Whoa, Pure Jeevan's Back?!

2016 update: Aha, you noticed?! Welcome. Yes, we wanted to bring the site back online again, mainly because it's so packed with articles and information. It will be a work in progress for some time, as we changed web platforms and all sorts of tech stuff. So, a lot of links are hard-coded to old Wordpress-style links... just awful. But, in time we'll get all of it back in shape. For now, enjoy clicking around and reading!

To keep all of you inspired while we are away, we've asked some

remarkable individuals to share their raw food stories with you. Enjoy!

When Wendi Dee of Pure Jeevan tweeted me the other day and asked me if I wanted to share my raw story, I knew it was an opportunity to reflect on my journey and see how I might find a way to distill an experience so vast and ever changing into bite sized pieces. So here I go...

First let me list but a few of the miracles a raw & living food lifestyle has helped bring to my life.

  • I have eliminated at least 100 lbs of excess weight from my body.
  • My mood is even and sunny most of the time.
  • A life long struggle with depression and anxiety has significantly lifted.
  • Chronic aches and pains throughout my body have subsided.
  • I have energy. Most days I wake up alert and ready to take on my day. Before raw I was a total zombie until late afternoon if not dinnertime.
  • Overall bloating, puffiness as well as congested sinuses are completely gone.
  • I am blissfully FREE from the state of constant and relentless hunger I endured for much of my life before becoming raw.
  • All SAD food cravings are completely gone. I desire salads, fruits, green smoothies, seeds, nuts & the occasional raw gourmet meal.
  • I am content. I am free. I am grateful to be alive!

So how did I get here? Here's the Reader's Digest version of my story...

I wasn't trying to go raw... really... It kind of just happened to me...

Like so many other people in this culture my dysfunctional relationship with food started early. Sugar in particular has been my arch nemesis since I was a small child. To put it simply processed sugar makes me CRAZY! In addition to major anxiety & depression, whenever I eat sugar, my appetite and craving for mass quantities of food is monumental. In my early 20's I was fortunate to land in the right place at the right time and hear the words, "Sugar is a drug. When you eat any you will crave it." I knew this to be true for me so with very little bargaining or denial I surrendered sugar and the vicious cycle of binging & restricting and the monumental guilt that came with it. This abstinence lasted for 8 years. During this time I experimented with various forms of healthy eating including macrobiotics, lacto-ova vegetarianism, veganism, whole foods and low carb meat eating diets.

Unfortunately as the saying goes... "Denial is not a river in Egypt!" So the insidiousness of my sugar addiction got the better of me. Over time, I slowly reintroduced processed sugar into my life. At first it?

was no big deal. However as time progressed cravings for junk became more and more unmanageable. Ironically, simultaneously my life was getting better and better. This made it far easier to deny the effects that sugar and SAD eating was having on my body. I was living the life of my dreams... happily married and doing the work of my heart's deepest passion, despite some moments of moodiness, anxiety and?

general sense of bloat. I did know something was out of balance because my body was retaining weight no matter what I did and my general energy just seemed off. What I did not know at the time was that I was limping along with an undiagnosed case of autoimmune thyroid disease. My hypo symptoms were classic: no energy, achey body, anxiety, depression, 100 pounds of extra weight on my body, no libido, brain fog, exhausted in the mornings & wired for sound at 2 AM.

For years I was running on fumes and held together with a little bit of twine and duct tape. Sometimes when I think about it now I marvel that I wasn't just a puddle of goo pooled up on the couch 24/7. At the time, I suspected that I was suffering from some kind of food allergy. Poultry and dairy were my prime suspects. So over a few years, I began by weaning myself off of dairy. Then on Memorial day 2003 I surrendered (yet again) and eliminated processed sugar and meat from my diet cold turkey (no pun intended). To put it bluntly sugar withdrawal was a bitch! However three things helped:

  • Acupuncture on a monthly basis for sugar cravings.
  • Giving up meat at the same time. In macrobiotic theory meat is considered very yang while sugar is considered very yin, when we eat either extreme we will tend to crave the other to create balance.
  • Organic chocolate! I found that allowing myself small amounts of dark organic chocolate sweetened with unrefined cane juice worked for me as it prevented a sense of deprivation & dieting mentality.

May 2004 rolled around and despite all the changes, I was still significantly overweight and my body was showing signs of a chronic allergic response. I was nowhere near as anxious or moody with the sugar gone, but I still experienced the hungry horrors and had a general sense of something being off. Then right around the summer solstice in June 2004 on an intuitive whim, I purchased what at the time I considered a rather pricey hemp protein called Shape Shifter by Living Harvest. What a miracle! Within 24 hours I felt different. I knew I was on to something. I had tried so many different food plans, and nutritional supplements, yet never before had I experienced something that helped me to feel so clear and energized so abruptly!

