I’m a classic Libra (cue eye-roll from everyone who thinks astrology is a bunch of BS). My life needs balance in every way possible.
I need travel and adventure as much as I need routine and predictability.
When I spend tons of time training at the gym, I weigh that out with full days on the couch with a good book or Netflix series.
This goes the same way for my eating habits. If I eat too many salads in a row, I sure as sh*t will be balancing that out with a dirty burger and a milkshake from 5 Guys.
So, what sparked this new, dairy & meat free Vicky?
A conversation with my friend/RMT, Hilary.
For years, I’ve had her treat me and after almost every massage, we’d finish off with 20ish minutes of acupuncture (which, if you haven’t tried yet, I 10/10 recommend you do).
You know the sleepy/dozey/completely zen AF feeling you get after a massage? You get something similar to that after acupuncture, only without the greasy oils lingering in your hair.
So, when I asked Hilary why she never charges me for acupuncture when I see her, only for the massage, she told me I’d have to see a nutritionist in order to be covered by my benefits.
(This, by the way, is so backwards and confusing to me because she took medical acupuncture at McMaster but apparently most insurance companies will only cover people who are trained in traditional Chinese acupuncture. Pardon?!)
This lead to me going to a nutritionist, which is honestly a phrase I never thought I’d say (or, write).
Me? Going to a nutritionist? I don’t wanna give up my nights of cereal and beer for dinner and don’t get me started about those vegan bakeries that hide avocados in brownies.
But, I really wanted to use up my acupuncture coverage before the year’s end so I figured, why not?
I booked my 1.5 hour consultation with Dr. Proulx (who, by the way, came highly recommended to me by Hilary), filled out the excessively long intake form (while chuckling at a few of the EXTREMELY personal questions), and didn’t think much more about it until the day came that I had my appointment.
What I do remember thinking when I saw that the initial assessment was 1.5 hours was “How the hell are we gonna chat for an hour and a half about my health? I don’t have that much goin’ on!”.
Of course I’m not going to go into extreme detail here, but the appointment was, indeed, a solid 1.5 hours and we covered everything.
And, I mean EVERYTHING.
From the colour, shape and movement of my tongue to my morning habits with technology.
Once we were finished going through my 500 page (small exaggeration) intake form, it was finally time for some needles.
Dr. Proulx cracked open her massive Chinese medicine textbook and memorized which trigger points needed to be hit for me while she grabbed a fist full of fine needles.
Every muscle in my body instinctively tensed in anticipation; not because I was afraid of the pain, I’ve had acupuncture done a billion times, but because I know 1 of every 50 can hurt.
Sure enough, the one spot that KILLED me was right under my belly button but (spoiler alert) 2.5 weeks later when we tried again in that spot, I was completely fine.
CHI = UNBLOCKED!
After Dr. Proulx removed all the needles and I buttoned myself back into public decency, we went over my homework for the next 2.5 weeks.
Here’s what I had to do:
- Cut out dairy completely (in hopes of clearing up my skin)
- Say “no” to social events/going out once a week (since I was feeling overwhelmed)
- Start taking vitamin D & vitamin B complex (for mood/Seasonal Affective Disorder from lack of sun)
- Don’t check iPhone until I’ve eaten and showered (starting off my day staring at my phone in bed was catching up to me)
Maybe it’s the forever student in me or maybe I’m just a natural kiss-ass (LOL – that can’t be it) but I take homework very seriously and started a journal immediately after leaving Dr. Proulx’s office so I could track my progress.
The first few days were tough but at least it was the weekend so I had some flexibility to make the changes right away.
A freakishly expensive trip to Whole Foods later, and I was on my way.
Bye, 1% milk! Hello, almond milk!
Out with the old milk-based hot chocolate mix, in with the dairy free dark hot chocolate mix.
I had all the sh*t I thought healthy people filled their pantries with, along with my new small collection of supplements. You go, girl.
That Saturday night, surrounded by my new purchases, I felt inspired to watch Forks Over Knives, a food documentary my vegan co-worker, Lauchlin, had suggested I watch.
Let me just preface this really quickly by saying I’ve never watched Super Size Me or any other scare tactic doc like that before because I honestly didn’t think they’d work on me.
Those kind of movies tend to only show one side of the story and their main purpose is to freak people into changing their lifestyles.
I had no desire to become vegan. I like chicken nugz too much, okay?
