JENNIFER: My journey to a primarily raw plant based diet was long and winding. During the decade of my 30′s, “Two steps forward, one step back” would be an accurate description of my lifestyle and eating habits! I tried eating only whole and organic foods, I was vegan for a year, and I did a several month stint on the Hallelujah Diet (yes, I turned slightly orange from all the carrot juice!). Thrown in for good measure were a few weeks of the South Beach Diet and the Mediterranean Diet.
I did feel better when I avoided dairy and meat, but I was often fatigued, needing a shot of caffeine to make it through the afternoon and evening. I was plagued by food cravings, especially for sweets. I had aches that I assumed were a natural part of getting older, and a chronic stabbing pain in my shoulder. My thinking was sometimes foggy, and occasionally defeatist. In short, I’d lost my zip. As my 42nd birthday approached, I realized I wasn’t ready to accept that middle age equalled the blahs, and I could and should feel much better.
The answer presented itself with an accidental visit to a very special restaurant, Grezzo in Boston, sparking a paradigm shift in the way I regard food. The owner of the restaurant, Raw & Living Foods pioneer Alissa Cohen, author of Raw Food for Everyone: Essential Techniques and 300 Simple-to-Sophisticated Recipes, offered training programs in raw food preparation and instruction. After reading several books on the philosophy of raw foods, I was ready to not only change my diet, but pack my bags for Boston and train with Alissa. Seven weeks into eating almost 100% raw vegan foods, I’d lost 18 pounds, had more energy than I’d had in years, and the chronic pain in my shoulder disappeared. I realized that the standard model of “calories in, calories out” was not complete, and that the quality of the food I ate was just as important as the quantity.
I completed the Raw & Living Foods Teacher certification with Alissa Cohen, and began teaching the basics of preparing raw foods, as well as more complicated techniques. Nearly three years later, I’m still at it and feeling great! I am not 100% raw vegan, but have found the best ratio of cooked-to-raw-foods for me. I continue to test, reassess, change, and tweak as needed.
I’m currently working towards my Health Coach certification, and I firmly believe the best way to safeguard your health is through an optimal diet and healthy lifestyle. Peace & Raw!
PAMELA: I am a work in progress. Aren’t we all? When I was 30 and pregnant, I start reading about nutrition. I had decided I only wanted one child and if I was just going to have one – she would be healthy! The first book I read was John Robbins’ ”Food Revolution, The: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World.” That book changed my life forever. After reading that, I became a vegetarian and decided my child would be raised as a vegetarian. Reading that book instilled in me a passion for health and specifically healthy food. I transitioned from vegetarian to vegan to macrobiotic and eventually came across raw food.
On my journey, as I eliminated meat, dairy, wheat and sugars, I noticed I not only felt better, but I looked better! When I first learned about the raw food diet, it just made sense to me. I immediately made a lifestyle change and started investing in my health. I started slowly, incorporating green smoothies into my daily routine and eventually working up to 75-100% raw food.
I’ll just be bluntly honest and tell you it’s not always easy! Food is addictive and cravings are a killer. I am not perfect, and I believe its a journey – food is such a personal choice! I can tell you, the healthier foods I eat, the better I feel and look. I don’t push my lifestyle on anyone, but when I go to a dinner party, you can be sure I am the one showing up with the kale salad or raw sushi.
I believe we are all responsible for our own health and that good health is possible with the right diet. My truest intention is to offer education and support for anyone who wants to make a positive change in their life. Namaste.
HEIDI: My journey to a raw and primarily plant based diet has been long and circuitous! As is often said, it’s as much about the journey as the destination, and I must admit I have made a lot of stops along the way!
It started in college when I became a vegetarian; dabbled in macrobiotics; resumed my meat eating ways when I became pregnant with my first child (I felt pressure to include meat and dairy in my diet during those critical months of fetal development); and, finally, my mother was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma four months after my first child was born.
My mom miraculously extended her life beyond anyone’s expectations, due to a combination of eating a healthy diet (mostly vegan) and a refusal to completely accept her diagnosis! The connection between food and health became obvious to me when mom passed away in 2006, but I just couldn’t seem to find the diet that kept my interest or that I could maintain indefinitely. It was so frustrating because I knew I needed to take better care of myself, I just couldn’t seem to successfully do it!
It wasn’t until the fall of 2009 when I was diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition in which backward flow of acid from the stomach causes heartburn and possible injury of the esophagus (the tube between the throat and stomach), and then was subsequently given an open ended prescription for a high powered antacid to control my symptoms (not fix the problem!), that I became determined to figure out a way to cure my reflux through a natural approach that revolved around diet and lifestyle. I was obsessed with eliminating my symptoms, and I tried everything!! I wouldn’t eat past 7:00pm, I avoided high fat foods, I eliminated acidic foods, I limited my food intake, and in my relentless quest for information I stumbled across Alissa Cohen and her teachings in her first book, Living on Live Food.
A trip to Boston to visit my son at college (yes, the same one I mentioned above…and hence the circuitous route!), and dinner at Alissa’s Cohen’s raw food restaurant, Grezzo, forever changed my life. I became a raw vegan in February 2010 and completed Alyssa’s Raw & Living Foods Teacher certification classes in March 2010. My acid reflux disease vanished almost immediately, I stopped getting headaches (I used to take Tylenol daily as a precautionary measure just to make sure I didn’t end up with a splitting headache), and all sorts of other little aches and pains of “aging” disappeared.
The drastic change in the way I feel and look have inspired me to share my knowledge of preparing and eating a plant based diet. I believe I have found an incredible treasure, and that everyone can benefit from eating more raw plant food! I am not 100% raw vegan, and of course I veer off track every now and then, but when I eat primarily raw, my thinking is clear, my attitude is bright, I feel amazing and I have energy to spare! What works for me is approaching a healthy lifestyle on a day-to-day basis in small, manageable, 24-hour increments. My goal is to teach others how to commit to living a healthy lifestyle one day at a time!