Rural and Raw

[Previous Rural Farmgirl, April 2009 – May 2010]
I have looked into “the raw diet” for awhile now. Well, actually since 1994, when I was recovering after being diagnosed with lupus. Back then, a friend had introduced me to “blue-green” algae and its health benefits. She also introduced me to some really amazing people in the world of holistic health, which up to that point I had never even heard of. I was a very typical American who ate the Standard American Diet (known in the holistic world as SAD), never considering that what I ate and becoming ill had any link whatsoever.

When given a diagnosis of lupus (an auto-immune disorder), the first question that came to me was, “Why?” Not because I felt that it shouldn’t have happened to me, but rather I was curious as to how it happened to me. I wanted the science of it. I wanted someone to tell me that A + B = Lupus, and yet it seemed that no one in my doctor’s office could. So like a good patient, I jumped into the regiment of medicines that the doctor prescribed…steroids, anti –inflammatory drugs, other “this and that” drugs to counteract the effects of the previous drug, and so on. I really thought I was doing it all “right.” I had no idea that there was a whole other world of holistic health. I know now that I am what is called an integrated medicine supporter. I want to hear all of the options when dealing with a health crisis, and then I’m able to make the decisions that are right for me. I want every doctor imaginable on my “healing team.” So why then, have we settled for just western medicine and allopathic drug therapies?
Holistic health teaches us that we are body, mind and soul and that all three aspects are intertwined with one other. It also teaches that if any one of the three is out of sort, then sickness is the byproduct of the body’s “dis-ease.” I was ready to learn about holistic health, and my “teacher” and her teachers showed up just in time. I feel somewhat ashamed to admit that the teacher showed up 15 years ago, and I have still not graduated. I will say, however, that in that time I have “recovered” and am drug free, I have learned to listen to my body more (not that I always do what it is telling me), and the dietary changes that I have made have kept me symptom-free. I have read every book imaginable on the topic of holistic health, and if I had the money I would become a holistic nutritionist…I love the topic that much.
For a lot of years, I prayed that my finances allow for me to attend a natural health practitioner’s college that I had discovered. And when they didn’t, I convinced myself that “it just wasn’t God’s plan.” I guess it is a self-protective sort of defense to do that…wanting something so much that is always out of your reach, so you invent a reason. I tried all avenues, including financial aid, but because holistic nutrition isn’t an accredited study, financial aid wasn’t available, which is a whole other frustration of mine. But this year, for 100 different reasons, I decided I was wrong. Okay, there I said it…I WAS WRONG. I don’t know that I will ever get the degree, and maybe that is okay, but I do plan on mastering my own health. I was finally able to recognize that I had somehow attached mastering my own health to the degree…weird right? So with the help of a friend, I have now moved past it and am actively exploring the world of the raw diet lifestyle.
Timing is everything. I think that something in me just decided that enough was enough. The extra weight that I had put on while taking the steroids, and kept on to buffer life, has become enemy number one. I am tired of it limiting me and holding me back from all I want to be. But it is a complex issue since it has also buffered me from things and people and life. It is like “weeding out” an old, dysfunctional friend—hard to do, yet I know that it will make room for more positive things, which of course includes better health.
Why raw?
When Bev, my teacher, showed up, she was gracious enough to bring some of her teachers with her. For my husband’s job, he and I had just moved to a darling little community on the Palouse in Washington State. Bev’s husband and my husband were both in the wheat industry, and we were all attending a wheat growers’ convention in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Being so sick, I was really reluctant to go to the convention. I couldn’t even muster enough energy to go and enjoy the getaway, but wanting to be the supportive wife, I went anyway. I slept all day in my room, trying to reserve my energy for the “meet and greet” that evening, wanting and willing to play the part of the dutiful wife. That evening, my husband asked if I could socialize for an hour, and then I could come back and sleep. I literally prayed that I would somehow find the energy, as the disease and medications made it nearly impossible. I am glad that I did, because that is where I met Bev and the other teachers that I so desperately needed. I look back on that time of my life and can’t believe it was my life, and I am so grateful that I mustered the energy that night.
There were so many people that Bev introduced me to, but none that I connected with more than Viktoras Kulinskas. I recall looking into his eyes as he spoke and thinking that I had never seen anyone’s eyes so clear. Victoras is known as the father and pioneer of the raw food lifestyle, co-founder of the Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida, and the educational and business partner of the raw food guru herself, Dr. Ann Wigmore. I walked away from that encounter knowing more about how my body works, how food works, and the importance of enzymes and probiotics than 10,000 books could have taught me. I can honestly say that Viktoras “had me at hello” as he answered questions that no one had taken the time (or maybe didn’t have the knowledge) to answer for me about my body’s breakdown. I went home from that meeting willing to look at food differently. The last 15 years have been spent taking baby steps…until now.
Even in my “newly committed, excited for all things raw” state of mind, I know that I won’t give up 100% of breads, grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, and raw-milk cheeses. That is where the “rural” part of my title comes in. Those are comfort items, and I couldn’t image life with out them. I can tell you, however, that it is vastly different in our home these days. Where a roast, use to be the main part of the meal it is now the side dish. A benefit of living this way is that I can spend money on the kinds and cuts of meats that I want to feed my family, because we are eating much smaller portions. So, all of the sudden choosing organic, grass-fed meat isn’t as costly.
The spectrum for those in the raw food lifestyle is very vast. Some commit to a 50/50 diet and see huge health benefits; others prefer a 70/30 or 80/20 diet, and then there are those who live it 100%. For me, I like the 80/20 range; it seems doable. Maybe that will change over time, but for now I feel that I am making changes in the right direction.
While raw may not be for everyone, I hope that in these summer months you are taking advantage of the fresh produce at your local farmer’s markets, farm stands or in your garden. Nuts, seeds, produce and fruit are all loaded with vitamins and enzymes.
Hippocrates himself said, “Let your food be your medicine and your medicine your food.” Where did we lose track of that knowledge? I am finding my balance between rural and raw.

