5

votes

Hack My Recovery From Vegetarianism: What Was I Probably Missing The Most?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 02, 2011 at 10:55 PM

Former vegetarian (17 years total, 4 years as a vegan, relatively whole foods/no soy); developed a host of problems all of a sudden at year 17 (age 29), after a few months of that, stopped being a veg and went full tilt paleo, stopped wanting to die within 2 days, have been eating grass-fed/pastured meat every day for six weeks, no grains, feel like a rockstar.

What else should I be doing to heal?

What nutritional deficiencies has a long-time low-fat vegetarian probably accumulated, and what are some good ways to start shoring those up?

I now realize that I have no idea what my body needs. I started eating meat because I was craving it in an insatiable bizarre way that I had never experienced in my life. So, arguably I could just listen to my body. But, in all honesty, having my diet heavily infused with politics since I was 12 probably means I don't currently know how to listen to my body, and my body may not really know how to speak to me anyway.

Background (if useful):

Pre-crash: happy, energetic, well-balanced, confident, talkative, runner/climber

Crash: suddenly suicidally depressed, exhausted all the time, massive brain fog and mood swings, ED symptoms (bingeing, restricting, obsessing), a few new allergies (cashews, possibly pears), blood sugar regulation problems, possibly a gluten intolerance, and major digestive trouble.

The worst of these cleared up within 48 hours of eating lambchops and steak (my two month bout of non-stop suicidal fantasies literally cleared up overnight).

But my gut is still healing and I still get digestive trouble and bouts of dizziness/lightheadedness sometimes when I eat. I still get way too cold way too frequently, and then sometimes I get way too warm right after I eat. So, I know I'm not 100%. Plus, it's only been 6 weeks (though I feel so normal now, I can barely remember how messed up I was for two months).

I'm geeking out on nutritional science, but I also know that paleohackers are an unusually smart and informed bunch and I figured I should tap that resource. Any suggestions on foods I should consciously seek out and/or supplement?

Thanks!

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on December 05, 2011
at 06:14 PM

Huh, I'd thought that too, but it seems to be digesting spectacularly. I'd say I haven't been digesting anything this well since I was living in France 15 years ago. I spent about a month Tibet eating some meat (pretty unavoidable) and couldn't digest to save my life, I thought it was meat generally, but it could have just been all the awful gray boiled pork. But natural/pastured/etc. steak, liver, bacon, you name it, anything except conventional cured meats seem to be doing A-OK. So far so good!

F1b39d4f620876330312f4925bd51900

(4090)

on December 05, 2011
at 05:21 PM

Digestive enzymes specific for meat..you may have to reboot those, since your body hasn't had to digest meat in so long.

Cfa2637d1b6ec288d32379de06415792

(235)

on December 04, 2011
at 08:52 PM

I am actually Brazilian, but will be living here for 1 year and I am loving it! I live in Gent, what about you?

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on December 04, 2011
at 12:36 PM

Another belgian paleo!! hooray :)

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on December 04, 2011
at 12:34 PM

I don't know about the effects of bone broth, but gelatin and liver always improve my mood, my skin, ...

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 03, 2011
at 04:35 PM

I love that thought, Dorado, but each person has to define what matters and we won't all see the same things as important. I happen to think it's about simplicity and not over-thinking, over-calibrating, but others seem to thrive on the minutia.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 03, 2011
at 04:32 PM

Hope you're good with supplements, then; muscle meat is not complete nutrition. Bone broth and liver have made an amazing difference in my joints.

Medium avatar

(8239)

on December 03, 2011
at 03:49 PM

Beautiful. To my mind the quest for recovery in that sense serves you well. May your healing continue, so that less and less of your time is focused on diet per se, and more on living the life you love. Ask questions that matter, live into the answers. That's my mission re all this.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on December 03, 2011
at 01:56 PM

Contrary to popular paleo belief, you can forgo liver and bone broth and do completely fine.

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on December 03, 2011
at 01:21 PM

@AnnA. Woah....

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on December 03, 2011
at 01:12 PM

I hear what you're saying. My politics haven't changed at all, so there's really no wagon to fall from (I eat good meat, raised locally, often by people I know), but I do feel like I'm "recovering," just because I was physically ill, and now I'm getting better, and I want to make sure I stay better.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on December 03, 2011
at 08:46 AM

Fats! Fat-soluble vitamins!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on December 03, 2011
at 12:34 AM

See this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLjgBLwH3Wc

Da3d4a6835c0f5256b2ef829b3ba3393

on December 02, 2011
at 11:29 PM

I had a 4-year stint as a vegan and the immediate boost from switching over after reading Robb Wolf's book was amazing.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on December 02, 2011
at 11:20 PM

@Krisha, yes, the NYTimes had an article recently that talked about how B12 isn't absorbed well through supplements.

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on December 02, 2011
at 11:19 PM

I'd been supplementing with B12 since forever, but clearly it doesn't absorb as well in pill form. Also, liver has to be my favorite food now. I'm completely addicted! It's my new stranded-on-a-desert-island food.

  • 724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

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8 Answers

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6
33ff1847bdaeceabe95f0735c3c40694

on December 02, 2011
at 11:35 PM

what you were missing in your diet is fats.

a lack of fat in the diet has been shown to increase risk of depression and instances of suicide. it plays a huge roll in mental health because your nerves, synapses and brain cells are all coated in fats and aids in cell communication.

as for the digestive trouble i imagine it has something to do with high fiber intake and maybe even gluten to an extent. a lot of people just don't due too well with a lot of either of those - gas, constipation, cramping - you name it. oh, and also on the "fat" note - it aids in digestion.

i'm also sure that the various organic compounds you were missing from meat played a major role as well.

