Saturday, 13 June 2009

Raw food rollercoaster

I have not had such a strange week in a long, long time. Seven days ago I started an almost entirely raw food diet. I have been into raw food for awhile, and my interest in it is growing.

It all started when I joined a raw food club in Edinburgh. I can’t remember why I joined - I guess it seemed like something different and a little eccentric, which is my kind of experience. At our first potluck I tried some fresh sprouted greens. All of my senses went wild, because I could taste the sunshine in the leaves I was eating. My body lurched in recognition: “I KNOW this! This, this -give me this!”

I would like to say that I am not one to ignore my body, but I am. For years I have gained and lost weight, and gained (and gained and gained) some more. Every day would see me numb myself with a range of high-fat, high-sugar foods. I do this, sometimes unconsciously, other times consciously, in order to keep myself from something, some kind of feeling or experience that I am afraid of. This is also the reason I can’t seem to meditate when I am alone. I am afraid of getting into a place I won’t be able to get out of again. It feels like going exploring, but without a safety rope to guide me back.

At first I just loved how the raw foods tasted. I’m a pleasure girl; if it doesn’t feel good, it’s generally not for me. Let me qualify that this introduction wasn’t just about fruits and veggies. It was sauces, living sprouts, dried seed crackers that tasted like the sea and summer all rolled into one. It was nut butters and spices and bizarre dips and pungent sun-dried tomatoes.

I bought a couple of raw food recipe books and started experimenting. I bought a juicer and a larger food processor. I made almond milk, tropical fruit tarts, carrot and apple juice, cashew vanilla cream sauce to go atop berries. I also discovered dates. The first time I bit into an organic medjool date, I had to clutch onto the side of the counter to steady the wave of ecstatic pleasure that swept through me.

For several months I dabbled in raw food this way, but always went back to bread, went back to big sandwiches and loads of milk and sweetened tea and coffee. Went back to my food cocoon.

Again I don’t know what brought on this sudden decision to go raw for two weeks. I think it was mostly spurred on by some recent health problems, which confirmed once and for all that my body is intolerant to alcohol, and is also not fond of coffee. If I was going to have to give up coffee, I thought I may as well just launch myself into the whole raw experience.

The first couple of days went well. I had plenty of energy. But then by Tuesday I could feel myself sinking. The depression that I have struggled with most of my life was tugging at my ankles, pulling me down. And I couldn’t move. Because the raw food was meeting all my nutritional needs, my body wasn’t craving anything, so I didn’t have that desperation to just fill myself up and forget. But my mind was in shock. My mind wanted the shutters back up in a big way.

The game my mind plays with me is to be cruel. I’m useless, I’m ugly and fat, I have no talent and my life is going nowhere… Over and over the voices battered me, trying to trick me to just go and eat. Eat anything, as long as it covers up this pain. Buy the bacon roll. Hell - buy two. Get the big chocolate bar, wash it down with a double shot mocha. Do it, do it. Do it and we’ll make it stop. At least for a little while.

Thursday was the worst day. Sometimes I would have to creep away at work so I could cry, and other times I didn’t feel like I was even there. It was like the world was happening around me, but I was on the other side of the glass.

Physically I also hit the wall. I was exhausted and slept for 10 hours that night. When I woke on Friday, something small had broken open and I felt a little better. It was like whatever wound needed to bleed had done so, and I felt lighter as a result.
Today it has gotten a little better still. I’m so relieved, because when I was in so much pain, I was convinced it was never going to end, that this was life without my food shield.

Despite this week’s emotional rollercoaster, I am still excited about raw food. More excited than ever, actually. My body likes this. My body is actually fiercely in love with this, like the sunflower turning and turning in flat-out ecstasy towards Ra.

