Wednesday, April 9, 2014

 As some of you know, I've had digestive problems for years. And years. I thought going 100% gluten free in 2012 would resolve the problem, but it didn't.

 I thought other grains like rice and even quinoa, which are hard to digest, might be a contributing factor, so I went on the Paleo Diet, where I ate a lot of beef, bacon, chicken, and vegetables. I also started juicing every day.

Nothing changed much.

Finally, last summer, I had to go to the emergency room due to extreme nausea and constipation. I thought maybe I had an intestinal blockage. X-rays showed I didn't, but there was no diagnosis.

I continued to be sick all fall and winter. There were days at a time, sometimes three, sometimes as many as five, where all I could eat was a banana, and take a few sips of filtered water. I was so nauseated that I could barely get out of bed, my stomach was hugely bloated and inflamed, and I was so constipated that even an enema would not resolve the problem.

So I did the only thing left to do. I prayed for guidance about the problem. And the answer to what was causing my problem was revealed to me.

But first...

I'm not exactly sure when I first fell in love with cows, but I suspect it might have been during visits to my maternal grandparents' place in North Mississippi when I was about 3 or 4.

I have faint yet comfortingly vivid memories of my mother taking me out into the fields, showing me how to chew on sassafras root (a bitter taste that I still love), and being surrounded by quiet, open space, love, and cows.

Or maybe it was the time, thirty years ago now, that I drove from Memphis to Denver. I stopped in Kansas to visit the chalk caves, and found myself out in the middle of nowhere, all alone in the universe except for an enormous blue sky and a group of cows crossing the road.

The wonder of both of those experiences is still with me.

It felt heavenly.

The cows in the photo above were taken in Cheatham County, TN, in 2008. They belong to a friend who raises black Angus.

We also had cows a few houses down from our place in Ashland City, big fat red cows, and there were more big, fat, red cows across the street from me when I lived in North Mississippi as an adult. While I was scared to get too close to them, I cherished their solid, gentle presence so close to my home.

I loved to listen to them in the evening, at dusk, as they made their way back "home".

As much as I love cows, I've also enjoyed eating beef all of my life. My favorite meal has always been steak, and ground beef has been a dietary staple. Easy to cook with, inexpensive, endless ways to prepare it.

As I learned more about nutrition, I began buying grass-fed beef whenever possible, preferably local. Still, the more I walked down the path of studying nutrition at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and the more I evolved spiritually, the more I felt that eating these beautiful, gentle creatures...cows...was not for me anymore. and nutritionist visits over the years had shown that I needed "high levels of protein". When I expressed the desire to be a vegetarian or vegan, I was told, "Maybe someday...but now you need meat, especially beef."

I'm sure you've guessed by now what was revealed in the answer to my prayer this winter. What was causing my severe digestive problems that were leaving me incapacitated for days at a time, and leaving me wondering whether I would be able to hold down a job, and pursue my passion, health and wellness coaching?

Beef. The answer was beef. So, I stopped eating it. It's been six weeks now since I've had beef, and I have not had one single digestive problem. My life suddenly feels calm, less stressed, and less worried.

And, I finally feel in alignment with my true self. I still eat small amounts of chicken, and some pork, as I transition into a vegetarian lifestyle, with vegan being the next step, and then finally going fully raw.

Listening to myself, I feel it's best to take it slowly, as I discover new flavors, new ways of eating, and new ways of being. (Side note: the more vegan/raw meals I eat, the more I rediscover tastes that had been dulled for years. Even colors seem brighter!)

 I'm not kidding myself that I'm saving cows, nor am I going to "hate on" people who still eat beef, especially since my husband still enjoys his burgers and steaks.

It's just that...

It's wonderful to feel good, and it's wonderful to have finally learned to listen to myself and how to meet my own needs through eating...and not eating...what's right for me.

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