Thanks very much for the free report. It's a great site you're running there!! If you have time for a question, could you give me some advice about iron rich foods?
I've been sleeping more than usual lately and feeling tired at more points during the day. I've also noticed that the area inside my eye socket is pale - apparently these are signs of iron deficiency. can you advise what iron rich foods (apart from spinach with OJ on the side) I could eat more of to deal with this?
Also, I'm considering getting a supplement (because I tend to be a bit lazy and random with my food so a supplement is a good way to make sure I'm always on the safe side) but I don't really know what to look for as I've never taken them before and I don't know what kinds/dosages/formulas work best.
I'm completely meat-free and have been since I decided to become a lacto-ovo vegetarian a little over 6 months ago, so although I know a big steak would fix me up, I'd rather not resort to that. I know you advise to cut meat out slowly and have some when necessary in the early stages, but having not had any for this long I'd rather just never touch it again.
Any advice would be HUGELY appreciated, by me and my colleagues who are sick of my yawning :-) Thanks again, E.P.
Dear E. P.,
Thank you! Unfortunately, I don't know it all, and everyone's body is different.
But I do agree there's no need for meat. Eggs would do the trick and be a lot less toxic than a steak. Eat more whole grains, tofu, beans, hummus, nuts and seeds, miso, tempeh, leafy greens. Dairy isn't a good source of iron.
Try a power salad once a day: SV Recipes: Basic Salad. Cut way back on caffeine, sugar, and processed food - they're nutrient robbers. Eat more dried fruit, fresh fruit, fresh juices, nuts, etc. for snacks.
If you always absorbed iron well and you weren't deficient when you were eating meat, then you shouldn't have a problem now. If you're eating a wide variety of whole foods, including whole grains, legumes, and green veggies, and getting enough vitamin C to help you absorb the iron, then you are getting enough iron rich foods.
Besides the fact that you may not be getting enough iron rich foods, it may be that you aren't tolerating well whatever you're substituting for meat, or other new foods you've been eating, and that could make you tired.
Try eliminating a suspect food for a week or two, and see if you feel better - soy foods (apart from tofu or tempeh) or milk for example.
Another thing to consider is that other deficiencies can look like iron deficiency or go along with it. Like Zinc, or B12, or B6, or Folic Acid, or Magnesium, or Omega 3, or Vit D - deficiency in one or more of those nutrients could make you feel tired too.
The fact that you're so tired, and 'tend to be a bit lazy and random' with your food are definite clues that there could be deficiency(ies) of some kind, but I can't really say, and you shouldn't self diagnose.
If you improve your diet and take a good supplement, like Rainbow Light vitamins, along with B12 and Vit D, and after a couple of weeks, you aren't feeling better, I'd recommend getting tested for various deficiencies or food sensitivities, plus a thorough health checkup.
I recommend two books for you: The New Becoming Vegetarian, by Vesanto Melina and Brenda Davis, an excellent vegetarian nutrition reference (see pg 78 - 83 about iron rich foods), and The 5-Ingredient Vegetarian Gourmet, by Nava Atlas (quick tasty nourishing recipes for people with no time).
Vegetarian Nutrition Articles:Iron and Vegetarian Diet Magnesium - Critically Important to Your Vegetarian Health! Omega 3 Fatty Acids For Vegetarians & Vegans Vegetarians, Are You Getting Enough Vitamin B12? Vitamin D: What Is It, Why We Need It, How To Get It
Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian