Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Sad Story With a Happy Ending

This is the sad story of my raw food crash and burn.

After my somewhat successful 10-day Master Cleanse in November, I really messed myself up with raw foods. It wasn't the raw food diet per se that was the problem - it was how I chose to do it.

There are all kinds of raw food diets out there and lots of good and bad information. I learned a big lesson last Thanksgiving. As I mentioned in an earlier post, when I go to a social event, I usually just eat what everyone else is eating and then go back to my raw foods the next day. It always has worked pretty well for me that way. This past Thanksgiving was different (to say the least!) I decided to go all-raw for the feast - just prepare my own food and bring it along to the family dinner.

After scouring the internet and my books for delectable recipes, I put together a "gourmet" turkey-style dinner - all raw. I had a "turkey" substitute made with lots of nuts, seeds, and poultry seasoning; a gravy of miso and mushrooms; "potatoes" that were actually parsnips and pine nuts; candied yams; and cranberry sauce with raw cranberries, apples and raisins followed by a raw pumpkin pie with a date and nut crust, topped with cashew creme. It sounded great and each item was delicious.

The problem was that it was all too rich and high fat - and a food combining nightmare. I used cups of nuts preparing the meal, not to mention combining sugars, proteins, starches and fats with abandon. Believe me, it was a huge disaster! I felt sick to my stomach that night (even though I am famous for having a "cast iron" stomach!)

The meal was so obnoxious, that it absolutely turned me off from raw foods for weeks. I couldn't even look at a piece of fruit, a nut, or even a veggie without a wave of nausea.

By the time I was feeling more open to raw again, it was getting close to Christmas and I was fully back to eating cooked foods. I went through the rest of the holidays eating whatever I felt like eating, which was mostly cooked and mostly fattening. It wasn't until mid-February that the effects of that started to hit home.

I realized that I didn't feel good any more. My energy was really low, I had gained about 10 lbs., and my skin looked pasty and unhealthy. I really missed the way I looked and felt while eating raw foods. I also missed the taste and texture of raw foods. But how could I get back to it without a cleanse (which makes me so cold!)? It's not so easy to switch in the winter when you're already cold all the time, and turning to comfort foods to warm up. So what to do? What to do?

Well, here's the happy ending: I started by taking my own advice and just adding more raw fruits and vegetables into my day. Fruits or green smoothies became my choice for breakfast and fruits for snacks. I also added a side salad to dinner. After a week or so, the side salad became bigger, replacing dinner, and now I am eating mostly raw again.

Over the course of the winter, I have fallen back on two old bad habits that will need to go. One is coffee in the morning. That won't be hard, though. I enjoy coffee, but I can take it or leave it without any noticeable effect. The other is the dreaded cigarettes that plague my life. That will be much harder and I'm not sure I can do it without another fast. I promised my dental hygienist I will stop this spring, so that's that.

Right now, my raw food diet is a little spare and not very interesting, but the main thing is that I feel like I am in recovery. I've already lost a couple of pounds and my skin is looking more lively.

What I learned from the Thanksgiving fiasco is to keep it simple. I'm paying a lot more attention to food combining. Once I get that working well, I will feel more comfortable about expanding my menu. In the meantime, I'm back on track and feeling very much better!

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