I'm still sticking with my mono meal eating for Navratri. It's not as easy as I thought it would be, probably because I thought I wouldn't have any problems at all. Anyway, I'm sticking to it and we'll see if it makes me feel more energetic and healthy after the nine days are completed.

April 11, 2008

Continuing with our week of ways to keep a sharp mind, let's focus on the one widely accepted indicator for dementia or alzheimer's: heart disease. If one wants to dramatically reduce the chances of brain degredation, the first step to take is keeping the heart healthy.

The key advice most health specialists agree on when it comes to a healthy heart is the reduction (ideally eliminatain) of unhealthy fats in the diet. The unhealthy fats are usually seen as solid fats, like butter, margerine, and shortening. However, it's important to not overlook the fats that are also found in meats. By substituting unhealthy fats with something healthier for your heart (like extra virgin, cold-pressed olive oil), as well as transitioning to leaner meats if you are a meat eater, you will be taking some important steps in keeping your heart healthy, as well as your mind.

Today we bring you the last of our personal video interviews conducted while at the Raw Spirit Festival (RSF East 2009). I'll have one other highlight reel to run next week, just to round out this series by showing some of the additional ambience there.

So, we've finally come to the "infamous Viktoras video"! I smiled as I wrote that because it was quite the topic of discussion around our camp site. You see, one of my fellow campers, Bethany Hagensen, was with me as we interviewed Viktoras (she filmed the interview, in fact) -- and, well... let's just say he strayed a bit from the expected raw food subject matter. I was worried that poor Bethany would be scarred for life after witnessing the discussion, but she did seem to get a good laugh out of it, and I suppose she's fully old enough to attend an R-rated movie.

Well, here's my latest update on my nine days of mono meal eating. I have a headache this evening and I'm headed to bed early. I'm hoping the headache is a detox symptom and that it will be gone when I wake up.

April 9, 2008

We may never fully comprehend the mysteries of life and death. One thing is for certain, however, with both we experience tremendous amounts of emotion.

At this moment, we are experiencing extreme sorrow after the still birth of our niece, Elizabeth Marie. She was named after my mother who died a few years ago. During this period of tremendous grief, we will be spending time with my dear sister and her family, offering our love and support.

Do you need to be 100% raw to release excess weight and regain your health There's no difinitive answer for that question because we are all unique. Sure, our bodies function pretty much the same way, but there are still enough differences that make it difficult to answer a question like that for it to be true for every single individual.

Most of us have heard of, or know, someone who doesn't eat a healthy diet, who smokes cigarettes and/or drinks alcohol, doesn't get enough rest, and also lives a stressful life---yet that person still has a healthy body and is over 80 years old. People like that seem to have resiliency built into their genes. Sure, who knows how long a person with such resilient genes could live or how vibrant a life that person could enjoy with a healtheir lifestyle. But, the fact remains that it seems no matter what a person's lifestyle is like, if you are born with resilient genes you are pretty much invincible to most illnesses.

A majority of the population isn't born with such impressively hardy genes, however. Most bodies can withstand the stresses of an unhealthy lifestyle until middle age. At that point, however, the body begins to show signs of ill health (excess weight gain, aches and pains, and the start of many diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure). For a majority of those individuals, some healthy lifestyle changes can make a huge difference. Many individuals regain their health simply by changing their diets to include less fat and more vegetables, and by increasing their amount of exercise. Sure, it's a bit of work to make such changes, but if many people are committed to improving their health those simple changes can make a drastic difference in their lives.

Guess what's pulling into Pittsburgh tomorrow evening? Here's a hint (if you don't already know after reading the title of this blog post!):

Jim here... Wow, we haven't posted in a few days. That calls for some action! Hmmm... how about taking a look at some delicious mini pizzas Wendi whipped up the other day:

We went absolutely nuts for these little "pizzas." They were both tasty and fun. If memory serves, I believe she made them by taking slices of firm roma tomatoes, spooning on some improvised pesto sauce that she whipped up, sprinkling on some chopped basil leaves, sprinkling on some "cheese" that she made with ground Brazil nuts, garlic, and salt, and then topping each "pizza slice" off with a half cherry tomato. No recipes necessary here; just take a look at the picture & go try it!

