Eat Your Heart (or Liver) Out

I’m not the kind of person who puts a lot of time, energy, or money into my appearance. I put just enough effort in to stay current, but not enough to really feel good about it. I’ll blame it on modern media and the images of perfect beauty that we’re bombarded with everyday. This unattainable perfection causes me to get overwhelmed with fashion trends, make-up and expensive jeans. When I go out shopping, I will come home empty-handed or will spend way more than I should have because I couldn’t make a decision. I avoid it as often as I can and often rely on my husband to encourage me to buy something new or my well-dressed sister to hand-me-down some pieces that are trendier and cuter than what I’m currently wearing.

I feel like this is shocking and strange to the rest of the world, and it has only gotten worse as I’ve had more to deal with in Mommy Land. Fighting for Charlotte’s services and getting my family on board with Paleo have taken over as priorities in my life. Clawing my way out of depression and maintaining my sanity have left little room for online shopping and skin care. Chad often tells me that I tend to hyper-focus on things until they are resolved, so much so that I don’t even notice what’s right in front of me.

So hopefully it makes sense that I didn’t notice that I was losing my hair. I told myself that Classic Baby Hormone Hair Loss Syndrome was the explanation for the thinning, short pieces around my face that l had trained to look like bangs. I shrugged when my hairdresser politely asked how long it took to grow back after my first pregnancy. More questions about vitamins and stress just left me shaking my head.

One day last Summer I looked in the mirror and noticed that my hair looked thinner. And then I felt it. Really felt it. Where there had once had been thick, full locks begging to be cut were now thin, brittle strands slipping through my fingers. Panic and fear ran through me as I raced to the computer and Googled hair loss, adrenal fatigue, hormones. Cursing myself for not noticing and letting it get to this point, I searched in desperation to find a cause. What had I done? Would it come back? Why didn’t anyone tell me? The voice of my hairstylist played in my head. I closed my eyes and visualized the chunks of hair that I had seen in the shower. How could I have not noticed this sooner?

Powerlessness and self-blame roared through my conscious thoughts until I got a grip and started finding some answers. I was on the right track with the adrenal issues. I knew I wasn’t fully recovered from the stress my body survived after Charlotte’s birth. From my issues to her issues, every available vitamin, mineral or ounce of energy reserve had been exhausted. I know enough about the human body to know that it is excellent at prioritizing. In times of stress, the body knows to give available nutrients and energy to the organs needed to maintain life. Hair re-growth after having a baby is somewhere toward the bottom of the list.

I got a hold of some vitamins from my hairstylist and began taking them immediately. Several a day. And it worked. My hair began to grow and thicken and maintain its color. After nearly six months of taking 4 tablets a day, I can wash and blow dry my hair again without twinges of panic and guilt.

Even after getting my hair on a healthy regrowth pattern, I was still left with unsettled thoughts about nutrient deficiency. Why wasn’t I getting enough of these vitamins from Paleo foods? What do I need more of? Less of? How long will I have to take these vitamins? With no real expert to consult on this subject, I’m left to the depths of my own mind to find these answers, and that can really be a scary place. Research about depleted soils for growing crops and raising animals and how it’s negatively affecting our food supply is scaring me into thinking I’ll be bald by my 40th birthday.

Just as my search for nutrient rich foods to replace the vitamins had really begun to take hold in my mind, I was sent a powerful information source in the form of our friends Mike and Rachel. (Dr. Mike got us started on the Paleo diet and has provided tremendous support and information in healing Charlotte’s gut and my adrenal issues). Over a delicious bone-broth-based soup dinner on Saturday night, we discussed how Vitamin A is the main ingredient in my hair vitamins and is found in abundance in offal–the organs of animals that we typically don’t eat, especially liver. At these words, my heart rose and sank at the same time. I have read a lot about the benefits of offal in the Paleo world, but even the pictures of these foods turned my stomach.

I looked firmly at Chad, and we listened carefully to Mike explain how I may have begun to have trouble converting Vitamin A after the adrenal issues occurred. This may explain my hair loss and sensitivity to my hormone cycles. More information only leads to more questions from me…will it help my PMS? Will it help Charlotte? How do we get the kids to eat it? No real answers but lots of information about the great source of nutrients that offal, particularly liver provide. He and Rachel then explained their tricks for eating the unpalatable organ meat, and I wasn’t feeling much better–blending the organ pieces in its own blender and plugging their nose to down the “shake”, freezing the meat in tiny pieces and swallowing them like pills–any of their attempts to hide the awful tasting meat in food was fruitless.

