My account of moving to a raw food diet

Changing to a raw food diet is triggering a life transformation. I wasn’t expecting such a precipitation of change. I was just hoping to lose my sagging jowls.

Food is fundamental to our existence.

How we go about choosing what, where, when and how we eat is moulded through life experiences, education, exposure and accessibility to foods. In some way, it defines who we are. When we make a conscious change about what food we eat, there are consequently fundamental changes in the way we exist. Altering my food choices is profoundly affecting my life. Addictions are exposed, buried emotions bubble up, previously accepted beliefs are challenged, social engagements are forced into renegotiation and slowly but surely, physicality is restructuring.

For years I avoided anything too fundamentalist in the realm of nutrition. The Raw Foodists appeared to me to be radical and far too consumed with what they could eat next. They seemed perpetually hungry and often didn’t radiate health. Raw food seemed too difficult in our world that offers predominantly cooked or otherwise processed foods. And now, here I am, almost a raw foodist!

Raw food requires more forethought than my previous strategy, which involved choosing the healthiest of whatever was available. Additionally, the temptations of “the cooked” abound and appear at the worst of times, namely when I’m famished and have no living snacks left.

What reasons on earth would there be to forego the joys of coffee and toast in the morning? Or abstain from the nourishment of thick minestrone or poached eggs?

In a word: vanity.

The turning of another decade brings with it a nascent turkey neck and advent of jowls. There’s also diminishing vision, wrinkles that don’t go away during the morning, and a “thickening” that seems to accompany approaching – dare I say it – middle age. I caught myself almost accepting the “not quite what I used to be” mentality, and jolted awake. I refuse to accept these things are a “natural” part of aging. And I certainly don’t want jowls!

Live foods promises anti-aging and energy abundance, so I’m giving it a go.

Lifeforce is the inherent electrical charge from nature that regenerates human health. It is most readily accessible in raw living food

“Live food creates live people,” says David Wolfe, American author of The Sunfood Success System and a robust example of what can happen if you eat raw living foods for 15 years. The basics of a living, raw food diet is that it transfers life force to your body and consequently optimises your health and wellbeing. “Lifeforce is the inherent electrical charge from nature that regenerates human health. It is most readily accessible in raw living food,” writes Brian Clement in his book Hippocrates Lifeforce based on 50 years of experience of using living raw foods at the Hippocrates Health Institute in the USA.

“Food is compressed sunlight”

This is one of my favourite quotes from ‘spiritual scientist’ Rudolf Steiner. A succinct description of how plants absorb and arrange the energy of the sun during photosynthesis to create food energy.

If “you are what you eat” then adopting a living food diet means you become sunnier. If that means more radiant, warm, ageless and sparkling, I’m into it.

Internet raw food sites often refer to Dr. Paul Kouchakoff’s discovery in the 1930’s of digestive leukocytosis that occurs because of eating cooked food. Digestive leukocytosis means an increase in concentration of white blood cells after eating cooked food, suggesting an immune response is mounted against cooked food. There are many questions surrounding the validity of this old study and strangely, as fundamental to health as it appears to be, it doesn’t seem to have been replicated. A 2006 review of cooked verses raw vegetables studies from Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, suggests that eating at least some percentage of raw vegetables is proven to increase the preventative action of vegetables against cancer. It also gives a good over view of the nutrient degradation that occurs through cooking, but nothing more on the immunological challenges that cook food provokes.

The most convincing argument for adopting raw living food diet is all about enzymes.

Enzymes are highly specialised protein substances that trigger all processes within the body (and other life forms too). From digestion, gene replication, energy creation to hormonal pathways and beyond, enzymes are the catalysts for change.

Considered alchemically, enzymes are the keys for transformation within the body.

They are needed for action to happen – or not happen. If our body lacks a particular enzyme, then a function will not occur with the same functional ease. Enzymes need other nutrients to work, often these are minerals (also abundant in raw plant foods).

