Thursday, October 25, 2007

What Led Me To Raw (my personal story)

The first time I ever considered vegetarianism was in 1984, when I read the book, Diet for a Small Planet. It really opened my eyes to a lot of things. I became so enthralled by the information that I began researching more on the topics that it covered. I purchased various vegetarian cookbooks, joined PETA, and subscribed to Vegetarian Times. This commitment lasted for a little over a year.

It stopped when my mother became deathly ill, and I made the change to help her and my little sister. Being that I was the cook of the house, I had to shop for the groceries, as well as cook the meals. I could not force my two family members to eat the way I was. So, I was forced to cook basically three separate meals every night, as well as prepare three different meals for breakfast and two different meals for lunch (since my sister was in school and purchasing lunch at the time). It became very difficult, stressful, and expensive. So, I chose to give in, to make it easier on myself (so I thought). It wasn’t too hard for me to go back to my old ways, since I was still hooked on my number one addiction to chocolate and coffee (and all the refined sugar that comes with that).One thing led to another, and I was back to the SAD (Standard American Diet) way of eating.

Once I felt my mother was in a better position of independence, I chose to move out again. At this time, although I was still living the SAD life, I did not have the need to eat as much meat, and was comfortable with eating a lot of fresh vegetables and fruit. But I was still on chocolate and coffee.

Things changed again when I met my husband, in 1992. He was always used to being a “meat and potatoes” man. So I adjusted my diet to make it easier on me when grocery shopping and cooking. Not the smartest thing, since I ended up gaining more weight. I did exercise, but without the true dieting, I only stocked up, and firmed up – not slim down. Then I got pregnant with my son. I was super healthy while I carried him. I took very good care of myself and my body. Except, I was still hooked on the chocolate – but I gave up the coffee. Since I was still consuming a “very” SAD meal for “two”, I bulked up even more. Fortunately, in 1993, when my son was born, I immediately lost a good amount of weight. However, I was still quite heavy.

Because my son was a big baby at birth, I was forced to have a cesarean. I began to have chronic problems with my bladder, urethra, and stomach. This was only exasperated by my SAD way of life. I began trying all kinds of herbs, supplements, fad health diets, medicines, and so forth, to help me find relief, and still lose weight. I would occasionally get some results, but nothing substantial. As the years went by nothing changed, and the extra weight became permanent. I then developed spastic bladder, and colon. I had chronic signs of fatigue and swollen stomach, chronic constipation, teeth problems, joint pain and other ailments that would continuously haunt me until now.

Around the year 2000, my husband was diagnosed with High Cholesterol. Since he already suffered with hereditary High Blood Pressure, we had to take the situation very seriously, and reconsider our SAD way of life. So, we began researching on diet changes, and began to incorporate juicing, lower fat foods, organics, low sodium, and overall healthy eating into our every day life. To this day we still eat this way. Don’t get me wrong, we do have the occasional super SAD breakdown! In fact, with all this good eating, I personally was still stuck on coffee and chocolate. Specifically Starbuck’s coffee! So, I still suffered from a lot of my ailments, because I still hadn’t quite taken full control of my health.

Being the big cookbook collector that I am, in 2003 I purchased a cookbook (or should I say, “uncooked cookbook”), by Juliano, entitled “RAW”… “the uncook book”. What really appealed to me were the beautiful photographs of all the fresh and wonderful raw recipes that the book had to offer. Although I read a few chapters, I never really paid attention to what it was truly offering me in the way of health and well being. So, the book just sat on the book shelf with all my other beautiful cookbooks I collected.

I didn’t give much thought to the “raw” diet until about three months ago. What started me on this path actually was because of my interest in Stevia. In October 2006, I left my six and a half year tenor with the semi conductor industry, and joined the natural food industry, by taking a job with Wisdom Natural Brands, the makers of SweetLeaf Stevia. This opened a whole new world for me in many ways. It was an opportunity to learn about natural products, specifically Stevia.

Right before I started working at Wisdom, I was suffering from chronic back pain due to a childhood injury. Over the years the injury had worsen due to weight, aging, and so forth. I had to take strong pain medication daily, just to take the edge off. I was actually scheduled to have back surgery, but backed out at the last minute and chose to have epidural injections – which I only received one of. At the time I started Wisdom, they had a chiropractor that came once a week, and a massage therapist who came twice a month. I took advantage of this benefit, and found myself hooked on holistic healing. That’s right, this saved me. Within a few months, I no longer needed pain medication on a daily basis. In fact, I have been able to go as long as 3 months without pain medication. I have learned to work through my pain through proper exercises, as well as the use of the chiropractic visits, and massage therapy. I have truly been thankful for this. The only thing left was to figure out how to rid myself of all the other chronic health issues I was suffering from.

One of my co-workers became interested in helping me help myself. She had her own line of health products that she distributed on the side, and she was studying to be a nutritionist. She performed a hair analysis of my hair, which produced a lot of quality information. She helped me figure out what things I needed to change in my diet. At the time I was still hooked on coffee and chocolate. She told me I needed to find some way to get myself off the coffee and sugar to help recover. So, I started experimenting with Stevia, and created my own “sweets”, made with carob, or organic cocoa, and Stevia. No chocolate or coffee drenched in refine sugars. I had a few successful attempts, which led me to research on how to make the perfect health cookie. I learned about over heating food – or burning if you will, which made me create an 80% raw carob cookie, with Stevia. Another co-worker introduced me to Agave Nectar. The next thing I knew, I was researching raw sweets, and how to make them. That’s when I discovered – the greatest site of raw recipes I found to date. From that, I decided to look at the bookstore for books on raw diets. I discovered Carol Alt’s second book, The Raw 50. Next thing I know I’m making the transition to the raw lifestyle, and saying goodbye to the SAD way of life.

So here I am, raw since August 14, 2007. Since I’ve started this journey, I spend many nights and lunch times reading everything I can about raw food, and living a raw and healthy lifestyle. I have been inspired by so many in the raw food community. Especially persons such as Angela Stokes, Karen Knowler, David Wolfe, Heidi and Matt Ohlunder, to name just a few. My goal now is to stay on track with this way of life, and to help others find their way out of the SAD life, just as I have, for optimal health and well being.

I created a website called The Raw-Riffic Food Site, to share as a resource for those cyber-surfers who want to learn more about raw, and want to know where they can find more information on the subject. I hope that through my story and my site, that you have a spark of interest in the raw food way of life, and that you too begin a raw journey of your own that you can share.

1 comment:

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