Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Eating to live.

^Big fat Shea. :(
August, 2010

^Regular, non-fat, Shea. :)
November, 2011

Yes, it's embarrassing to put that fat picture up but I think it's important to see. (Note- I did not lose any of that weight through exercise but I am completely pro-active lifestyle.) I did an extremely poor job at allowing anyone to follow my transition to a mainly raw diet but here I am 10 or so months later and I feel incredible. As the pictures above indicate, I have lost a decent amount of weight. It literally came off like a big sweater. Yay! But that wasn't even the reason I began this lifestyle, it's just an awesome bonus and presumably a permanent one. All the weight you see up there didn't come from eating too many carrots, it came from eating a Starbucks breakfast sandwich (under 300 calories!) everyday for breakfast, Subway for lunch, and the cafeteria food at the half-way house I worked in for dinner because I was too poor to grocery shop. I thought Subway was good for me! Now I know: Eff you, Subway.

It's hard to explain how the past 10 months have affected me without getting super excited. When I first began this food adventure I was living in Chicago with 4 of my best friends, including my boyfriend. They all thought I was insane. What happened was this: I was hungover and couldn't sleep one morning so I turned to Netflix where I stumbled upon a documentary titled "The Beautiful Truth". I figured I'd put it on and fall asleep to it. I didn't end up sleeping that day and instead I started doing some research on Dr. Gerson and his cancer therapy. I then woke my boyfriend up because I felt like I had just accidentally uncovered the most obvious solution to being a fat, diabetic, arthritic, cancer-ridden, depressed, waiting-for-a-heart-attack American. What exactly was the solution? To stop eating processed "food" and animal fat! He thought I had lost my mind at first but when he realized I was not going to let up he did some of his own research and he decided that it was possible I was onto something. He has since joined me and is a great example of someone who did not need to lose weight (and didn't) but still feels a hundred times better than he did before eating a raw diet.

Think about it: We know that cancer and diabetes rates have soared over the past 60 years and we all know how fat this country is to the point that without realizing it, we have just accepted it as part of aging. I don't know how many times I've heard someone rebut an anti-smoking campaign with a remark like, "yea, well what doesn't cause cancer?" which insinuates that they're just going to keep smoking because if that doesn't kill them via cancer then something else will. The thing is that the human body is an amazing organism equipped with lots of ways to defend itself. It doesn't just get fat or cancerous because of age. The body wants to thrive more than anything but when we feed it food items that offer nothing more than a number of calories it loses its ability to take care of itself.

The food industry has done a heck of a job convincing us that we should be focusing on the nutrition label and basing our daily needs on achieving 2,000 calories. Most americans feel that even if their entire food intake for a day comes from McDonald's it won't affect them negatively as long as they don't eat more than 2,000 calories. STOP COUNTING CALORIES YOU GUYS! It's completely pointless. When you eat a raw, plant-based diet you just eat until your body has had enough. I have not had a hunger pang for 9 months. I have not had that awful bloated feeling you get after eating half a large pizza. I haven't thought about calories in 9 months. (I'm saying 9 instead of 10 months because the first month is a big adjustment and you'll probably want to throw a brick at your friend for eating pizza and ice cream in front of you but that goes away shortly.) My energy level has increased 100% and I've experienced a huge wave of mental clarity. My skin even feels softer!

When you fill your stomach up with enriched starch, meat, and dairy (all major components of our neat little food pyramid) you will feel full pretty quickly, maybe you'll even unbutton your pants, but you will also feel hungry again pretty quickly. This is your brain's response to not getting the nutrients that your body needs to defend itself from disease. Your brain triggers your stomach to notify you that you should be on the lookout for your next meal in hopes that you will feed it some real food that it can derive actual nutrients from. But you probably eat something else that isn't very good for you and so the cycle continues and suddenly you're wondering why your belly is hanging over your jeans or why your ass is covered in cellulite or why you're so tired all of the time. A lot of people think that they eat well because they put some cooked veggies in their lasagna or something but the whole thing about eating raw is that when you cook fruits or vegetables their nutrient values decrease with every degree of temperature you add to them. It's important to eat whole foods in their whole state in order to fully benefit from them.

Why can't you just eat whatever you want and exercise a lot? You can, and you probably won't get fat but that doesn't mean that you won't deal with the adverse affects of a processed diet in a different way down the road.

Do yourself a favor and next time you are grocery shopping read the list of ingredients on every item you pick up and if you get to an ingredient that you aren't completely sure of what it is, don't eat that thing. The marketing that the food industry has invested in is hard to ignore because we see something that says "reduced sodium" or "30% less fat" and we think it's a healthy choice. I hate to say it but the obesity and cancer rates make it pretty clear that maybe we should take our health into our own hands. Our health system is so focused on treating symptoms (because that's where the $$$ is yo) that no one stops to think about prevention. Doctors aren't going to tell you to stop taking your cholesterol pills and try eating a raw diet because then how would they afford their wife's boob job or their swanky mansion?

There aren't any raw fast food joints and there won't ever be. You will sacrifice convenience in many ways but when you really think about it, what in this world is more important than taking care of your body? It's the only one you have and without it there is no you. The world is full of amazing food, herbs, and spices that occur naturally and deliciously. Use them! You can still have a hamburger every now and then it just shouldn't be the center of your diet and it should definitely come from a local, organic farm that feeds their cows their nature-intended diet of grass and that doesn't use growth hormones or antibiotics to get more bang for their buck. The biggest thing is to avoid anything that is refined, enriched, or processed. Stay away from that garbage. We all know it's bad but we don't want to believe that it's cancer-causing bad or childhood diabetes-causing bad. Well, all I can say to that is: wake up, your body needs your help. Lord knows mine did.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

a new year, a new diet!

I've had various opinions about food throughout my life which explains my off and on attitude toward vegetarianism and other dietary choices. Recently I watched the documentary, "The Beautiful Truth", which led me down the path of some other food documentaries which brought me to do my own research on what we consume and all of this cumulatively has me facing my most current desire: to eat only raw, naturally occurring food stuffs.

We are a country where hundreds of thousands of people die every year because their hearts just can't take it anymore. What is it that these hearts can't take? Stress obviously plays a roll to some extent but life has always been stressful and always will be. We abuse our bodies over and over again because we aren't eating the things that we, by nature, are designed to eat. Big Macs don't grow on trees and neither do Cheetos. Our bodies are complex, beautiful machines that are way capable of defending themselves IF we give them the support they need to stay strong. I don't care how good it tastes, think about this: how do you feel after you over indulge on processed food? I'm talking anything like pizza, burgers, chinese take-out, etc. You feel gross. You feel bloated and fat. You get diarrhea half the time. You want to take a nap. How do you feel after you eat a big plate of green vegetables? Fruits? Nuts? I imagine you feel none of those things that you felt after crushing the pizza. There is a reason for that.

I want this blog to be therapeutic for me, to help me get through the moments when I just want to eat a fucking large pizza, but also to serve as an educational device for anyone else who might feel compelled to change their diet and find the healthy, energetic body that is inside us all. Maybe I'll find that this diet is awful and I'll go back to mindlessly eating whatever I want whenever I want but the bigger part of me believes that this will be one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Any and all thoughts or comments are welcome along the way.

Here we go!