Jim here... An unusual occurrence prompted this post, and I'm unsure as to whether it's significant. I've talked about some of my favorite non-raw items before -- things that were tough to leave behind as I embarked upon this raw foods journey. I think I covered pizza in a relatively recent post.
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Corn chips were another. In fact, after Wendi went 100% raw and I more or less began to follow her dietary choices, I clung to corn chips for dear life for quite a long time. I began eating a LOT of salsa in those days. Sometimes, that would be all I'd eat for lunch -- just an entire jar of salsa and a bag of corn chips (though, by then, I'd at least usually buy the organic ones and, quite often, a baked variety of chips as well).
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When I finally decided I'd be better off transitioning to an all raw lifestyle, I figured my love affair with corn chips had come to an end. Farewell beautiful chips, I thought. I'll never forget our delicious crunchy time together. And that was that. I never looked back.
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But then, at a local raw foods pot luck, I met a raw chef who had more or less perfected a raw corn chip recipe. Could it be , I thought. Has this delicacy returned to me after all, as though via some sweet culinary destiny? Ahh, my friends, that was a glorious day. Chips and salsa had returned to me in an enlightened raw form. I could enjoy them once again, guilt free. And enjoy them I did -- usually using a local shop's "Peruvian Purple Corn" (a living, sproutable, dried corn product).
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Alas, fate stepped in once again. "Thou may partake of these crisps any time thou wishest," fate boomed. "Yet, in order to do so, thou must prepare them thine self using thine Vitamix and requiring an enormous flax-sticky mess with extended clean-up time, and thou must have parchment paper available at all times, and thou must exercise great care and patience in using your Excalibur, for these chips must dry for many an hour before ready."
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Yeah, it was a bit of a chore to produce them. So, as the novelty of chip making and eating wore off, I slowly decreased the frequency of going through the messy, time-consuming hassle of preparing them. Until yesterday, it had been literally months since I made a batch. But... we'd ordered a few pounds of the corn from Natural Zing lately, and I found myself with some extra time the other night. So...
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Now, I'm going to pause for a minute for a tangent on digestion. I know a great majority of people, it seems, complain of various digestive disorders. As a result, we have many raw foodie specialists schooled in the nuances of food combining. Oddly, I never paid much attention to these discussions, nor offered input on these matters, because they simply weren't relevant to me.
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In fact, I likened my own digestive system to some kind of nuclear powered garbage disposal. It didn't matter what I ate; digestion wasn't a problem for me. So, for example, I'd routinely finish off heavy meals, and then follow them with a huge slice of juicy watermelon (a major no-no according to common wisdom). It just never bothered me.I always joked that, even though I'd been raw for ages, I could still probably go eat a Big Mac (not that I would) and be unaffected by it.
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So powerful was my stomach acid that, admittedly, I sometimes privately *worried* whether this might mean something was wrong with me. I mean, shouldn't some of the things I was eating make me sick? Was it "good" to not be made sick by what is generally regarded as poor food combining choices? Do people commonly suffer from problems of efficiency as well as deficiency ? I still do not really know the answer to these questions, and suspect the answer is rather complicated, anyway. Fortunately, it doesn't matter now because...
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Something finally made me sick!? I'm laughing now about that, but I spent most of the evening in terrible stomach pain after having over-indulged in some of those (in)famous raw purple corn chips.
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So, what happened ? That's an interesting question for me. Here are some possibilities: (1) Perhaps my hyper-active digestive system *was* in fact a problem, and now it's beginning to normalize. Perhaps, had I been healthier all along, I would have been made sick by some of my food choices, but now my health is improving!? (2) Perhaps it's a fluke and I simply shouldn't have eaten mass quantities of corn and flax so late at night. (3) Perhaps my body is improving in its ability to communicate with me, and/or that I'm getting better at listening, and that the message here is that corn is not something my body gains nourishment from -- at least, not in this dried-reprocessed-redried form. After all, some leading raw food authorities, like Gabriel Cousens, aren't fans of corn (even fresh corn!).
Oh sure, there may be other explanations (e.g., "a bad batch of corn"). But, I'm actually most interested in #3, above. Even though this is an extreme example (more intense than it needed to be), I'd like to think that I'm getting better at knowing what I'm being nourished from and what I am not. I'd like to think that this is a latent sense that can be developed, much like our ability to know things by feeling and intuition rather via pure rationality all the time.
But, with food, I think it's a matter of inventorying your physical sensations head to toe, and also as a whole. How is the food you're eating making you feel? Do you feel satisfied or still hungry? Do you feel light or is the food sitting kind of heavily? Do you feel energized or dragged down? How's your mental clarity? Do you feel spacey or more grounded? Do you feel noticeably happier or more sad than before? How are all of these things mapping out over time? Is your weight moving in a positive direction for you? Are your illnesses improving? Food is medicine, after all; it has all of these effects and many more!
For now, I think I can safely check purple corn off of my own personal list of foods that make me feel good. I suspect my old assertion about "being able to eat a Big Mac without any side effects" no longer applies -- and maybe this is a good thing. I think perhaps it signals some progress in my journey toward optimal health.
In any case, I think this kind of purposeful introspection is healthy, and something we should all strive to do more often.How about you? Had any similar experiences? What have you learned from them?

Original Comments

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

On April 15, 2009, essie wrote:

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Jim here... It's not often that we're able to recommend a movie that's perfectly relevant to the raw food lifestyle. But, if you're a raw vegan and haven't seen The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, we highly recommend this film. Not only is it wonderful, but it's also, for much of the film, a nice metaphor for living the raw foods lifestyle.

Jim here... Many people write to us asking whether we own pets and, if so, whether they are raw, too. Well, I wish I had a straight answer for you, but I think the answer is better told via a dedicated blog post.

As I'm writing this, part of me is tempted to include this post in our "My Raw Story" series. You see, Julia (pictured above) had some serious health issues just after we adopted her from a local rescue shelter, and we're still relatively early-on in our attempt to understand and reverse these issues.