09 April, 2014

Experiments in … Health: From Foodie to Fruity?

via fruitsbenefits.com
Greetings, dear readers!  I hope you’re enjoying this fine Springtime.  I certainly am.  All of Nature is stirring and waking and making noise in such glorious, organic ways.  The warmth of the reemerging sun is lighting a fire in my heart and under my arse.  I’m feeling inspired and wild and giddy.  I hope you are, too!

If you’ve been following this blog, you will know that I have spent the last two months working a fairly restrictive elimination diet.  (You can find more information on the specifics of that journey here, here, here and here.)  My goal in doing so was to actively foster an improved state of health.  It has been such an informative, inspiring and surprising journey.  My body has gone through numerous cycles of detoxifying healings, and is continuing to do so.  You can read (or re-read) about some of that here.  I have been experiencing a renewed and stronger connection to my body since instating these changes in my life.  In fact, I am much more able to receive – and to honour - the messages that my body is sending me.  The surprising piece of this process is learning what my body is asking of me. 

I first began to take notice of a real shift in my mind-body conversation when I realized that the longer I abstained physically from certain foods, the less powerful my emotional bonds to those foods became.  Prime examples:  Coffee, booze, ice cream.  These things have long held a strong Romantic association for me.  

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The sweetness of a quiet morning curled up with a rich, bitter cup of coffee.  Coffee became symbolic of the luxury of simple, uninterrupted downtime with my Self.  

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Communal imbibing of wine or cocktails with friends.  This experience validated my sense of community and belonging, the deep need for connection with others.  

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The rich, delicious comfort of a thick spoonful of gelato on a balmy, wistful evening.  Ice cream has often provided feelings of comfort during moments of melancholy, or reward for some kind of accomplishment.  These are just some of the food associations that have long driven my dietary choices. 

This is how my relationship with food has been as long as I can remember it:  emotionally driven.  Suddenly removing these emotionally linked foods from my diet has helped to break the enchantments of the psychological connections as well.  Suddenly, my body is less swayed by my mind.  Instead of feeding my emotional hunger, I am finding it much more enjoyable to feed my physical hunger.  And feeding my physical hunger makes me feel better.  It gives me more energy in the morning, so that I am much more likely to enjoy my quiet morning in meditation or exercising or even enjoying a hot cup of herbal tea which gives my body natural healing medicine making my time with my Self much more fulfilling and luxurious.  It allows me to be less brain fuzzy and more present in my interactions with friends so that I am able to spend more quality time having real exchanges with people rather than forging superficial relationships around food and drink.  It allows me to find comfort in the elemental sensations of the balmy evening – the breeze on my skin, the scent on the breeze, the way the moonlight caresses the blossoms on the branch – without the awful after-effects of digestive discomfort.  And, as a result, I am finding new, healthier ways of rewarding myself for accomplishments.  (I plan to post more about that in future.)  Plus … it’s a heckuva lot easier on the old pocketbook!  Maintaining coffee, booze, and ice cream habits can be expensive!

The second time I became aware that big changes were afoot in my body was one unassuming day at work.  I ate a handful of dry roasted mixed nuts only to find my taste for them had completely diminished.  Anyone in my family can tell you that I have long been a fan of dry roasted mixed nuts.  My dad and I used to gobble them by the handful and would sometimes polish off a couple large canisters in one sitting.  So, you might imagine my surprise when I discovered my taste buds were breaking up with roasted nuts.  Suddenly, eating these cooked and salted nuts ceased tasting like warm delicious treats, and now tasted like edible death.  Strange, but true.  It was like each nut was a little decaying carcass with no life, no energy, and I was using it to try to nourish my body.  What used to seem so natural and delicious and even healthy, suddenly seemed completely absurd.  How could I expect to have this deadened, cooked and salt-laden food provide living energy for my body?  I had never really considered the implications of using dead organic matter to fuel my living body.  And, strangely, I am still only wrapping my head around the notion.  I am someone who spends many, many hours pondering food and health and natural living, and I have never once before now even considered that eating dead things might not be the best way to keep my living body functioning optimally.  Food for thought, most definitely.

Even after that singular realization, I stayed true to the diet I’d laid out for myself for the month.  During that time, as is often the case, I was doing a fair bit of general internet searching on health/wellness and natural living.  I found myself drawn to more and more sites powered by proponents of a low fat, high carbohydrate, raw vegan lifestyle.  I was not searching specifically for this kind of information, nor was diet the primary focus of these sites.  But as I kept reading and researching, some of the dietary information was making good sense to me.  What was even more interesting, was that I could feel my body responding to the information at the cellular level.  (Yep, I know that’s a really New Age-y thing to say, but it’s the only way I know how to describe what I felt.) 

As my body seemed to be responding to these ideas, I began to actively seek out more information on this way of eating.  My brain was continuing to resist the notion of limiting fats and restricting meats, but my body seemed to be almost yearning for it.  So, I decided to bridge the gap and commit to a compromise:  I will be transitioning to a one month experiment on a low fat, high carb, raw vegan diet, and I’ll see how my body responds to it. 
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I am currently practicing a “raw until 4” regimen, where I eat mostly or only fruits until 4pm.  After 4pm, I allow myself to have cooked foods, but opt for lighter cooking methods like steaming or light sautéing or gentle baking, along with big leafy vegetable-rich salads.  My goal is to ease myself to a completely raw situation by April 15, and to maintain it for one month.  Then, I’ll reassess at the end of the month and see how I feel. 

While I’ve only been doing this for about a week, so far I’m feeling great. My body is continuing to detoxify itself, and I’m feeling lighter and clearer already.  I finally purchased a Vitamix blender, which should help exponentially in making juices, smoothies, soups and sauces.  It should be arriving in a couple days.  (Special thanks to my mom and dad for their birthday generosity, which allowed me to make that purchase!) 

There are many different ways of eating raw and vegan.  I am choosing to follow the 80/10/10 version pioneered by Dr. Douglas Graham. I find Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram’s website, fullyraw.com, lays everything out in a way that really makes sense to me and makes the information accessible and non-threatening for newbies like myself.  The FAQ page, especially, has been really useful for me.  If you would like more information on what this way of eating actually is, I would suggest spending some time perusing her site.

I would love to know if any of you have experimented with this style of raw vegan eating.  Please feel encouraged to share your experiences in the comments section below.  Also, if any of you are interested in joining me for this experiment, comment or message me.  Experiments are more fun with more people!

via fullyraw.com

I hope you are all enjoying your own journeys to health and vitality.  May this gorgeous Spring season rejuvenate and invigorate you!



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