My 10 Day Raw Food Experiment

Byline: Seraphina Sharif.

10 Day Raw Food ExperimentIt’s spring time! And what a great opportunity for us all to take inspiration from the renewal in nature and explore new paradigms, grow into new life approaches and new foods.

For me, this shift started last year with a small raised garden a good friend built for me and a video clip of someone by the name of “Markus Rothkranz” posted by a Facebook friend late June of 2013. I had never heard of Markus R. before then. I watched the video clip and at first glance it reminded me of one of those gimmicky sales pitches that most of us dread. 

I was skeptical to say the least. The “Life Scientist” in me, however, kept nudging me along to learn more about this guy, his life story and Raw Food. I have a background in Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese medicine, and going completely raw goes against some of the key paradigms and principles of my practice, the foundations of which go back thousands of years.

Nevertheless, I was drawn to reading the e-book and leaped at the opportunity to experiment without any specific commitment to the new approach. The new approach, I decided, had my attention for 10 days, not one day more, not one day less!

And here I am, almost 10 months later and the “experiment” gradually became my way of life. I can’t see myself going back to the way things were before. Needless to say, the change came like a big whirlwind and rearranged one thing, then another and had a ripple effect in every aspect of my life. 

About 20 pounds lighter in weight, feeling energized, more than 1/3 of my closet donated, every room and drawer in my home uncluttered, car loads of stuff donated, list of Facebook friends cut by half and mentally clearer and lighter than I have ever felt in my entire life. Not to mention lower monthly gas bills, as cooking is no longer required. 

As well as, grocery bills that are cut by at least 1/3 if not more without all the packed and processed food.

I walk around my home asking myself: How can I SIMPLIFY more and optimize how I live to truly enjoy life?

Is there anything I have missed that I could donate and minimize? That’s all because getting lighter physically, mentally, and emotionally feels so good and natural. 

Simplicity: when LESS is truly MORE! As in our natural state, going back in time during the first 9 months of gestation, when from a tiny spec of human plasma we grow and we have everything we need.

And so the Journey of a Thousand Miles started with 10 simple steps…

10 Day Raw Food Experiment Must-Haves

I Invested in a Slow Juicer, a Blender (Must-Have) and a Food Dehydrator (Optional).

Before starting the Raw Food approach, I kicked off my body’s “self-clean” button with a 36 hour water-fast to allow the body to clear any prior build up. As I understand, our bodies when inefficient do not absorb nutrients well due to build up. We may get hungry more often and the new nutritious food may go more to waste instead of getting properly absorbed. Similar to pouring expensive Fuel and Oil in a rusted antique car!

Step by Step 10 Day Raw Food Experiment

  1. First thing in the morning every other day: Water enema to clean the “sewage pipes” (or a colonic done by a professional for those who may be new to enemas)
  2. Start the day off with a physical activity of Choice for 45 minutes: Stretch, Yoga, Dance, Boot-camp workout, Mini-trampoline Jumps, Shadow box, Swim, etc.

    A really good $3 Google app can helped me build variety called “You Are Your Own Gym”, which allows you to build your own workouts or follow pre-set workout variations.
    If nothing else, I challenged myself on the mini-trampoline jumping up and down to get the lymphatic system going with some awesome music blasting in the background!

  3. Squeeze lemon/lime juice in a glass of water and add few drops of Nascent Iodine twice a Day (morning and later afternoon) to help detoxify and increase digestive juices to optimize digestion and absorption and minimize waste.
  4. Remain in a relaxed state: Breathe Deeply and Walk in the Sunshine
  5. No TV, No News for the 10 Days – (I listen and read news since then, but during the 10 days, I focused internally as much as I could)
  6. Drink one Smoothie for breakfast (Half Fruits PLUS Half Greens in some kind of liquid or water).
  7. Drink Juice (Half Fruit/Veggies PLUS Half Greens). Between 12 pm and 6 pm, I drank as many juices as I liked.
  8. Eat one Big Super Salad before 6 pm. Cut off for eating and juices is 6 pm or 4 hours before going to bed by 10 pm.
  9. Green or white teas mornings and nights. Avoid caffeine.
  10. Warm bath with Epsom salt. I took Epsom salt baths every night during the 10 days but now only when I feel like I need one. And went to bed by 10 pm the latest to allow the organs, body and the mind to rebuild itself.