For the first time in my life I didn't feel hungry! As a matter of fact within a week I didn't feel at all attracted to cooked carbs, dairy or nearly anything cooked. I started wanting to eat mostly salads and fruit. My body started to transform rapidly. My face became less bloated. My clothing got looser. My energy levels improved. My mood got sunnier. Within a month I had transitioned to a 100% raw diet. I spent every spare second I had scouring the internet for raw websites of which there were far far far less than the explosion of raw resources there are today, reading books on raw food, and experimenting with raw recipes.

This has been an adventure of self discovery and experimentation for me and so there have been times when I have had to do the research for the umpteenth time to indeed conclude what works and does not actually work for me. After about a year raw I went through a stage when I tried introducing some cooked whole foods back into my diet. In addition to almost immediate moodiness, I regained a fair amount of the weight I had initially lost and I felt tired and foggy again. What I learned from that experiment is that my body does best on a 100% raw diet 99% of the time. I don't worry about things like tea, maple syrup in small quantities and whether my cashews are really raw or not. Sometimes if I am out in the world and I have few raw choices I will opt for a plate of steamed veggies and the company of my friends over sitting stoically at the table while everyone else enjoys their food.

I wish I could tell you that raw food alone has healed me of all of my body's challenges and perhaps one day this will be the case. However due to my autoimmune issues my journey of healing has been multifaceted. In addition to eating a completely gluten free, mostly raw diet, I do my best to get regular exercise that I enjoy. I have done significant heavy metal detoxing under the supervision of my Naturopath. I use nutritional supplements. I also accept that for now my body needs adrenal support and prescription thyroid medication to function optimally even on a totally raw diet. I work regularly with my amazing acupuncturist and my dear doctor of osteopathy who both help my body live to her fullest potential. I also see my wonderful colon hydrotherapist regularly to keep my body happy and clear of the toxins that can build up from daily living in this modern world.

In the last 4-1/2 years since I started my raw journey I have learned many things. Here are but a few highlights...

  • Intense food cravings usually arise from food sensitivities. What I can not tolerate I crave. If I experience the hungry horrors it's almost always because I ate something my body could not deal with.
  • Overweight is a symptom of physical distress and inflammation. Overweight is often about being malnourished. When bodies don't receive proper nutrients & energy from food, they will keep eating to? attempt to fill this need.
  • In addition to food sensitivities and emotional triggers that can rovoke overeating, Candida overgrowth in the body produces INSANE CRAVINGS. Candida (yeast) is a living entity that wants to survive. Whenever it is deprived of the sugars & carbs it needs to live, it will cause overwhelming food cravings for us: its host.
  • Certain foods trigger autoimmune reactions. For me this means my body goes on red alert with all guns blazing so I get caught in the crossfire. When I consume even the smallest traces of offending foods, antibodies attack my body as well as the undigested particles of food.
  • Moderation works with some things, total elimination works with others. I have discovered time and again that when it comes to processed sugar, wheat and dairy: One is too many and a million is never enough.
  • Once unnatural cravings had been healed, my body communicates what it needs. This varies significantly throughout the personal cycles of my body and the changing seasons. Being flexible with my diet is far more sustainable over time than trying to remain too rigidly defined. If there is one true constant in life: it is change. While I may not receive the same nutritional benefits of viable enzymes & active life force, my body will tolerate mildly cooked forms of the foods I eat raw. Whereas cooked foods like pizza, chocolate cake & chinese food will cause my body harm regardless of the remaining percentage of raw foods I consume. There is a big difference between eating a 70% raw diet with a few steamed vegetables and small amounts of gluten free grains, than there is with eating 95% raw with bags of Doritos, Coffee & Twinkies as the other 5%.
  • Sometimes baby steps work best. Sometimes recognizing a truth and diving in head first is what works.
  • Loving ourselves enough to take care of ourselves is the key. Resistance can be tenacious, so sometimes the only way out is through. Different bodies have different needs. What works for me may not necessarily work for you. The only way to really figure this out is for yourself through experimentation, with varied degrees of success by trial and error.
  • Every Raw Expert has a different opinion. If you read or listen to 10 Raw Gurus you will probably learn 10 different "Truths" many of which completely oppose the others. Even if someone has written a book, made a movie or recorded a podcast or vlog about being raw, they are still one individual who has found what works for them. Some things they say may resonate for you, some may not. Each of us must be our own inner Guru and find OUR TRUTH.

In my experience there have been a few things which keep me going on this amazing journey: Gratitude, Cultivated Delight and the Willingness to be Willing... I have heard it said that a grateful heart does not want. Whenever I begin to feel discontent or hungry, I focus on all the blessings in my life and what I might be grateful for. When I am feeling especially out of sorts, I will create a gratitude alphabet.

Delight is a choice. Once released, delight is a quality that bubbles up from within and expands upon itself. Ultimately perspective is all we've really got. Many years ago, a friend and I went on a road trip. At the beginning of our adventure, she declared that everything we encountered along the way would fall into one of two categories: Silly or Beautiful. To this day I strive to maintain this attitude. If everything is either silly or beautiful how can it not also be a delight?

