Monday, April 30, 2012

raw radiant health

Everyone is curious how the raw food challenge went. I would like to document it.

According to the specific challenge I was doing (radiancecentral.com), I was about to not only abstain from cooked food, but also dairy, coffee, alcohol, and all sugar save for sugars found in fruit.  This was to be a raw vegan food cleanse, in other words.

DAY 1:

Breakfast: I had muesli (raw oat, date, nut, and raisin cereal) with raspberries, a banana and green tea.  This would be my breakfast for all days of the challenge.  So far, so good.

Lunch: giant green (meaning it had spinach and veggies and stuff as well as fruit) smoothie and an obscene amount of baby carrots.  I literally ate during my entire lunch break and was then a couple minutes late back to work simply because I was eating the whole time.  Raw foods are either too little chewing (smoothies, soups, etc) or too much (carrots and greens, etc).

I don't remember dinner, but I felt pretty good the first day.  I felt energetic and alive and I probably ate 15 bananas throughout the day.  However, that evening I was very bloated and felt rather uncomfortable.

DAY 2:

I started to feel the mental slowness that they say is associated with detoxing, but I think it's just 'cause I wasn't eating any fat and the myelin sheaths coating my synapses felt raw because they needed that cushiony fat.  I was still feeling positive about the diet, but my brain was not at full power and I felt very low energy.  I usually take Luna for a walk every day, but I did not do so day 1 or 2.  Time felt like it was extremely slow.

DAY 3:

I wrote a blog that day, but this is where the days start to really melt together.  I "cheated" several times.  I ate bread (super healthy Ezekiel bread, but bread nonetheless) a few times, yogurt (super healthy 4 ingredient no-hormone Greek yogurt, but yogurt nonetheless), roasted nuts, and popcorn (homemade with whole butter with sea salt and cinnamon, but popcorn nonetheless).  This was Wednesday of last week, the day of my cleaning job and I was in slow motion.  I felt exhausted, and only got about 80% of the work I would usually get done in 5 hours at the house I clean.

DAY 4:

Every morning I would eat my breakfast while watching a video meant for that day of the challenge sent by the host of the Raw Food Challenge, Natasha St. Michael.  I have been following her video podcasts for a couple of years now and she is this person that normally entrances me with her happy radiance and health tips, but by this point I was disillusioned with her and hated her for making me so hungry.  I was enjoying figuring out how to use a blender and prepare my own smoothies and salads, but at this point I knew I wasn't going to make it 7 days.  The diet had surpassed its usefulness and a few people from the support group forum on the site had started mysteriously disappearing.  I knew we were dropping like flies and I was sticking to the diet just to avoid my husband's high-pitched ranting that he does, because also at this point I felt raw.  The whole world was bright and loud and I felt sensitive to every stimuli kind of like you do when you're sleep-deprived....or, perhaps, FREAKING hungry?

DAY 5: This day I walked for the first time all week, to and from work.  On the way home from work I still hadn't had lunch and was very hungry and my legs burned like fire the whole walk home.  I was DONE.  I ravenously ate TWO WHOLE PIECES of Ezekiel bread with coconut butter on them and it tasted like heaven.  If you've ever had Ezekiel bread, it tastes vaguely like rocks, so this is a big deal.  I needed something more than fruits and veggies.  You see, when all you eat are fruits, veggies, greens and limited nuts (we were only supposed to have 2 tablespoons MAX of nuts per day) you have to eat like a Brontosaurus to feel full and this was exhausting.  I spent many a lunch on the porch with a smoothie or salad just eating for an hour straight and still feeling rough around the edges afterwards.  I ate a lot of nuts and they were the only thing that eased the headaches besides chai tea.  Once after eating a handful of nuts I swear I FELT the nut oils coursing through my brain veins.  Sweet relief!  I drank a lot of chai tea as well; I think the warmth and spices distracted me from my starvation.

On the subject of poop (stop reading now if you can't handle it): After the 24 hours of bloating, I dropped a massive load that looked slightly green, like baby poop...smooooth.  From then on, when I had to go, it was NOW and it was quick.  I could have been a dog stopping for 5 seconds to season the grass and then moving on with my life.  So that part was cool...super waste management efficiency.

I weighed myself every day of the challenge and I hovered at 145, like I always do.  I can't decide if my scale is broken, or if I really and truly didn't lose weight after 5 days of eating like a bird.  How frustrating!  All this suffering and not a pound lost?!  Are you serious?!?  Sometimes I would meet this number of 145 with calm acceptance...if I'm not losing weight on a bird diet of nuts and berries, then this MUST be the weight I am supposed to exist within.  And sometimes I kicked the scale.  I would like a second opinion, because my face does look less puffy and I feel lighter...whatever.

Strangely, I didn't have a lot of cravings, it was more like I was suspended in a timeless dream of endless fruits and veggies.  I felt miserable often.  I didn't socialize.  I didn't even want to go out into the world.  I was despondent and no longer felt as if this diet was doing anything good for me.  Friday night Michael came home from work and announced, to my extreme delight, that he was done with the diet.  We rejoiced.  I immediately ate a chunk of cheese.

I learned slightly more than the information that 7 days is too long for me to eat only raw foods.  I also learned to think about meals differently.  A smoothie really CAN be a meal.  I can have a small sandwich with a side of raw veggies and that's enough.  I don't have to have chips or dessert with every meal.  I do think that the first two days reset my habits a bit.  I cut my sugar addiction down severely.  I am liking my new super healthy muesli and fruit breakfast and intend to stick to it.  I now know how to use a blender and cut up fruits and veggies.  I will no longer feel intimidated in the produce aisle.  I now enjoy juicing citrus fruits and even made my own margaritas with all fresh ingredients Saturday night for my brother's birthday party.  I was pleased that I went 5 days without coffee, processed sugar, alcohol, and soda.  After the tornado we sort of fell off the health wagon and began eating anything we could to make our lives simpler and it was definitely time for a cleanse.  We were just too overwhelmed to eat mindfully.  I feel like I am back on track eating healthy and the next time I fall off, I will have this raw food thing in my back pocket to initiate for 24-48 hours (not a whole week!) to reset again.

I would definitely recommend the diet to someone for purposes of cleanse/resetting your body.  But do it for however many days you feel good doing it.  Like they say in yoga class, listen to your body.  This diet will tune you in to your senses and you'll hear every single complaint.  I now know that I honestly work better on grains and dairy.  I'm sure some people feel great on raw foods, but I'm the granddaughter of real Midwest farmers and need my dairy and bread.  These farm-woman arms won't sustain themselves!

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