After the 10 days, I felt great and I decided to stay on this approach “just another week”, and then “another week” and then “another week”.

By late summer/fall of 2013 and winter of 2014, I experienced more changes: I lost about 10-15 lbs in first couple of months.

Total weight loss has now stabilized to around 20 lbs; clarity of mind, increased energy and better sleep; did not suffer ANY flu or cold symptoms since summer of 2013, while everyone else around me was sick with some kind of flu or cold over fall and winter; my Blood Pressure went from 120/90 which is in the normal range to 113/72 which is in the “ideal” range.

To my family doctor’s surprise, my Heart Rate dropped from 90 beats/min to 72 beats/min pointing to the cadio-vascular system working more efficiently; Sun and skin allergies which I suffered from since childhood ARE GONE!

I am pleased to say that I can now easily sit in sun for a long time, tan beautifully without eczema or rashes. Markus argues that it is not the sun that causes cancer. It is the sun that pulls the TOXINS in our body to the surface that causes cancer. I think he may have a point here.

In my last visit at the optometrist, I was told that my vision had in fact improved in BOTH eyes. So the optometrist was asking what I was doing differently?

At the end of this, I encourage YOU to NOT take my word or anyone’s word for it.

Be it 3 days, 10 days or a month; 90% Raw, 80% raw, 50% raw; Give this approach a try and listen to your body and see the changes that you will manifest in your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual lives.

SSS2 - CopySeraphina Sharif, MBA, RMT/CST
Seraphina has a an educational and professional background in Business and Finance, Energy Trading, Foreign Languages, Acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Massage Therapy, Energy Healing and Information Technology. Her hobbies include classic shadow-boxing, body weight training, learning a new language, astrology, the tarot, dream interpretation and remote viewing/perception.

Dangers of eating raw meat

There has been a lot of debate whether raw meat is safe to eat. Raw meat might sound scary, but you have probably consumed some without realizing it: rare steak at a steakhouse, steak tartare at a fine French restaurant, or sashimi at your favorite sushi bar. However, extreme caution must be taken when consuming raw meat, as our bodies are not built to combat the bacteria that might be found in uncooked animal product.

This article was originally published by Sakai City Institute of Public Health in 2007. It details a case where 4 family members contracted acute gastroenteritis from consuming raw meat and raw liver.

Here is the published article from Sakai City Institute of Public Health

An Outbreak of Cryptosporidiosis Suspected to be Related to Contaminated Food

Of course, this case is an isolated incident, and it should not be taken as evidence that ALL raw meat will cause adverse health reactions. However, we highly recommend purchasing meat from quality sources, such as all grass-fed beef with no antibiotics/hormones. It is also a good idea to ask the butcher whether the meat can be eaten raw/rare.

Raw Food Travel Tips for Frequent Travelers Who Want to Stay Healthy

One of the biggest sticking points I hear from people who start eating more raw food is… what about when you travel? How can you eat raw when you’re on the road, in the air, or sailing on the ocean? Or worse, what if you manage to eat decent food but come home feeling deprived from turning down so many new food opportunities that you just eat your heart out and feel horrible.

Well my friend and colleague Andy Hayes and I are putting together a special virtual get-together for you to get your travel and food questions answered. It’s called the Healthy Travel Lifestyle Happy Hour, where you get to hang out with us for an hour and get your healthy travel questions answered.

Does Your Frequent (or Aspiring) Travel Stop You From Trying More Raw Food?

If you’ve been dabbling with raw food, or are intrigued by the idea of it, but haven’t given it a real go because of your travel schedule… then this is for you. I truly believe that you can do anything if you want it badly enough. If you want the kind of health, energy, and vitality that eating more fresh food can bring then your travel plans shouldn’t stop you.

I’ve traveled across Europe to Italy, Spain, France, England, Ireland, and Belgium. I’ve spent four months traveling in South East Asia spending months at a time in China, visiting countries like South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong. I maintained a healthy travel lifestyle throughout, and because of that I didn’t succumb to any travel related health setbacks. I can show you how I did it. And I know Andy travels even more extensively and has lots of tricks up his sleeves to share!