But, as the credits rolled at the end of the movie, my eyes were bugging out of my head and I quickly texted Lauchlin in a panic, telling him I was DONE with meat.
The scare tactics worked.
Since I’m not a huge meat eater to begin with, I decided I would try cutting out meat completely for my 2.5 week trial to see how my body would react and how I’d feel.
To be honest, I found that removing all dairy from my life was more challenging.
The obsession was real.
Let me share with you some of the weird shit I Googled over those 2.5 weeks:
“Do vegans eat eggs?”
I kid you not. I’m gonna chalk this moment up to exhaustion after a long work day and also compare it to when you say a word over and over until it no longer has meaning.
There I stood, in front of the eggs at Loblaws, thinking: “Shit, can I buy these?”.
No. No, I can not buy these.
“Is vitamin B complex supposed to smell bad?”
Anyone who’s ever taken vitamin B knows what’s up here. As soon as you open the bottle, you get a whiff of death. So, naturally, when I take them and inevitably burp approximately an hour or so later, I’m not super keen on the gross little surprise.
So, I Googled it to make sure I wasn’t alone. Sometimes you need to read a thread of people whining about the same thing you’re going through for a little reassurance, am I right?
“What is Ashwaghanda?”
No, it’s not the same as Ayahuasca. Don’t know what that is? Google it. Better yet, watch the episode of Chelsea Lately where she goes to Peru.
Dr. Proulx prescribed Ashwaghanda to me, so naturally, I researched the sh*t out of it and wondered if I would develop all the (very unlikely) side effects, including (but not limited to): Stomach ulcers, diarrhea, vomiting… You know, the usual.
Also, fun fact, “Ashwagandha” is Sanskrit for “smell of the horse,” which refers to both its unique smell and ability to increase strength.
Coolcoolcoolcool. Another stinky supplement.
“Lactose vs. dairy”
I swear to God, I thought lactose was dairy.
Crap, this has just turned into an embarrassing series of outing myself for how dumb I really am.
So, there I was, sitting on my couch at home when a chocolate craving hit me. “Oh good!” I thought, “I have that new lactose free chocolate ice cream I picked up last night”.
As I dug in, I mindlessly began to read the ingredient list: “Sugar… Milk ingredients… Wait, what?”
Um, Google, what the F is lactose? At this moment, I saw my search history pop up and realized how little I know about nutrition. YIKES.
If you don’t know what lactose is, humour me for a second and let me educate you. Turns out it’s the SUGAR that’s added to milk. So when people are lactose intolerant, they’re not allergic to dairy, it’s the sugar they’re allergic to.
The more you know.
And finally, “Benefits of cooking with a Lucky Iron Fish”
This one I Googled after Dr. Proulx added it to my second instalment of homework. After telling her that I’ve decided to try cutting out meat, she suggested I look into getting a Lucky Iron Fish since (especially as a woman), having an iron deficiency can be a common problem for vegetarians.
Sweet, a new mission for me to accomplish.
When I figured out that Natural Food Pantry carries them, I hit up Billings Bridge (yes, that’s how desperate I was) and while I was there also snagged some healthy snacks and Kicking Horse coffee. Sometimes I take the whole ‘treat yo’self’ thing too seriously.
Last night was actually the first time I cooked with the lil guy and I feel stronger already! (JKJK, but it was fun to toss him into my boiling water.)
As I finish up this post, it’s now been exactly one month since I made these changes in my diet.
My first 2.5 weeks I took super seriously and completely cut out things that even had a TRACE of dairy and didn’t eat any meat whatsoever.
Realistically, I knew this wasn’t something I could (or, wanted to) keep up but it was a fun experiment. I learned a TON about my body and quite a bit about cooking.
Moving forward, I will continue to cook from my Oh She Glows cookbook and keep buying almond milk instead of 1%, but I don’t think I’ll be so strict with things I love… Like cheese.
Today I went to The Bowl for lunch and since I haven’t had cheese in a damn MONTH, I decided to go for it. Let me tell you, it tastes SO much better when you’ve been depriving yourself!
I guess this all comes back to my need for balance and moderation. Now I know I can be vegan and survive on a plant based diet, but since I know I’ll be hit with a cheesy pizza craving sooner rather than later, I’m gonna go ahead and eat it.
And, it’s gonna taste better than ever after going weeks of eating sweet potatoes, chickpeas and beans. 😉