Hurrah! We did it! Today is Day 29, meaning that our 28 days of 100% raw are over — and I am excited. I am excited about reaching my goal. I am excited about the health and clarity that I feel. And I am really excited about eating a cooked meal again.
As I mentioned in my 28 days post, when I first ate 100% raw, it was for health reasons. Diet was certainly not my only lifestyle change but it was certainly a contributing factor and, within weeks of eating my new diet, my skin was clear and I was well.
This time, I committed to 28 days because my partner said, “I’d like to try this.” To which I responded, “Do you realise how much work this is?” and then I added, “Ok.” So it was more about a commitment to my partner and a timeframe than feeling the need within myself.
Physical and emotional changes.
We underwent some major changes, both positive and negative, depending on the day and the perspective.
On Day 1, I was thinking, ‘Ok. I’ve done all this before. I’m already high raw. How hard can this be?’ — which, by the end of Day 2 had converted to, ‘Wow. This is so much work. Was this so much work before? I can’t remember it being so much work before.’ and, on Day 3 was, ‘Man, I’m tired.’ And I recalled that, in 2010, I slept an awful lot during my first week. Sleep was impossible to manage so well this time around; it can be elusive when you have a new baby in the house.
The main physical and mental changes/symptoms we experienced included:
- Weight loss – great for me overall because I’m now almost at pre-baby weight. As for my partner, who lost 8% of his body weight and was already at a healthy weight before we started, he now finds himself weighing in at a level that has been foreign for over 20 years. A 6kg weight loss in 4 weeks is pretty amazing — especially when weight loss is not one of your goals — but I have to acknowledge that this would most likely have been muscle as well as fat loss, given the short period of time.
- Blood pressure – I wasn’t so scientific about my measures but my level-headed partner was feeling all scientific (and good on him for doing something I should have!) and had a medical check before and after. The difference in his blood pressure was amazing, decreasing from high-normal (148/86) to an athletic level (110/60).
- Body temperature – by the end of Day 4, my body temperature (which is naturally low) dropped to an almost hypothermic level, and this improved when I concentrated on adding sea vegetables (iodine!) to at least one of our daily meals.
- Clear skin and eyes – my skin was good beforehand, and it felt great afterwards too.
- Energy levels – our energy levels varied from day to day, with lower energy in the first two weeks, and more sustained energy in the latter part of the challenge. Some days I was very fatigued (mostly due to lack of sleep), and I realised that green juice was absolutely material to how vital I felt.
- Endurance vs strength. When it came to exercise, we experienced a decrease in strength but an increase in endurance. In spite of the huge quantity of good whole and super foods we were eating, we were both active all the time and possibly didn’t consume enough of the right nutrients to build strength.
- Clarity of thought – I feel like I am thinking more clearly and concisely.
- Emotional control. Over the course of the 4 weeks, I experienced a rollercoaster of emotions – from gratitude and elation, to deep sadness and resentment. And yet now I feel like I am more in charge of my emotions after the 4 weeks.
- Consciousness about what we put into our bodies and environment. Our new diet precipitated some inspired conversations over the course of the challenge.
A raw food journey can not help but be spiritual as well as mental and physical. At the end of Day 6, my partner and I were talking about the ethics of eating animals, whether supplementation is absolutely necessary, and how processed is too processed – and I was blinded by déjà vu. These were the same questions I started to ask myself in 2010 and, I think, provide fodder for more than one future blog post.
There were challenges & obstacles aplenty.
The prep. The huge amount of prep time ate into my ‘spare’ and sleep time and I got really super tired.
The food aversions. Try eating raw without coconut oil and agave syrup. It’s not easy.
The cravings. By the end of Week 3, I was feeling pretty much over my raw diet. I craved hot soup and pasta, steamed broccoli, poached free range and organic eggs on real sourdough and a thick salmon fillet with crispy skin, all of which I ordinarily feel can be part of a healthy and balanced diet.
Lack of enjoyment of food — and loss of appetite. By the end of Week 2, I was feeling that something was missing. I ate for calories and nutrients rather than enjoyment, and feeling good about your food is so important to ensure a more complete assimilation of the nutrients in your food. For parts of Week 2 and 3, I felt like I was doing something I didn’t need to do and I felt resentful of my raw diet, yet it was my choice!
What I have learned.
Reading the previous section, you may have been led to believe that the 4 weeks was not fantastic for me, and you would be wrong. I have learned so many excellent lessons from this challenge.
The need for interest in our food rekindled my creativity in the kitchen. I am grateful to have a partner who supports me in my foodly research and experiments.
I am thankful for the huge amount of prep time that ate into my ‘spare’ and sleep time. Sleep deprivation and necessity forced me to look at where I was spending my time, which led to some interesting conversations and reprioritisation of my efforts.
My cravings were for reasonably healthful foods. With the exception of pasta, which is processed whichever way you look at it, everything else I craved was warming and wholefoods-based. I feel like I am in tune enough with my body to know what it needs. Right now 100% raw is not it, but I do feel healthiest on a high raw diet.
I feel like I have realigned my body, mind and spirit. We are all on the same page again, more conscious than before. I recognise that I am strong and I listen to my body, and I love the way I feel when I feed my body the best food I can give it.
I also learned that I need the direct injection of chlorophyll that is green juice absolutely everyday. Smoothies don’t cut it for me.
This was hard work and completely unsustainable for our family and the lifestyle we used to enjoy. The sheer amount of prep involved in trying to make our meals appetising as well as raw and healthy has been all-consuming. I was fortunate that my loving partner enjoyed my mashed-together leftovers meals (eg. the nori rolls pictured at the top and bottom of this post) as much as my more creative efforts.
While today I am breathing a sigh of relief, I am also assessing what I can build into our routine to ensure a high level of raw food. I feel that a good set point for our family is 70-80% raw, whole and mainly organic foods.
With breakfast looming and my poached egg craving in the forefront of my mind, I don’t know how my body will handle its first cooked meal. I like the way I feel now. I am never bloated, and I know that I can eat as much as I want and still accidentally lose my excess weight.
I hope this very abridged account of our recent raw food experience has inspired you in some way. It certainly has reinvigorated me.
Finding personal balance is a tough call. I appreciate the lessons this challenge has taught me about my food and self, and I appreciate this opportunity to reset my own foodly philosophy. It’s not often that we allow ourselves the time to take stock and choose our forward path. Where is your path leading you?