Don’t Let Your Healthy Habits Fall to the Wayside When You Travel

Another trend I’ve noticed is that people can eat well when they’re at home, but as soon as they’re away it’s like a food free for all. All the things that are considered no-no’s at home turn into “oh, we’re on vacation, who cares” items that add up and make you feel gross at the end of your time away.

One thing to keep in mind with this one is that I’m not against trying new foods and experiencing new cultures. I really think it’s about finding the balance between having that second piece of cake, and eating nothing but carrots.

If this is a topic that really stumps you and you want to know more, join me and Andy for the Healthy Travel Lifestyle Happy Hour on December 7th, 5pm EST / 2pm PST.

Get all the details here: Join us for the Healthy Travel Lifestyle Happy Hour!

Love, Nathalie

My Big Epiphany & Why I’m Eating Like a Dog

eat-like-millie

In the last few weeks I’ve been hinting at the big epiphany that has been changing the way I think about health and diet.

My realization came after I adopted Millie (pictured above, sticking her tongue out like she knows more than we do about healthy living). You see, feeding her made me realize how unbalanced our relationship to food can really get.

That’s why I believe we can all learn from dogs. I’m not saying we should lick our butts or chase cars, but that maybe the way a dog’s diet is structured has a lot to teach us.

In the wild a dog or wolf might hunt, eat grass, and find leftover scraps to eat. Domesticated pets have a much more regimented way of eating, and that’s what we can learn from.

Come to think of it, a dog’s life is pretty awesome: lots of chasing of squirrels, long afternoon naps, and dog treats.

Isn’t that what we all want to be able to eat? No, not squirrels but human treats! Having a strong nutritional base with the freedom to treat yourself every now and then.

Just Because Someone Else Eats It, Doesn’t Mean You Should

In my previous post I talked about how you can’t trust your tastebuds. Dogs can’t either, really. They don’t know what’s good for them.

They watch everyone around them eat and think that this food must be good if everyone else is eating it. (Sound familiar?)

Take for example grains, grapes, or chocolate. All toxic or mildly allergenic for dogs. Yet dogs will happily eat these up if you or someone around them are having any.

That’s why as pet owners we need to keep these harmful foods out of a dog’s reach. So why don’t we do it for our own harmful food cravings?

The Pareto Principle

Looking at my dog’s diet, I noticed she was eating about 80% main food, and 20% treats. Now don’t get me wrong, these treats aren’t deep-fried Mars bars, they’re quite in line with her diet. (She’s a raw dog, and you can see what she eats here.)

So what can we learn from eating by the 80/20 rule?

My big realization is that if we all adhere to an 80/20 way of eating we won’t fall off the wagon, beat ourselves up, or feel deprived.

I also think that it’s important to recognize that 100% percent raw is not ideal for everyone. So this is a much better way to regain your health and vitality, without feeling like a loser if you eat something cooked.

Preparedness Trumps Spontaneity

I don’t look at my dog each morning and wonder what to feed her. She would probably starve if I didn’t have a plan and some prepared food on hand at all times. That, or she’d get all kinds of human food “leftovers” that aren’t any good for her.

So why do we fail to have planned or prepared food for ourselves?

When we don’t have a plan or any prepared food in the house, we reach for instant food and take out… which we know isn’t good for us. (This is different from treating ourselves, by the way!)

Everything starts with having a solid plan and foundation in place. Without proper grocery shopping skills or a nicely varied menu plan, you’ll start reaching for all those unhealthy instant meal fallbacks. And that would just skew the 80 to 20% balance.

What’s in the 20%?

Let’s look at what’s in the fun 20% food category. I recommend keeping to a gluten-free diet, so if you are going to have baked goods then keep them gluten-free.

Ideally you will want to eat raw desserts since they taste so good and are so low in sugar.

So what’s left to treat yourself with? You can treat yourself with some of the savory dishes that you miss. Think of including some cooked veggies, warm soups, steamed sweet potatoes, or cooked grains of the gluten-free variety.

These might not sound like treats to you, but it’s such a nice way to balance out an otherwise high raw diet that you’ll feel a lot more grounded and fulfilled.

If you’re coming from a conventional diet you can also use your 20% for meat, fish, or dairy products you aren’t ready to let go yet.

