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Friday, June 8, 2012

From Vegetarian to Pescatarian

What better time to make a food announcement that I'm moving from being a committed vegetarian to a very selective pescatarian status then when I'm in Seattle attending the BlogHer Food conference.

For two years now I'd been completely vegetarian meaning I would eat dairy products and eggs but no meat or products that came from slaughtering animals including cows, pigs, chicken, turkey, fish, mollusks and shellfish.

I'm in Seattle right now for the BlogHerFood Conference.

Since September however, I'd been experiencing fatigue, low blood pressure, dizziness, nausea and a host of other symptoms that have become progressively worse. Visits to my doctor and a sleep study didn't identify the problem. According to their tests I was fine. But I didn't feel fine.

So my next step was to seek answers from a naturopath. Despite what a lot of people seem to think, the naturopath I'm seeing isn't all crystals and woo-woo or things of a mystical nature. In fact the first things she did was to order the most extensive blood tests I've ever had and she tested my adrenal function.

At therapeutic levels I'm taking 4 fish oil and 2 borage oil capsules per day.

Long story short, the first thing she was able to discern is that my diet was almost devoid of essential fats particularly the Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. So a few weeks ago I began incorporating more essential fats into my diet by eating flax seeds, avocado, walnuts, and other foods.

But EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are most highly concentrated in fish. To deal with these missing essential fats (they're called essential because your body can't produce them) she suggested I take fish oil capsules.

She thought the capsules would relieve some, not all, of my symptoms. And she was right. Within 3 weeks I was feeling better.

I did some research and discovered there is an algae based supplement of these nutrients but the thing is, I hate taking supplements of any type. I'm a firm believer in eating whole foods that come with all of the accompanying amino acids and elements your body needs to actually metabolize the nutrients you're ingesting.

For now I'm staying on the supplements for a few more weeks but I'd decided to begin adding fish back into my diet. And seriously, the timing couldn't have been better because there is nowhere better to find delicious salmon than in Seattle, WA.

Etta's Wild Caught, Alaskan, Copper River Salmon.

The best salmon I've ever had was the "Rub with Love" Salmon at Etta's across the street from the Pike Street Public Market.

Yesterday I walked over from my hotel and ordered their seasonal Wild Copper River Salmon, Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes, and Mustard Greens topped with a Cherry - Walla Walla Onion Relish.

It was so good. And healthy. I also need to eat more greens because as it turned out the Naturopath also discovered while my total iron count is normal, my ferritin level is very low. Ferritin is a protein that helps your body to store the iron it needs. So I also need to eat more iron rich foods like pumpkin seeds, beans, leafy greens, salmon, soybeans, cooked spinach, chickpeas, oatmeal, sweet potatoes and broccoli.

It's this lack of ferritin that she suspects is causing my exhaustion.

SInce I love to cook I stopped by Whole Foods to see if it's possible to purchase line-caught, not netted, salmon. One of the reasons I gave up eating fish was because of the collateral damage that occurs when nets are used. Lots of other fish and forms of sea life can be caught in the nets at the same time and die in the process. But they're not harvested. Instead they die and are tossed back into the ocean. Everyone has probably heard about how dolphin die in tuna nets but even other smaller fish and invertebrates like jellyfish also perish in the process of netting any type of fish. This is why I'd rather eat line caught salmon than netted tuna.

As it turned out I could purchase a wild, trolled (meaning the fish was caught on a pole but the boat was moving at the time) salmon at Whole Foods.

 It was $21.99 a pound. *Gulp* That's expensive was my first thought. 

Net Weight 00.38 lbs

A medium sized piece was only $8.36. I say only because in a restaurant any meal with wild caught King Salmon is probably going to cost around $20. Anything cheaper, like a $10 salmon dinner is most likely using farm raised salmon, which I prefer not to eat.

I rinsed the salmon, sprinkled some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper on it and baked it in the toaster oven at around 350ยบ. I also boiled some pasta (a combination of regular and whole wheat and tossed it in just a little bit of butter with frozen organic broccoli I'd sauteed in water. It was a simple and really delicious meal and one I hope will help to restore my health.

While I feel sad to not be able to remain a committed vegetarian, I'd reached a point where I simply need to feel better and not allow my health to deteriorate more. The naturopath said all of our bodies have different needs. Some need more essential fats than others and more importantly some are able to process and absorbs different fats better than others. It appears I am less adept at metabolizing certain nutrients so I need to eat more of them and, perhaps, a wider variety of them so that I'm able to absorb what I need to be healthy.

2020 Western Avenue - Just a half block north of the Pike Place Market (Map)
Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 443-6000

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