Living foods contain many plant enzymes

Although these differ from digestive and metabolic enzymes, some synchronicity exists. For example, pawpaw contains the enzyme papain that has a powerful action similar to the digestive enzymes pepsin. When cooking at temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius, proteins are damaged. It’s feasible these damaged proteins could provoke an immune response (i.e. digestive leukocytosis) but regardless, the denatured proteins need to be restructure for the body’s use, if they can be used at all. If they can’t be used, potentially they’re adding to the toxic load of the body. This alone could contribute to my jowl growth.

Popular raw foodist David Wolfe categorises raw living food into 14 categories: Fruits, Leaves, Nuts, Seeds, Legumes, Flowers, Green sprouts, Roots, Shoots, Bark, Sap, Stems, Water vegetables and Mushrooms. With the exception of roots (potatoes) and seeds (wheat), these categories are considered more garnishes within the staple western diet.

The majority of food eaten in the “Standard Australian/American diet” (aka SAD) is either processed or dead. The motivations behind processing include reducing bacterial contamination, though also to enhance its storage, transportability and trade-ability. Our world economy is based on cooked food as staples.

If elements of raw living food diet was globally adopted it would have a major impact on the world economy. 

Helena Norberg-Hodges work in The Economics of Happiness, suggests that if we all ate locally for 3 breakfasts in a row, the food monoliths would faulter, and the local economies could flourish. Movies such as Food Inc, and Food Matters are echoing what “Supersize me” highlighted a decade before; expose a food industry promoting (tasty) unhealthy foods.

Perhaps today’s raw foodists are misunderstood like the vegetarians of the nineties.

I’m ostracised by restaurants, considered “radical” by society and “difficult” by family and dinner hosts. Raw foodists operate out of synch with current mainstream enterprises and new ones (like me) may be found wandering through supermarket isles wondering if there’s anything raw and living there.

My conversion strategy involves using Victoria Boutenko’s Green Smoothies to increase greens and fruit intake each morning. I’m incorporating the concept of complete protein in each meal. This means combining at least two foods from the legumes, nuts, seeds or wholegrains group. I balance this with lots of leafy greens. I eat smaller meals or snacks four or five times a day to maintain good energy. I have three or four pieces of fruit, an avocado, a small mountain of salad, raw vegetables and lots of garlic every day. I consume a bunch of dark green leafies every 2 days. Currently I’m eating 85-95% living foods. I’m still at the novelty stage and for the most part enjoying the discovery.

There’s much still to explore – maple syrup, agave syrup, exotic mushrooms, fresh herbs, spices, super foods, dehydrators and Vitamixes – all lay before me. I’m dealing with my caffeine addiction one day at a time, and am making good progress.

So how am I going with my transformation? I’ve had some empty moments, but over all feel happy. I carry food with me now. I still need 8 hours sleep not 5. I produce less rubbish, maybe one bag a week. My hair is shinier, as are whites of my eyes. I have possibly lost a little weight and my energy levels are mostly fantastic – I can run like I did when I was a child.

The jowls however are still there… I’ll give them another three months.

Reading suggestions:

Brian Clement – Hippocrates Lifeforce: Superior Health and Longevity

David Wolfe – The Sunfood Success System

David Wolfe – The Beauty Book

Victoria Boutenkyo – Green For Life

Wendy Rundell – The Raw Transformations

Eating predominantly raw living food is making me more conscious of what, how and why I am eating. I choose organic whenever I can, which has a ripple effect all the way to the agri-chemical companies balance sheets, and at the same time presents me with less toxins to deal with. I love win-win-win situations like that!

EDITORS NOTE: This Raw food experiment lasted about 4 months in total (cut short by an international work contract). In reflection, I didn’t absorb sufficient minerals nor fatty acids, and also became pretty obsessed with food. Whilst the energy levels I obtained were great, the overall effect wasn’t. My sense (for me) is around 50% raw is amazing for me – it also means I am eating fresh and seasonal.

This is one element of Sparkle Detox Course – a step-by-step, effective and safe, body tissue cleansing process designed by Naturopath Sally Mathrick. If you haven’t already, join Sparkle Detox. You’ll have life-time access to wholistic, doable, ‘delicious-with-benefits’ practices to keep your precious body-mind healthy, fresh and vital. JOIN NOW

Copyright Sally Mathrick – please cite if using this information