Monday, February 28, 2011

"A" is for anemic

Anemia: A condition that develops when your blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells. 

In other words, a lack of iron. 

I found this out the hard way, during my freshmen year of college when my weekly cross-country mileage superseded my iron consumption.  Of course, I was 100% at fault for declining to eat the mystery meat served up at the cafeteria.  But seriously, how could I argue with an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord stocked with cocoa crispies and pickles?! 

Although I'm not one to point fingers, I can guarantee you that growing up in the Midwest did nothing to teach my young self about proper eating habits.  I grew up in a household where we had a separate freezer for meat.  Like an entire cow's worth of meat.  And there it sat, wrapped up in matte white paper, ink- stamped with phrases like "T-bone steak" and "ground chuck." 

So that famous catch-phrase, "Beef: It's what's for dinner" was indeed my family's motto.  Almost nightly, my mother would whip up some part of that deep-frozen cow.  Beef and noodles with mashed potatoes?  Hell yes.  Spaghetti with meat sauce?  Bring it.  Minute steaks?  Yeah, I got a minute for one of those bad boys. Pass the A-1 sauce, please. Add in a tall glass of two percent milk and I swore my hands were somehow transforming into hooves. 

However, despite all of my meat consumption as a child, college brought on a new week night dinner special.  Ramen noodles.  They were easy, cheap and could be consumed in my hot-pot in the comfort of my tiny dorm room.  It was awesome.  Until one day, it wasn't. 

High mileage and little consumption of iron-rich foods had me feeling like Hester Prynne, only the "A" I bore wasn't noticeable to anyone but myself.  Iron supplements and some force-fed cafeteria "meat" finally cured me - or so I thought.

Since college, I have not once been tested again for anemia.  But, I'm quite certain that b*tch is back.  Don't get me wrong - I've tried to have blood work done.  Problem is, my veins are too small to extract any blood.  And the thought of going to the hospital to wait hours on end to be poked and prodded has not sounded appealing on any of my days off from work.  So instead, I've been trying to eat iron-rich foods.  And meat. 

Taco Salad Success!
 This poses a problem.  One, cooking with meat scares me.  I'm always unsure if it's "done."  Plus, if I cook meat, I'm stuck eating it for days.  And after all those days of eating meat, I'm sick of it.  So then I take some time off and anemia continues to invade my cells. 

With that being said, I'm really trying to make conscious choices when I eat.  For example, I do, on occasion cook meat.  And sometimes I even get super creative and make taco salad.  Actually, I've only done this one time, so I took a picture as proof.  Not only is the salad meaty, it's got lettuce (full of iron) and avocados, which I read somewhere are a "good source of fat."  I'm not sure where I read that, but I'm sure it was a credible source, like a T.V. commercial or something of the like. 

Yes, I need to get my iron levels checked, preferably before I start bustin' some ass training for Chicago.  Food recommendations would be awesome.  Making me food would be even more awesome.  Just sayin'.


  1. I am anemic too. ;( I try to eat as well as I can.

  2. A meat thermometer will tell you if it's done. And you can just make smaller portions of the meat and freeze the rest. And if you're struggling with the meat, add things like lentils and spinach and quinoa. You can make lots of things with them and they're good sources of iron too. I love to cook and experiment with new foods, so if you need some recipes or help, just let me know.

  3. Chilis and stews are also almost full proof: the meat cooks for a long time so there's no chance it's not done and they are both great to freeze as leftovers. And I gotta lotta cookbooks a 1/2 a block from your house! :)