May I share a confession? I eat a variety of foods that you don’t always see on my instagram feed. Foods like bacon, meatballs and burgers. Once upon a time I was vegan, before that, vegetarian but things changed and I got sick.
Let me start at the beginning. Way way back food was to be enjoyed and eaten. There wasn’t any thought into what worked for my body. I made the connection that maybe I felt crappy because of what I was (and wasn’t) eating in South Korea back in 2010. Before I go on, let me state for the record that I LOVE Korean food. I’m the one that inhales the kimchi before anyone else can get to the cabbage when we go to Korean restaurants. However eating heavy, meat and rice based meals every day, plus more of my fair share of alcohol, cigarettes and lots’o’Korean coffee had me feeling exhausted, bloated, constipated, heavy and miserable. I remember wondering if I felt that way because of my diet and there my food journey began.
I stopped eating meat. It didn’t happen over night but I did eventually stop and it worked! I felt more energy, I lost weight, was less bloated and wasn’t so miserable. Fast forward to 2013. I was back in Canada, had moved to Toronto and was working in an amazing vegan restaurant. Seeing the multitude of possibilities one could create using no animal products inspired me to give it a go. So I gave up all animal products, it wasn’t that difficult for me since I’ve never been a fan of most dairy. It was an easy transition.
The pounds continued to shed, I was the skinniest I’d ever been but this time I was bloated, very gassy and no matter how many matcha lattes I had and no matter how often I exercised I was extremely tired ALL THE TIME.
It was my husband (then fiancé) who said it best “You can drink all the kale smoothies you like, you’re metabolizing it at such a rate and kale just isn’t cutting it”. I ignored him and my body’s signals. I looked great – by great I mean I was slim – by societies criteria I was the picture of health. And that’s the thing: skinny does not equate health and this is something we need to be talking about, but that discussion is for another post.
Ignoring the voice of my husband and my own internal symptoms I continued on my vegan merry way. At my annual check up with the doctor I asked for some blood work. I figured if anything, it would tell me why I was so tired and it did. I was very, very, very anemic. Anemia (iron deficiency anemia – there are different types of anemia) runs in my family and I was aware, but I was sure that all the kale I was consuming had to be keeping my iron levels up!
Wrong! Oh so very wrong! My doctor told me that if my iron were even a little lower she would have prescribed a blood transfusion. My husband did decline from telling me he told me so but suggested I eat a steak. I’ve never enjoyed steak so I opted for supplements instead.
It’s been almost 3 years since then. In the 3 years past I’ve tried multiple variations of many dietary theories and it’s only now that I feel I’m on my way to feeling my best health yet.
What do I do? I listen to my body. I eat a lot of vegetables, protein (from both vegan and animal sources) and plenty of fat (good fats). Before I went back to the gym I didn’t have to eat complex carbs like I do now but that works for me because I do cardio and weights 4 times a week.
Moving my body is essential to my wellbeing. It gives me time to myself, boosts my mood and energy and I feel frickin’ amazing. It works for me because I’m doing it for me. to feel my best, to set myself up for success. I’m not doing it to lose weight, to look a certain way or as a barter system for foods I can eat. My why makes it work.
Listening to your body is essential for your health and wellbeing. I understand busy schedules may not allow for a lot of self care or running around the city looking for the best kale, but checking in, scanning the body for stress, even asking the body what it needs can go a long way.
Veganism wasn’t for me. It allowed me to learn a wealth of information about the food we eat and the industry that makes it. I learnt so much about the different options out there but it didn’t give my body what it needed. In the words of my infinitely wise husband, “kale just wasn’t cutting it”.
That’s the thing with health. One person’s medicine is another person’s poison. It’s our job to explore and find what works for us.
Sending oodles of love and kale,