the lowdown on going raw

I have wanted to write this post for a long time.  I have started and stopped, written a few paragraphs, and erased the whole thing.  I can’t understand why the subject of my raw diet is such a difficult one to tackle.  I  really want to do the topic justice.  And yet I feel ill-equipped to explain all the intricacies of how raw plant-based food just blesses the body.

A raw diet is extreme around these parts.  I’m a farmer’s daughter — a beef-raising, corn-growing farmer.  I love my dad.  I love the culture of farming, and how it compels a person to live a slow-paced life, dependent on rain and sunshine and God’s grace.  But it also seemed to come with a certain plate of food: meat, starch, cooked vegetable, salad.  I love those foods.  Vegetables were essential to the meal, but not the main event.  Since they were not the star of the show, I relaxed into a more dangerous standard American diet when I moved away from home.  Convenience foods, if affordable, were my indulgences.  An Arby’s Beef-n-Cheddar sandwich, a juicy bacon cheeseburger, Cheddar Peppers from Sonic, McDonald’s ice cream, a DiGiorno pizza, a Barq’s root beer:  these were my poisons of choice.  And then there were the things I cooked: chicken fried chicken with cream gravy, butter-fried omelettes and buttermilk pancakes, queso, beef roast, mashed potatoes, apple crisp, cookies.  Oh, how I love those foods.  Comfort foods, they call them.

Bad food is slow poison.  It fills your belly and your arteries.  A young woman like me can continue to look healthy, keep from getting sick most of the time, and enjoy the flavor of foods meal after meal without serious consequences.  I was tired and angry and had pimples, but, hey, doesn’t everybody have those problems?  I think I would have continued, just for the pleasure of tasting food.

And then one day, after a lecture on health during a MOPS meeting, I realized I had not been treating my digestive system as a temple.  I wondered for the first time what eating only healthy, whole foods would look and feel like.  I had been reading snippets about raw vegan diets, and how plants that haven’t reached temperatures above about 110 degrees Fahrenheit still have all their enzymes intact.  (Wikipedia’s description of raw foodism explains the concept well.)  In essence, an apple uncooked has all the enzymes necessary for digestion.  Therefore, the body’s store of digestive enzymes doesn’t get depleted when the apple enters the body, and there is more energy left for other things — like playing with your one-and-a-half-year-old son instead of wishing for an early and long naptime.

As is my nature, I jumped into the diet full force without a lot of forethought.  I knew I wanted energy to be a mom and wife.  I knew I wanted to honor the body God has given me.  I knew I didn’t want to support the corrupt food industries in the United States with as much frequency.

In short, I wanted to know everything that is in my food and how it effects me.  I have ditched the vegetable oil for olive and coconut oils.  I have traded my distilled apple cider vinegar for an organic, raw, undistilled version.  For salt, I’m using Himalayan pink sea salt which has not been exposed to high heat and is therefore still a good source of sodium.  I buy organic vegetables when I can.  I have tried sprouting my whole grains and legumes to get their full nutritional value.  I try not to buy dried fruit unless it is free of sulfites.

I had one very tough week of side effects — detoxification, if you will.  I was very groggy while my body seemed to be ridding itself of all the filth I had been feeding it.  When I thought about eating yet another salad, my gag reflex set in.  The next few weeks were more of a roller coaster, as I ate raw during the week at home and then ate cooked food socially on weekends.  On Mondays and Tuesdays, my body would go through detox again.

But then a week or two ago, I began to feel physically whole.  Salads sounded refreshing again instead of making me want to gag.  I became a morning person.  Last Sunday I shared some frozen custard with my family, and the following day I had to take a nap, but besides that, I have felt… terrific.  And I never use the word “terrific.”

Here and there, I have run into advice from other raw foodists that reminds me to be gracious with myself.  This is a hard balance to keep, so I try to be gracious without allowing myself to gorge on unhealthy foods.  Instead of forcing myself to eat 100% raw and vegan food, I am probably 80% raw.

For now, I have decided to include occasional scrambled eggs (from organic, local, pastured chickens), local raw honey (from Round Rock Honey) , and Straus Family Creamery yogurt.  These are my non-vegan indulgences.  At restaurants, I get the healthiest salad I can to go along with the seemingly unavoidable chips and salsa.

I have chosen to buy meat as a special occasion treat for my family, but I buy it at a nearby farmers’ market from Rehoboth Ranch, a family farm that raises its animals with sustainable practices.  Either that, or I use the pork that my parents butchered, or the beef that my dad raised.  I know these animals have not been abused or unhealthily nourished; they have not been pumped full of antibiotics or raised on a bed of manure.  Meat, though, is not the centerpiece of our meals anymore.  I probably eat meat a couple times per week.  I am convinced that nuts and another plant-based products can supply the protein and healthy fats necessary for a human diet. 

Oh, what a learning process, though.  I want to know what vitamins and minerals each vegetable and fruit and and nut has in it, so I can create a balanced eating routine for myself.  Right now, I’m doing a lot of guesswork until I get my hands back on my favorite raw food resource so far: Living Cuisine: The Art and Spirit of Raw Foods, a guide and cookbook by Renee Loux Underkoffler.

As I learn to be gracious with myself, God has been all the more gracious to me.  If, of an afternoon, I give in to the bag of Fritos, God has given me the strength to stop after a small handful.  He has sustained my appetite for salads and vegetables, and slowly, slowly, my cravings for processed foods are waning.

I began eating raw as an experiment — just to see what would happen and how I would feel.  I hate to admit it, but I don’t want to let it go.  As socially odd as a raw vegan diet is, its benefits have made my life so much more joyful.  I have felt like I can be the woman God has created me to be, now that my body is functioning like He created it to function.

I am a beginner as I write this post to you.  I write this testimony as an expression of thankfulness for all I have learned during this transition. 

  1. You’ve inspired me once again (and my husband too!) We read your blog right before we went grocery shopping this evening and came away with a completely healthy, mostly veggie cart of food.

  2. It was so interesting to read about your raw-eating way of life! Thanks for sharing with us all! Your reasons are very convincing, and not holier-than-thou, which I imagine could be the case with a lot of people talking about their various diets.

    (I read this post hours ago, and now I can’t remember the great things I was going to say. Maybe I should read it again. Huh.)

  3. It is sad how America has forgotten that food can be a medicine or a poison. Good fresh food with enzymes are so essential to health. Fresh foods are so energizing. I keep reading also about how good fresh organic yogurt and eggs are for health too. I know I feel so much better when I eat fresh foods! 🙂

  4. This is great. Thank you for sharing your experience, I am on day 12 of Raw for 30 days and its nice to randomly read from someone that is not a raw food guru. Best of luck and god bless you and your family.

  1. June 11th, 2008
    Trackback from : hunger « passage
  2. June 12th, 2011

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