This blog chronicles my life as I try to balance healthy lifestyle habits with my husband's penchant for pizza rolls and my daughter's desire to watch iCarly 8 hours a day. It contains a mostly humorous, kind, and somewhat spiritual look at everyday life and the people who live it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Eat This...AND That..and that...and that..

After a four year hiatus I am returning to a vegan lifestyle. I have never felt so good in my life as I did during the 5 years I was a total vegan: my energy was up, I slept great, I was always healthy, people said I looked younger, and keeping my figure was effortless. You may wonder what could occur in someone's life to make them change a lifestyle that is obviously working so well for them, well, it was during the height of all this health that I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. While I know logically that it's not possible that being vegan caused the tumor somewhere in my head the lifestyle leading up to the diagnosis and the actual diagnosis itself got all twisted up and I found myself reluctant to continue being a vegan. At first it was for practical purposes that I began eating animal products: I needed to keep my weight up. After the tumor was discovered I was panicked, unable to eat, continuously nauseous (due to fear), and losing weight rapidly. Because I was already very slender when I was diagnosed, the 5 pounds that I dropped within the first 2 weeks were really noticeable. Steve said "you've got to eat and not that weird seaweed crap you usually eat, I want you to eat meat!" and so I did. I felt like somehow the tumor was punishment for the ultra-healthy lifestyle. I know it doesn't make sense, but that's what I was thinking.

Then, after the surgery I returned to veganism but found myself feeling afraid, shaky, and nervous most of the time. I didn't realize at the time that I was dealing with what a lot of people who have had a surgery deal with - a kind of post-traumatic-stress-syndrome where you know the immediate danger is over but now begin to ask the big questions about long-term survival. I found that I seemed to feel less shaky when I ate bigger, fuller meals and that quickly led to meat and then finally even to some dairy as well. I gained weight. I felt okay. I began to get the regular assortment of colds that most people consider normal - though I had not had a cold the entire time I was vegan. My allergies kicked in to high gear.

A year went by. Then two. Three. Four years later here I am feeling awful. I have joint aches, I have had several colds/sinus infections, I feel heavy, lethargic, and old. I kept wondering what should I be doing that I am not already doing? I exercise. I eat a very balanced diet of fruits and veggies. I am active with friends and happy in my marriage and family life. Why don't I feel well? While walking yesterday it hit me: it's what I eat. I think that some people's bodies just aren't really made to digest animal products. Specifically I think my body doesn't digest them well.

The first time I went vegan it was like throwing a switch: one day I was eating pepperoni pizza, the next day I wouldn't eat anything made with animal products. That approach works, but maybe there is a more balanced approach that I can take this time around. I simply won't prepare any foods containing animal products for myself when I am at home. I always ate whatever I was served at people's homes and I will continue to do that but this time I won't be such a pain when we go out to restaurants. This time I will allow for gray areas such as butter or eggs. I'm going to try it. I think a month's worth of time is a reasonable test period and I'm going to see how I feel. My theory is that the joint aches, stomach aches, and heaviness will be gone. I'll let you know.

Either way it's going to be good for me to dissociate veganism from a brain tumor. It's good to process all those feelings and put them in perspective. It's good to look forward to eating again because what I am eating feels right to me.

Glass of soy milk, anyone?

2 comments:

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Beth,
I think a vegan diet is VERY healthy. I could never do it though, because I like cheese too much. I drink soy milk (I wouldn't drink cow milk if you paid me), but I couldn't give up the cheese. I don't like meat (it grosses me out), so that makes me a happy vegetarian for the most part.

As far as brain tumors go, I'd be more concerned about cell phones. There is no way I would have one.

I love you.

SB

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