It feels good to be writing today. It’s been almost exactly one year since I last wrote. Didn’t think I had it in me anymore. Over the past two years, I have had much family tragedy that has taken a toll on my emotional, mental and physical health. My immediate family has seen two deaths (my brother and grandson), two open heart surgeries, brain surgery, a stroke (and the loss of 3 beloved pets). While these things have been tragic, I feel incredibly thankful. The two heart surgeries, brain surgery and stroke could all have been fatal had they not been caught exactly when they were caught. So, as I said, I do feel very grateful, because I could have lost my husband, my dad, my step dad and my only living brother…pretty much every man in my life except my son. But, all of them are currently doing great.
In the midst of these things, particularly in going back home to spend time with my brother as he was passing away, many old wounds were opened that I thought had healed, but were really just buried. I hadn’t been home in more than 15 years because it is where I had escaped some very painful events that I could never talk about. I spent the decade of my 20’s enduring unbelievable abuse in my first marriage. I escaped before it cost me my life but I never came to terms with it. Moved far away, pushed it down and made a new life, pretending it never happened. Never told anyone. Didn’t realize it would all come back to haunt me when I returned to the place I left it behind. And it sent me on an emotional tailspin.
When you go through these kind of stressors, bad things can happen to your body, physically, even when you are doing all the right things to stay healthy. High stress, grief and sleepless nights can sabotage even your best efforts. And that’s where I have been for a long time. Struggling to get my stress under control and heal. It has been a very long road. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Emotionally, I considered seeking out treatment. I was grief stricken from losing my brother and trying to deal with everything that came back up. I could NOT BELIEVE that I could not find a place (on my health insurance plan) that covered just counseling, NON MEDICAL management. I didn’t want a pill. I know many need medical management for mental health and I’m not diminishing that fact, it just wasn’t what I needed. I wanted to work through the grief and get stronger, build up coping skills other than pushing stuff down. Couldn’t get the help I needed. So, I always heard it was cathartic to journal things. Like, writing the letter that you never send…so I wrote a book. It took me several months, and it was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I wrote about everything, laid it all bare. It was scary as heck. And I was mortified to think anyone would ever find it and read it. After I finished it, I left it alone for about 3 months, then read it again. It still hurt. So I left it alone for another 3 months and then read it again. This time, it didn’t hurt. In fact, it didn’t bother me at all! It was words on a page. I was through letting someone have power over me. And so it went into the trash bin. My finger hovered over that trash button for 20 minutes. When I finally hit it, I felt free. And I feel good….really really good….
That was the bigger hurdle. Now I am working on my physical health. I finally feel like I have healthcare provider who will treat me like a person and not a number, and have FINALLY started what I believe will be the right path in treating my thyroid disease. I started treatment only a week ago and have had a couple of days already where I actually felt like myself for a couple of hours. It was very short lived, but I haven’t felt like myself in a long time. I have been the like walking dead for the last two years. So even a few hours of feeling good, is hopeful. Maybe it is the start of great things to come. One thing for sure, I’m not going to stop until I get all the treatment I need. Thyroid disease is just like diabetes. When diabetes is finally diagnosed, most of the irreversible damage has already been done. Same with thyroid disease. Most conventional medical practitioners will let you suffer and suffer with symptoms for years and years but not treat you for thyroid disease until it is so bad that you can barely move, think or finish a sentence. I was so happy to see my TSH go soaring up and over the above limit so it would finally be bad enough to be taken seriously. That’s pathetic and makes me angry. On the positive side, I’d rather be fired up than lifeless. And that’s what this article is about, getting a little bit of my fire back…
Ok, so I’m finally getting to the point…YAY, right?
So, during one of those couple hours where I was “feeling like myself” this week, someone said something to me that bugged me. When I used to write here on my blog regularly, the majority of content I wrote was in response to dumb rumors that floated around on social media about health and nutrition. But I “retired” from social media. And over the past few years, with all that has gone on, when people have made uninformed statements about nutrition in my presence, I just didn’t have the fight in me. I let it go in one ear and out the other. Couldn’t even muster the energy for the conversation, or it just was not important at the time. But this week, when I heard something, my ears perked up, and I felt the fire in me….and I spoke. And now, I’m writing. Didn’t know if I’d ever do this again. Feels good.
The comment was so simple, don’t know why it got me going. Someone said, that they didn’t eat meat because “study after study” has shown that “meat is the most inflammatory thing you can put in your body.” I said “ah, no, sugar is the most inflammatory thing you can put in your body.” That’s it. There was no time for further discussion. It was just in passing, and it was over. But it inspired me to get out my angst in a post, lol!
First of all, let’s talk about “study after study.” If you’ve followed this blog for any time, you know how I feel about “studies.” You can find a study to support any point of view you want to have. And nutritional studies are PARTICULARLY problematic. Why? It is NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE to definitively prove a cause from nutritional studies because it is NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE to test only one variable in nutrition. (See my prior article HERE.)
Please find me just one study where both participant groups are identical in every way, both have similar metabolic profiles (even including weight and family history of diseases), both have the same health habits (exercise the same amount, sleep the same amount, non-smokers, non-drinkers, get the same stress management support) and eat IDENTICALLY (free of processed food, whole food only) except one group has some meat and one doesn’t. (And even then, it won’t be identical, but as close as it will ever be.) And THEN measure inflammation and show me that the meat eaters have more. It’s never been done and never will be done.
