Sunday, January 23, 2011

Oh My Omnivore!

I'm eating meat again.  I know, I know; I need to make up my mind!  Allow me to explain...

This is my story of how a birth control quandary prompted me to chart my menstrual cycles, which eventually led to acupuncture and finally eating meat once again.  Just warning you. 

It ALL started in the Summer of 2009 when I decided (for various reasons) to try a 30-day Veg Pledge (to read how the Veg Pledge came to be, you can read my Meet Your Meat post).  I ended up continuing my vegetarian diet (technically pescatarian, because I did still eat fish) for almost a year and a half.  So why did I start eating meat again, you ask? 

THAT story takes us back to April 2010 when I stopped taking birth control pills. No, we are not currently in the market for a Mini Mattanda, but after educating myself a bit more on oral contraceptives, I decided the potential risks of taking "the pill" were just not worth it to me. In addition, many women report having issues conceiving after they discontinue birth control.  THIS is a good website that explains how birth control pills work, as well as common and potential side effects.  THIS is an excellent article as well that describes in more detail some scientific research in the area of oral contraceptive side effects.  There is a TON of information out there, but these two links can give you an idea of where my logic came from.  Needless to say, I wish I never started taking birth control pills in the first place. 

Through my own research, I decided the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) would be my new route to keeping the bun OUT of the oven.  I take my temperature first thing in the morning and through a charting process (I use Fertility Friend to do all my charting) and other fertility signs I am able to determine ovulation patterns and my "fertile window".  (THIS website can give you some more information about FAM).  I believe most women use FAM when they are trying to conceive, but it is also used as a means of contraception; such as I am using.  I've had friends ask me "Aren't you afraid you'll get pregnant?"  First, Matt and I got married for a reason, and having children is not something we are "afraid" of.  If it were to happen sooner than we are planning, we will be excited and thankful just the same.  Second, FAM is just as effective as oral contraceptives if done properly. I know women who have conceived while taking birth control of various types, so I'll take my chances with the method that has NO side effects.

Through using FAM I have learned so much about myself as a woman I should have already known, but I also discovered my menstrual cycles may not be ideal.  A "normal" menstrual cycle is 21-35 days, and I was having cycles lasting up to 43 days.  Were my cycles like this before taking birth control pills?  I have no idea, because I never paid attention.  Also, through charting, I discovered that I may not be ovulating every cycle.  Feeling the tick-tock of my female baby clock getting louder, this worried me; when we're ready for a bun in the oven, we want it to happen, and a bun in the oven requires ovulation.  After I stopped taking birth control pills, my skin progressively got worse.  Each month, I was greeted with more and more breakouts that were not going away. This for sure was new after stopping the pill.  I would have hormonal breakouts before, but never before had I experienced breakouts like I was now experiencing.  After becoming frustrated with my cycle and my skin, I decided to seek some help from an acupuncturist.

So what does all of this have to do with eating meat?  I'm getting there.

I read a lot of information on how acupuncture can help regulate hormones, which would help with my cycles as well as my skin.  I started seeing an acupuncturist around October 2010, and after I tried an elimination diet to see if I was allergic to gluten (pretty sure I'm not), she suggested I start eating "animal protein" again.  I also have a patient who is an acupuncturist (I think I'm going to start going to her instead) and through conversation about the various concerns I had, she agreed that eating meat was a good idea because of my "weak blood".  I am not anemic, I was tested for that; but in terms of anemia, there are differences in the definition between Western and Chinese medicine...which would require another post.

So I have now added mostly chicken and turkey back into my diet, but I usually don't order it when eating out.  I'll cook it at home, and I make sure to buy hormone-free, antibiotic-free, nitrate/nitrite-free, free-range, grain-fed, local, etc. 

Long story to say "I'm eating meat again".  Maybe I will continue to eat meat for some time to come, and maybe I'll return to my pescatarian ways.  I have finally started to see a promising change in my cycle,  and my skin has finally started to clear up, but that story will require another post, another day.  So stay tuned to read about what else I'm doing to clear my skin.

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