I can’t believe it’s already been over a year since I stopped being vegan, but what a learning experience it’s been. You may remember from that post where I discussed my reasons for changing that I was not feeling well. Some of my symptoms were severe and included both physical and emotional manifestations.
My post resulted in some immediate help from Dr. Fuhrman who shared some information about why a strict plant-based diet might not be working for me. I am so grateful to him for his kindness and expertise. I also enlisted the help of a dietitian and, later, a functional medicine doctor, who helped me do specialized testing to really figure out what was needed to get my health back on track.
The tests I completed were extensive and included evaluations on everything from food sensitivities, my genetic code and mutations that could affect nutrient levels, methylation analysis, hormone and fatty acid level testing, fungal and bacterial levels, vitamin and mineral status, etc. From a information perspective, it was both overwhelming and fascinating, but each result was one more piece in the puzzle that taught me about my unique needs.
I don’t necessarily want this to be a post about what what might have gone wrong with my diet since everyone is different, but I will say that it was worth it to me to experiment and keep digging to feel better. I’d also like to point you to an excellent blog post, possibly my favorite one that I’ve read all year, from Sayward Rebhal of Bonzai Aphrodite on the topic of “When Vegans Get Sick.” As always, please remember that I’m not a health professional and you need to work with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet. Most importantly, if you are struggling or feeling hopeless, you must seek professional help immediately.
Fairly recently, I would say within the last two months, it was time to just keep eating the way that makes me feel best without micro-managing my diet and supplements. And while I do experience occasional cravings, allergic responses, and some ups and downs, overall I’m within the normal range that is human, imperfect, but generally healthy.
How do I describe my diet or the way that I’m eating now? Honestly, after trying strict approaches for plant-based, nutritarian, and paleo diets, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a blend of eating styles that help me feel my best. I can’t say I’m plant-based because I consume animal products including in the form of dairy-originated probiotics and other supplements; I’m not nutritarian because I use oil and salt in my cooking as needed; and I’m not straight paleo because I occasionally consume gluten-free grains and legumes. Hmmm, that’s a conundrum. 🙂
If I had to put a label on it right now, I suppose it would be “plant-strong paleo,” meaning that I try to eat as many plant foods as possible, but with enough animal protein (excluding most dairy), as I feel I need. I’ve also been able to add legumes (including peanut butter, woo-hoo!) and soy back into my diet, too, and that allows me to have more and more fully plant-based meals. I continue to avoid gluten pretty strictly based on my history of autoimmune thyroid disease, and I don’t feel the need to consume most forms of dairy based on the potential health risks for me. I also veer very strongly in favor of eating whole foods, with limited amounts of refined sugars, especially having had PCOS for most of my adolescence/early adulthood.
Bottom line: I am posting recipes and links that promote mostly plant-based and/or paleo styles of eating and living, with the understanding that I am not vegan and do consume animal products in the paleo/conscious consumer mindset (grass-fed, wild, etc.). The way I see it, if I can offer any amount of inspiration to eat more whole plant foods, especially vegetables, then that benefits mostly everyone, despite the differences in our ethical beliefs or individual dietary needs. You’ll find that 99% of the recipes in my index are plant-based, and I try to always offer a vegan adaption when necessary.
I hope this post offers some clarity on my current mindset and plans for the scope of my blog for the foreseeable future. I really do feel a lot of freedom and increased wellness with fewer dietary restrictions, while honoring what my body and soul request for nourishment. <—How’s that for a yogi/hippie-dippy statement for ‘ya, ha ha.
Feel free to leave a comment below or shoot me an e-mail with any questions or input: carrieATcarrieonlivingDOTcom. Until next time, be well and eat good food! 🙂
P.S. I also have a Carrie on Living Amazon affiliate store where I list all of my favorite beauty items, kitchen devices, books, and other cool stuff that supports my lifestyle. Your purchase of any item on Amazon helps support my blog so thank you in advance!