one of my favorite stories of my younger self (which I don’t remember, of course, but has been told to me over the years) is when i came home from preschool, just fresh from a teaching about nutrition, and told my family it was time to start eating better.
in so many ways, i am still that youthful 4-year-old. wanting to know more, and more, and more about what keeps us healthy, how our bodies work, what diet works best for me (us) and why.
that’s what drove me to explore starting an all-raw diet last week. although it was a challenge to learn new recipes and eat things i didn’t absolutely love (or even like), things were immediately going well. i began to experience more and lasting energy. i felt fuller on less food. i began to lose weight (6lbs in just a week). i began to feel something new and strange: at home in my own body.
i initially went into this great experiment with the thought that it would be 30 days and done. but as i read more and more about the appeals of the all-raw route, i began to silently say good-bye to meats, pastas, breads and more. i saw healthy people who’d made similar commitments and i began to want to be like them, no matter the consequence.
then the tide drastically shifted.
i woke up yesterday, day 8, with a dizziness i couldn’t shake. i got out of the shower and laid back down, hoping it would dissipate. it didn’t. i went to work feeling shaky, weak, light-headed. i had no energy to talk with customers so i kept my voice low on each call, and snuck off to the relaxation room on breaks to nap. i came home completely exhausted and collapsed on the couch.
i’m anemic, was my immediate thought, and as i did some reading, all the symptoms lined up. the only problem: how to stay vegan and not anemic. i went to bed yesterday convinced I could be fine if i put kale in my morning smoothie and picked up iron supplements later.
then i woke up even worse this am and was forced to call in sick, unable to barely stand for feeling light-headed. i knew i had to do something different. the energetic, active me was suddenly awash in this land of fatigue and dizziness.
so, i emailed a friend who’d recommended the raw diet and began to read more about anemia. my initial synopsis: i’m vitamin B12 deficient. a resounding number of vegans/vegetarians (including the Raw Vegan Mama) struggle with this complex B vitamin because it appears primarily in meats. from my reading i gathered that the best absorption comes from injection, then sublingual capsules, then pills. dismissing the first as a non-option (no needles here), i set off for my favorite health foods store, The Good Earth, for some dissolvable B12 capsules.
on the way to the store i received an email back from the friend i emailed earlier. she asked about my blood type and said that some are better suited for an all-veggie diet, but others require animal protein so subsist. that perked my interest, but i was still sure i was going to pursue and all-veggie diet.
i got to the health store and began to search through 3 shelves of B12 and B12 plus Folate and liquid versus pills versus dissolvable capsules. even in reading through all the labels, i found it hard to stand and began to feel like i was going to pass out. but i grabbed the one i felt would be best (a combo of B12, Folic acid, B6 and Biotin that would dissolve under my tongue, and supposedly right into my blood stream), and headed for the counter.
when i finally got home, i felt contented to take my supplement and take a deep, long nap. then i remembered that email, and the mention of blood type, and a book another friend had given me months ago about eating right for your blood type. first thing i read:
“Type O’s thrive on animal protein.”
doh. picture me hitting my forehead with my hand. the book went on to outline a diet for my blood-type (“O”) that stresses animal proteins, veggies, and fruits, and cuts out sugars, grains, and dairy.
so, let’s go to McDonald’s!, my inner child screamed.
but meat is not meat is not meat. even in my giddy of new-found freedom (i CAN eat meat; nay, i NEED to eat meat), i knew it had to be “clean”: organic, raised responsibly, free of hormones. so i bundled up one last time and headed to the only source of such meat i knew of. Goose the Market.
i came home immediately and made a hamburger. made another hamburger for dinner, and have noticed an immediate improvement. more energy. less dizziness.
one of the things i appreciate most about this experiment of going raw is that i am (mostly) weaned off the carbs and have a greater appreciation of raw fruits and vegetables. i still intend to practice a mostly raw diet, just supplemented now with regular doses of meat.
so there it is. i woke up a raw vegan. and am going to bed overdosed on red meat. such is the learning curve of our lives. very much like that 4-year-old, i’m still learning about myself,the things that are best for me, the foods and practices that will serve me into my old age.
today i learned several of those.