I used to walk into McDonalds and often times I wouldn't be charged for my food. Why? Because I went there so frequently and brought so many friends, that they knew I was good for business. My favorite meal was the Fishwich, a mighty sandwich made with a bun, american cheese, a deep fried fish patty, and a generous portion of tartar sauce. To fully sate my appetite I always supersized.
My parents had always encouraged me to eat healthy. I just didn't see the point. I felt good, I wasn't fat, and I never got sick. Why fix what isn't broken? I was thankful for my good metabolism and assumed that eating healthy was for people who didn't have it so good.
Then a couple years ago I watched Super Size Me. I watched it for entertainment, but it was the first time I began to believe that what I ate actually mattered. If you haven't seen the movie, I highly recommend it. When subjected to a McDonalds only diet, the creator became depressed, lethargic, and generally didn't feel too well. That was the day I stopped eating fast food.
It was a step in the right direction, but for almost a year I didn't take it any further. I was still eating pizza, deep fried food, sugary items, and other health bombs.
My favorite way to travel, as I'll probably write about in the future, is by cruises. I love getting to see a lot of different places at once without having to move my stuff, I love life aboard the ship, and I like the isolation from cell phones and computers. But most of all, I liked the food. When cruising you are barraged by meals throughout the day, and they're all fantastic. The meals are gourmet, and thus, rather unhealthy.
I went on a cruise with my friend Hayden and a couple others. Hayden was reading a book called Fantastic Voyage : Live Long Enough to Live Forever written by Ray Kurzweil. It was a radical book filled with blasphemous ideas like "sugar will kill you" and "so will flour". I made fun of him and ordered huge plates of bacon on a daily basis.
After the cruise I went to Massachusetts to visit my family. I won't say that it's boring there, but there is a lot of time to sit around, read, and play cards. My grandmother is very health oriented and is in her late 70s, so I bought her a copy of the book, thinking it may benefit her. Really, it was a selfish move. I really love her and don't want her going anywhere.
One lazy day I picked up the book and started reading. I couldn't stop. By the time I had finished I realized that I could never eat poorly again. I did even more research on the internet and completely changed my diet. I estimate that 95% of the foods I used to eat were been eliminated, and many of my new staples were foods I didn't even like before. White flour, and later wheat flour, were completely cut out along with sugars of any sort.
I stuck to the diet for about a month before I started noticing changes. My body fat percentage had gone from 16% to 9%, and it showed. I had moderate acne that would never go away, and all of a sudden it had vanished. Several people told me I looked better than I ever had before. I noticed that I could taste flavors I had been previously unaware of in everyday foods.
I stuck with the diet for seven months, and even wrote a practical guide to eating healthy using a pseudonym.
After seven months I found myself in Vermont with my family on my dad's side. The curious thing about them is that all of them always seem to have some illness. Serious ones too, like cancer and diabetes. My father was the only exception, and I could never understand why.
Well, it all made sense when I got there. None of the food they had was remotely healthy. I was forced to break my diet. And so, for the first time in seven months I ate pizza, had a croissant, and ate a caramel coated apple. What was interesting is that they were good, but not as good as I remembered. I didn't miss them. In fact, after just two days eating that way I couldn't wait to return home and eat healthy again. I had changed.
I really thought that I was eating as healthily as possible. I figured there was no way to improve my diet, and I was satisfied.
Then I learned about raw food dieting from my friend Elisia. A raw food diet means that no food consumed can be cooked over 118 degrees. That's the temperature at which certain enzymes in the food break down, without which your body must produce enzymes. Wonder why you feel tired after a huge meal? It's because your body is churning through its energy producing the enzymes to digest that meal.
I could go on with the theory of raw food, but I'm no expert yet, so I'll spare you. It makes a lot of sense, though - our bodies are not evolutionarily designed to eat cooked foods. Sure, they adapt. But then again, a diesel engine will run on regular gasoline as well - just not at peak efficiency.
