Laughing Alone While Eating Salads or Why I Went Vegetarian

12:00 AM

Look how hilarious these salads are!
I wanted to talk about my diet change this week because I've been asked about it a lot. But before I begin, I'd like to emphasize that this was a choice I made on my own, and I don't necessarily endorse it for everyone. Diet change isn't proven to have any impact on endometriosis production and progression, but it's certainly helped me manage my IBS-like symptoms that come with my condition. To be honest, it could be because I'm just eating healthier, but either way, this is working great for me.

And of course, I'm not a doctor, health-care provider or any other kind of medical professional, so please ask your doctor before making major diet changes okay glad we got that out of the way.

So at my often-mentioned ER visit a few years ago, I was given a vague "acid reflux disease" diagnosis that ended up prolonging my endometriosis diagnosis. This conclusion came with a long list of things I couldn't eat anymore, including caffeine, tomato products and everything good in life. As someone who drinks coffee every day and loves pizza, this was devastating news.

But I did what I was told, and even though I restricted my diet and started taking Nexium, I didn't feel much better. (Nexium, actually, made me feel all sorts of awful, and I switched to Pepcid, which I'm still taking.) I ended up eating so little and hurting so much afterward that I lost a ton of weight and was completely exhausted all of the time. 

I remember coming home from work, eating dinner and immediately passing out on the couch for two hours. That was my normal for months and months. Nothing seemed to be making me feel better, and my general quality of life was abysmal.

Switching to Pepcid improved my symptoms, and I began to introduce foods back into my system. I eventually got to a point where I could eat just about anything, except red meat and alcohol, neither of which I particularly cared about. Both of those would immediately cause my stomach to burn (and still probably would), and I'd end up laying on the couch for hours in agony. But again, I still wasn't feeling 100 percent.

After I was diagnosed with endometriosis, I looked into an anti-inflammatory diet to keep my symptoms at bay. Generally, this involves avoiding processed foods, white rice, bread and flour, soy and fried foods, among others. If you dig around into some older posts on my blog, you'll see a few recipes and read how that diet panned out for me.

Overall, I did alright with it. I taught myself to like fish to be a protein alternative to all the chicken I was eating, and I started to feel a little better. Eventually, I stopped eating chicken and went pescetarian for a few months, which improved my digestive issues even more. But after a whirlwind New England vacation where I had all the seafood I could ever want for the rest of my life, and after feeling a teensy bit judged by my full-on vegetarian friends, I decided to give vegetarianism a shot.

I am only four months into being a vegetarian and I. love. it.

But it didn't start that way. I didn't do what I should have done before deciding to change my diet, which is PLAN. I literally woke up one morning and said, "Okay. I'm done with meat." That was an awful idea.

I scrounged together a lunch to take to the office out of what happened to be in my pantry and fridge at the time, which was uhhh not much. I can't remember exactly what I packed, but I ate said lunch around noon and started getting the "I clearly did not eat enough" shakes just barely an hour later. I desperately needed protein. And, you know, calories.

I knew I wouldn't be able to get through the rest of the workday like that, so I informed my coworkers that I was going on an emergency protein run. I somehow managed to drive to the grocery store down the street from my office, and I grabbed a random assortment of yogurt, fruit, granola and nuts. That luckily held me over until I was able to go home, get my life together and go shopping for food.

As someone who has been pretty indifferent to food and terrible at cooking her entire life, I'm surprised at how well this diet has been working out for me. I actually enjoy eating and finding new recipes, and it turns out that I'm not too bad at making them.

So if you want to give vegetarianism a shot, here are a few quick tips from me:

  1. Once again, PLAN. Prepare recipes and meals in advance of going vegetarian or you will also be starving for protein. And don't feel like you need to do it all at once. Maybe start with one or two meals a week.
  2. I've heard that giving up "small animals" is the better way to go vegetarian, but I did it the opposite way. So by that advice, stop eating chicken, turkey and fish first. Whichever way works for you, ease yourself into it.
  3. Get your protein first thing in the morning. You really don't need a ton of protein in your diet, but having it in your breakfast will give you a good energy boost. I usually do eggs or yogurt and granola.
  4. There is conflicting evidence on the relationship between soy and estrogen production, which does worsen endometriosis symptoms, but to err on the side of caution, I try to avoid soy. If something just so happens to contain soy, that's fine, but I try to stay away from the fake, processed "meats." (But I do love tofu, and I have to have it once in a while.)
  5. On that line of thought, try to use those fake meats sparingly, as well as pre-made vegetarian meals. They're fine once and while, but if your entire diet is based on veggie dogs and frozen pizza, it's not very balanced.
           5a. That being said, if you do need some emergency convenience foods in your kitchen,            Amy's is a great brand to check out. I love their canned soups and frozen meals.
  6. Where you would put meat in a recipe, swap it out with another protein. You like burritos? Bam. Bean burritos. What about chili? Easy. Quinoa chili. When you think of eating this way, it becomes a lot less overwhelming.
  7. Research. Pinterest has been a great resource for tips and tricks to being vegetarian. I also enjoy the website Budget Bytes for cheap and easy recipe ideas.

Again, my diet isn't for everyone, but it's really helped my digestive issues and other painful symptoms. This is honestly the best I've felt since my ER visit and being diagnosed with endo. So I recommend it for me, but whatever works for you is awesome for you!

If you have a similar experience with food (or a completely different one), tell me in the comments!

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