Recently I've been asking myself a big question: Is 100% raw the best way to eat?
Seeing as this blog has the word "raw" in the title, you probably expect me to say absolutely YES. But having experimented with different degrees of engagement with raw foods over the past few years, I'm currently at a point where the answer falls somewhere along a spectrum. So in order to completely answer the above question, let me tell you a little bit about my journey and where I'm at now.
Believe it or not, there was a time in my life when I did not realize the connection between diet and health.
In my early 20's, I couldn't understand why I felt depressed, had low energy, and couldn't stop gaining weight despite rigorous daily exercise. You'd think I might have realized that chips for brunch just might have had something to do with it, but honestly I didn't make the connection at that time. Looking back on photos of that period recently with a friend who had been in a similar place, we were more than a little shocked by our chubby grins - not to mention the dark circles under our eyes! My friend said to me, "I just want to tell those girls to stop eating."
The reality is a bit more complicated. Of course I was eating too much at that time. I was also eating the wrong "foods" - things that didn't satisfy me nutritionally, so I had to eat more and more to feel full. I was also using food to deal with emotional issues - which of course exacerbated my unstable state as I shoved refined sugar and flour into the void.
It feels like I spent years in a self-perpetuated cocoon, but I did eventually emerge. Not quite as a stunning butterfly, though. At a trainer's advice, I cut out carbs and started exercising like mad. I counted calories and worked myself into a fitness frenzy. And I got skinny, had more energy, harnessed more mental alertness and was able to focus in on my goals and choose positive directions for my life.
There were telltale signs that despite my steps toward health, I still had compromised well-being. My skin would break out frequently, I still experienced extreme emotional shifts, and I was so restrictive with my daily eating habits that I would sometimes loose control and go into binge mode until I made myself sick. I knew my doctor well and had a list of physical and mental health complaints. I sometimes cried for no reason.
Enter raw foods. I can't believe how much this shift changed my life. I haven't been to a doctor since I started eating this way. (As an aside, I did once go to a naturopath who really helped me clear up my skin problems by identifying not only nutrients I should focus on, but also turning me on to skin brushing and the use of affirmations. Score one for alternative health!) I have plenty of energy, and my emotions are more even. I don't obsess over calories. I feel clearer, more certain of the direction that I want my life to take. I am attracted to and attract people who support the way I want to live my life and give me strength and courage. My creativity has skyrocketed. I don't get depressed, and even when I feel a bit down or low energy it passes quickly.
Despite all these benefits, I did notice a change in the past few months. I just didn't feel as clear or as energetic as I had been at the start of eating high raw, and I was gaining weight again. And I started to consider my raw diet. Looking at what I eat every day, I realized that a huge amount of my calories have been coming from fat. I think that was okay for a while, but in the long term it took a lot out of me. One option would be to switch to a diet of almost all raw fruits and vegetables with very little nuts and oils, but I'm not quite ready for that mentally.
So I've introduced some cooked whole grains and vegetables into my diet, and I seem to be feeling a lot better. Mostly sweet potatoes and quinoa, but I've also tried millet, oats, rice and faro. I've read a book on macrobiotics and am experimenting with cooking steel-cut oatmeal for breakfast, having some grains and cooked vegetables at dinner, eating more miso and (raw) pickles, and bringing a sense of balance back into my diet.
The lesson I've learned with all of this change is to KEEP IN TOUCH WITH MY BODY. We are all in a constant state of change - of becoming, evolving, whatever you want to call it. The important thing is to keep the goal in mind, and the details become clearer. The goal is not to "be 100% raw." The goal is to experience vibrant health that inspires me to be a super creative person that spreads joy and beauty. Whatever fuel my body needs to attain that goal is what I need to consume.
As a girl who doesn't do things by halves, I've decided that along with the changes in my diet, I'd like to implement some changes here at Raw Gastronomy as well.
- Redefining the concept of Raw Gastronomy as an exploration of holistic nourishment.
- A shift towards simpler recipes that use wholesome ingredients - some raw, some cooked - with less focus on gourmet raw recipes.
- More discussion about ideas about how to nourish ourselves on all levels.
- A beautiful new site with a new design!
I've spent the past 2 months traveling in the US and working on designing a new site for Raw Gastronomy - hence the lack of posts lately. The new site will be live soon - and an announcement will be posted here so you can all find it! I'm very excited about the new directions for my life, my creativity, and my blog - and I hope you'll continue to join me on my journey into the vibrancy vortex.