Thursday, March 21, 2013

Remember when I was vegan?

Oh wait, you probably don't.  Because we didn't "know"each other then.  Unless you read my old blog, which I sort of doubt.  But yes, it is true, I used to be vegan and remained completely animal-food-product-free for a couple years.  And yes, it's also true that I'm no longer vegan.  I'm not even vegetarian actually, though I pretty much eat vegetarian 80% of the time.

The reason I'm telling you this is because I've been having myself a nice little pity party all week long about my health.  If you read Kelly's blog, then you know that she's opened up about some health frustrations she's dealing with, and she gave me the little nudge I needed to open up.  I should also mention that this has been a particularly crappy and painful past week for me regarding my health problem.  I don't want to go into all of it right now, but I wanted to talk a little bit about my experience being vegan.

That being said, this is a post about a personal health issue.  If you don't want to read it, just move on.  I'm writing this for myself, but I'm also writing this because I know more of you out there deal with really frustrating and even embarrassing health problems, and I hope my story could help someone somewhere.

I've had a serious disorder of my GI tract for almost five years now.  The nerves and muscles in my GI tract, the ones that are supposed move things along during digestion, do not work properly in my body.  I've been to see dozens of specialists and even spent 2 weeks in Rochester undergoing intensive treatment at Mayo Clinic (which happened to fall right over my 25th birthday, thank you very much.) After none of the traditional stuff worked, I decided to try a vegan diet after being told that it might help, and I went to a holistic medicine doctor.  She did a really extensive blood workup and tested me for food allergies. My hormones levels were completely crazy and I was allergic to everything.  So I started taking tons of supplements and eliminated even more foods from my diet.  It sucked.  But what sucked even more is that it did nothing to help me. NOTHING.  So I started to eat things I was supposedly "allergic" to again, like yeast, gluten, random spices, garlic, several fruits and veggies...etc.  I did some research, and the allergy test I had done measured "histamine response" to certain foods, and apparently is pretty controversial.  I came to my own conclusion that it wasn't worth avoiding all these foods if they don't have any impact on how I feel, whether good or bad.  Right now, the only food I limit are dairy and fried foods, which I do still eat in smaller quantities.

Fast forward down the road a bit and the vegan diet also started to fail me. I felt like total crap most of the time.  I felt pretty good for the first 8 or 9 months, but things quickly went downhill after that.  I was totally fatigued all the time and had constant pain in my abdomen.

After a routine physical one day, my doctor called me in a panic.  She said that my iron level was so low that she was considering having me come back for a blood transfusion.  I was anemic before becoming vegan, but thought I would be able to keep my iron level in check, but I can't take iron supplements due to my GI system.  My doctor told me that I really HAD to start eating red meat, and she wanted me to eat it 3 times per day!  At this time, the vegan diet wasn't helping me anymore anyways, so I decided to give it up and just follow my physicians instructions.

It is because of my time being vegan, gluten free, yeast free...etc.  AND the fact that I work in the world of eating disorders now that I have such strong opinions about food.  But I want to make this clear- I have strong opinions about what I eat, not what you eat. (Unless you're my patient, then I have to make it my business.)  If a certain diet works for you, by all means stick with it.

I have a lot more to say about my health, but I will save it for another time.  I've gone through 3 surgeries in the last year for this particular condition and it would make for way too long of a post to go into that now.  In case you're wondering though, it is still playing a major role in my everyday life.  I've been prescribed all of these medications to deal with various aspects of it:

Ok, pity party over.  Hope that was somewhat informative.  I do have to say that it's nice to talk about this, I've told my husband many times that I feel like I live a secret double life sometimes because its hard to talk about.  So thanks for reading, lovely readers!


  1. And I thought my line up of pill bottles was insane! It had never occurred to me just how much it would bum me out to have health issues ... until I started having them. My stuff certainly wouldn't have to affect my mood, but it does. Hang in there!

  2. Thanks for sharing your story! I'll be sending healing thoughts your way! Wanted to let you know that I nominated you for The Liebester Award. Head over to for the details. I'm looking forward to reading your responses!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I'd love to hear more about your opinions on dieting and eating healthy!

  4. Vegan is tough, but I also think I would cry if my doctor told me I had to eat Red Meat. Food is tough and can be frustrating finding what's right. I have stomach issues all the time - but it's been much better since we stopped eating meat.


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