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Tag Archives: diet

Introductory Nutrition

17 Jul

The one class I took this summer was Introduction to Nutrition. A standard requirement for every nursing school and most PA programs. The summer course was a condensed version. Instead of three months, it was over a course of five weeks. Note to self to never sign up for one of those condensed courses again.

I wasn’t sure what a Nutrition course would entail. Foods? Diets? Disorders? Why did every program require this class? THIS course was an overview of what can in and of itself be a degree program. We studied macronutrients (protein, fat, carbohydrate) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), the way the body processes and uses them, disorders that arise from them, the standard American diet (acronym SAD!), and food issues around the globe. We also had to track everything we ate through nutrition software and submit reports on our health and our diet.

From the first class, I was a little irked at my professor. I could tell 15 minutes in that she was a vegan and that she wanted us to be vegans and that every subject that we discussed would circle back to her main thesis: meat/dairy is BAD, EVIL, WRONG. I was angry that she seemed to be forcing an ideology on her students instead of teaching us the subject matter.

Maybe it was the condensed nature of the course, but I slowly began to drink the vegan kool-aid. Vegan diets lead to a reduction of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. I read a study that put vegan blood in a petri dish with aggressive cancer cells, and the blood KILLED the cancer cells. Blood from meat eaters (even healthy ones) only killed a tiny percentage of the cancer cells. The vegan blood killed almost all of them. Outside of the health aspects, I was affected by the environmental impact of meat production and the treatment of the animals in these facilities. I felt enormous guilt that I spend all day taking care of animals, then I spend money eating animals that were tortured their entire lives. I had also developed skin issues over the last year. A combination of acne and rosacea that only seemed to be getting worse. I saw two dermatologists who both told me the same thing. “This is caused by dairy, red meat, and alcohol.”

So I gave it a shot. I could do it. I could be vegan. But about a week in, I found myself leaving the grocery store with a bag full of hummus and veggies. Outside the store was a taco truck. I stopped and looked at the menu. Quesadillas, tacos, tortas, burritos. All full of meat and cheese. Not a vegan option in sight. About ten minutes passed as I stood there in my trance of cataloguing all the delicious things I was giving up. Cheeseburgers, wings, pizza, tuna melts, BBQ, hot dogs, chicken tacos, turkey sandwiches. grilled cheeses, brie on crackers. I felt so sad. Yeah, I was eating a lot healthier, but what’s the point of life if I can’t enjoy anything. As Dr. G told me, “We all dig our own graves.” Something is going to kill you one day, and it’s all about making choices with the risks we are willing to take.

I brooded on my diet for about a week. I tried to come to terms with what I believe, what is best for me. I came to the conclusion that I don’t believe that eating meat is morally wrong. But I do think the way we produce meat in this country is. A couple of years ago I vacationed on a cattle ranch in New Mexico , where I got to see cattle roaming free, living a happy life with plenty of fresh air, quality medical care and healthy, natural feed. They had a good life, and I felt no guilt about eating them. But unfortunately that’s not the life that the majority of livestock in this country lead. That being said, I couldn’t go vegan. I just don’t know how. There had to be some type of in-between.

So I created an allowance for myself. 5 instances of dairy/eggs per week. 3 instances of meat (including fish). Two weeks in, and I think it’s going well. I’m still eating a mostly vegan diet, but when I’m out with my friends, I can have a buffalo wing. Or I can have a small ice cream cone on a summer day. At least I know I’m reducing my intake and making sure it stays low. Since I decided to do this I’ve noticed that my skin has almost completely cleared up, I’ve stopped having stomach issues, I need less sleep at night, and I feel as though I’m forced to eat more fruits and veggies which is never a bad thing. Overall, I think it’s going swimmingly.

I’ve also noticed a lot of push back from the people around me. I’ve had some friends dramatically scold me for my new diet. They tell me that I’m not going to get enough protein (not a problem if you eat smart), or that I’m being annoying/crazy, or that it’s worthless, that my eating less meat isn’t going to make that big of a difference. I don’t understand why people get so defensive about MY eating choices. So I’ve decided to stop talking about it, to just do my own thing, eat my own way, and let that be. I earn my paycheck, as modest as it might be, and I choose to divert my money away from meat/dairy and toward more whole foods. That’s my choice. My small difference to make in the world.

I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

-Edward Everett Hale

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