairy, and started to focus on getting enough protein and green veggies in our meals.

Over the next ten years or so, I continued to experiment with many different ways of eating.  I tried the raw food diet, a mostly macrobiotic diet, the acid/alkaline diet and the candida diet.  At some point I decided to start eating eggs and in a way, it felt like a home-coming for me – it was that positive an experience.  I had always sort of known that I loved scrambled eggs, even though I had been a strict vegetarian since I was two (before then we had eaten fish and eggs).  Not too long after eggs, I added fish back into my diet.  I started with some lox on a bagel and quickly progressed to freshly caught tuna sashimi while working on a boat sailing up the East Coast.  The introduction of eggs and fish to my diet was somewhat of a necessity as I was sailing in the caribbean and accquiring tofu and tempeh down there was difficult.  On the other hand, I think it was just part of a natural progression towards eating in a way that is nourishing and sustaining for me.

Five or six years later, my sailing career over for the time-being, I found myself hacking apart a whole, raw chicken at an Italian cooking class and I noticed that I didn’t feel grossed out by it or even really all that sorry for the chicken; I felt like I was preparing food.  I decided I might as well try eating some.  The smell of frying chicken was already making my mouth water and the first bite was like a taste explosion.  I finally got to experience the intense flavors of salt and fat that had been mostly absent from my diet up until that point.  I was in ecstasy (and also a bit of disbelief that I was actually eating meat after swearing it off my whole life) as I munched the savory, melt-in-your-mouth morsels.

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