Willingness is the Key! Yet sometimes willingness will collide with resistance. I have discovered that when I pray/meditate/ask for the Willingness to be Willing doors within me fly open that would otherwise remain stubbornly blocked by addiction, fear & laziness.

Finally let me express just how crucial and valuable raw community has been for me on this journey. Knowing I am not alone on this path makes showing up for it everyday infinitely easier than if I were?

trying to do this in a vacuum. I receive invaluable information from the experiences of my raw peers constantly and hopefully my expereince and experiments can inspire others as well. In addition to connections with a handful or three of regional raw people who join me for our monthly Raw Maine Meetup, or who visit me at other times, I am profoundly grateful for the abundant international community of amazing souls I share my daily raw life with through places on the internet like Twitter, RawFu, Give It To Me Raw and You Tube as well as the too numerous to list raw blogs I follow of the many people I have come to truly adore. In the 4-1/2 years that I have been on this raw journey I have witnessed the raw world grow and thrive. To all my sisters and brothers I share this path with: Thank You! Keep up the Rawsome Work!

To learn more about Jennifer, connect with her online at:

Original Comments

Below, we have included the original comments from this blog post. Additional comments may be made via Facebook, below.

On February 11, 2009, violet wrote:

all of these generously shared stories inspire me... to continue on a path of my own health and wellness- inside and out!

thanks for all the sharing,
violet

On February 11, 2009, rubyvroom wrote:

Tears fill my eyes to the brim as I read your story in its entirety. You inspire me and delight me. Your story encourages me anew to stay focused on this course that I am on and to NEVER give up. You friendship is a cherished gift to me and I respect your wisdom and life experience fully. I applaud you and cheer you onward and upward!!
All my Love...
Penni

On February 11, 2009, Lauren wrote:

WOW! What an inspirational story and transformation! Congrats!

On February 11, 2009, debbiedoesraw wrote:

You are nothing short of amazing! I hope to use your story to inspire others in my life to just go for it and go raw to live!
Thanks so much, and finally I updated my blogroll and you are on it now!
xoxoxo deb

On February 11, 2009, Jessica wrote:

this story has been so inspiring to me. I have some of the same issues you suffered with early on, and it gives me more motivation to be mostly raw and try acupuncture and many other things
Thankyou so much for sharing <3
Jessica

On February 11, 2009, langelbleu wrote:

Penni, it is such an honor to called your friend. Your enthusiasm, generosity, graciousness & kindness inspires me daily to keep showing up for the miracles!
Thank you for being so wonderful.
Big Love back at ya!

On February 11, 2009, langelbleu wrote:

Violet it was truly a delight to sit down and write mine. I am glad to hear that I might in some small way inspire you to have another rawsome day.

On February 11, 2009, langelbleu wrote:

Thank you Lauren!

On February 11, 2009, langelbleu wrote:

Aaaawwww! Thank YOU! I am thrilled and honored to be part of your blogroll!
XOXXOXOXOX and big valentine luvins to you and yours!
--Jen

On February 11, 2009, langelbleu wrote:

Jessica I am grateful that my story can offer some motivation to choose health and a better life for you. Suffering is not inevitable, you can heal and you can feel better, diligence and willingness is the key.

On February 12, 2009, Robyn wrote:

So excited to open my mail box and see your story profiled here Jen! Am really looking forward to meeting you in person on Sunday! :)

On February 12, 2009, langelbleu wrote:

How awesome is that Robyn! I made some insanely good raw cacao chocolates today to share with everyone. I must say they are truly DEEEVINE! I can hardly wait to meet you in person!
XOXOXOXOXOX!

On February 12, 2009, earthmother wrote:

WOW. Wow. wow.

I just want to re-read this over and over again. There's so much here that is resonating with me, in the depths of my being. Thank you so much for sharing your story and all of the valuable insights you've gleaned on your journey of health and healing.

On February 12, 2009, langelbleu wrote:

My pleasure. I feel so validated to hear that you resonate so deeply with what I am saying. I hope that these words can make your experience just that much easier.

On February 12, 2009, RawBin wrote:

Oh, wow! Great post, Jen. You've taken such care to include helpful advice, insight, and clarity. And, I know I've read your history before, but I never noticed how much change you've made in your body.
Lovely lady, you are.
-Rawbin

On February 12, 2009, langelbleu wrote:

Thank you RawBin!
I think because the process was so much more gradual for me than it is for some other people who transition to raw my early SAD pictures can get lost in the shuffle. It is a delight and privilege to have been able to compile and share my story here.
XOXOXOX to you!
--Jen

On February 28, 2009, flyingjuli wrote:

beautiful story! congratulations.
inspiring and good tips !
Very nice!
thank you.