Seven years ago I made the decision to stop eating meat and did it cold turkey… sans the turkey. My decision was based on making healthier choices and I became a pescetarian without even knowing the actual name for it. All a pescetarian means is that I became a vegetarian but still ate fish and seafood. Before I began this endeavor I found myself consuming meat at every meal, with chopped meat and fatty steaks at the top of my list. I wasn’t feeling good about the choices I was making. I am a physical education teacher and avid fitness freak that takes pride in setting a good example for my students.
Throughout those seven years, I didn’t feel as though I was depriving myself. I made sure I was getting the protein and nutrients I needed on a daily basis. If you are someone that exercises, it is important to make sure you are doing the same, otherwise, your body will not fair well. Being a pescetarian, I always had options when eating out or at someones house and never felt like I was limiting myself.
My limitations began when I was diagnosed with celiac disease. Who knew that all this time I was making healthy choices and taking care of my body but celiac was hindering that effort. Because I was eating gluten, my small intestine wasn’t absorbing the nutrients as well as it should have. I’d like to think my efforts didn’t go to waste and I would have been much worse off if I hadn’t taken care of myself. When I was first diagnosed, I felt limited when dining out was and still is a challenging experience for me. As you may already know, I love cooking food, eating food, and all of the experiences that come with it. Dining out as a celiac limited me so much at times that I would only be able to order a salad or a side of steamed vegetables. This was difficult and a little depressing for a foodie transitioning to a gluten free lifestyle. I needed more options! I needed to be able to go out to eat and have more than vegetables, regardless of how healthy I was being forced to be.
From the beginning of our relationship I had a little birdie named Craig whispering encouragements in my ear. You don’t know what you are missing. You should try this. How could you not enjoy a delicious steak!? Once I was diagnosed with celiac, his argument only got stronger. He had a valid point. I would have many more options if I introduced meat back into my lifestyle.
Having celiac and choosing to be a pescetarian made me feel like I was high maintenance. It was taking a toll on me that I couldn’t go anywhere without it being discussed or not having any options. I know many celiacs feel similar in that, I just want to be normal. There were so many things to ponder when considering this change from pescetarian to carnivore. Is it going to make me sick? Will I really have more options when trying to enjoy a wonderful culinary experience? Am I going to like it? Am I making this change for myself and not to please others? Am I going to get fat? Will I still be high maintenance? Well, I’m sure eating meat will help but let’s be honest… I am a woman.
After some research and a couple of months of weighing my options, I decided to make a change. Craig and I went out to dinner and I suggested we order the filet and something else to split. He smiled and knew he had won. I was going to cross over to the other side. I needed to make the decision for myself and make sure it was what I wanted and I did. That night I had a few bites of steak but it was important that I worked meat back into my diet slowly because of stomach issues it may cause. I had bellyaches for the first couple of weeks but my stomach has adjusted and I don’t feel any effects. I also wanted to make sure that I was still making healthy choices. I’m not going to lie, bacon was one of the first things I tried when transitioning to eating meat again… and let me tell you… it was worth the bellyache.
My questions have all been answered. I had a couple weeks of bellyaches from eating meat but it doesn’t compare to the side effects I’ve experienced from eating gluten and my stomach enzymes are now working at full throttle. I’m not sure if I like it yet but I really am enjoying creating new gluten free meals with meat. I always made dishes for Craig and guests that contained meat but it seems that I have opened my horizons even more to the possibilities. I don’t have to make two dishes anymore (one meat-full and one meat-free) and I can focus all of my efforts on one dish. My options have multiplied and I have a few winners to post soon. The experimenting is fun but I definitely could go cold turkey again at anytime without looking back. I figure as long as I choose healthy cuts of meat, eat organic when I can, and stick to portion sizes it won’t effect my weight. I definitely do have more options now that I eat meat and overall I feel like I made a great choice.