health

Tired, pale and feeling weak? You might be iron deficient.

Image: iStock.

There was a point a few years ago when I suddenly realised I was tired all the time.

As a working mum tiredness had just become a state of being, but no matter how much sleep I got I never felt truly rested. I kept thinking that I just wasn’t going to bed early enough and then I’d go to bed early and lay there, unable to sleep. I was so grumpy in the morning it eventually became a running family joke — stay out of mum’s way until she’s had her coffee.

But even the caffeine didn’t help, the fatigue would linger all day.

I went to the doctor with my complaints and one blood test later I was told I was iron deficient. In fact I was pretty much anemic.

I wasn’t alone, with one in thee Australian women reportedly not getting enough iron from their diets and one in five being iron deficient. Most, like me, wouldn’t even know it.

"But even the caffeine didn’t help, the fatigue would linger all day." Image via iStock.

Symptoms of iron deficiency can include fatigue, heavy menstruation, looking pale, feeling unfit, leg cramps, headaches, anxiety and hair loss. I started tick them off as I read down the list. They were just masked by my reliance of sleep, pads with wings, spray tans, massages, headache medication and shampoos that make my hair look thicker and fuller.

I may not have mentioned to my doctor at the time that I’d been dabbling in veganism and vegetarianism for the past few years which turned out to be a terrible idea for me. I’d never felt worse -- my skin became sallow, my hair and nails brittle and I was more tired than ever before. But really, it was a bad idea because I just wasn’t THAT good a vegan. I was constantly sneaking cheese into my diet. And sometimes I just felt like I needed some meat.

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Deciding to add meat back into my diet was a real game-changer.

And it wasn’t as hard as I was expecting, especially knowing that beef is one of the best sources of 13 essential nutrients with iron for energy, protein for strength and zinc for brainpower.

"Deciding to add meat back into my diet was a real game-changer." Image via iStock.

The recommended red meat intake for women is three to four serves a week and it doesn’t have to be a t-bone every time. I found it easier to add beef into my stir-fries, stews and soups too.

While there are many other foods that contain iron, they don’t contain the easily digestible kind that beef has.

Now that I’ve made an effort to eat enough beef as part of a healthy, balanced diet with lots of delicious veggies, a bit of fruit and plenty of water, it’s incredible how much better I feel.

Here are some of our favourite beef dishes for a little inspiration. (Post continues after gallery.)

I can also finally attempt some of the dishes I’d seen on all those reality cooking shows, most of which contained interesting cuts of meat.

But the most important thing is that I’m full of energy and able to get through all the things I need to do in a day. Oh and it helps that I’m not longer “grumpy mum”.

How many times a week do you eat red meat?

Nothing fuels your fire like the Iron in Beef. For the chance to win a weekend away at Gwinganna, Fitness First PT sessions & more, show us a moment when you have been ‘on fire’ by posting a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #fuelyourfire and also tagging @beefandlambteam For T&Cs visit beefandlamb.com.au/beefironcompetition

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