This doesn’t mean you can run out and buy doughnuts, chow down on doritos, and eat peanut butter sandwiches on white bread everyday.

The 20% is meant to give you more flexibility, in a way that doesn’t hurt your progress and health.

What’s in the 80%?

In the 80% food category we want to include lots of green juice, green smoothies, green salads, and some seasonal fruits like berries, apples, or peaches.

The trick here is to be honest with yourself about how much of the “treat foods” you’re really eating. So if you’re just having one apple per day and the rest of your meals are processed, then this is not going to work.

I’m not recommending that the 80% be uber healthy, while the 20% is completely unhealthy. Rather, both are healthy foods but you just don’t want to overdo the 20% ones.

What’s Does it Mean for You?

Well it means that this winter you can enjoy some warm soups, cooked squash, or warm millet, and still feel amazing in your body and mind.

It means you can be more inclusive with friends or family members who don’t quite get the whole “raw” thing.

It also means that you can be nice to yourself and stop all those longing looks at what other people are eating.

It means you can finally stop obsessing about food and live a little.

You might also wake up really early and ready to go for a walk in the park every morning. Maybe.

How I’m Going to Help You Do This

I never thought I’d say that I’d help people eat like a dog, but here goes! After asking you and other readers what would help you stay on the healthy eating path, and in line with my big epiphany I’m creating something free to help you.

I know you’re looking for simple & quick meals that are nutritious, presented in a way to save you time. You might also like a produce guide that focuses on the changing seasons.

So that’s exactly what I’m putting together, and you’ll be able to get your copy free if you’re on my newsletter.

If you’re not yet on the newsletter, click here to sign up for free. Expect some goodness in your inbox next week!

Woof, woof.

Love, Nathalie

Will You Go Nuts If You Eat Too Many Nuts?

When I first went raw, I jumped in with both feet and went 100% raw for 30 days. The first few weeks I found myself eating tons of nuts! I know it’s not uncommon for people transitioning to raw food to overeat nuts, so I decided to share my story and advice about nuts.

Why The Nuts?

Why do most of us immediately reach for the raw nuts and seeds when we switch to a raw diet?

1. We want to feel full.

Since nuts are solid, crunchy, and filling, we have a tendency to use them as a replacement for cooked food. For example, when I first went raw, I would still feel “hungry” after eating a generous salad. I’d eat a handful or two of nuts to get that semi-drowsy feeling I was missing.

2. Nuts are crunchy.

Of course another reason why we might overeat nuts at the beginning is that we miss that crunchy yummy sort of salty feeling. Nuts make a natural replacement for chips, popcorn, crackers, and other snacks. Here’s a quick tip if that’s why you’re reaching for the nuts: try crunching on some celery, or make kale chips!

3. It’s an easy snack food.

You don’t need to wash, cut, or blend anything to eat nuts. If you’re in a hurry or feeling tired, you can just open a jar or reach for a container of nuts and enjoy. There’s nothing wrong with this behavior, but if you’re overeating nuts you will want to prepare adequate snack foods in advance.

Remember that being prepared is half the battle when it comes to eating healthy foods.

Nuts: The Good and The Bad

On the one hand, nuts make us feel full because our body is expending energy trying to digest them. Nuts are harder to digest than fresh fruits and vegetables. In reality we probably wouldn’t be eating tons of nuts in nature, unless they were fresh and in season. How many of us live next to a Brazil nut tree? That’s what I thought.

Nuts have tons of great nutritious qualities, and I don’t think we should shun them entirely. The healthy oils found in nuts are full of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for the brain, and for keeping your stress levels under control. Alternative sources of omega-3 fatty acids include chia seeds and flax seeds.

Most people have an easier time digesting seeds than they do digesting nuts. Also, the reason why more people are allergic to nuts than seeds is that nuts tend to go rancid if kept on a shelf for too long a time.

The Nutty Conclusion

So what’s the verdict? No, you won’t go insane if you eat too many nuts. But try to limit yourself to one handful per day, since they are hard to digest. If you feel bloated or gassy after eating nuts, cut down.

Also, you should avoid eating nuts with fresh fruits since that will definitely cause some discomforts and gas!

Other than that, go nuts. :D