Duration: End of April 2013-Mid August 2013
After watching numerous documentaries on Netflix and feeling like an informed individual, I decided to transition to vegetarianism this past spring.
1. Studies suggest that high intake of animal fat increases risk for cardiovascular diseases and high cholesterol
2. I wanted to replace energy zapping food with foods that produce a lot of energy
3. Concerned about the quality of meat
4. Studies suggest that people who eat a plant-based diet had lower risk of getting cancer.
I started to incorporate lots of veggies into my diet and slowly substitute meats with nutrient-dense darker greens and beans. That lasted for a while and I learned a lot of new recipes. But this “no meat” thing wasn’t cutting it. I craved the consistency of meat, its flavoring.
So I decided to make a compromise. I’d add seafood to my diet, along with dairy and eggs, for the protein and omega-3 fatty acids. After all, I’m from the Eastern Shore of MD and lived there this summer. How could I live without my blue crabs and Old Bay?!? So I ate lots and lots of fish, shrimp, and tried Boca burgers. Crabs were really expensive this summer (yes, even in MD) so I only had them once or twice this summer.
But what I really fell in love with this summer was salmon! I can eat salmon every day. My husband made this really good jerk salmon that made me fall in love with this type of fish last year. But even with minimal seasoning I love this fish the best. It’s flaky, typically thicker than other fish, and when it’s cooked just right, soooo moist. Pair that with some steamed green beans or broccoli and you’ve got yourself a solid meal. I tried to take it to the next level and try salmon burgers, but they weren’t as good.
One thing that I didn’t really vibe well with were the soy-based Boca burgers. They were tasty, but the amount of estrogen produced by the soy caused me to get killer headaches and abdominal cramping. I tried the other vegetable-based burgers and had no side effects with those.
As the summer progressed, i started a new job, made the decision to move to Richmond, and started to make a new five-year plan. Life became a tad bit stressful and exercising became less of a priority. I’d lost 4 pounds since starting the new eating habits in April, but didn’t lose anymore. I became more lazy with my cooking habits. My family was still eating meat and it was hard to align my diet with theirs ( I found myself craving my mom’s Crockpot chicken). I began to feel lousy as I replaced the power-packed veggies with carb-alicious, imitation food fillers. It was becoming harder and harder to stick to the pescetarian diet. I knew I had to change my ways.
A wake up call came with a trip to the E.R. for a really bad migraine. I’ve had migraines before, but none like this one. The right side of my face felt heavy, numb, and tingly. I hadn’t been sleeping well, I wasn’t eating as well as before, and I went from running a mile everyday in the spring to just walking to and from my car. I occasionally have menstrual headaches, and think the hormonal changes contributed to it as well. When the pain didn’t go away with different pain killers, I was encouraged to seek medical attention to rule out TIA or mini stroke. After some powerful pain meds and IV hydration, I was sent home. The tingling lasted a week after, but the pain was less intense.
I came away from this experience thinking one thing: “I need to do better!”
I’ve decided to reintroduce lean meats back into my diet (turkey and chicken) for use in moderation. I’ll have beef occasionally for the iron (I’m anemic). I’ve noticed that even with the option to eat heavier meats, I prefer to eat seafood now. I’ve started to walk and jog again. There is a walking/running path that I can see outside my window. My husband loves to walk with me. Instead of making the 4 mile round-trip trek to the pharmacy, we have decided to walk there once a week for the exercise.
And of course veggies, veggies, veggies! I try to align my plate with the government recommendations of MyPlate.gov: Half veggies/fruit, 1/4 grain, and 1/4 protein.
I’ve lost 8 more pounds since moving to Richmond and changing my habits (of course, helping to move furniture up to the 3rd floor/no elevator probably helped with the weight loss, haha).
So my pescetarian summer taught me 3 things:
1. It is not just what you eat, but how much that can determine your energy level.
2. Exercise is absolutely necessary in partnership with clean eating for a healthy lifestyle.
3. Most importantly, If your life is out of whack, so will your priorities be. Everyone needs a center, something that anchors them. For me, it is my faith life that anchors me. Everything else seemed to be more important than my time with God and I lost track of my priorities and self discipline. Less time with God= less time being honest with myself=less time for exercise and meal prep and everything else that contributes to a healthy lifestyle.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to start over again. Life is precious. Many people aren’t able to see another day. If we let the menial things distract us, we can sometimes take for granted the big blessing in our lives: Life, health, and spiritual wealth.