Raw Food For Thirty Days…

On our recent 30 Day Raw Food Challenge my husband and I lost weight, yelled at each other, felt vibrantly healthy, slept heaps, became depressed, watched our skin glow and effortlessly ate amazing food and much more. For some background info on what motivated us to do this, have a squiz at the Preamble. Below are a few key things I learned about myself and the raw food diet:

Weight loss
Losing weight is many people’s primary motivation behind transitioning to a raw food diet – it’s really hard to get fat when you’re eating nothing but food in it’s natural state. Raw food also cleanses and heals the body so digestion, liver and bowel function improve allowing the body to drop weight safely and sustainably. Weight loss has never really been a motivator for me (I’m more interested in feeling amazingly healthy all the time) but for my husband it was a big factor in our decision to do this. He had noticed a gradual change in his health as we started eating more mindfully after my big fast but was finding his excess weight difficult to shift. We both lost weight toward the end of the fast – me with loose pants an him with doing up 2 extra belt holes. It also gave Charles the clarity of mind to commit to the Gold Coast Kokoda Challenge and a daily yoga practice (both of which he’d wanted to do for ages but hadn’t).

It was all really quite easy
This is a rather funny statement but it’s true. Eating this way felt like food somehow became less important in my day to day. I rarely thought about food. I was rarely hungry. I felt satisfied all the time and never really wanted for anything – cravings just didn’t exist for me. I got a bit tired of chewing though I must admit.

But we felt like crap all the time
Looking back, I basically wrote off an entire month. I didn’t create anything worthwhile, socialising was a mammoth effort and there was very little connection between Charles and I. We were not expecting this. From all of our reading and self-education, people were raving about the incredible highs and surges of energy they had on this diet pretty much from the word go. Not us. Utter crap. Post 30 Days Raw though, energy just continues to get better and better! The most profound thing is the consistency of it – no ups and downs, no sharp plummets in mood and focus – just mental clarity and physical ease in all situations from the moment we wake up to the moment we put our head back on the pillow. It’s great!

The “But It’s the weekend” Syndrome
Sound familiar? Monday to Thursday it’s easy to stick to a routine and do the right thing but come Friday afternoon… all bets are off, it’s time to let your hair down! The thoughts about food and alcohol started coming thick and fast the first couple of Fridays and continued on through the entire weekend. Habitual thinking is dangerous. It’s a trap. Thankfully this passed though and by the 3rd weekend, we hardly batted an eyelid – we had conquered our weekend food patterns and didn’t give it a second thought.

“I’m finding myself sitting on the couch relaxing after a busy day doing Saturday stuff like shopping and running teenagers around and missing the fact that I’m not looking forward to eating. I’m not fantasising about the special, extra yummy treat that we’ve got to eat for dinner tonight. Strange – like a space in my mind that was once attached to the pleasure I would get out of our special weekend treat. Odd.” (from Day 14 of our 30 Day Raw Food Challenge)

I can’t be a recreational sugar user.
It’s true, I can pretend no longer. Sugar is poison to my body and mind and I’m better off without it. Apart from my extended fast last year – this is longest period of time I’ve ever had off all refined sugar in my life and I’ve had a LOT of sugar over the years. I’m becoming fascinated by the way sugar affects us and how it’s advent into our culture marks the beginning of so many degenerative diseases. Sugar has been linked to depression, anxiety, arthritis, muscular tension, cravings, mood disorders, stomach and digestive conditions, auto-immune diseases, skin and weight issues and cancer.

I’m also intrigued by the idea that sugar is actually the underlying addiction behind every addiction from alcoholism to gambling to shopping to cocaine to sex. Perhaps this is real reason why we felt like crap for so long? Just how long do withdrawals from sugar take anyway? I’m not sure but I do know that sugar has a hold over me that is uncomfortable. I do know that I am healthier and happier without it in my diet.

“The fear and sadness that that thought brings up is incredible – a sinking in my heart about all the good yummyness I’ll be missing out on – that my life will be less worth living and I’ll be forever depriving myself of any genuine pleasure and satisfaction from food. I do not want this realisation. I want to fight it and continue to deny it’s truth. To hide my head under the covers of rationalisations that pretend I can deal with life without sugar. That I can just have a coffee every now and then – that I can control this.
It’s crap though – the past year with getting off coffee then getting back on again numerous times has shown me that.” (from Day 20 of our 30 Day Raw Food Challenge)

Keep it simple
Raw food recipe books and websites are full of decadent recipes that make you drool contemplating how good they’ll taste. A lot of these recipes however require special equipment (like food dehydrators and nut butter machines and wheat grass juicers and $2000 blenders). We do have a food dehydrator, a food processor and cheap blender (which is brilliant) but because of our general feeling like crap state, we weren’t particularly adventurous in what we chose to make for ourselves. Many of these recipes are also extraordinarily complicated and time-consuming to make. We weren’t going to do that so we kept things really, really simple. We still found ourselves putting a fair bit of time into food preparation each day but the what to eat was always simple and readily available.

