Carly Shankman is a Wellness Activist & certified Holistic Health Coach on a mission to create a happier, healthier world through whole food nutrition & personal transformation. She believes that mental, spiritual and physical health are not exclusive of one another. Connect with Carly on her website,Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.
It’s time I tell my story, my journey – I hope it helps you on yours. This is simply my personal experience with food.
I was never a huge meat eater. I can recall having meat on the dinner table and asking my mom to cut it up into perfect little pieces so there were no veins, skin, bones or anything that would remind me that I was eating an animal. I wanted to disassociate between the food I was putting in my mouth and the fact that it had once been a living, breathing animal.
At 18, when I left to go away for college, I started eating more of a vegetarian diet. I moved away from any meat products and filled my diet with whole grain, low-fat cereal, salads, veggie wraps & hoagies (I went to school in Pennsylvania), diet soda, granola bars, frozen yogurt and vegetarian hot pockets.
At the time I honestly did believe I was being healthy but I was eating a highly processed, refined and acidic diet.
As you could imagine, I quickly began to gain weight and my skin was red, inflamed and irritated. Now, I wasn’t feeling so well either, but I was living in a town with 40,000 other 18-23 year olds having the time of my life, so at the time, I wasn’t too concerned with feeling all that well.
It was 4 years later, when I moved to San Diego, that I started making shifts towards a healthier vegetarian diet.
I started watching documentaries and educating myself on the cruelties of factory farming, which drove me further away from meat (documentaries worth watching: Earthlings, Food Inc, Fresh, The Future of Food). I added tons more greens and vegetables into my diet but was still having cravings, so I added in more “meaty” things like faux meat, tofu and brown rice. During this time, I was also battling immense sugar cravings and would have frozen yogurt with fruit and granola on a regular basis.
In order to curb the sugar cravings, I decided to go vegan assuming I just wasn’t extreme enough, and that if I took all animal products out of my diet, I would finally reach this epic place of health and vitality that I wanted so bad.
Before I continue – Did you know Oreo’s are vegan?!
They are so processed that there isn’t even any real dairy products in them. Cream-filling?!
I think not.
As a vegan, I initially saw huge benefits in my health; I felt connected to my body in a way I never had before. I was predominately eating food from the Earth and this allowed me to recognize what my cravings were – instead of sugar I realized I was actually craving high quality fat, water, a walk, a friend to talk to, or a list of other things my body (or heart) was asking for. I developed a deep and connected relationship with my body and I could hear the messages clearly.
I truly had an experience with knowing that my body can only perform based off the quality of food I choose to fuel it with.
As a vegan, I lost the college weight, my skin began to glow, my spiritual practices were deeper, and I went from a love/hate relationship with my body to a love/love relationship. It was incredible.
I continued my vegan/vegetarian diet for a few years, until I started to see my health and vitality deteriorate again – I had hit a plateau and was having dreams of eating meat.
In 2012, I decided to embrace good old-fashioned meat, and overnight, I added in animal protein and more fat than I ever thought was “safe” to eat – I feasted on chicken, pork, beef, coconut, raw dairy, eggs (yolk and all ::gasp!::), avocado, and butter. The effects were instant.
Within 2 days of eating meat again, I felt strong and grounded in a way I hadn’t felt in many years. I felt like all the energy literally drained from the constant swirl around my head and flowed evenly throughout my body; my head was clear and alert.
I felt as though I had the ability to take on more in my life because I had the fortitude, strength, and clarity to step out powerfully into the world.
By adding in high quality fat & removing all forms of gluten, I felt satiated in an entirely new way (goodbye low-fat chemical-laden foods, you taste like crap anyway!) – I actually felt full and could walk away from food without thinking about it for another 3-5 hours. I remember going years and years as a vegetarian feeling constantly hungry because of all the carbohydrates in my diet.
It was like coming back to life again; I felt energized and invigorated.
And then I started to wonder why MORE people didn’t eat this way…the way nature intended; REAL FOOD. Real food consisting of humanely raised grass-fed meat, raw dairy, vegetables and fruits that are local and seasonal, whole grains, unrefined oils & fats; the food that has been in our world for millions of years.
