Monday, June 15, 2009

My 3 Year Anniversary Raw!

Today is the day three years ago I decided to raw. ALL raw. No transition time, just from one way of eating, to another.

I did not make a cake though, to celebrate. I even forgot about it until I noticed the date when my daughter was on the computer, and I kept thinking,, June 16 hmm.. June 16... what is special about this day ?? It took me quite a while to put it together, but as I was reading stories, all of a sudden I had an AHA! Moment and went OOOHHHHH!!! I know what day this is !!

So, in honour of the day, I thought I would write a bit of my history, and about how I became raw. Many people are curious about other people's stories, and can identify with them in many ways. I don't think my story is particularly compelling, it was pretty simple really.

It was easy for me, on June 15 2006 I said 'hmm.. I think my body is telling me I need to eat only fresh food'. And on June 16 2006 that is what I did.

I had read no books, did not know there was a 'raw movement' or any raw communities. I did not know there were restaurants devoted specifically to this kind of eating. I just listened to my body, and it said fresh food was the right thing to do at that moment. There was no agenda, no time frame that I thought I would try to do this in or for. I was not 'overtly ' not well. Meaning, I had no life threating disease, or problems that were shouting 'HELP!! GO RAW AND SAVE YOUR LIFE!". Nope. I was the same weight before starting raw, and after being raw for 3 years. No change. I did not lose weight, or gain any. I was thin before I started, so losing weight was not a motivator.

A number of years before going raw, I had purchased a book from the library remnant sale. It was so beautiful, such nice photography and had lots of vegetarian recipes. I figured it was worth the 25 cents just to look at the great pictures! When I took it home, I looked at the recipes inside more closely. Holy smokes. The lists of ingredients went on and on, and the prep time seemed endless. I had three kids at the time, one of which was a toddler. Getting food on the table in some reasonable time was not only mandatory, but essential for survival! As it was I spent a lot of my time in the kitchen making things from scratch as our family had many food allergies. Very little was bought 'premade'. Chickpeas and other beans in a can, or canned tomatoes were the exception.

So the book stayed on the shelf. Only to be opened when I needed some 'eye candy' of looking at those amazing pictures!

I had been vegetarian since 16, and had two pregnancies and births as a vegetarian. I was vegan when I was pregnant with my third child . When I got pregnant for the last time, it was with twins, and I craved all kinds of things that I had not eaten in YEARS! So I ate them. When I was 5 months into my pregnancy, one of the babies died, and the other one continued to grow. My appetite was a little less..but I still was not a vegan anymore!

This lasted until my youngest was 3. Her birthday is the end of May, so just a couple of weeks later, my body said 'enough'. I had nursed all my kids for a very long time, my youngest was no exception, and I think it was her body that needed me to eat those things that I did. And I did not mind. The rest of my diet was vegetarian, except for the chicken that was eaten on occasion.

For me, the hardest part at the beginning was cooking food for my kids and eating only raw foods on my own. It meant lots of different things being made. Since there were so many different food needs due to allergies and tastes, I would prepare 3 meals for one dinner! Whew!

I started to look up some books from the library and the internet on different ways to prepare raw foods, and stumbled across a gold mine of information. It was somewhat overwhelming. I would read one book and get some information that sounded really solid and scientific in reasons how and why to be a raw foodist only to pick up another and find that information discredited. This went on and on, no matter how many books I read there was always something to contradict the other. I read everything I could find on the internet, and everything I could find in the library. My nose was either in a book, or my eyes glued to the computer screen, gathering more information.

The salad bowl that I used to feed my family of 5 , all of a sudden only fed one. ME! I craved cilantro everyday. I could not get enough of it. My moods were all over the place for the first year. I was pretty angry all the time. I did not connect it to detoxing until it was over and I was more calm than I had ever been in my entire life. Apparently cilantro is a great herb to remove heavy metals out of your system. I had spent enough time in with my hands dipped in chemicals from processing film and pictures, as well as breathing in all the toxic fumes. There were no fans or ventilation units in the school I went to. I was pretty toxic.

After 6 weeks I suddenly had uncontrollable cravings for baked red lentil dahl. And some baked potatoes. I sat down at dinner one day with my family and had about 3 tablespoons of dahl and was full to the top but my body felt so undernourished. The potato tasted like plastic to me. It took me three days of eating these same foods ( plus the other raw things I was eating anyways), to decide that cooked food , for me, was not at all palatable anymore. It was also the time that I discovered that the aches and pains in my joints, which had not been there for a number of weeks, were back with a vengance. I felt achy and miserable. Going back to being all raw was not at all hard. It felt so much better!!