This focus on simplicity also allowed us to explore food in a new way – to realise that tomatoes don’t actually need salt to make them taste better and that avocadoes taste awesome with honey. This was like a rebirth and cleansing for our tastebuds. We became more sensitive to the subtle layers of flavour in foods in their natural state and how food really doesn’t need all that much to make it taste better, we just think it does.

The skin thing
WOW! Talk about smooth and silky and vibrantly aglow with life and youth from the inside out! Our skin felt amazing – so soft and clear and clean and magnificent. A noticeable difference. This diet without a doubt does the body’s largest organ a HUGE favour!

Indigestion be gone
Charles has been taking off and on quick-eze chewy things for the past couple of years. His diet has always been pretty good but a couple of times a week, he would get bad indigestion. No more! It’s totally gone – he hasn’t had any tummy troubles for the past 2 months at all!

Alcohol is a no go
Downhill from the very first sip of Cabernet Merlot organic wine touching my lips – I immediately started thinking about how good baked potatoes smothered in butter would taste – the more intoxicated I got – the stronger the cravings. All the next day I could feel it too – like it was easier to rationalise and make ok breaking the fast because we had alcohol in our systems.

Note to self: avoid at all costs any mind-altering substance when on a fast or cleanse of any kind.

(As a side note, did you know that wine isn’t vegan? We spent a while researching it on the net – initially to discover if wine was raw. Yes, it is! Yay! But it’s not very animal friendly and is mostly made to look all crystal clear through the use this stuff called isinglass which is ground up fish bladders!!!??? Us humans are incredible! How on earth did we discover that ground up fish bladders makes wine clear???? If not fish bladders, wine is clarified with egg albumin. You can get some brands that are clarified with clay apparently but more research is needed here as to what vineyards do it this way. We so rarely drink wine that we’ll leave that research to the true connoisseurs.)

Superfoods here we come!
So just why did we feel like crap for so long? One possible answer we uncovered was that even though we were eating the most amazingly vibrant and fresh organic food we still weren’t getting quite what we needed. Meat or dairy products with their abundance of B12 and amino acids would appear to be the answer but I’m not so sure about this mainly because of how little I thought about them. In the past, my mind and body send me clear signals about precisely what they need in the form of cravings and images of particular foods. We had no cravings. None (apart from the habitual weekend stuff) so I think there’s more to the story for my particular body.

Superfoods like cacao (the raw stuff chocolate comes from), maca, spirulina, coconuts, bee pollen, chlorella, goji berries, acai berries, honey, chia seeds, lacuma and other exotic sounding whole foods appear to fill in the gaps. Superfoods contain massive amounts of everything good. Mega doses of anti-oxidants, essential fatty acids, vitamins, live minerals, natural hormone balancers and more can be found in abundance in these whole and unprocessed foods. I like superfoods because they’re not segmented or adulterated (unlike man-made supplements) – they are complete and can be eaten as grown in their natural state. Whole foods do more for us than any vitamin and mineral around.

My catch cry has become – why eat just food when you can eat SUPER food!

100% Raw Food diet on a budget
Hah! Did I hear someone say oxymoron? Raw food organic diet and the word “budget” have no place existing on the same page together let alone in the same sentence! Eating this way is expensive, no doubt about it. I’ve been buying organic fruit and veg and shopping at health food stores for 10 years or so, so I’m used to spending a bit more on my food. I don’t mind this – the taste, vitality and sustainability are worth it to me but eating raw food for 30 days did occasionally make us cringe going through the checkout. Growing it yourself is one excellent way of course to keep costs down and at the moment we’re researching wholesale superfoods and bulk orders. Anyone interested in a superfood co-op?

The Verdict
Good experience. Will definitely do it again. I’m particularly interested in how different I would feel being totally free of all refined carbohydrates and sugar for a year or so. I know. I’m a freak but I’m learning to love it more and more each day!

What would motivate you to want to begin a raw food diet? How have you dealt with feeling deprived on diets before?
What have you heard about raw food and it’s benefits?