Embracing Soul Food
A few weeks ago I began conducting a small experiment.
To be very clear, this is not an experiment I've taken on lightly. In fact, I took it so seriously that I wrote out the Scientific Method on the matter.
(Is the Scientific Method still taught in school?)
In any case, assuming it's been a while since you last performed the Scientific Method (unless you are a scientist and/or teacher/student), I've outlined the steps below:
- Ask a question.
- Do background research.
- Construct a hypothesis.
- Test your hypothesis by doing an experiment.
- Analyze your data and draw a conclusion.
- Report your results.
I am currently on step 4 and venturing into step 5 of this process, so I feel confident in sharing the journey thus far with you.
What is the experiment, exactly?
It involves practicing what I preach to clients on the daily. In fact, I'll quote my very own "Work with Britt" page here:
So... to be blunt, after 5 years of being a very strict, no cheating ever, perfectionist, vegetarian ovo (meaning I ate no animals or animal by-products other than eggs and honey)...
I ate fish.
After five years of a diet derived from plants sans any fish, fowl, poultry, or meat, no longer can I claim the title "vegetarian"
A brief run down on the edible portion of this experiment: Three weeks ago I ate scallops. Five days later I ate salmon. Three days after that I went to a Japanese sushi restaurant with a friend for Baton Rouge's Restaurant week and ate sashimi, snow crab, tuna, and salmon. Two days after that I had talapia fish tacos and ceviche. The next day I had talapia with creole shrimp on top. The following day I had anchovies, smoked salmon, and grilled salmon.
Over the past few weeks I have had a "take your pick" seafood smorgasbord.
So, yes. It's incredibly safe to say that I am far and away no longer a vegetarian.
In that time, many people have offered that I am now a pescatarian. Possible. But, for reasons I'll get to in a moment, I no longer feel any need to claim a label or align myself with any particular rules for eating.
What lead to this decision?
This is where the Scientific Method comes back into play. (I will also be doing a follow up to this where I detail more the "why I became a vegetarian in the first place" and the exact reasons I have turned to fish now. Health vs morals, etc.)
Main point being, my body has been yelling at me, and I have been doing a stand up job looking the other direction.
At the time of the diagnosis, I did a lot of reading which revealed I maybe should give up running, incorporate some fish, and overall chill the eff out (reduce stress, sleep more, meditate, massage, etc). It was also advised that I could try gaining weight, though there was no guarantee that would help.
I've scaled back on the running and exercise (I was training for a half marathon at the time of the diagnosis), I've gained something like 10 pounds (I do make it a rule to avoid scales, so this is, to be completely transparent, an estimate), I've incorporated more plant based proteins, I've seen functional doctors, licensed abdominal masseurs, Ayurvedic specialists, and my own health coach, just to list off a few members of the team I've assembled to assist in healing.
I've almost hit the one year marker of the diagnosis, and the symptoms of Hypothalamic Amenorrhea (or lack thereof) have not dissipated.
It's time to reevaluate. Not be stubborn. Practice what I preach. Get rid of labels, expectations, and the limiting beliefs of what should be.
To that end, I'm applying the Scientific Method:
- Ask a question: Is my vegetarianism one of the root causes of my Hypothalamic Amenorrhea?
- Do background research: The past year of trying to heal myself and continue as a vegetarian. Read several blogs and online journals detailing Hypothalamic Amenorrhea healing/analyzed my body type to evaluate what foods may do my body more good.
- Construct a hypothesis: Adding in fish will create the change my inner body environment needs to heal.
- Test your hypothesis by doing an experiment. Add in seafood at least 3 times a week.
- Analyze your data and draw a conclusion: Ongoing.
- Report your results: TBA
Has it been emotional? Hell yes.
Have I cried? You bet.
Have I felt like a fraud/quitter/horrible person? 100%
Am I terrified what other people will think/say? God yes. Other people's opinions will not, however, drive my path.
I've heard the voices of shame and guilt in my own head: "There are starving people in the world. How dare you be so picky about your food choices? This is a result of your own choices. This is not a real problem. You should be better."
To be clear, this is the reason I am drawn to the work I do in health coaching: I can't sit idly by knowing that anyone I may encounter on a daily basis may be having thoughts like this about food/her body/her relationship with food/body. I do this work because I have lived it and live it on a daily basis.
Food can be fun. Food is one of the greatest joys of being a human. We enjoy what we eat! It's a creative outlet, and I am fortunate enough to live an abundant life where I have multiple food options and the luxury of choice.
I will not allow the voices of negativity, either my own or those from others, to guide my choices.
When I work with a client, I nurture her with loving care to release expectations around food and body. To let go of shoulds and shouldn'ts when it comes to food and diet. To honor her body.
This is me practicing what I preach. To not align myself with labels or identify with the food choices I make.
I am more than the sum parts of my breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
And so are you.
Love the food you eat. Do the things you love. Ditch guilt and regret.