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  1. LillySue says:

    Wow~ We sure are kindred spirits…..My wake-up call was hypothyroid disease with a side dish of breast and cervical biopsy! No Cancer as of yet and I want to keep it that way! At age 46 next month, I have mulled the Holistic Dr. School for several years myself. If only I had known about the subject in my 20s. But then again, if I live to be 97 like my great granny, I am just getting started! I too would like to be mainly raw. I tend to do the "Cave Man" diet of fruits, veggies, nuts and a small amount of meat. You are actually not supposed to eat grains or dairy but I am not that dedicated…YET! I have read that man did not start to eat farmed grains till the last thousand years and our bodies are not made to digest the protiens very well…..especially wheat. (Is hubby still in the wheat biz?) While doing my own research, I discovered that people who eliminate wheat from their diets have less arthritis discomfort which I have found to be VERY true for me. Giving up most breads etc…was hard, but once you are several months into going without it, it is not such a big deal. It sure makes a difference in your waistline!! I do still love me some oatmeal and eat a lot of nuts. I sure wish everyone would have the "Ah Ha" moment we have had when discovering this way of eating! I would love to have you pop over to my blog and on the bottom of the left side bar in the post subjects I have a lot of the info I have shared in the past including my Lemon/Master cleanse experience. I wish you well on your path!!
    Blessings~LillySue
    apeaceofbliss.blogspot.com

  2. Becky says:

    Rene,

    I am so happy for you. I have struggled with my weight for so long and I use it as a shield and excuse also. That is great that you have found a way out. I would love to follow your progress.

    Becky

    Becky~

    I will keep you updated as much as possible. The girls in my MaryJanesFarm Chapter are "exploring raw" as well. Our adventure is at http://www.ruralandraw.blogspot.com . I am discovering that any little shift towards including more "RAW" has such great benefits. Best of luck to you.. Jump on in.. the water is "fine"…

  3. Connie says:

    What an exciting post. My SIL had breast cancer 11/2 years ago and opted for a 100% raw diet instead of chemo. She is doing amazing. I know she did a TONNE of research before coming to her conclusion. She still sought her Dr’s advice and council, but ultimately it was her choice.

    Thank you for a great post. It’s time I too revisit a more raw diet.

    Boy Connie~ My thoughts are with your sister ~ I personally beleive in "intergrative" medicine with a team of professionals. I had a brillliant Dr and a compounding pharmasist who helped me peel back the meds…. I also had the holistic experts…. The key, I believe, is to be 100% engaged in your own health and then using whatever makes the most sense to you in your bodies healing.  I am forever grateful for the teachers that continually show up for me to learn from. R

  4. Judy Eastwood says:

    Your blogs just seem to come along at the right time! After reading this and your raw food blog, I realized that, yes, we have an Ann Wigmore inspired center right here in my town! Their next program just happens to be during my vacation in August. I am going to try this!

    I tried going raw a while back, but didn’t find it satisfying. Now there is so much more in the way of average people doing it and so many more easy recipes. Being 56, I have a few health issues – nothing earth shattering. But in order to live the rest of my life to the fullest it would be good to explore all my options.

    One thing that has stopped me is the "anti-raw food" movement – voicing the drawbacks of totally raw. Well, I feel it’s up to me to decide what I need to do, and to try it and see if it’s for me.

    Thank you for your thoughts, Rene!

