It's funny how some things wind up being so different than you thought they'd be. I've just had a major eye-opening experience that really caught me by surprise. July 10th, 2011 was the first day of the Rawsome Yoga Retreat that I organized and on that day, I started eating only "raw" foods. My diet was already pretty clean. I've been mostly free of dairy, glutens, sweeteners other than Stevia (occasional agave or honey) for many years. Because of this I really thought it would be no big deal transitioning into an only "raw" diet. But I was very wrong. The first 3 days were torture. I felt terrible and I was HUNGRY all the time. I was craving protein like crazy and always felt unsatisfied. I usually start my day with 2 eggs and then eat a fair amount of fish or chicken protein daily and I was really missing it. I was also in kinda of a bad mood and very irritable. We were doing yoga over 3.5 hours each day and meditating morning and evenings, but still, I wasn't feeling too good.
We were eating high quality raw cuisine made from nut and flax based recipes with highly spiced vegetables in imitation of popular everyday foods. Like raw pizzas, enchiladas, meatloafs etc. all made from raw nuts, fresh vegetables, herbs, spices and dehydrated fruits and veggies. After about the 4 day I started to feel a lot better and by the end of the week I felt great. Plus I was craving more and more plain and simple fresh veggies and fruits. Immediately after the Raw Retreat I had to go to Hollywood, CA for a week of recording with vocalist Snatam Kaur. I decided to try and keep up the raw diet while traveling there and even though it was a little challenging I managed to do it without too much effort. I made daily trips to the healthfood store to stock up on some prepared raw type foods and had lots of avocados and Kombucha handy. Also, I felt good about augmenting my diet with some sashimi or sushi when I felt I needed it.
To make a long story shorter, I've been on this "raw" diet now for almost 2 months and it seems that the longer I do it, the easier and more natural it feels. To be clear, it's really about 90 - 95% raw because I do make exceptions with some fish proteins when I feel I need it. I'm not trying to prove anything or make any kind of statement. I'm just exploring, trying to find out what REALLY works for my body. And at this point I'm amazed at what is working AND what isn't working.
I'm a Type O Positive blood type and was pretty convinced that if I didn't start out my day with solid protein I'd feel unbalanced the whole rest of the day. For the last 10 years or more I've been eating 2 eggs every morning for breakfast. But even with doing this I've always had blood sugar problems. If I didn't eat immediately when I was hungry and if I didn't get plenty of protein I'd have some pretty major blood sugar swings and crash pretty heavily at times. About 3 weeks into my "raw" diet I was feeling pretty good and thinking about slowly transitioning into a more "normal" diet. So one morning I had 2 eggs for breakfast to see how it felt. To my surprise I felt terrible after eating the eggs! My body definitely didn't like it. I was REALLY surprised! I went back to totally raw for a week or so and then tried the eggs again. Same thing. My body was definitely telling me to stay away from eggs so I continued with my raw diet.
A week later I was at a restaurant and ordered a salad and the when the salad came it had little crumbles of goat cheese on it. I was hungry and thought I'd eat the goat cheese cause, after all, it wasn't cow cheese so it was much easier to digest and I've really enjoyed goat cheese in the past and thought it would be fine. WRONG!!! My body crashed energetically big time right afterwards. Everything in the salad was raw so it had to be the goat cheese. Again, I was really surprised. A few weeks later I picked up a veggie wrap from Whole Foods and instead of the usual accompanying soy sauce there was this peanut sauce that came with it. I thought I'd try it for something different. WRONG again! My body hated it. I had no idea that my body was reactive to eggs, goat cheese AND peanuts! And just a few days days ago I made an amazing looking raw salad. It was so beautiful that I took pictures of it and posted it on Facebook. I added some King Crab legs to the salad, thinking I was giving my self a little treat. I thought it would be fine because my body reacted very favorably to the raw tuna sashimi and other sushi I had tried. However after eating the salad I started to sweat profusely and my energy and clarity totally crashed. I realized, unfortunately, that my body does not like crab meat. BUT . . . the beauty in this is that my body is clean and clear enough to tell me very specifically what it likes and doesn't like because it's not being overwhelmed and burdened by processing a ton of foods that are more challenging to integrate.