3
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 02, 2011
at 11:16 PM

One common mistake is to focus on muscle meat, which is fine but needs to be supplemented by things like bone broth and liver. For other predators, those things are eaten first and muscle meat is eaten later or not at all.

Keep on with the veggies and a little fruit, just mix up your meats and you'll be fine.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 03, 2011
at 04:32 PM

Hope you're good with supplements, then; muscle meat is not complete nutrition. Bone broth and liver have made an amazing difference in my joints.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on December 04, 2011
at 12:34 PM

I don't know about the effects of bone broth, but gelatin and liver always improve my mood, my skin, ...

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on December 03, 2011
at 01:56 PM

Contrary to popular paleo belief, you can forgo liver and bone broth and do completely fine.

3
Da3d4a6835c0f5256b2ef829b3ba3393

on December 02, 2011
at 11:14 PM

I don't know, but I imagine that the B12 and iron you're now getting is making you feel like a champ. Rock on and enjoy yourself. Eat lots of eggs and liver!

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on December 02, 2011
at 11:19 PM

I'd been supplementing with B12 since forever, but clearly it doesn't absorb as well in pill form. Also, liver has to be my favorite food now. I'm completely addicted! It's my new stranded-on-a-desert-island food.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on December 02, 2011
at 11:20 PM

@Krisha, yes, the NYTimes had an article recently that talked about how B12 isn't absorbed well through supplements.

Da3d4a6835c0f5256b2ef829b3ba3393

on December 02, 2011
at 11:29 PM

I had a 4-year stint as a vegan and the immediate boost from switching over after reading Robb Wolf's book was amazing.

2
Cfa2637d1b6ec288d32379de06415792

on December 03, 2011
at 06:17 PM

I was also a vegetarian for a long time, 12 years, with a history of depression and OCD, that have pretty much gone now. I felt exactly like you when I started, fish made me feel specially warm, other foods very cold. I just ate what I felt like - 3 days of red meat in a row, 4 days of bacon (I hadn't had pork since I was 10), sardines in every meal for a week...and now it is balancing out, it is a very instinticve process and thoroughly enjoyable to re-discover your body's needs, in my opinion. Enjoy the best days of your life :)

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on December 04, 2011
at 12:36 PM

Another belgian paleo!! hooray :)

Cfa2637d1b6ec288d32379de06415792

(235)

on December 04, 2011
at 08:52 PM

I am actually Brazilian, but will be living here for 1 year and I am loving it! I live in Gent, what about you?

2
A83897633eef0383e4ea2add2367314f

(240)

on December 03, 2011
at 02:30 PM

Vegetarian diets lack several things found in meat and organ meats. The lesser known one - carnitine. Important for energy production in the body when it is converted into acetyl-l-carnitine, feeding directly into the mitochondria (the power house of all cells). The best source is red meat. If you have a healthy methylation cycle it will produce carnitine and co-Q10, but seeing as you may be deficient in B-12 and folate (the active forms of folate and B-12 are the ones that get the methylation cycle working) after the veggie/vegan diet chances are you might want to supplement. Methylation is crucial for producing glutathione, I hope I don't have to explain how important glutathione is! The mother of all antioxidants. Obviously zinc is high in meat as well as iron and many other micro nutrients. B-12 is best sublingually (under the tongue). Lecithin is also great for methylation which is found in eggs. I keep saying the word methylation (l like it) because this is part of the system which produces the raw materials to convert to energy.

Take a general high quality multi vitamin with minerals to get most of what you have been missing. A paleo diet is high in macro and micro nutrients so eat away!! Plenty of fat, organ meats, marrow and and fats in general, as well as muscle meats and accompanied by lots of veg and a moderate amount of fruit.

All the best.

2
Medium avatar

on December 03, 2011
at 04:29 AM

Are you saying you believe your years as a vegetarian put into some sort of deficit from which it is difficult for you to recover? A comprehensive blood work-up can tell you the main things you need to know; I'd suggest getting hormone levels analyzed as well. Mostly, beware thinking of yourself as a "recovering vegetarian" or "vegetarian in recovery," with the temptation to buy into "fall off the wagon" metaphors, and all the rest. Thinking of what I used to be, what didn't work for me so I gave it up, keeps me looking in the rear view mirror. The future is ahead of you, through the windshield. Sure, take a glance back now and then. But remember the road that matters is the one approaching from up ahead.

Medium avatar

(8239)

on December 03, 2011
at 03:49 PM

Beautiful. To my mind the quest for recovery in that sense serves you well. May your healing continue, so that less and less of your time is focused on diet per se, and more on living the life you love. Ask questions that matter, live into the answers. That's my mission re all this.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 03, 2011
at 04:35 PM

I love that thought, Dorado, but each person has to define what matters and we won't all see the same things as important. I happen to think it's about simplicity and not over-thinking, over-calibrating, but others seem to thrive on the minutia.

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on December 03, 2011
at 01:12 PM

I hear what you're saying. My politics haven't changed at all, so there's really no wagon to fall from (I eat good meat, raised locally, often by people I know), but I do feel like I'm "recovering," just because I was physically ill, and now I'm getting better, and I want to make sure I stay better.

2
Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on December 02, 2011
at 11:48 PM

I was a vegetarian for 14 years. I mainly need to supplement Zinc, Magnesium, and Vitamin D.

0
0dccd5cecfbb8a934d39689b11a66a45

on December 03, 2011
at 07:06 AM

lots of Blood - offer it to Satan and you will never go back to being a veggie~

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