Those who’ve read this blog for awhile, know that our primary diet consists of plant-based meals. We gave up eating land animals in November 2010, and in May 2013, we stopped eating dairy at home.
With meat and dairy no longer in our diet, I developed some vitamin deficiencies. (Brian did not). I had my blood tested a few years ago and learned my iron level was quite low as well as my B-12. My doctor put me on supplements, but didn’t ask me to change my diet.
This past summer, my restless legs have become unbearable. Knowing that iron is a key factor in RLS, I got another blood test. I learned that even with an iron supplement, my level hasn’t budged. My ferritin level is 24, and my doctor (who is not an RLS specialist) would like to see it at 50.
I’m determined to solve this problem naturally and avoid prescription medication. Dopamine agonists (also given to Parkinson’s patients) seems to be the go-to solution in the medical community. From what I’ve read, it’s impossible to quit, has a laundry list of interactions and causes augmentation.
Augmentation is defined as a worsening of RLS symptoms that occurs after starting a dopaminergic medication to treat RLS. The medication is effective when it’s first started, but over time symptoms worsen or return to what symptoms were like prior to starting the treatment. – RLS.org
I recently joined RLS.org to get access to some of their member only documents. Here I learned that iron supplements are recommended for those suffering from RLS with a ferritin level under 75 and a goal of getting it over 100. With my level being 24 and since I’m already on a good supplement, that goal seems impossible on a plant-based diet.
Heme iron, which makes up 40 percent of the iron in meat, poultry, and fish, is well absorbed. Non-heme iron, 60 percent of the iron in animal tissue and all the iron in plants (fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts) is less well absorbed. – The Vegetarian Resource Group
At this point I will do anything to stop the intolerable discomfort I experience every night. That means I’m introducing meat back into our diet. Unfortunately for me, it could take between 6-9 months to improve my iron stores.
I googled around for a how-to plan for adding meat back into a vegetarian diet and learned to start with chicken broth and some shredded chicken, then chicken stir-frys, followed by turkey, lean roast beef deli meat, then small portions of ground beef.
To those vegans and vegetarians who have enjoyed the recipes I’ve shared over the years, I hope you’ll understand. To the meat eaters, let me tell you about dinner last night.
I didn’t want to do a basic chicken noodle soup or a chicken soup with rice, I wanted something more interesting that that. I chose Chicken Tortilla Soup as our first taste of chicken since 2010.
The broth is 50% chicken broth and 50% water (8 cups total). I used 1 1/2 chicken breast, so the total chicken per serving was pretty low. Dare I say it was delicious and neither of us got an upset stomach.
2016 Cost of Camping:
26 nights free camping
254 nights paid camping
280 days this year thru 10/8
Total spent on camping this year: $7198.14
Daily average cost of camping: $25.70