Later in the evening, Chad and I discussed the information we had heard. We were encouraged that a natural source of vitamins for I what I had been taking in pill form was available. But did we really need another project? Liver? Really? Trying new foods and incorporating them into what you’re already eating takes time and effort.

On the other hand, it was hard to turn away from such a nutrient-dense food that really could probably improve the health of all of us, particularly Charlotte. It seems obvious to us that the more nutrient-dense foods we get into her system on a regular basis, the more progress we see from her. We weighed all of our current competitors for our time, money, and energy and decided that this was a project we were willing to take on.  

Once our roles were clearly defined we began to get excited about our new challenge. Chad’s job is to make the organ palatable in food while keeping it hidden it from the kids. My job is to procure the product, do the research, and hopefully enjoy the benefits of thicker hair. In addition, we will also share our tips with you for getting kids to eat offal, and observing and documenting any benefits we see regarding Charlotte’s issues.

If you are currently enjoying organ meats and have any suggestions for making them work, please feel free to comment below or send me an email.

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12 thoughts on “Eat Your Heart (or Liver) Out

  1. Congrats on taking on this project! It’s worth it! We began eating offal about a year ago. Beef tongue or heart may be easier for you to start with because they’re muscles and have very similar texture to regular muscle meats. Both can be done in the crockpot and shredded for use in things like taco salad. (fyi – remove the heart valves before cooking and peel the tongue after cooking) Organs do have a softer texture but are SO nutrient dense as you learned. Whenever we have a recipe with ground meat, I add 2oz of pureed liver for each pound of meat. It affects the taste very little, and luckily a little goes a long way nutritionally. Bacon and tomatoes are especially good at helping to mask the somewhat metallic flavor of liver.
    Here’s my method for making chicken liver pate, which my kids (3 and 5) willingly eat with veggie sticks:
    1 lb chicken livers
    8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
    2 yellow onions, diced
    4 oz smoked bacon, diced
    Sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried rosemary
    Splash of raw vinegar
    Additional fat for cooking as necessary
    Fry bacon in cast iron skillet. Remove from pan but leave all drippings. Saute mushrooms, remove. Next take your time cooking the onions over lower heat so they carmelize, adding more fat to the pan as necessary. Pan fry chicken livers, cooking until they’re just pink in the middle. Puree all ingredients together in a food processor until very smooth. Season to taste and add a splash of vinegar. This makes a huge batch. We eat a bit and then put the leftovers in the freezer in ice cube trays, then transfer to a bag. I can then pull out small portions as desired, without having to go through the effort of making it again!

  2. I’ve recently been instructed by my nutritionist to eat organ meats. I found your site and have made a ton of meat balls out of your burger concoction. Can’t wait to see how it turns out. Hope your adrenals are back on track!

  3. have u found eating liver has helped your hair overall, i have fine thin hair and want to improve it thru my paleo diet – what type of liver do u eat ? thanks!

    • Hi Crystal, I would say eating liver has helped my health overall–helping mostly PMS and adrenal issues. I noticed a real difference in my hair when I start supplementing (a lot) with Vitamin D. My level was 29 and I now take 6000 ius per day. I haven’t checked it again lately but I know it’s up because I can feel the difference in my hair. I try to buy grass fed liver and Whole Foods or the meat market but in a pinch, I get grain fed at my local grocery store. Good luck 🙂

      • thanks im going to start adding in liver in my diet and just starting using cod liver oil do u use that? – i sure hope it helps my hair, do u know how long it took before you noticed a difference in your hair once it started to help ?

      • Hi Crystal, when I was anxious about losing my hair and wanted it to grow back quickly, I took a Vitamin called Lustre (available on Amazon) I saw results in 4 to 6 weeks. The liver and cod liver oil are great for overall health and will improve the quality and health of your hair, but it will take time. The vitamins are a good way to get nutrients into your body while you are working on improving your food-based nutrition.

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