In my study of psychology, I found that a lot of teenage girls become vegetarians as a way of exerting some modicum of control over their lives. I came to vegetarianism in a completely different and strange way.
|Debra at 13|
|Debra at 14|
The videos advertised in the magazine were a bit on the pricy side. I think it was a four-video collection for $80, so I started saving my money. Then one day, my mom came home from the library with the Sivananda yoga video. I turned it on and began my wonderful journey into extreme flexibility. I was able to accomplish amazing asanas within a short period of time, and I loved it.
|Debra at 15|
At this time, I was dating a guy who was in pretty good shape and had a nice body. He enjoyed exercising with me and would meet my family and me at the track to walk. He walked everywhere, since he was not old enough to drive. Neither of us where, so most of our dates consisted of meeting up at friends' houses, meeting up at the track to walk, or him coming over to hang out with me at my parents' house. We enjoyed swimming and walking through the woods, and when we ate together, it was usually what my mom fixed us.
During this time, I began to feel worse. I had always been a sick person, but now, I was also always tired and foggy, and I began to develop food allergies and aversions. I went from mostly A's and a few B's to mostly B's with a few C's. I would work on my chores and then fall asleep while doing my homework. And it was off to the doctor's again for more test. My blood work came back, and my total cholesterol was 24! That may sound good until you know that cholesterol is key to making bile acids to aid in the digestion of foods, especially fats, coating the outer layer of cells, and allowing the body to make vitamin D and hormones, such as estrogen. It was during this time that I started having trouble with my gall bladder and having irregular periods. The doctor asked me if I was eating a vegan diet, and I told him that I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian, minus the ovo because of my dislike of eggs. He told me to eat more eggs, and if I couldn't make that work to at eat peanut butter. As I said before, I began developing food allergies and aversions during this times, so eggs were very off-putting to me. The smell of them in the morning would make me gag, but I found I could tolerate peanut butter (something I had all but stopped eating after a year-long binge when I was younger), as long as I ate it in the afternoon. This was the beginning of my addictive afternoon ritual. I would come home, make myself four peanut butter crackers and a glass of soda. After a while, I was eating as many as eight peanut butter crackers and drinking up to a liter of soda a day! The extreme soda consumption led to the worst bladder infection of my life wherein my urine was the same color as the cola, and I gave up the sickly sweet beverage cold turkey and for good.
|Debra at 16|
|Debra at 17|
|Debra at 18|
Drinking the high-chlorophyll drink made me sensitive to many different chlorophyll-rich plants, and I was soon breaking out in welts every time I walked through the grass, which made outdoor activities an uncomfortable prospect.
I felt worse after becoming vegetarian than I ever had before in my life, but I had developed an aversion to meat, so I went to eating mostly junk food and dating guys who didn't give a flip about healthy eating, exercise, or active lifestyles.
Then I started college, and I decided to make a change. I decided to eat more home-cooked meals and to go on a guy fast. Within a year, I was back down within a healthy BMI, and I started feeling better, but I still wasn't happy with myself or my life. I was still really tired all the time with lots of pain and depression that seeped into my art and my writing.
I've read several places where former vegetarians came to Paleo, but my path was a little more convoluted because while I was a vegetarian, then I left it behind to just eat junk. And though I still considered myself mostly vegetarian when I changed over to the Paleo diet, seeing as how I had become pretty adverse to meat, I still had a long and twisting road to travel to get to where I am now.