I Ate Meat For The First Time In 5 Years. Here's What Happened To My Body
I didn't exactly wake up one morning and decide to not have meat anymore. It was a very gradual process that happened after I graduated college. I realized I hadn't consumed any animal protein for a few weeks and I hadn't craved it or missed it at all. Why should I eat foods that I don't genuinely enjoy, right?
I do want to make it clear that I have always thought that grass-fed, no hormone animal protein is 100 percent good-for-you. I have never thought there is anything wrong about eating meat. It provides great nutritional value and protein and I still made it for my husband all the time. I never really thought about what would happen with my relationship with meat in the future. I just went with the flow, but after five years without meat in my life, I started to get an itch for it again.
As someone who is all about being your own label (I never identified myself under a label even on my blog), it wasn't too big of a deal to many people besides those who know me well when I started eating meat a few weeks ago. But ever since I ate that crispy almond flour chicken tender, it is safe to say my life has changed.
There are a ton of people out there who don't eat meat or fish or eggs, etc., and one day they change their minds. After I wrote a blog post all about my experience, I could not believe the number of emails and messages I received from the community, asking about what happened since I started eating meat again or if I have any tips for them.
Even though everyone's body is so different, there are a few things I have learned about my relationship with food and my body over the last few weeks.
1. Your body can speak to you. Your job is to listen.
Yup, you read that right. Your body is AMAZING. It is the machine that runs your life. Our bodies are sacred and they know what they need. My body physically told me to start eating meat again, which is why I did. My husband wanted to try bone broth and after seeing him drink it several times, my interest peaked. I tried beef and chicken bone broth from Boneafide Provisions and began drinking it every few days. A couple of weeks after that, I was making him dinner and the smell of a beef Bolognese smelled amazing to me. I felt my body telling, "Eat that...see what happens." And while I didn't try that Bolognese (yet), I did make myself almond flour chicken tenders the next day, and I was back in meat-eating action.
2. Your cravings and taste buds change—and that's OK.
I've heard that every seven years our allergies and/or taste buds can change. I never really believed that until recently when I started craving things I have never liked before. Roasted carrots and cauliflower for example—I never enjoyed eating them at all, and now I can't go more than a couple of days without them. And lamb? Never in my life have I craved lamb, and now homemade lamb burgers are my new weekly staple. Just because you didn't enjoy eating a specific food one or three or even 10 years ago doesn't mean you won't enjoy it now.
3. You're not supposed to be hungry all the time after meals.
Have you ever finished eating dinner and dessert and still felt hungry? Yeah...me too. In fact, I used to feel this every single day, even after eating a huge bowl of veggies, chickpea pasta, or another veggie-based dish followed by some chocolate or a couple of healthy cookies for dessert. I know it is OK to be hungry once in a while before bed, but there is no reason to be hungry or not satisfied after eating dinner and dessert. Ever since I started eating meat, I am satisfied and full through the night. I obviously still have my dessert (a girl needs her brownies) but I don't feel the need to eat again an hour later. The protein from the turkey burger or chicken keeps me going.
4. What you eat has a huge impact on your hormones.
I'm not going to go off on a tangent here about female hormones (although I could talk about it for hours), but after reading Alisa Vitti's Woman Code (4x in a month), I learned how closely synced our hormones are with our lifestyle and the foods we eat each and every day. Not having the proper nutrients and vitamins can cause issues for us internally. This doesn't mean that everyone needs animal protein to keep their hormones in check, but if you are feeling off-balance at all, it is something to take into account.
5. You don't have to love all meat to eat some meat.
So far, I have reintroduced chicken, turkey, beef, and lamb into my diet, and I have truly enjoyed every single one of them. My body has reacted well and is continuing to crave them each week. But there are definitely meats that I haven't had the urge to eat yet, like pork. Just because you are eating chicken, that doesn't mean you need to go nuts and eat every single meat imaginable. Eat what sounds good to you.
6. Your body's needs are highly individual.
There is a reason why those "What I Eat In A Day" blog posts do so well. People are nosy and they want to know what other people are eating every day. I know I personally do. I love getting different ideas and inspiration from my friends and favorite bloggers. But that doesn't mean that what they are eating every single day is what I need to eat. Everyone's body is different and we have to remember that. It goes back to listening to your body.
7. The world probably won't end when you take a bite of meat.
When I took my first bite of chicken again, my husband anxiously watched me chew it to see what would happen. Would I turn green? Be hit with immediate stomach pain? We waited and...absolutely nothing happened. I chewed it slowly, swallowed and finished my whole meal. No stomachache, no weird aches and felt great the next day. It showed me how much my body really wanted meat again. It knew how to respond.
8. You don't need to tell anyone when you change your eating habits.
I was so excited to tell my parents and in-laws after I ate meat for the first time again. Jord was even more excited (he took a photograph HA!). But then I was asked how I was going to tell my readers and Instagram community. Since I never labeled myself, it wasn't going to come as a shock when I posted a photo of my chicken salad on Instagram, but that isn't always the case for everyone. Some are born and raised vegetarians or vegans and it can be really intimidating to have to tell anyone about their change of eating habits. We aren't obligated to tell anyone! You can tell whoever you want. It only matters what you think of your eating and how it makes you feel.
Eating meat is a lifestyle change I am so happy with, and I can't wait to continue to trust my intuition and my body forever. It is a special relationship that no one else can understand. Plus, it's been amazing getting creative in the kitchen with some new meat recipes.
Remember, worry about your own body! Everyone else can worry about their own too.
Rachel Mansfield lives in the heart of Manhattan with her husband, Jordan. She has her bachelor’s in business administration and media communications from Muhlenberg College, and in early 2015 created her eponymous Instagram account followed by her blog a few months later. Since then she’s worked with top brands in the health, fitness, food, and wellness spaces and has formed an amazing community surrounding her passion for deliciously clean eats. Mansfield's goal and passion is to share food that not only tastes amazing but makes you feel amazing.