I think nutritional studies, when done by unbiased sources with no personal or hidden agenda, can be helpful when used to GUIDE your nutritional choices. But ultimately, I think that the only positive proof of what is best for YOU, is how YOU respond to those nutritional choices and what your health markers look like (not just how much you weigh or by how you feel…skinny people that feel good have poor health markers at times too…). The old saying “the proof is in the pudding,” although I’m not sure how that statement began, seems appropriate here.
The other thing that gets me, is that people who quote “studies” have often never even read the actual study, but rather have relied on someone else’s interpretation of the study for them. Please don’t quote “studies” you haven’t read, or if you don’t understand how the study was done, or who did it (and what their motivation was). Now, if you choose not to eat meat because that works for YOU, or you feel better not eating it, I think that’s great. More power to you…freedom of choice. But quoting a “study” you’ve never read, to make a point, is not very convincing.
Finally, what I don’t understand is why sometimes there is such a lack of common sense on this subject. The planet is full of animals, some carnivores, some omnivores, some herbivores. Why is is that humans are the only animal species full of inflammation? Why are not lions and tigers full of inflammation? There are hundreds of species of carnivorous (and omnivorous) animals, and here is something interesting…several hundred species of carnivorous PLANTS. Why are they not full of inflammation from meat? Some may argue that it is because meat is the “natural” diet of these other animals (and plants) and THAT is why they don’t have inflammation. Well then why are there entire cultures throughout human history (and even today) who subsisted completely on meat and fat and had none of the modern diseases we now have (which all stem from inflammation)? And if meat was the problem, why are there so many people on plant-based diets who are also sick? I have known and have worked with many, many vegetarians and vegans who also have chronic disease, some who are obese and some of normal weight. I’m not blaming the broccoli! Animals that are herbivores are not sick and full of inflammation. And if meat were the real problem, why doesn’t eliminating it bring total health?
It SUCH AN OVERSIMPLIFICATION to blame all the ills of health on one source (“don’t eat meat”), especially when there are SO MANY factors involved in achieving good health.
What’s the real problem? Inflammation is indeed the problem, but where is it coming from?
Well, let’s use some common sense again. All other meat and plant eating animals are not full of inflammation and sick with chronic disease. What do we do differently as humans that others in the animal kingdom don’t do? We eat sugar, flour and garbage soy in processed foods. We eat preservatives, food dyes and pesticides. We smoke and drink water full of chemicals. Many drink too much and/or abuse substances. We don’t sleep enough. We have chronic stress. In the animal kingdom, they have a proper use of fight or flight. They use it to survive as needed. But they don’t stay in fight or flight mode 24/7 with prolonged stress. And that doesn’t even SCRATCH THE SURFACE of the emotional and mental pain, heartache and turmoil that we inflict on each other as humans. The most advanced and intelligent species on the planet but we hardly even know how to be kind to each other.
And THAT is the answer folks. It is such common sense that I feel stupid pointing out the obvious! I’m not going to blame the meat when I see an unhealthy meat eater just like I’m not going to blame the broccoli when I see an unhealthy vegetarian. There are meat eaters that have incredible health, and plant eaters that have incredible health.
And that is not to say I am “anti-plant diet.” Not at all!! I eat GOBS of plants. What I AM IS anti-judging-of-others. I fully support and respect plant based diets if it is what you choose, if you feel it’s best for your health, AND…..if you can eat that way without judging others. And it’s not one sided. We have purists on the meat eater side too, and their judgement is also completely unnecessary. Eating a certain way does not make you morally superior to others. So please, let’s try to put our personal agenda or, what some may feel, is their moral obligation, aside and stop trying to make decisions for each other. Please don’t try to convince me that cow poo is ruining our environment and I won’t discuss what plowing down all the pastures to harvest wheat sprayed with Round-Up is doing to the environment. It’s okay to agree-to-disagree.
I feel like we do have an obligation to take care of our health as best as we possibly can. That is why we should choose the way of living that keeps us personally healthy. Can we always do it? No way. NOBODY does what is good for them ALL THE TIME. For those purists out there who think they do…think again. At one time or another, all people eat something that is not good for them, drink something that is not good for them, sleep too little, and stress too much. There is no escaping the fact that sometimes we ALL do things that are not good for our health. And sometimes, things happen to our health that are out of our control despite our own diligent efforts, which is why, as I described at the outset, my own health has taken a beating. But I never have, for one moment, stopped fighting to be the best that I can be, for myself, and others.
So, despite all those “studies” about meat being inflammatory, and after a week of constant salads, I had a beautiful steak today…AND asparagus! I’m exhausted from having just spent a week away from home for some work training and just took my final exam today, which I passed with flying colors. That has been a big stressor and I’m glad to be going home. So I don’t feel my best today. But I’m positive it wasn’t the steak…and I won’t blame the asparagus either. 🤪
So nice to touch base with all of you. I didn’t write all this for sympathy. It’s not supposed to be depressing, it is supposed to be inspiring. To be honest, it wasn’t supposed to be that either….it was just supposed to be a rant about “inflammatory meat,” lol. But I haven’t had the “fire” in me to “rant” in sooooo long, I just wanted to tell you why the fire went out. Sympathy is the last thing I want. I think sharing struggles, especially when you triumph over them, is a way to help others find the strength to triumph over their challenges as well. And that is what this blog is about.
Anyways, sending my warmest regards. Here’s to more future triumphs!