My mom was a vegetarian and wanted us to grow up sans meat. Everyone in the family knew not to give the Torres kids animal products. When I was three-years –old, my mom picked me up from my grandmother’s house to find me under the table gnawing on a chicken leg. So began my love/hate relationship with the carnivore lifestyle.
I was a vegetarian, a pescatarian, a lacto-ovo vegetarian, a vegan, a raw foodie. Although I ate a healthy diet with very little sugar in it, I still struggled with my weight, yo-yoing back and forth between the same twenty pounds. It wasn’t until I incorporated meat and fewer grains in my diet that my weight began to stabilize. The problem was I felt a tremendous amount of guilt every time I ate a piece of grilled chicken or beef. I’d read Sinclair’s, “The Jungle.” I’d seen the PETA ads. I knew what happened in those slaughter houses. How could I justify my new meat eating ways?
After reading Rob Wolf’s, “The Paleo Solution,” I decided to do a little experiment with my body. I started eating only organic, pasteurized, free-range, happy meat; that helped assuage my guilt a little because I knew the animals had a decent life while they were here. (Sappy, I know.) I took all the dairy, grains, and legumes out of my diet. The dairy was easy since I’d been doing the vegan thing for some time. The grains were a serious challenge. I was a bit of a pasta/cereal/bread junkie and there was an initial withdrawal period where I was really cranky.
After eating this way for just a few days I started to notice dramatic changes in my body and mind. My ADHD calmed down a bit and it became easier to focus on things. I no longer experienced a mid-day crash. The constant bloating dissipated completely. I felt amazing!!!
Fast forward a few years. I still eat this way. Every now and then, I’ll fall off the wagon and have something naughty: a slice of pizza, frozen yogurt, rice and beans (I am Puerto Rican after all). The funny thing is, every single time I fall off the wagon, I feel like complete crap. My digestion gets all messed up, my stomach bloats, and I look slightly pregnant. I require frequent naps and feel super distracted and foggy. I don’t think it’s coincidental.
Am I saying you must eat Paleo and that vegetarianism is wrong. Absolutely not. I do believe it’s important to listen to your body, though. Try taking out some food groups for a few weeks and slowly reintroduce them. See how you feel. Your body will tell you what it needs. My body just happens to operate best on a ton of veggies, organic meat/poultry, wild caught seafood, some fruit, and copious amounts of healthy fat. Happy eating
If anyone reading this is doing some experimenting of their own, I’d love to hear your stories….