From Cookie Monster to Glowing Raw Power

Mini Monster Cookie

Growing up my mom called me the cookie monster. I ate chocolate chip cookies for breakfast, sugary granola bars for snacks, and candy every chance I got.

Somehow despite all my bad eating habits I retained my skinny body. I was so skinny I was often teased at school.

Acne and Skin Problems

But it didn’t stop there; I had severe acne very early on. I kept seeing dermatologist after doctor, and every time I would ask if my eating habits had anything to do with my bad skin. Each time the answer was no.

All of these so-called experts were telling me that my skin problems and my low energy had nothing to do with what I ate. So I kept drinking soft drinks, eating cookies, peanut butter sandwiches, hamburgers, and ignoring the vegetable and fruit groups almost entirely.

I went on the birth control pill and for a time my skin improved. I wasn’t blemish free, but it was at least livable. After starting on the pill, my usual too-skinny body bulked up. In one summer I gained 20 pounds.

Everyone thought I looked healthier, because I was “too thin” before. I just ignored all of these changes, choosing to focus on my studies instead.

The College Freshman 15

My weight increased sharply during my first year away from home at college. I didn’t like the food at the cafeteria, and was forced into a meal plan. Not wanting to waste my meal plan I ate a combination of fried chicken, pizza, and pastas.

The “freshman 15” didn’t look good on me. I covered up in big sweatshirts and baggy pants, a departure from my tight fitting jeans and trendy shirts.

I just didn’t feel good anymore. I was focusing so much on my studies, and my health really wasn’t something I really thought about. I tried a few things to bring my chubby tummy back to size: I joined yoga, went for runs, and ate more salads.

Unfortunately nothing really changed, since I was accompanying my salads with chips, chicken, and fried cheese sticks.

I was into witches early on
I was my Witchy self pretty young.

My journey to health really began during my first summer internship. One morning I woke up and fainted in the bathroom. I came to and looked up at the ceiling, and I was lying next to the toilet. I didn’t know what was wrong with me.

“I knew something had to change.”

I took the morning off from work and went to see the doctor. He wasn’t able to tell me anything and asked what I had eaten the night before. Hamburger and macaroni. He sent me home saying that maybe I needed to get air conditioning in my apartment. (I was living in Montreal, Canada and I can assure you the temperature had nothing to do with it.)

That same summer I started getting extreme rashes on my stomach. No doctor could tell me anything about this mysterious rash. My mom and I thought maybe I was allergic to a slightly itchy shirt. Later I would find out that taking birth control pills can destroy intestinal flora and cause candida, and feeding the yeast with sugar (or stuff that turns to sugar like carbs) might show up as a rash.

By the end of the summer I had done some research about nutrition and had increased my intake of fruits. I also started running every morning, and was feeling better.

You mean, vegetables can taste good?!

That fall I met my boyfriend, and coming from a Chinese background he confessed to absolutely loving vegetables. I thought he was crazy to talk so well of vegetables, but I started to eat more of them when we ate together.

That year I stumbled upon the concept of raw and living foods, but I didn’t have much of a reason to go “all raw.” I started drinking green smoothies the following fall. I drank a green smoothie (or brown, as they sometimes turn out) every day for 6-7 months.

Then something happened that shocked me into change. One of my aunts suddenly passed away. I still remember hearing the news, clutching the phone, and nodding solemnly as my parents explained what happened. She had been overweight and struggling with heart conditions, and she suffered a shortness of breath, and wasn’t able to get enough air and fell into a coma. She didn’t make it.

I need to mention that this aunt of mine was not the first of my relatives who passed away through degenerative disease. In the years of my childhood and young adulthood I attended more funerals than I care to recall.

My father’s twin brother died of a heart attack when I was 5 years old. Every few years one of my father’s siblings seemed to pass away due to heart conditions. Looking into my father’s eyes, I knew I didn’t want the same to happen to him.

Happy Raw Nathalie

I vowed to find something that I could do to prevent or reverse all of these heart conditions. And no, Coumadin and drugs weren’t cutting it, thank you very much.

How I Chose to Go Raw

That’s when I decided to go 100% raw, just to try it out for 30 days. What I discovered was incredible: I felt better, my skin cleared up, I lost all of the excess weight I was holding, and my moods improved considerably.

My parents thought I had gone off the deep end. But eventually my dad decided to increase his raw food intake, and he went “raw until dinner.” He lost 12 pounds in the first 2-3 weeks, his skin looked younger, and he had more energy.

His constant acid reflux, indigestion, and heart burn vanished. He used to have a pinching pain in his heart several times per day, but after eating more raw food the pain just went away.

