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Monday, October 15, 2012

More Food Talk

Raw Recap
Dreaming of a Bacon Cheesburger
Eating Raw: Day 24

For anyone who was following my "raw eating" challenge of early this year, I've been thinking an update is due. I've talked about the challenge and my results with numerous people (only when it somehow comes up in conversation -- they either comment on my weight loss or bring up some food related challenge of their own). The responses have been interesting. Several people have acted offended at the whole idea of it. They don't seem to hear that it was a short amount of time that I committed to eating raw. They don't seem to want to hear about the pain relief I have experienced.

More often, people have been interested and have asked lots of questions.

So are you dieting now? No. I have never supported the idea of a diet in the sense of eating (or not eating) to lose weight, though I am putting more thought and consideration into what I am putting in my mouth. My goal has always been to eat well, eat healthy, and eat without feeling guilty about it. I adjust my eating habits to coordinate with the season, to take advantage of what I can purchase locally, and to fulfill my creative urge to cook, as it hits me, and to have fun with my food. I eat because it is a very pleasurable experience to try out many tastes and textures.

Are you vegetarian/vegan? Not really, though I'm not eating much meat. I would estimate that I have a serving of meat maybe once every other week or so. If I have a craving for a hamburger, I go get a hamburger. Most of the time, I am completely content without any meat at all. Several times I've thought I wanted a bite of something, but then discover it's not as good as I imagined it.

I often think sausage looks good, but now that I've eliminated so much meat from my diet, most ground varieties tend to taste like old meat to me. I'm very aware now of the grease that coats the inside of my mouth when I eat most pork and beef.

I have, by choice, almost entirely eliminated dairy. More on that...

Are you lactose intolerant? Honestly, I don't know exactly what I am. I am a dairyman's daughter at heart. My comfort foods, my entire life, have included whole milk and ice cream. I've had love affairs with cheese. On day 5 of the Raw eating challenge back in February, however, I realized that my aches and pains had disappeared. I have had leg and foot cramps (while sleeping) through most of my adult life. I first remember having knee and hip joint pains in my teens (I blamed it on gymnastic). From today's pain-free point of view, I am surprised at how well I tolerated the perpetual joint aches I always had.

At the end of day 24, I began testing the foods I suspected might be a problem. A meal with cheese made my belly swell. Two days of dairy pocked meals had me waking in the night with leg cramps. I stopped the dairy, I felt great. I ate the dairy, my joints started to sound rusty when I moved and my posture defeated me. Eat dairy, I get slow and tired. Stop dairy, I'm turning cartwheels through the lawn (for real!)

Since I was 17, I believed that caffeine was the cause of stiff joints and aches. I didn't drink a lot of coffee, but when I did, especially if I did for several days at once, I would find myself nearly doubled over with pain. My back would hurt. My shoulders would hurt. Coffee, in my mind, caused real pain and it was enough so that I pretty much avoided it. I now know that I can drink coffee as well as anybody. Well, almost... It still gives me the shakes (and makes me giddy) but if I avoid the heavy cream that I loved so much, I don't end up with extra aches and pains.

In spite of what I now know, staying off the dairy has proven difficult. I'm not drinking milk. I will occasionally sneak a bite of sharp cheddar cheese. I tend to give in when presented with ice cream. I've now made it through three birthdays without making my famous homemade, heavy on the true cream concoctions. I am experimenting with almond milk varieties. I make a pretty good fruit sorbet.

My body, I have learned, can tell the difference between milk chocolate (not good) and dark chocolate (have to read the labels, a lot of it has dairy).

The loss of dairy makes my heart ache a little. But an aching heart isn't nearly as bad as aching feet that don't want to go flat against the floor when you get up in the morning.

Are you still eating raw? I'm eating a lot of raw fruits and vegetables. My breakfast is almost always raw and about 1/2 my lunches are, as well. My body definitely feels better when I eat a lot of raw. I have more energy and don't experience mid-day sleepiness when my diet is primarily fruits and vegetables. I'm not afraid to cook, however. I mostly go by how I feel and what sounds good in the moment. If I am feeling sluggish, I will often make a point of focusing on several raw-ish meals in a row to get my head clear again.

As a result, I eat way fewer carbs than I was eating a year ago. Not out of a desire to cut carbs, but because the bulk of raw food simply makes me feel fuller.

The biggest difference is that I'm down (more than) a full pants size. Last November I hit my top weight ever. I was 10 pounds over the weight I was at 9 months pregnant with my son (my biggest baby). That was my wall. From November to February I managed to lose about 6 pounds just by focusing on being more active. I lost 12 pounds on 24 days of raw diet. Today, I'm about 24 pounds down from my top weight ever. If I manage another 6 pounds, I'll be back at the weight I was starting each of my pregnancies. I honestly thought I'd never be that size again.

I guess the thing that surprises me most is that more people aren't willing to look at making changes in the way that they eat to fix their aches and pains.

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