A Raw Journey

I've been working toward eating a raw diet (on and off) for about 2 years. The first time I tried transitioning to raw I scoured the internet searching for gourmet raw recipes that would help satisfy my cravings for cooked foods. I used my magic bullet and dehydrator religiously and could never keep up preparing enough food to keep myself satiated. I never was one for successfully following a recipe, so raw recipe's were no different. Nothing ever really came out very good, and I was eating a lot of oil and nuts. I tried for 100%, but there were a lot of temptations—dinners with family & James was still eating a cooked diet including meat. After a short while I gave that up and tried to eating a mostly vegetarian cooked diet—with eggs, dairy and fish still included. Some raw foods carried over—I was still enjoying chopped apples mixed with banana and cinnamon for breakfast, but the transition was feeling forced and I couldn't handle the pressure.

After not *trying* for a month or so, I decided to try again. I had stopped eating meat (chicken, beef, turkey…) but I kept my idea of raw the same—gourmet & complicated. So, again, I struggled and gave up after a short time.

Then I began slowly transitioning. I would eat fruit before noon, then I could eat anything I wanted. This worked really well so long as I ate plenty of fruit in the morning—enough to satisfy me until lunch. I would occasionally bring a savory salad to work—often with gorgonzola cheese, pecans, dried cranberries and spring greens. This lasted for a while. I enjoyed this process of slowly incorporating more fruit into my diet. I read that it gives the body the energy it needs in the morning to cleanse from the previous night, and starts off the day with a nice, smooth energy boost. I kept the "fruit before noon" mentality for a long time. Some days it worked, some days a bagel with butter and cream cheese would scream my name first thing in the morning, and I couldn't resist. Over-all though it seemed like a healthy approach toward transitioning to eating more raw food. It didn't feel like I was forcing anything.

Then I began going to a hot vinyasa yoga studio and eating more raw foods began to feel a lot more natural. Some cooked foods had been naturally falling away from my diet since I began. Ice cream was gone, meat was gone, dairy in general was beginning to make me feel crummy each time I ate it, so it was being eaten less and less often.

Things in my life began shifting—my consciousness began opening to more and more possibilities. In March 2009, around the cosmic new year, I let go of a lot of things. I stopped peeling my fingernails, which I had been doing since I was a child; James and I, and our friend Kevin all began striving to eat a vegan diet—no more eggs, no fish, no dairy. Of course that had its challenges as well, and it gradually removed many of the cooked food addictions I often struggled with while trying to stay raw.

Dairy had a strong emotional hold over me for a long time. I used it as a form of self destruction. I knew it didn't treat my body well, but there were times when I needed to become emotionally numb—so I'd eat something heavy with starchy carbs and butter and cheese. It hurt my body to digest something like that, but it preoccupied me from thinking about any emotional pain. It was very subtle, and it took me a long time to recognize that it was what was happening. Denial can be a very strong thing, and unless we're willing to really open up to the truth of what is happening in life, often times we can be self destructive in simple little ways that seem innocent.

Around that same time—March 2009—I began reading more about nutrition. I read the 80/10/10 Diet by Dr. Doug Graham and the China Study by T. Collin Campbell. Both of these books changed my life. I was done with dairy, and fruit was my new best friend. James and I both experimented eating a high-raw 80/10/10 diet, and we were more successful than we'd ever been. The fruit seemed to be the answer to maintaining a raw diet. It kept our calories high enough to feel satiated, and it didn't take forever to prepare, like many gourmet raw recipes. We then began changing many things in our life—we moved, many times, began building a tiny house. Basically chaos ensued, and we went back to eating a cooked vegan diet, with a lot of fruit during the day and a cooked, heavy dinner. With this new year I'm hoping to continue this journey and continue to be as healthy as I can be.

These past 2 years I've spent weaning myself away from the addictive habits I developed throughout my lifetime. There was a lot of greed and delusion involved with my relationship with cooked foods. If I had something I enjoyed, I really didn't want to share it with others. I'd be selfish internally, although on the outside I'd share it anyway. I didn't really WANT to share it. It was as if I'd never get to have it again.

I deceived myself into thinking cooked foods—starches and dairy particularly—were *simply* comforting. They were comforting, but in the way that a band-aid is comforting over a wound. It doesn't solve the root issue—whatever emotional problem that might have caused me to need the band-aid in the first place. That's what I'm learning now. Food is not a band-aid. Food is fuel—the energy my body needs to survive. It's not something to be used as a drug. If there's an emotional problem that needs addressing, I should be addressing it, and not shoving it under a big bowl of strawberry ice cream. That's why yoga is so important. Not just the physical yoga, but the yoga of daily life. Being in each moment, experiencing what is actually happening by being aware of when my mind creates stories that may or may not be true. I've been learning to listen to my body—hearing what it needs, when it wants water, or calories, or nutrients. When we can listen with an empty mind, we can allow our body to have the things it truly needs, rather than giving it things to continue hiding the truth from ourselves.

It's been an interesting journey, and it's certainly no where close to over. I'm continuing to learn a lot about myself and my relationships—what's healthy and what's toxic. Removing toxins from my life is much more than just food related. It's a slow process of accepting that things I'm accustomed to, despite how much I've grown attached to them, can often be toxic to my well-being—physically, mentally or spiritually. Then willingly allowing them to drift away. This is a wholesome adventure—involving not only my diet, but my entire life.


Anonymous said...

Wow.. very interesting.. thanks for sharing your journey.. gave me something to think about.

Alyce said...

"there were times when I needed to become emotionally numb—so I'd eat something heavy with starchy carbs and butter and cheese. It hurt my body to digest something like that, but it preoccupied me from thinking about any emotional pain."

Wow. Yes. That's exactly it.

Kasi S. said...

Ayah... What Alyce said, yes!
Thank you so much for sharing.

Pam said...

Wow, that was a very powerful testimony about your raw food journey! Thanks so much for sharing!

I love hearing about what others are going through. I especially relate to "using food as a drug", instead of fuel.

Great stuff!

Mary said...

Very powerful, Kristin, and so much of what you said resonates deeply with what I've been feeling. Food has been a drug to me, not simply nourishing my body. For me, it as also been a way to smother emotional hurts. May we all experience physical, emotional and spiritual healing this year!

Peggy said...

Congrats and good luck! Today (the wee morning hours of Jan. 11) mark day 11 for me.

Found your blog via twitter...

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