A few years ago I went off on a weekend workshop where I was to be taken past my perceived physical limits in a gruelling bootcamp and embrace a new diet, the raw food lifestyle.
I shared my journey on video and in blog posts and began to see how I had been creating one myth after another through my life. Releasing my attachment to cooked food blasted so many of my old belief systems sky high and let me see how I had been using food to control both how I felt and how others would respond to me.
I believed I had intolerances against different foodstuffs. I believed I was over-sensitive and would react adversely to different types of food. I believed I just couldn’t put on weight no matter how much I ate. I believed I had assimilation problems, that food just went in one end and out the other without my body absorbing any of the goodness.
I also upheld the belief that I had such a fast metabolism that my blood sugar would drop really fast and I needed to be constantly eating to maintain balance. I had all sorts of pH issues and struggled against candida albicans for a long time. The truth was, I revelled in all the attention I got when I had all these conditions. And when life got too harsh, I contracted something and withdrew.
The stories went on and on.
My mantras were entertaining to say the least.
And then raw arrived at the most unexpected moment. I threw myself into it, giving it my all. As I detoxed, huge energy reserves were released in my body and so initially I was bouncing and wide awake. I found that my body was much more bendy and flexible, most noticible when I did yoga. My skin got much softer, but then it always was very smooth and soft and still is. My hair got thicker and started growing even faster. My eyes became more sparkly. My digestion was running like clockwork. My mind was less fogged.
So on the surface there were so many benefits, surely I had found the answer to my years of dietary searching and experimentation.
And yet, slowly but surely, the insights began to dawn. I could see, bit by bit, how I was getting bogged down yet again in dogma. I had stepped out of one belief system and landed head first in another. Within the raw community too much energy was being put into explaining why eating cooked food was bad for you. I wasn’t actually against cooked food, I was just happy how eating the raw food was restoring my perceived low energy levels.
I then began to notice how stressful it was to be out and about. Everyone else around me was just relaxed while I had to always make sure I had something to eat that was healthy and raw. It meant having to stand at home and plan my food beforehand, wrapping it up and taking it along with me picnic-style. It meant unpacking my lunchbox and munching my way through my ‘healthy’ option while everyone else had what was on offer wherever we were. The social aspect of things was affected to quite a degree by this.
I realised with honesty how I was often in a situation where I was actually having to say no to food, simply because it didn’t fit in with the structure I had put in place. Even if it smelled nice and I was quite hungry. There was no real truth in it, looking at it with hindsight.
But what really began to bother me was my weight. The more raw food I ate, the more weight I lost. Now if you know me personally, you will know that I don’t carry any excess pounds around on my body. So the weight slowly slipped off. I was told to not worry as this would stabilise, and if I was doing things properly, I should begin to put a little bit of weight back on. I didn’t. Which either meant I wasn’t doing it properly…or else, I was simply losing weight due to the type of food I was eating.
And my body temperature was always just that bit too low. I had really cold hands and feet. But in addition to that, my whole body felt cold. So I took stock of what I was eating. It was all cold. And we were in the middle of winter. The house was cold, my food was cold and my body was cold.
I was eating piles of salads, drinking cold smoothies, cold fruit juices, everything which was perfect for those living in warmer climates. But not for generating heat on cooler shores. All those cucumbers, tomatoes, shredded carrots, courgette spaghetti, shredded broccoli. They were cooling and maintaining that fridge environment within me. More and more water, despite the mashed avocadoes and bananas. Despite the ground almonds and raw cacao. My body had nothing of real substance and was getting thinner.
I had dropped to 46kg which was just over 7 stone 3 lbs. Not all that wonderful. This was the weight I had reached when I was critically ill a couple of years earlier. I had come full circle.
It was time to stop. I could see clearly how following this strict regime was paramount to me not listening to what my body really wanted. Hot nourishing vegetable soups. Steaming curries and rice.
I was also setting myself apart, being special, different from everyone around me. I had made a complete issue out of food again by making my day rotate around it. I had to constantly be thinking of food, buying the ingredients required and looking out different ways of preparing it so that I didn’t get completely bored.
And because the food I did eat consisted of mostly water, I had to eat mountains of it. And was often still very hungry. There was just often no real substance to it compared to what I had been eating in earlier years.
Yes, the vitality, the good looks, the sparkle, the bounce and elasticity, the clear mind were fabulous. And at the same time, my body was just dwindling away. The inner fire was going out. So I pulled the break.
Slowly but surely I began giving myself permission to eat cooked foods. Eat whatever my intuition was guiding me to eat. I could feel the warmth returning to my body. I could feel that inner furnace being stoked and with that, a gentle letting go. The heat returned, the pounds started to go back on
Taking stock today the picture is very different. I no longer put any restrictions in my way regarding what I eat. I now respond to what my body wants. I don’t have food as the central issue in my life. I don’t spend lots of time shopping for special ingredients and advocating raw or organice or whatever my mind tries to tell me is better and healthier. I go much more for what is locally available and trust that I am looking after my body to the best of my ability. I don’t run up huge food bills and go to great lengths to get all those special foods and fruit and veggies I believed would make me healthier.
And guess what? I now weigh clearly more than I ever have done although I don’t look overweight in any way. I eat a lot more meat whenever I feel like it. But more importantly, I ‘m feeling much more at home within myself than I ever have done. I don’t have any more issues around food. In fact, I hardly think about it. I don’t take any supplements and don’t waste any time thinking about how I was chronically anaemic most of my life. I haven’t looked at an iron tablet in such a long time. My eyes have a new sparkle, a new light coming from within. And it’s not dependent on how many kilos of raw veggies I consume each week. It’s got more to do with honesty.
Something shifted. The dietary fads loosened their grip on me and I’m able to enjoy life now without any food stories. Because not one of them was true. And that’s a fact.