Monday, September 14, 2009

My Health Profile (part 3): The Turnaround

At a friend's potluck in Tucson, I said "what-the-heck" and ate a palm-sized portion of New Zealand Grass-Fed lamb. After all, the meat seemed ethical, and my friend -- who I respected as a morally responsible, spiritually-savvy person -- was enjoying the meat, too. After a few hours, I found myself asking an attractive woman for her phone number. Something was definitely different. My 2.5 year vegetarian streak was over.

The next morning, I woke up with muscles where I hadn't felt muscles in years. My head felt crisp and clear. It was the first time in years that I felt genuinely excited about the day ahead. A gratifying, "Ahhhhh ... " came out of my mouth. That's when I decided that I had found an answer.

A few days later, I was visiting that same friend who fed me my first tasty morsel of meat in over two-and-a-half years, and it just so happened that he had a very intriguing and pertinent book on his book shelf that I was drawn to: Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. I borrowed the book and devoured the information whole like a wolf scarfing down a fresh post-famine kill. I had an intuitive hunch before diving into this book that animal foods were a necessary part of the diet -- after all, I'd felt much better after eating some meat and butter -- but Ms. Fallon, bless her heart, provided me with the reason behind this vague feeling and assisted me in further understanding the whys and wherefores.

Now, I was on a mission to rebuild my body and my life with nutrient-dense foods. I tried eating meat more often and didn't deny myself of Thankgiving turkey or Christmas ham. My first "meat-fest" trials ended in pain and agony as my body had forgotten just how to digest the rich proteins and fats. For a few weeks I had horrible indigestion headaches and a heavy feeling that permeated my entire body. But I was determined to feed myself and get through the adjustment period. Researching information on the internet, I found that the body can take weeks to months to rev up digestive juices for meat after being without it for a long time. This is probably why vegetarians often say, "I tried eating meat again -- I felt horrible!" After about a month's time, I was beginning to feel stronger and lighter in my body. After a few more months I was back to my ideal weight and body composition, my facial hair grew in thicker and more evenly, and my libido was definitely back. And I was genuinely happy and outgoing -- a big change from my low-energy, slightly-depressed vegetarian days.

Nowadays, I feel grateful and blessed to have pulled myself out of the vegetarian abyss that seems to suck so many people in. Many intelligent, environmentally sensitive, and/or health-driven individuals fall far into this black hole of nutrition and can't get out. My hope is that by sharing my story and disseminating nutrition and health information based on evolution, history, traditional cultures, personal experience, and modern-day science, I can influence others to change their bodies -- and their lives -- for the better.

12 comments:

Harper said...

I really loved this story, what a transformation! And I'm glad you're posting again.

Ryan Koch said...

Thanks for the kind words, Harper!

Anonymous said...

I'm going through a similar experience. Since I'm underweight myself, I'm glad to see a success story that ends with gaining weight, rather than loosing it.

What does your diet look like now? Do you eat meat and fruits, or meat and starch?

Jeff Consiglio said...

Your blog is one of the few I deem worthy of adding to my RSS reader. Keep up the good work, and nice to know how you became interested in all this.

Tom said...

Just read your March '09 fructose debate with Stephen. Are you familiar with "Clinical Ramifications of Malabsorption of Fructose and Other Short-chain Carbs". Fructans (wheat) are not tested "as they are malabsorbed in all cases". Interesting?

Sabio Lantz said...

Fantastic essay -- well done ! Thank you.

Ryan Koch said...

Anonymous,

I eat a pretty varied diet these days. For protein, I eat 1/2 to 3/4 pounds of meat per day, usually at breakfast and dinner.

For fat, I eat plenty of butter, homemade mayonnaise (olive oil), and goat cheese -- about 125 grams fat/day, I'd estimate.

Carbohydrates for me are mostly low-fiber starch staples -- white rice, gluten-free baking products, potatoes -- with occasional fruit before meals, along with some honey and very rarely some sugar (gluten-free dessert kind of stuff). All in all probably 200-250 grams carbohydrates. I'll eat veggies, like home-grown summer squash, on occasion, as well. Oh, and sometimes a little vodka! :-)

I should mention that I eat this way because I've had a history of digestion problems with proteins and fats; the reasons for this still remain a mystery to me (although I've tried countless therapies/solutions -- geting my gall bladder examined soon hopefully). The higher-carb, starch-based diet keeps my gut calm for the most part and allows me to eat adequate calories.

If I could without discomfort, I'd be eating a lot more fat -- I feel much stronger on a such a diet!

Ryan Koch said...

Jeff,

Thanks for reading -- huge compliment coming from a fitness guy like you!

Tom,

I believe you're referring to this paper?

Clinical Ramifications of Malabsorption of Fructose and Other Short-chain Carbs

Very interesting! I wasn't aware of fructans being part of wheat products, but that would certainly explain why many people -- myself included -- have intestinal problems with them. It hints at a possible explanation of why traditional cultures made sourdough bread: to break down the fructans (and gluten, for that matter) through bacterial fermentation outside the body. Wheat, and so many foods that we eat in our modern diet, have detrimental, toxic qualities that our Western food culture doesn't account for. Fascinating stuff.

Sabio,

Thanks! By the way, I checked out your blog and really like the philosophical perspective you have concerning diet.

Matt Stone said...

Damnit Koch,

I'm supposed to be writing my monthly ezine, and here I am perusing your interesting blog. Damn you! Suckering me in with that whole - "here's me wasting away on a vegetarian diet, and now look at me rediscovering dietary sanity again" thing.

Good work amigo. Hope to drop by more often.

Ryan Koch said...

Well, thank you, Mr. Stone! Feel free to share anything interesting you find on my blog with your readers.

Now get back to work on that e-zine, sir!

Aggie said...

Interesting and inspiring story!

It's funny, sad really, how so many people's stories seem to follow the same basic narrative: vegetarian despite ill-health and then finally regaining health with a whole foods, meat diet.

Have you read "The Vegetarian Myth?"

Ryan Koch @ Health Matters to Me said...

Hi Aggie,

I haven't read "The Vegetarian Myth" yet, but I've heard lots of great things about it. It's nice to know that there are folks out there like Keith properly educating the public about so-called "healthy" diets high in fruits and veggies and low in meat.