Unfortunately, I stocked up on food right before learning about this, so I have about 10 boxes of cereal, 2 gallons of soy milk, 6 things of jelly, 4-5 loaves of wheat-free bread, and a bunch of other supplies. I don't want to waste the money spent on them, so I'm going to finish eating them, but only purchase raw food from now on. That includes food eaten at restaurants, too.
Today I went to Whole Foods, my favorite store, and bought a bunch of raw foods. It was actually pretty fun. I've also signed up with an organic delivery service that brings fresh vegetables to my doorstep every friday.
I'll keep you guys updated with my progress and let you know whether or not it's worth doing. If you're just now starting to eat healthy, definitely read the book I mentioned earlier in the article. It will give you a good background on WHY it's important to eat certain things and avoid others.
Ok, I officially LOVE raw food. I started eating raw about five weeks ago, and have been 99% raw since (my trespasses? a tiny brownie, a few sprouted grain english muffins, and a stupid eggplant pizza). Let's do the math on this baby :
First I ate 100% of whatever I wanted. I loved fried foods, desserts, and pizza. Thanks to miraculous metabolism, I never gained too much weight. Then I read Fantastic Voyage : Live Long Enough to Live Forever, hacked away at my diet, and cut out probably 70% of the foods I used to eat. Later I researched more and cut out 90% of those foods, leaving me eating about 7% of what I initially ate. I wrote a book called The Skinny Snob about that. Going raw eliminated at least 70% of those foods, so now I'm down to about 2-3% of the foods I ate a year ago. Based on my daily diet I would consider that wholly accurate.
Now... that is a wild change. Especially coming from me. I would constantly mock anyone trying to go on a diet and explain that you should just eat whatever you wanted. No amount of logic would get me to change. What did get me to change was my inclination to try things for 7 or 30 days, and the accompanying drastic results.
I grew up not wanting to eat animal products and feeling like a freak because of it... It seemed wrong, aren't animals living beings, just like us? I am from TN, I knew where animals and animal products came from... Yuck! Why did people want me to eat that stuff? Good for me? It'll make me grow big and strong? Gross, I didn't want to eat it! Was i the only one who felt this way? Was i as crazy as everyone made me feel? Finally at age 6, living in CA I had a conversation on the city bus with a sweet vegetarian hippy lady. She agreed with me, who would want to eat cute little animals, or big animals, any animal... At last, I saw I wasn't the only one! And that day i added a new word to my growing vocabulary, vegetarian (it would still be years before i learned what vegan was) My mom tried being vegetarian for awhile around this time, it was cheaper for a single mother in the early 80's! It was great, while it lasted... Then for the rest of my childhood I had to listen to adults tell me all the reasons I needed to eat animal products to be healthy. I struggled with my weight for a couple of years as I fought eating meat by eating sweets, it was that or not eating at all. Once I hit my teens, I protested meat almost completely, i was a very unhealthy vegetarian. As a teenage girl, attending modeling school, my eating habits ranged from binge eating to starving myself. I tried to keep my fat intake to under 10 grams a day, per the recommendation of one of my instructors... I had a terribly unhealthy diet, and although I was just over 100 lbs and a size 1 i still saw myself as a chubby little girl (never understood the 'too skinny' comments)... Throughout my childhood, I had a health condition that was growing worse and worse. I had come to view the pain I had as a normal part of life, not realizing what a high tolerance of pain i have. By age 15 I started collapsing to the floor occasionally due to pain, my mother dismissed as stress. By age 17, my senior year in high school, I had moved away from home and began seeking medical advice. My condition was becoming debilitating, I collapsed frequently, symptoms and pain increased on a daily basis. I was misdiagnosed for almost a year! My dresser was covered in bottles of medication, for conditions I didn't have. Doctors would be unable to diagnose me, so they'd treat me for a common issue... What the hell??? It was then that I discovered i react to pretty much every prescription med out there, in the worst possible ways... I went from feeling terrible to wishing i was dead at times! i didn't want to leave the bed. i would attempt to go to school and i'd go running from class nauseous from my morning meds, sometimes i'd collapse on my way to the restroom... I missed a lot of