When the Raw Food Diet Isn't for You
Published: (February, 2012)
One reader unsubscribed from my newsletter, leaving this comment:
My raw journey is over! I had been a strict vegetarian for 18 years, a vegan for 14 years, and a strict raw foodist for almost 5 years. Though I followed your advice and the advice of other raw food gurus, I developed severe panic attacks. The entire time I was on the raw food regimen, I was feeling weak and dizzy, almost every day, and with a growing intensity...Finally in the summer of last year I woke up...
How can you claim that the vegan, raw food diet is the most natural diet for humans if no one can deny the fact that, as a species, we have always eaten meat, and have cooked our food for a huge number of years?!
Whew! A tough one. This woman is clearly well-meaning and sincere, and it does seem she has indeed given the raw food lifestyle a solid go. Note, however, that while an attempt at the raw food lifestyle may be sincere, it may at the same time be inept.
Let's look at what my advice really has been, over time. I've said numerous times, in lectures and in print, that one should not follow slavishly any presented or presupposed rigid regimen. Experiment...experiment... experiment... Listen to your body... adjust... The adjustments must be made daily, not after "almost five years" of signs that "strict raw foodist" is not working for you.
I say again: I'm not a guru. Neither do I claim to be a "master" of anything. Since I've been handed many health problems, I am on a personal quest to resolve them painstakingly one at a time. All I'm doing is sharing my personal experience, and the ways I've dealt with issues facing me along the way, backed by research that supports my ideas. It's all done in the hope of inspiring you to look for solutions to your own health challenges in creative ways. I don't give specific, individually tailored instructions. At most, in my books and newsletters, I point to ideas from which you can benefit.
It's true there's no denying that our species has (more or less) eaten meat, and cooked for a very long time. Archaeologists, paleontologists, and anthropologists find campfires and burned bones in every corner of the world and from every age. From this, however, it simply doesn't follow that meat and cooking are ideal for our health.
If meat and cooking are so wonderful--so "natural," in one sense of that word--then I'm moved to ask: Why are so many people sick? And why are they sick, in particular, in ways that increasingly appear to have to do with food choices.
In fact, most people see remarkable improvements in their health and appearance when they go raw. In my book, Raw Food and Hot Yoga, I specifically emphasize that B12 issues must be addressed, and I give ideas of what can be done to avoid deficiencies. I'm not rigid when it comes to being a raw vegan. I share ideas supplied by my readers, who have successfully resolved deficiency issues, so you can take precautions never to develop them in the first place.
Here's another email responding to my last newsletter from an interesting man named Alan:
Tonya...I have to disagree on the assumption that it's hard to be 100% raw in cold climates. I myself went cold turkey all raw in the fall in Oregon. I'm now in far north Idaho. I go outside all the time with a tee shirt at 20 to 30 degrees when everyone else has heavy jackets on. They ask why I don't have more clothes on. Maybe the ability to be all raw in a cold climate should have been on your top ten list of indicators. Too few around, mind you, to prove this concept.
When I received this email, I got excited about renewing my practice of tempering with cold. I started doing it while writing my Quantum Eating, but then backslid, using my artificial hips as an excuse. Definitely, having metal hip joints does make the experience more difficult. But Alan's email has renewed my enthusiasm to try again.
My work is all about stretching the boundaries of our possibilities -- about what can be done. The moment I'm told I "cannot" do something, I want to try it. That's why today at 54, with two artificial hip joints, I am taking belly dancing classes, though a regiment of orthopedists insisted it's not possible. I am very careful and do only the moves that my hips allow and I have never felt better in my life.
If someone, quite without preparing, takes a winter hike in a T-shirt or joins a Polar Bear club, then gets a cold or other ill effects, he has no one but himself to blame. Preparing, working up gradually, respecting the limitations of one's body--that's the key.
Alan also wrote:
I'm not sure how much of my past has to do with my present acclimation to cold temps. Here are some things that may have played a part...strict vegan since 1977...lived in the Pacific Northwest except for a few years in Florida...for 10 years straight, I ran for an hour every day all year round, regardless of weather, in Portland, Oregon...I've swum regularly in cold rivers and lakes...spent much time snowboarding and cross-country skiing...went all raw in the fall of '96...I don't own a sweater or jacket--only a sleeveless vest. So along with a good diet I have a long history of being out in the elements. I have often wondered how the deer, moose, birds, etc. in the area live outside all winter long. Now I am beginning to feel at one with them!
"Beyond raw" to me means after being transformed, having been all raw for 10 years or more, and it becoming completely natural. Then you no longer think or talk about it and go into a lifetime of 100% induced creativity.
There is a different tone in Alan's email, you'll agree. He's tried, adapted, striven and found his individual victories.
So what do we make, in the end, of these two messages?
Point number one... Let your own body be your guide. You'll need to change your course once in a while. Adapt! Improvise! Your goal must be perfect health, not perfect raw!
Point number two...The 100% raw lifestyle is not for everyone. Neither is going without a jacket in winter. Don't undertake new lifestyles lightly. Expect small failures on the way to bigger successes. Share your story, so others can learn and get inspired to try new things.
If, somewhere you got the notion that it would be easy, linear, a perfectly smooth road...if somehow you believe that your health journey will require no challenges for you to solve, you'll be disappointed.... And I understand.
But if you are ready for an interesting and eminently worthwhile ride...stick with me. We can learn together.
Solution for Sensitive Gums
It's imperative that no part of your gums be painful or sensitive. If there is pain or sensitivity, that means there's infection. This ongoing infection is destroying the bone around your teeth.
Infected gums appear red and swollen. They feel sore or tender, and may even bleed when you try to brush or floss in certain areas. Your dentist will tell you: Apply special cleaning and attention to any such area. Keep flossing, even if it hurts. Persevere...you must persist through the discomfort till you find relief. Listen to this advice. Do not let it come in one ear and go out the other.
Strict oral hygiene must be maintained, especially around compromised teeth, or gingivitis will recur.
You may have a tendency to avoid dealing at all with sensitive areas that cause you pain. For these tough spots, to remove extra food residue and bacteria from between teeth or around bridges or implants, you can use a product called the interdental brush. You may have seen these in the drugstore. Though they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, you'll recognize these little brushes by their resemblance to miniature Christmas trees. Versatile and effective, they can reach places ordinary brushes can't and work in a way dental floss won't.
I have found that delicate, sensitive, or compromised gums will benefit greatly if you dip your interdental brush into our Bentonite Oral Balm. Gently work it between teeth, around the gum-line, and anywhere that you experience sensitivity. Be diligent--brush such problematic areas several times a day--till the sensitivity is gone.
Healthy gums are pink, firm to the touch, and nowhere are painful or sensitive. Never ignore gum infections, no matter how minor.
My Bentonite Oral Balm with White Oak Bark and Wheatgrass evolved out of my own desperate need to keep my dental situation under control. I made sure every herb known for its soothing, healing and antibacterial properties was added to the formula. Not only is it a superior product for teeth brushing in general, but when used in conjunction with interdental brushes, it will help save your compromised teeth from further damage, preventing the need for future expensive dental work.