Thursday, 21 January 2016

On Being A Pescetarian (Who Cheats On Holidays)

Bonjour, mes amis!

A big decision that I made in 2015 was to switch to a pescetarian diet. Pescetarian means that the only kinds of meat that I eat are fish and seafood. I'm basically a vegetarian who still eats fish and seafood. I switched some time in May and decided to try it out for a little while before deciding to stick with it. My main reason for becoming pescetarian was for health reasons. As you may know, I have mild Crohn's Disease. I read in a health magazine that vegetarians have a lower risk of colorectal cancer than omnivores and that pescetarians have an even lower risk of colorectal cancer than vegetarians! That's probably because of the omega 3 fatty acids that can be found in some fish, especially salmon, and the fact that fish is the healthiest meat and it has a lot of good stuff in it. Since I have Crohn's Disease, I automatically have a higher risk of colorectal cancer so I thought that it might be a good idea to try going pescetarian, especially since omega 3 fatty acids are good for helping inflammation and switching to this diet might therefore help the disease right now!

I remember thinking, in the past, that if I were to ever go vegetarian, I wouldn't go entirely vegetarian; I'd still eat fish. Since I switched primarily for health reasons, I also still cheat on holidays and eat other meats. For example, turkey on Thanksgiving or Christmas, maybe ham on New Year's day, or corned beef on St. Patrick's Day (I'm part Irish so we celebrate St. Patrick's Day in order to celebrate our heritage). After all, having a little bit of other types of meat on holidays won't hurt me since it doesn't happen a whole lot of times in a year and also since I don't eat that much meat when I do cheat anyway. People might wonder if, during the rest of the year when there are no holidays, I still eat soup broths with meat or foods that contain a little bit of meat, real meat flavouring, etc. The answer is no. Holidays are the only time that I have any meat other than fish and seafood. If I do have one of those things during the rest of the year, then it was by accident. For example, I just didn't know that it was in the food or someone else made the food and perhaps they didn't know that it was in something that they bought from the store. I always try to read ingredient lists carefully on packaged food from stores to make sure that there is absolutely no chicken, beef, pork, etc. I decided to avoid all other meats, except on holidays, and I'm sticking to it! I even stick to my pescetarian diet when I travel which can sometimes be a challenge!

*Update*: This post was written before my first appointment with my new gastroenterologist and the following reason for switching to a pescetarian diet is my original reason for switching to a pescetarian when I still thought that I had Crohn's Disease. On January 28th, 2016, my appointment with my new gastroenterologist revealed that, based on my medical tests and story thus far with IBD, my new gastroeneterologist felt that I actually have proctitis rather than Crohn's Disease. I proceeded to write a blog post with my up to date story of living with proctitis and my thoughts on the whole process of figuring out what kind of IBD I really had. My reason for following a pescetarian diet is now because of my proctitis, although I will leave the original reason here.

The big question that you're probably wondering is if switching to a pescetarian diet has helped my Crohn's Disease. I have noticed that my Crohn's Disease is better than ever before. My Crohn's Disease is considered mild because there isn't a whole lot of inflammation inside my intestines and also because I don't get any pain. The only times that I've had pain is when I have eaten too much of certain types of food that irritates the inflammation but that has only happened a few times. Basically the only noticeable symptom that I've had of the inflammation is blood in the stool. Before I went pescetarian, I tried a low residue diet, once again. I did this because the bleeding came back after I ended a certain medication. The blood came back when I was done the medication because the blood only stayed away while I was on the medication and then it would always come back when I was off the medication. My gastroenterologist prescribed stronger medication but I decided that I wanted to experiment with diet a bit to see if it would help. The bleeding hadn't come back as bad as it usually did so that was already a good sign and then the low residue diet helped it even more. Once I cut out all meats except for fish and seafood, there was either only a small amount of blood or no blood at all. Sometimes a little bit of blood will come back if I eat certain foods that irritate the inflammation.

Of course, another reason why my Crohn's Disease is doing better might be the fact that, for various reasons, I have less stress in my life now. I still get stressed out about other things but there are a few things that were stressing me out that are no longer in my life now and I am also learning how to deal with the stress that I still have. Since there has been an enormous improvement in my Crohn's Disease since I became pescetarian, however, I am going to accredit my improvement to my pescetarian diet.

I'm still adjusting to a pescetarian diet. For example, I'm still trying to get enough iron in my diet, which can be a challenge for people when they take a lot of meat out of their diet. I actually had iron deficiency and had to take iron supplements in order to have enough iron in my body again and to avoid iron deficient anemia. I have become more interested in cooking and baking, however, and I have seen many recipes (both vegetarian and pescetarian) that I want to try so maybe that will encourage me to explore more options for getting enough iron.

I'm still learning and adjusting and hopefully my diet will be well balanced soon. I hope this helps anyone who wanted more insight into a pescetarian diet, especially one that was chosen specifically for health reasons.

Bien à toi,

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