Last November, after Thanksgiving, I decided to take a break from meat. I’m not really sure why to be honest. I guess I’d had my fill. I didn’t do it to prove a point or because I was protesting anything, and I have absolutely nothing against anyone who chooses a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. Food is food, and if what you choose to eat makes you happy and you enjoy it, then have at it. I honestly didn’t really know for how long I’d do this, but hey…you gotta start somewhere.
I remember the first time I went to the store after making this decision. I had no idea what I was doing, but I was going to go up and down every aisle to see what was there that I hadn’t thought to try before. I enjoy grocery shopping, so it was as if I was on a culinary expedition…at Kroger. I was completely open to new possibilities, and, after an extended shopping trip, I left with a load of never-before-purchased items. I was excited about the notion of all these new options.
Now, to put things in perspective for you, several years ago, I followed a ketogenic diet, and I maintained it, fairly easily, for well over a year. To put it bluntly, I was very familiar with animal meat. Had someone told me that not too far in the future I’d choose to give up the meat I was eating for each meal, I’d have laughed my ass off at them…and then eaten a piece of bacon. This new meatless adventure was a change I wanted to make; I wasn’t forced or coerced.
At first, things were fine. It was a new discovery each day, and I was enjoying these new-to-me foods. I wondered to myself how long I’d continue this. Would it be something permanent or just something that would fade out like a New Year’s resolution? I honestly had no idea…no game plan. I was just flying by the meatless seat of my pants.
Turns out, I made a classic mistake when it comes to switching to a vegetarian diet. I didn’t do any real research. I then began replacing the animal protein with something my keto brain avoided like the plague – carbs! I didn’t really think about it though. I just ate the food that said vegetarian or vegan and went about my day.
Turns out, when my body takes in a carbohydrate, it holds on to it like a toddler holds on to a cherished toy or favorite blanket. Once it realizes it’s got a solid grip, it calls in its buddies and multiplies like Gremlins when exposed to water. Weight gain happens very easily for me, but losing it happens at a sloth’s pace.
One miserable, Gremlins-packed day, I thought, “This is stupid. I did so well on keto. Maybe I should just go back to that diet or at least eat a larger portion of actual meat rather than so many carbs. I’m going to go get some meat at the store.” I had a new purpose and a bounce in my step. Upon my arrival, I walked directly to the meat section of the store. I stood there looking around at all the options before me. I would honestly love to see the security footage from that day so I could see the look on my face. It could only be described as utter confusion. I could not bring myself to touch anything, let alone buy anything. I actually shocked myself. What was wrong with me? How had this shift happened? What? How? Ummm…
I walked away…emptyhanded.
For the rest of the shopping trip I remained dumbfounded as to what had happened. I even talked out loud to myself in utter disbelief. I even laughed out loud a few times as if to shake off the nervousness I felt due to my brain telling me that that “meat” stuff was icky. I picked up a few things and then headed home…not sure what I should do. That was when the craving for sushi hit me. That’s it! I’ll be a pescatarian! I picked up some lox and ordered some food from my favorite Japanese place down the road and I was set…or so I thought.
The addition of seafood gave me a false sense of “carb security.” That’s a thing, right? I enjoyed my new source of protein, and finally felt that I had things under better control when it came to my diet. The truth is, I really didn’t. It wasn’t until I had ordered some sushi one night, and I called the restaurant to make sure they didn’t include any ginger or wasabi since I think they’re both absolutely disgusting and didn’t want them anywhere in the vicinity of my delicious sushi rolls. When they picked up the phone, before I could say anything, I heard, “Hi, Robyn. No ginger or wasabi, right?”
I laughed as I answered in the affirmative and then politely hung up. It’s nice to be recognized, but this kind of recognition made me realize that maybe I should dial back the sushi a bit. After all, there’s a ton of rice and sodium that’s included there that I hadn’t taken into consideration. Plus, it was very obvious that maybe I’d been ordering it a little too often.
Shortly after that, I was at work getting ready to heat up my lunch – a plant-based beef burrito – when something made me look at the nutritional label. I’m not sure why I hadn’t before. My jaw immediately dropped while simultaneously my eyes opened as wide as they could possibly go. Carbohydrates – one burrito – 50 grams!!!
When I was following a ketogenic diet, which didn’t feel restrictive to me, I ate no more than 14 grams of carbs…in a whole day. Here I was, about to eat a plant-based, rather delicious meal, and I was going to consume more than 3 ½ times the amount of carbs I’d previously consumed in my daily total. Now, I’m not saying I’m planning on going back to that way of eating by any means, but that one glance had my brain spinning with calculation after calculation trying to figure out what was most likely the ginormous carb intake I had been consuming without even realizing. I was basically a walking carb!
It was then that I decided that I needed to try something different…something major…something I wasn’t really sure I could do or even wanted to do, but it was something I thought that I needed to do. I was going to swap out the carbs for…wait for it…you guessed it…chicken. I decided I was just gonna go buy a whole chicken and slow cook it like I used to and go from there.
So, on Monday, I walked to the meat section, tried not to overthink it, and I just bought a whole chicken. It has now been over seven months since last eating meat other than fish, but this Wednesday night in June, I would like to report that I ate some chicken. Something I used to do on a regular basis was so unbelievably foreign to me now. Was it tasty? Yeah…I guess. Am I craving more of it? Nah…not really. Do I need to figure this damn diet thing out at some point? For the love of all that’s holy, YES!
I know I’ll get there, but, for now, I’m going to educate myself. I’m not going to go to extremes or strictly track what I’m eating either. What I am going to do is to look for a nutritionist who can help me navigate these Gremlin-infested waters in hopes that when I do meat again, it will do so on friendlier and healthier terms.
I love this!!!!! Such an important issue. Carbs & Sugar are really bad for me and I have to really watch my intake.
Another wonderful post. I’m so lucky to know you!!
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