“What is real food? Real foods are old. These are foods we’ve been eating for a long time – in the case of meat, fish, and eggs, for millions of years. Some real foods, such as butter, are more recent. It’s not absolutely clear when regular dairy farming began, but we’ve been eating butterfat for at least ten thousand years, perhaps as many as forty thousand. By contrast, margarine – hydrogenated vegetable oil made solid and dyed yellow to resemble traditional butter – is a modern invention, merely a century old. Margarine is not a real food. I believe the experts are wrong; the real culprits in heart disease are not traditional foods but industrial ones, such as margarine, powdered eggs, refined corn oil, and sugar. Real food is good for you.”
I began to research; I wanted to know everything there was to know about this new way of living. I learned all about the Paleo movement and Weston A Price. I learned all about how raw diary can be incredibly healthy for the body, and how the industrial food system is essentially poisoning us.
I learned that:
– Grass Fed beef is rich in beta-carotene and vitamin E (both fight heart disease and cancer) and CLA, the anticancer fat.
– Grass-fed milk, cream, butter, and cheese are rich in vitamins A and D, omega-3 fats, and CLA. Butter contains butyric acid, another fat that fights cancer and infections.
– Pastured pork and lard are rich in antimicrobial fats and the monounsaturated fat oleic acid – the same fat in olive oil, which lowers LDL.
– Pastured eggs are rich in vitamins A and D. They contain omega-3 fats, which prevent obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and depression. Egg yolks contain lecithin, which helps metabolize cholesterol.[Excerpt from the book Real Food by Nina Plank]
I learned that saturated fats and cholesterol aren’t the enemy! We’ve been lied to in the name of profit, and quite frankly, I got pissed!
In Know Your Fats, Mary Enig writes: “Cholesterol is used by the body as a raw material for the healing process. This is the reason injured areas in the arteries (as in atherosclerosis) or the lungs (as in tuberculosis) have cholesterol along with several other components in the ‘scar’ tissue [they’ve] formed to heal the ‘wound.”
“This would explain why high LDL is sometimes linked to heart disease. Many people with heart disease have damaged arteries, and cholesterol travels on LDL to heal them. Just because you see fire fighters at burning buildings does not mean they start fires.”
This concept BLEW MY MIND! And this is just the tip of the iceberg…the more I read, studied, and researched, the more I saw an entirely new world of health, nutrition, and wellness present itself. I was hooked.
I even felt relieved that I could STILL be an animal lover and eat meat. I could choose to eat organic, grass-fed, local meat raised on a farm and take a stand against animal cruelty and factory farms by eating consciously raised animals. I am happier and healthier because of it.
I decided to become a Health Coach so I could learn and learn and learn and turn around and empower you as well.
I absolutely acknowledge that making dietary and lifestyle shifts to feel energized, burn fat, and glow from the inside out is a huge undertaking in our over-processed, self-medicated culture.
I know that it’s much easier to put the frozen meal in the microwave or visit the drive-through as opposed to visiting the farmer’s market and preparing a home-cooked meal.
It’s easier to conform and believe the industrial food system’s propaganda.
However, I have made it my life’s work to make THIS healthy, conscious lifestyle the norm.
Working with individuals to bring them to a place of healing is my passion and purpose.
Does eating this way take some effort?
Yes. But it takes some effort to feel crappy too.
Today, I follow more of a paleo/gluten-free/Weston A. Price/do-my-best diet. I simply follow the guidelines that work for me and discard the ones that don’t. Do I drink, yes? Do I eat quinoa on the regular because it’s easy, fast, and incredibly versatile and tasty? Yes. Do I eat too much almond & cashew butter, hell yes.
But I have a deep and respectful relationship with my body which allows me to listen to the cues and cravings to know how best to fuel and service my temple.
I do want to let it be known that I see true value in the detoxification properties of a vegan or vegetarian diet. This is the exact reason why there is no animal protein on my detox, 12 Days to Sexy.
I know for the first time in my entire life, I have a healthy, respectful, loving relationship with food. I feel strong and confident in my body, I look forward to creating new and delicious meals in the kitchen, and I feel light, radiant, and clear.
I have a dream that all people will have access to food that serves and empowers them, that our animals will be treated with humility and kindness, and that deadly chemicals and pesticides will be eradicated from the food system.
I have a dream.
Will you join me?
Interested in learning more?
Check out these resources:
Real Food by Nina Planck
Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson
Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Sally Fallon
Back to the Basics of Human Health by Mary Frost