school my senior year... I made it through a few days, but i'd usually collapse at least once. Thanks to an amazing counselor I was able to graduate, my teachers weren't always so understanding about my absences. At age 18, fresh out of high school and very frustrated, i had seen countless Drs, been to the ER, clinics, Urgent Care... No one had any idea what was wrong with me, i was very scared as well... At last, i called my aunt and as we talked SHE diagnosed me with endometriosis. Both she and my grandmother had suffered from it. She had multiple miscarriages due to it, both her and my grandmother had to have an emergency hysterectomy performed after the birth of their 2nd child. Although I had all new fears, i also was relived to know what i was facing. I headed to the library (this was pre-internet) and began researching. Everything I read said to avoid animal products. See! I knew I shouldn't be consuming animal products! I had yet to hear the term 'Vegan" at this point. I attempted to clean up my diet and i found a Dr who actually listened to an 18 year old girl who walked in and said I have endometriosis, what can you do about it? Although there was a bit of a chuckle as he asked why i thought this, he listened... He then scheduled a laproscopic surgery immediately. After the surgery, at my follow up appt, I was shown a video of my surgery. He was amazed I had been able to function at all, my condition was advanced to the point of a lady in her late 30's who had gone untreated all her life... The surgery gave me a clean start and I tried hard to eat healthy. My doctor told me I should try to become pregnant as soon as possible, what??? I was 18 and newly married, and so not ready for kids. He informed me if i waited until i was ready, it could be too late and he said no one is ever ready. I was told that i would most likely need a hysterectomy by age 30 and probably would not have children. I have never liked being told i was unable to do something... Within a year i was pregnant and I felt great while pregnant as well as while nursing, my 2nd child was born when my oldest was 2 1/2. I was able to stay pain free for years! When my 2nd son was about 2 1/2 my pain began to return. I considered becoming part of a test study they were doing on endometriosis, so glad I didn't. i once again tried to clean up my diet, it wasn't easy. My husband was a meat eater and we were living in TN, none the less I tried. My health wasn't great, but I was able to cope. I became pregnant again when my second son was 4 (told you I don't like to be told i can't do something!) I did not continue to eat very healthy... I tried and I cooked a lot, i love to cook! But I also loved sweets and comfort foods, i could spend all day baking. Plus i was still in TN, not eating meat = FREAK! I still tried, and I continually tried to educate myself. No one ever seemed to approve, but i knew that I needed to eliminate animal products from my diet to have optimum health... by the time my daughter was 2 1/2 symptoms were returning... When she was 3 i was put on birth control pills, a common treatment which always had ill effects on me... Within a month i had developed a double pulmonary embolism (I had a massive blood clot in the base of each lung!) I was lucky to be alive... The next few months were hell... I became pregnant again within 5 months of the clots, i was suddenly high risk. They wanted me to give myself injections of blood thinners multiple times a day... anyway, back to CA doctors who didn't view me as high risk and a smooth pregnancy (free of meds!)... I knew I had to change something and really get healthy. I went completely vegetarian before my 4th child turned 1. Within 2 years after that i became vegan. Vegetarian wasn't good enough and even going vegan didn't help... 5 years ago i was bed ridden and getting worse all the time, i couldn't even take part in my children's life. on top of that, i had just gone through a divorce after 14 years of marriage, so i was a single mom, bed ridden... life was not looking good... Luckily I had the internet and met the people I needed to meet. i discovered soy duplicated estrogen exactly! Yikes! that was pure poison to my body and i had been consuming high quantities. i hated soy, but like meat, was told i needed it. I cut soy out, went all organic and continued to research... i now eat primarily raw vegan.
My life has changed considerably... i went from bed ridden 5 years ago, to now working sometimes 7 days a week up to 18 hours a day, and have never felt better! I am a single mother of 5, I own an organic vegan cafe, i absolutely love life and look forward to all that the future holds for me! 5 years ago i feared i had seen the best years of my life. I now know they are still yet to come, for life just gets better all the time...