Four months and no cooked food – sounds like some crazy fad diet right? That’s what I thought when I first read about a group of people promoting this way of eating. The science behind it is that all the live enzymes that aid in digestion and many vitamins and minerals are lost when you cook foods at heat higher than 118ºF. Let’s think back to high school Chemistry class. Nutrients are chemicals and when these chemicals are heated it causes chemical reactions – the higher the heat the more volatile the reaction. Some of the by-products of these chemical reactions are carcinogens, mutagens, and free-radicals. Now I’m not going to put you to sleep with a long text book explanation of each of these right now (maybe later) but please do Google them if these are new to you.
So here I was ready to dive into this foreign world. As I shared with you before I was a junk-food vegetarian who disliked fruits and veggies so I know it was only the power of God that I was finally willing to give this new way of eating a try. I came home and cleaned out my fridge. Out with the dry goods and cans, everything went to family and friends. Then I made a trip to the farmer’s market and loaded up on avocados, lettuces, peppers, carrots, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, cukes, squash, sweet potatoes, bananas, frozen berries, pears, grapes, apples, raisins, nuts, and seeds. My breakfasts consisted of either a green juice (fresh squeezed) or fruit smoothies or sometimes I’d just eat an entire bag of grapes. Then for lunch if I had the green juice for breakfast then lunch was the smoothie and vice versa. Now one quart of smoothie was the equivalent of 3 bananas, a carton of strawberries and a carton of blueberries plus a little water to thin it out – so don’t let the size fool you! Dinner was usually a large salad – see the bowl below. It would be filled and I ate it all. Today I couldn’t imagine eating even half that amount. If I was feeling really creative I’d try to create one of the raw dishes I found on the Raw Food Rehab. This site was beyond valuable to me at the time. It is an online community of raw foodist and inspiring raw foodist sharing recipes, tips, and testimonies of how this way of eating changed their life. The people on the site were so encouraging and helped answer all my questions. What a tremendous resource and the best thing of all – it’s FREE!
Many said the first week of detox and food cravings are intense. For me personally it wasn’t that bad. I experienced some weird mood swings on the third day – weepy and emotional one minute then annoyed and frustrated the next. There weren’t any real junk food cravings other than an occasional desire for chips but by the fifth day those were no more. Somewhere between day 4 and 5 the energy kicked in. I no longer needed the meds prescribed to me for fatigue because it totally disappeared! My job tied me to the computer 8 hours a day/40hrs a week. I’d wake in the morning with just enough time to wipe the sleep from my eyes and make some coffee before logging into work. The coffee would get me through most of the day but come 3 o’clock, without fail, I would crash. My last break of the day would be spent taking a 10 min power nap. During that first week of raw this was not the case. Not only was I able to give up coffee all together, I had energy to spare!
The next amazing thing to happen was that the cobwebs in my mind started to clear. I was diagnosed with ADD when I was a child but after the medications turned me into a zombie my mom flushed them and I went untreated. It’s always been hard for me to focus. I’m notorious for starting a task like washing dishes and then taking a potty break and afterwards forgetting I was washing dishes, I’d go to my room and start some other task. Then the next time I’d go back to the kitchen I would find the water ice cold and remember, Oh yeah I was washing dishes! Over the next 30 days I felt that mental fog start to clear. Not only was I able to remember the task at hand but childhood memories that I had lost were returning. It felt like my mind was coming alive.
At the end of the 30 days I accessed myself and said, I feel great! I think I could do another 30 days. So I did! Then at the end of 60 days I still felt awesome and continued on. The total span of my raw food fast was three months. I felt fantastic and dropped 44lbs. During those 3 months I learned a lot about my body. The issues I faced the year before seemed to be no more. That whole summer I didn’t have any sensitivity to the heat. I had no more vertigo. The headaches were gone with the meds. My foot drop was improving. My bladder control was back to normal and my memory was stronger than ever. My neurologist said I was in remission (the state of absence of disease activity, with the possibility of return of disease activity.) Funny how the remission began when I changed my diet.
The best thing about the whole experience is that my taste buds reset themselves. My favorite foods went from being cheese and chocolate to sweet potatoes and oatmeal. I enjoy more variety in my diet now. Steamed kale with peppers and onions is heavenly to me but before I wouldn’t have considered trying it. I had read over and over again about how mucogenic dairy is. My two favorite foods were dairy based. I grew up with severe allergies (dust, mold, pollen) and even had to get allergy shots when I was young. As an adult I was going through a box of kleenex a week during allergy season and even in off season it seemed I had the sniffles year round. I wanted to put the dairy theory to the test but my addiction to cheese had made it impossible to go without. After four months of no dairy I could finally test myself. I noticed during the raw fast my mucus production was way down so once I went off the fast I had a bit of cheese. I went out with some coworkers to dinner and the only thing on the menu without meat was cheese pizza. I had the pizza and that night I was kept awake with a phlegmy and congested sinus. My allergies were back and this condition carried on for 3 whole days! You would think I would have learned from that, right? Nope. The following month I went out to the company holiday party and they only food on the menu I could eat was eggplant parmesan. So I had the meal and guess what happened? Yep phlegm, phlegm, phlegm. So after that I decided that that was the last sleepless night I’d suffer for cheese and I said plant-based is the lifestyle for me.
The first 6 years of my disease I took the doctor prescribed route to treat my illness and the medications led to more pain and further health issues. Today I’m learning everything I can about how my body works and how I can help it heal. I’ve learned that there is a lot of quackery out there on the web but there’s also a lot of good information I would have never otherwise known about had not someone took the time to share it. The jury is still out on the 100% raw food lifestyle. Science has shown that some foods, such as tomatoes, benefit from cooking. I’ve not experienced the trendous amount of energy I had when I was all raw since moving back to cooked so for now I do see a benefit in eating a high raw diet. I’m open to experimentation and my journey has just begun. As I learn more and more about my body I can make educated choices about what will help it and not hender it’s processes. Everyone out there has an idea about what is best and I’m thankful that God has given us an owner’s manual – the bible. This book has everything and it was the health message that drew me in wanting to know more. It’s a great thing to feel physically good but if the spiritual is lacking the physical can never make up for it. That’s where I was last year. My body was healing and I was feeling lighter but not freer. My anxieties and fears were just the same as when I was the heavy girl and no matter what I did to try to think positive I couldn’t overcome my fears. Next week I’ll share with you how God freed me from depression and extreme shyness. Also there is the lifestyle center starting up and the restaurant and the cooking classes and…ok I have lots to share so more to come next week!