At this point my food choices are extremely intuitive and often surprising to me. I start off my day with some green tea and whatever calls me. Sometimes some cucumber or avocado, sometimes an apple or a few strawberries and occasionally some kind of smoothie or raw protein shake. I often get in some good exercise in the mornings like yoga or swimming or just some long walks and for lunch I'm usually ready for something more substantial and often with some added protein like some raw fish. I was at the grocery store one afternoon and the salmon totally caught my eye and I wondered if my body was needing some of the essential Omega 3 fatty acids that salmon has so abundantly. I cooked it for lunch (not crazy about raw salmon) and I felt GREAT afterwards. After I had the salmon my body absorbed whatever it was needing from it and I wasn't drawn to eat salmon again until a couple weeks or later.
The most exciting thing about eating like this is that I really feel like I can tune into my body's needs and address them easily and directly. And once my body's needs are addressed there is balance. When I was eating a more "normal" diet I'd find that I ate the same kinds of things all the time as a habit. Two eggs in the morning, the same snacks throughout the day, rotating around the same entrees for lunch and dinner. But I often had that "never quite satisfied" feeling. Now that my body has had time to clean out, my cravings and patterns have ended as well. Finally I can hear what my body is asking for very clearly. And it's such a pleasure to give it what it needs. I'm satisfied most of the time. I don't crave anything consistently. I don't crave sweets or unnecessary carbs and I don't have ANY blood sugar swings AT ALL. I can get up in the morning and have a half a cucumber or avocado or apple (or nothing) and some green tea and go work-out for a while and do some errands etc. and if I can't get to lunch till the early or middle afternoon then I'm just pretty hungry. But I'm NOT crashing or "crazy hungry" and feeling desperate. It's a much smoother more balanced ride.
One of the best things about this diet, besides feeling extremely tuned into my body's needs, is that it is so very simple. I don't crave complicated raw cuisine that imitates "regular" good. I'm completely happy with the basics. I started to really enjoy eating a single vegetable or fruit for a meal or snack. I just found out (after doing it for a while) that this is called eating "mono meals". "Mono Meals" are when you eat just one type of food at a time as a meal and then wait at least a couple hours before eating something else. The advantages to this are (1) your body can digest your mono meal with greater ease and efficiency, (2) It's very clear if your body is reacting positively or negatively to the food you just ate, and (3) your body can give you a clear signal of when you've had enough of that particular food and it's specific vitamins and nutrients and you simply stop eating it. As simple as this may sound it is actually very profound. With the complexity of the food industry today and how much stress we place on our bodies to digest highly processed, modified and often toxic foods, it's no surprise that there's been such a major increase in cancers, auto- immune diseases and relatively recent developmental disorders such as Autism. The physical AND mental/emotional clarity derived from eating healthy raw foods and mono meals is very real, tangible, liberating and healing.
Just in case you're interested here's a list of what foods I'm currently enjoying pretty regularly (in no specific order):
Plus occasionally (once or twice over the last two months) I've had some slightly cooked green beans and beets, a salmon fillet and even had a little bit of humus. And as I already mentioned, I occasional enjoy some raw fish or sushi. There are also some great raw trail-mixes and granolas available using only raw sprouted grains and seeds with some raw cacao or raw cacao nibs and goji berries, mulberries and golden berries. Yum!!!!
Anyway, I wanted to share all this with you just because it has been so eye-opening to me and has really changed my life. I don't know how long I will do this for and don't really have a plan or agenda. I only hope to keep using my intuition to be able to provide my body with what it needs to stay healthy and balanced and I hope to become even more conscious of my relationship with my body and all that Mother Earth has to offer to heal it and give it balance.
I'm grateful for the opportunity to have learned everything I've learned recently and hope that you've benefited in some way from reading this. It's really been wonderful to simplify my diet and get closer to really understanding my body and to lose a little weight as well. But mostly, I find that eating this way has also brought me closer to my essential Self and made it more possible for me to be present in the moment in a clearer and cleaner way. Because I'm using less energy to process challenging foods and have been giving my body cleaner more vibrant fuel, my world and perception is cleaner and more vibrant as well. My mind is clearer. I feel more open and present emotionally. And I've got tons of energy. And that's VERY cool!!!