I know that I said that I did not have any life threatening diseases to motivate me on the way to a raw food life. I did however have asthma that was intense enough to curtail many social plans with friends if they had a pet in their home. Sometimes, just being close to the person with when they had pet fur on their clothing was enough to send me into a pretty big crisis of breathing. If I was in contact with pets directly, I was out of commission for three days. This was hard on me, and on my family. It is hard to see your mom suffer so much.

My family moved to the Toronto Ont. area when I was 11, it was not long after our move there that I needed glasses, developed asthma and juvenile arthritis. I was brought to doctor after doctor to find out what was wrong with me. The only help they were able to give was more medicine . By the time I was an adult, and had used an inhaler for so many years, the complications from using it became worse than the lack of breathing I had from NOT using it. I tried all kinds of alternative remedies. From burning leaves of mullein and breathing in the smoke, to some liquid remedy that I found in the health food store, to drinking lots of water. I came up with what worked best for me and used a variety of things to help me through.

The pain in my joints, on the other hand was an entirely different issue. There seemed not to be any particular way to avoid flare ups. At least when I avoided pets, or homes with pets, I was pretty safe that I would be able to breathe freely. I have been very active all my life, so limiting the activities I could do because my body was not cooperating was not very acceptable to me. Besides, I felt like an old lady at 15. What other kid needed extra time to write exams because their fingers were too swollen and painful to write easily ?

After being raw for those first 6 weeks, my body seemed to regain a bit more equilibrium. Although I did not realize how the healing was working, it was working in its own magical easy way. I did not do any 'cleansing' to speed things up. I was still nursing my little one, and did not want any toxins to go through my milk into her small body. I figured it would be the gentle way. I always think the gentle way is the best.

I started to notice that I was able to spend time in people's houses who had pets for short periods of time, and I was OK. I can remember the time I spent three hours in a house, with a cat in it, and I was fine! I did a happy dance that day. And there have been times where I have had cats sit in my lap, and I pet them and my breathing never changed at all. What a great side benefit that I did not count on at all!

There are so many stories of how people have gone raw, and how they healed in miraculous ways, and FAST. That did not seem to happen with me . Maybe it was because I was taking the gentle path, so that meant a gentle rebalancing of my body too. I am thrilled that my body knows just what it needs, and I listen.

When I first began my raw journey, I felt the need for heavier foods more often. I ate many pate's , burgers, and smoothies with hemp seeds or almonds in them. I also ate a ton of salad. I just wanted soooo much salad. It felt so great going in my system, that there were days that is all I would eat. I bought a dehydrator, and tried making crackers and things that would last longer. What I did not know about dehydrated foods was that if you have an already 'dry' body that it would exacerbate the problem. I wound up feeling really sick each time I ate anything dehydrated. Now I know that eating anything dehydrated means drinking lots of water to go with it.

As my raw lifestyle has gone on through the years, it does not seem like any big deal anymore. I eat food I love to eat. It's just as simple for me now to eat the way I do, as when I was eating anything else before going raw. If I feel like having cake, I make a cake. If I know that I am going out, I bring something along with me. Any mom knows that you have to bring food with your whenever you go out anyways, so we always have something packed away in the backpack. I found some almonds the other day at the bottom of my bag, a lifesaver when we were at the park for longer than expected, and my little one was really hungry.

Going to dinner with friends is not a big issue, I always offer to bring something we can have, and just make more to share. I love making cakes and desserts, and find them so simple to make. I also keep one or two in the freezer for when we are going out, and I don't have time to make something.

As far as restaurants are concerned, I have been allergic to corn for 11 years. If somebody even touches something with corn on their hands, then touches something I am going to eat, or the counter, and then I take the fork off the counter, I get sick. Sooooo.. no matter what restaurant I have eaten at, whether it is all raw, or not, I have always had a reaction. No more restaurants. I don't feel deprived. I feel empowered to make good decisions for ME.

My kids, just by default of me not making much of anything cooked anymore, with the few exceptions of some lentil stew for them, or baked potatoes, mostly eat raw foods. It is not an issue at all, like it was at the beginning. There was rebellion when I insisted they eat all raw, they were not ready for it, nor was it their idea. Now, it just seems a natural progression. Gentle. Easy.

I trust my body to let me know what it needs by having cravings or aversions to things. For the last month or two the only kind of smoothie I really wanted was a strawberry,banana, goji berry smoothie. No greens. I would add bee pollen in too when I felt it was something I needed. The other day, I picked some nettles, and added them to my smoothie. IT was amazing. Just what I needed.

Trusting ourselves... knowing what is best for OURSELVES cannot be taught in a book, or online, or by anybody else but ourselves. It is pretty simple. Just listen to what it is your body is asking for. ( sometimes my body asks for my daughter Dani's amazing chocolate cake!!).

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