It was great being a vegetarian for the first year. I had more energy and my skin cleared up. However, after that year, it was all down hill. I started to feel sluggish, tired, cold, and hungry all the time. My struggle continued for an additional year in a half until my body said “no more.” So, we are clear, this is not an anti-vegetarian or vegan article. I just want you to know my experience since you may have similar health issues.
To make matters more complicated, a year ago, I discovered that I was hypoglycemic. Honestly, the diagnosis wasn’t a surprise since I struggled with carbohydrates my whole life. As I got older, falling asleep within 45 minutes of a carbohydrate-based meals was just normal. My doctor was following my thyroid symptoms since symptomatically my thyroid appeared not to be working well.
But I was bound and determined to stay a vegetarian. My doctor said I needed to eat protein with every meal. Not too hard, right?
My Life as a Vegetarian
I became a vegetarian for health, environmental and animal rights reasons. And I was a good vegetarian. I didn’t eat junk food like tons of pasta and bread due to my hypoglycemia. (I did eat an occasional slice of pizza when we were out since finding vegetarian options that I liked other than egg salad wasn’t so easy in my area. I can’t eat spicy or salty food.)
My morning meals consisted of smoothies in the morning with one of my homemade gluten free muffins. My regular meals consisted of beans like lentils, garbanzo, and black beans. Often times, I would throw in some tempeh. Within a few hours, I was starving. Stomach aching starving.
Just an FYI, dairy and I aren’t good friends so I shied away from yogurt and cheese.
I resorted to eating fats like almond butter and peanut butter when I was starving, A scoop here and there. Coconut and almond yogurt became my best friend.
Not surprisingly, the scale started to tip. Within those three years, I gained about 8 pounds. I truly believe if you are going to eat a vegetarian or vegan diet, you need to eat a low fat diet one.
But perhaps it was the carbs?
Increased the Exercise Regime:
As the weight continued to climb I became so discouraged. Losing weight has never been easy for me. So, I upped my exercise regime to 6 days under the theory, I was getting older. I tried dancing off my pounds with Zumba. (My new love.) Nada. Nothing. Just nice weight gain but at least I was salsa-ing. Wasn’t I lucky?
Oh, and my legs were starting to swell more. (I have lymphadema so they naturally swell but they weren’t going down at night.) And did I tell you over the last decade, my hair was thinning? Yes, my gorgeous hair in the front was thinning. I started to shift over my hair line so people wouldn’t see how it was thinning.
My hair is my vanity.
The worst thing was my hunger would not subside. I was a mess. Eggs became my new food of choice to fill me up.
I reached an all time low when I was in Austin. I ate a quinoa veggie salad and within 40 minutes, I couldn’t stay awake. I fell asleep in the car. (But, the meal was so yummy.)
So,what the heck was wrong?
Went back to the Doctor
We changed insurance carriers, so I had to find a new holistic doctor. She took one look at me and saw how my hair was thinning and ordered new blood tests. My cholesterol rose from 175 to 212. My thyroid numbers were hovering near the danger zone. She too had been a vegetarian and is hypoglycemic. Due to the combination, she gained 15 pounds.
I knew I was in danger and headed in her same direction. Reluctantly, I started eating chicken and turkey. The second day, I ate chicken I couldn’t stop myself from eating. I just wanted more. Could have been the exercise? Depletion? Who knows.
On the other hand, I haven’t really eaten much meat. It sits too heavy in my stomach.
The Thyroid Diagnosis
The doctor gave me Armour thyroid pills for my thyroid. Her theory is once your thyroid goes it is really tough to get it to function right again. I would love anyone’s suggestions since I don’t want to take this medicine.
My doctor is also testing for yeast in my stool, so I will keep you apprised. (By the way, I am NOT going to tell you about how they test your stool. Just too much information. Gross.)
I think going vegetarian is great and wish I could have stayed in that world. However, everyone’s body is different and you need to listen to yours. If you have any my symptoms, promise me you will see a doctor. Keep complaining until someone hears you.
Don’t be a martyr. Life is too short.
Join the Conversation
- Were you a vegetarian or vegan? If so, why did you leave?
- If you are hypoglycemic and vegetarian? How do you make it work?
- Have you healed your thyroid without medicine?