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 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.
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.