Eat me raw
Seven days of ‘live’ food
Doctors diagnosed my aunt with terminal pancreatic cancer in 2003, a disease that kills most within three to six months. She lived for nearly three years, in part because of her excellent doctors and supportive family, but also because of her regimented lifestyle change when it came to food.
A good portion of her new diet consisted of raw and live foods: fresh-juiced fruits and vegetables; dehydrated foods; uncooked, unprocessed, local products; nuts, grains, etc. Nutritionists emphasize a predominately raw diet for myriad reasons—enzymes in uncooked foods aid digestion, freeing up enzymes in your body for other metabolic uses (disease fighting, etc.); live foods have bacteria that aid the colon; raw foods have greater bioavailability and nutritional value (heat kills!). Raw-food enthusiasts claim that diets can lead to improved strength, clearer skin, stable weight, and elimination of the common cold and other nagging illnesses.
That said, is it reasonable to eat only raw, live, fresh, local, organic vegetarian food? Could you do it for a week?
As a healthy, 6-foot-2, 174-pound vegetarian going into my week on the raw, turning off the stove wasn’t all that radical a venture. Still, the seven days were a lot more challenging than you’d imagine. The following are diary excerpts:
Wake up before sunrise, drink a glass of water with lemon and fast until sunset. A daily coffee drinker, kicking the caffeine is rough—shakes, dizziness, even sweats. Evening: Break fast with a sprouted-whole-grain wrap filled with sprouted black beans, lettuce, green onion, pico de gallo, mango, red bell pepper. Delicious, but difficult to perform the classic “burrito fold.” (Tip: Roll it like a joint!)
First signs of the raw food affecting the bowels kick in. Can’t stay out of the restroom; what’s that John Cougar Mellencamp song? Can’t not think about coffee. Already sick of sunflower seeds, Brazilian and cashew nuts and even avocado (impossible!). Breakfast includes a tasty coconut water, raw carob, banana, blueberry, shredded coconut blended shake. Dinner: guacamole with radish, tomatoes and flax oil; green salad with romaine and spinach, seeds, bell pepper; and dehydrated crackers (I “cheat” and buy these at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op).
Longing for “real” food today. System pretty much cleaned and detoxed, with very little caffeine withdrawal and no incontinence. Starting to get used to small snacks throughout the day, tempered by lite meals consisting of the previous evening’s leftovers. I juice a delicious rainbow kale, carrot, apple and ginger concoction. Dinner, not so hot: cold carrot-avocado soup with cumin, ginger and garlic. Tastes great, but I can only handle five or six spoonfuls.
Sleeping patterns have altered: rising earlier, feeling energized, no desire for a “pick me up.” Garbanzo beans have sprouted, so live hummus it is: chickpeas, tahini, lemon, flax oil, raw olive oil, garlic, cayenne. A dollop on top of a raw sprouted-grain “bread” with bell pepper, lettuce, sesame seeds and a little more tahini and you’ve got a “pita.” I eat three with an orange juice-chard beverage for dinner.
Shake for breakfast, leftovers for lunch—at least you know what you’ll be eating. Have I ever eaten this many nuts in one week? Never fatigued, never groggy. Dinner: raw tomato marinara over spinach and zucchini. Got these carob-coconut cookies that look like mini Oreos at the Co-op; they’re already gone.
Saturday. Juice in the morning and at lunch, I finish off the hummus and enjoy a sprouted-quinoa salad with tomato, green onion, cubed butternut squash, olive oil and seasoning.
I weigh 169 pounds after six days. Not getting enough protein. Feel great, nonetheless—which is ironic: On the sixth day, the wheels fall off.
It starts with a glass of zinfandel. Then someone orders Pizza Guys. Before you know it, I’m hammered watching Superbad.
Needless to say, there was no day No. 7.
Eating raw had a positive effect. I lost weight. I felt energized. I slept like a dog. My libido was off the charts. What’s more, eating raw was relatively affordable: No doubt a week in the raw costs less than an average week of groceries and takeout. And just think of the potential doctor’s bills your healthy ass won’t have to pay in the future. Indeed, a raw diet should be a major facet of your everyday grub lifestyle.