Things that I have noticed as a result of my raw food week:
-I sleep better
-Because of the high water content in the foods I’m eating, I suffer less in the heat
-I don’t struggle as much walking up hills
-I have less pain in my hips
-I feel more flexible
-My face is less puffy and I don’t look as tired

Next week will bring more raw food, some addition of a couple of “superfoods,” plus extra exercise. The scale says I’ve not lost any weight, but I’m trying not to let that bother me (without much success I might add). A couple of times in the week I’ve eaten some cooked brown rice, which my body was craving. It’s so strange to hear my body’s “voice” so clearly. “Brown rice please. I would like some avocado now. Give me spinach. Stretch my back.” It’s so blunt, so straight forward. Not like my brain at all. Stupid brain. Mean brain.

I didn’t mean for this to be so long. I guess I just needed to write it all down, primarily to get things clear in my mind.

Anyway, wish me luck.


Cheryl said...

Your experiences with raw food remind me of when I first started meditating. The better I became at silencing my mind for a while the more I could feel my body at other times. Often it was excruciating. The emotional shields I had relied on were crumbling and I felt exposed and vulnerable. It got easier eventually, but I hate to admit I've stopped meditating every day. Now it's like once every two weeks. To much to do, I keep telling myself. Part of me also dreads the upheaval that comes with it. But I do feel the difference. I'm starting to crave that silence again.

Anyway, good luck! Or, just make it a good, well ingrained habit to listen to your body all the time.

Marcheline said...

I don't wish you luck, because that's not giving yourself enough credit.

I wish you continued bravery, continued adventuring spirit, continued and expanded body-awareness and an acute inner ear to hear what it is you need.

I'm thinking that if you pair your new raw food diet with a good eating pattern (multiple small meals rather than a few large ones) you are sure to start shedding weight.

Rock on.

Carol Anne Strange said...

Hello Purest Green! It's interesting to read about your raw food experience. My partner and I have been thinking about introducing more raw foods into our diet. I can definitely see the advantages. It sounds like it's taken a little adjusting but that is to be expected. I hope this next week brings you lots of energy and joyful moments.

Rikkij said...

Hi, PG-I like that you're always looking at new things to try, not going with same ol same ol.
and this.."The game my mind plays with me is to be cruel. I’m useless, I’m ugly and fat, I have no talent and my life is going nowhere… Over and over the voices battered me," This bastard been buggering you too? sure gets around!~rick

Dale said...

I've found that when I'm bombing my body with refined carbs, the blood sugar surges are so powerful that they just drown everything else out. I can't hear my body requesting avocado over the screams of "give me a thousand calories RIGHT NOW OR I'M GOING TO DIE!!!" the body is experiencing what it perceives to be starvation. Of course it eats whatever it knows packs a big whallop.

Ordinarily I'm a big fan of moderation and gradual change, but I've become a fanatic in this case. I simply can't eat refined carbs, period, at all. (There's some unrefined ones I can't eat either: oranges & apples, for instance, do the same thing to me.)

Man, it's such a huge relief to get out from under the tyranny of the blood sugar surges. You're right, it affects everything. You're on a perpetual physical & emotional roller-coaster.

Tammie Lee said...

I wish you a long and wonderful experience with raw foods. It is my sense that a raw diet is profoundly, powerfully fantastic. I did it once for 8 mo. I stopped feeling tired, i wondered how I would sleep, but I would just slide into sleep. It occurred to me that being tired is not natural. I did not stick to that diet, but I still feel that it is the best one for me. Cooked food seems to be addictive. Once I start eating cooked food it is harder for me to stay with raw. I also noticed it dramatically turned back the aging clock.
As for your hard week, my sense is that toxins were being released. All your symptoms fit in that category. Lots of water ought to help. You are inspiring!

LDWatkins said...

Oh, you are a brave one, and I admire you for you persistence and determination. You beat the old mind tricks! Never look back-keep striding ahead, and I do think you are now striding, not creeping! Your body is so happy and pleased with you. I've stayed with low carbs for a couple of years now, and I eat a lot of raw veggies, no sugar. My emotional and energy levels, most of the time, stay on high. When you lose those cravings, you are free to do so much more. Hang in there girl..I believe you are in control! Hugs to you, Lynda