I knew I was onto something. I keep going with raw food, but decided I needed a way to share it with other people without scaring them off. There is no need to see the raw food diet as an extreme and limiting way of eating.

Quite the contrary, raw food has really helped me to discover new types of fruits and vegetables that I had never even heard of before. I have a much more varied diet now than I did before. Thinking back I know that my main food groups were: chicken, wheat, potato, and sugar. Not exactly as balanced as we make it out to be.

Thank you for reading my story.

Love, Nathalie

9 Ways Raw Food Changed My Life

There are a lot of common reasons for going raw. To lose weight, solve a digestive problem, or heal your relationship with food. But here’s a list of 9 things that resulted from adding more raw food into my diet, in a question and answer format.

1. How to Try New Fruits and Vegetables? Eat More Raw Food.

One of the interesting things that happened after I started eating more raw food, is that I started to try different things at the supermarket. I tried all kinds of new vegetables and fruits that I had never even heard of before. Some of my new favorites include durian, mangosteen, and persimmons.

I also rediscovered some of my old favorite fruits like strawberries and raspberries. I used to pick raspberries from my grandmother’s raspberry patch when I was a kid, and going raw really rekindled those good memories.

2. How to Get Started Gardening? Eat More Raw Food.

I was never much of a gardener, but after going raw I realized that we are much more connected to nature and we think we are. Starting a garden was a revelation for me. I discovered how the earth we walk on every day is responsible for the food we eat. (Yes, even meat!)

Now I just love going through the garden and figuring out all kinds of tricks to get better results. Weeding the garden isn’t as fun as planting or harvesting, but it’s definitely a fun and enjoyable activity for me.

3. Want to Try Alternative Medicine? Eat More Raw Food.

At the same time that I decided to go raw, I also decided to explore the world of alternative medicine. Not so much by choice as by circumstance. With the magic of Traditional Chinese Medicine, I was able to heal a lot of my internal imbalances naturally.

Chinese Medicine also places a lot of importance on the foods we eat as medicine themselves. Just like Hippocrates did, saying “Let Food Be Thy Medicine.”

4. How to Reduce Acne? Eat More Raw Food.

I’ve had acne since I was 10 or 11 years old. My parents and I thought it was just my hormones, and so I went on the birth control pill when I was young.

Back when I was a kid, my vegetarian martial arts instructor, used to tell me that food was causing my acne. Of course I didn’t want to believe it, so I continued to ignore this advice. Now that I’ve been raw, and the longer I stay raw, the clearer my skin looks.

5. How to Take Back Your Kitchen? Eat More Raw Food.

Before going raw I knew very little about cooking or preparing food for myself. I ate at a cafeteria in high school and University. I didn’t know how to feed myself so I resorted to lots of packaged and pre-made “foods”.

Going raw really taught me about nutrition and how to make food for myself, and for others. That’s really made a big difference for me, because I don’t have to look in the fridge and cupboards and wonder what you eat.

Delicious Raw Tomatoes
Photo by Sporkist

6. How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint? Eat More Raw Food.

Everything we do has an impact, and right now everyone is even more aware of the impact that their food choices are having on the planet. I learned that for 1 person eating a piece of steak, there are 49 people eating out of an empty bowl. If you don’t have steak, all 50 people could have grain in their bowls, including you.

Meat has many more hidden “side effects” than we like to think about when we’re having a nice dinner. All of these hidden steps cause so much environmental waste. It’s not time to waste, instead let’s be very efficient in our environmental choices right now.

7. How to Improve Your Grades? Eat More Raw Food.

I went raw during University, and I truly believe that raw food helped me get better grades. I was able to concentrate better in class, and to prepare meals quickly for myself. Starting my day off on the right foot and focusing really helped me to learn better, and I definitely got better grades after I went raw.

8. How to Make Doing Dishes Less Boring? Eat More Raw Food.

With raw food there are no greasy pans. Yes, if I want to make something complex I might need to use a bunch of different ingredients and appliances. But overall, there’s a lot less greasy pan scrubbing, and a lot more going outside to enjoy the sunshine happening for me.

9. How to Increase Your Self Confidence? Eat More Raw Food.

Now that I’ve educated myself about what’s healthy and what’s not, I feel that I have more control and understanding of what is going into my body. I no longer have to look at so-called experts to figure out what it is to eat.

Whether meat is good or meat is bad, or carbs are good and then carbs are bad. It doesn’t matter to me anymore. I make my own choices, and I listen to my body to find out if I need to make any changes to my diet.

What About You?

What has raw done for you? Anyone can answer, whether you’re just starting out on raw food are not. I want to find out about your experiences, because we’re all in this together.