  5. Tracy says:

    This could not have come at a better time. I have just been diagnosed with fibromyalgia after living with pain, fatigue, and many other symptoms since approximately 2007. I want to treat it through diet and exercise, leaving the pharmacy out of the equation as much as possible. I have in the past explored an Ayurvedic approach to eating to help with stress migraines. While I felt great, it was very hard to find many of the foods recommended which limited the foods I should eat to a handful. I live in a small, predominately rural area. It is hard to get some of the more uncommon things found in Ayurveda, which is an ancient healing system from India. Anyway, raw veggies I can get. So I have started researching the type of foods that would be best for FMS. Reading your testimony was very helpful. It is good to hear how the raw foods diet can help even if it is not followed 100%! Thank you!

  6. Gary says:

    Good for you Rene’…!
    You are finding your own way to a feeling of fulfillment in Life, with a good focus on natural healing and nutrituion, and we all share the need to find what works in our own Life.
    Our culture is conditioned to believe that additives make foods better and drugs are the answer to all Life’s problems, physical and mental. The corporations that make food additives also make or are associated with the manufacture of drugs, so they make us sick at the grocery and pretend to heal us from "our" illness… now that’s Sick.
    We also live in a culture that is so obcessed with credentials that it cannot recognize value and quality, and I actually don’t think Hippocrates could get a license here… in fact I don’t think he could get admitted to a school in the profession he founded.
    You’re not on the "right" track, because all the "tracks" lead nowhere these days, however you have found a well worn path to a better Life… sooo…
    GodSpeed to us all in our trek off the tracks…
    Gary
    in Tampa

  7. Doreen Baros says:

    Hello friend, I’ve been reading your blogs for some time and enjoy them. Sorry it has taken me so long to respond. But today with your blog you mentioned some things that hit home.

    "It is like “weeding out” an old, dysfunctional friend—hard to do, yet I know that it will make room for more positive things, which of course includes better health."

    That is a great sentence. There is so much there to deal with and I’m right there with you with my own dysfunctional friends. Keep up the good thoughts

    Doreen

  8. Shirley says:

    This is so interesting, just three days ago I was diagnosed with Lupus and my first thought was I don’t want to be pumped full of medicines and then more on top of that for the side-effects of the other medicines, I am also tired of being tired, I will definitely be checking out the raw diet. Thank you for coming to my e-mail!!!!

    Shirley,
    Certainly check into ALL your options and get a great team of professionals around which should include a Holistic Nutritionist. Oh the fatigue…. I can remember it well and I know that there is no way to describe it. Best wishes and keep me updated….

  9. Elaine says:

    I’d like to comment on a product which has been helpful to me. I had been on medication for hypertension (high blood pressure), and also had elevated cholesterol. While at a health food co-op, purchased ‘Nattokinase’, NOW brand. I was familiar with Natto, which is a fermented soy product popular in Japan. After taking one capsule per day, in one week my blood pressure had dropped so much, the Nurse Practitioner at the Women’s Wellness Clinic told me to stop the blood pressure medication. A lab test taken a month after starting the product showed my Cholesterol level had dropped 30 points.
    A younger friend of mine has hypertension; she walks, exercises and eats a healthy diet. After introducing her to Nattokinase, which she has been taking for a month now, she has also experienced a significant decrease in blood pressure, and able to decrease medication, hoping to discontinue it soon.
    Elaine, RN

  10. nameSharron says:

    I would like to know more about this Raw Diet. I have had breast cancer and have been battling Iron deficientcy. I feel exhausted many times throughout the day. Please tell me where I can find more information about this diet.

    Sharron,

    So sorry to hear of your battle. I have a couple books listed on http://www.ruralandraw.blogspot.com  I really love http://www.hacres.com and anything by Jordan Rubin.

    Hope this helps!

  11. kathy says:

    Way to go girlfriend. The more we can stay away from medical doctors and search out alternative methods of healing ourselves the better we will all be. About 4 months ago I happened across Kevin Trudeau’s book Natural Cures They Don’t Want You to Know About at our local thrift store. What an eye opener his book was. I won’t go into detail about it but I recommend this book to anyone searching on alternative healing or just wanting to eat right. You can find his book on Amazon.com for quite a reasonable price. If you do a search on the internet you will find a lot of negative about him and how he has been in jail and sued. Please don’t let this stop you from reading this book as you will understand why he has been jailed and sued. He recommends you read from page 1 through the rest of the book and not skip around. Please let me know if you read this book and what you think. Thanks

    I have read this book and  countless others. I really recommend that people read as much as they can about ways to be more informed on taking control of our own health. It is a learning curve for sure, but we are worth it.

  12. Carol says:

    I could not believe that I was reading this. I have been grappling with my health for several decades. I have uncontrollable high blood pressure, so much so, that both numbers have been 3 digits. I had what the doctors believed was lupus, but could not get positive lab tests at the time. That was all I needed. I knew all those years ago, that it was time to take responsibility for my own health. It was then that I became aware of Dr. John McDougall and his vegan lifestyle. At the time I thought it was difficult, not because of the meat, but because of butter and coffee, etc. Now, I am trying to do 51% raw. My daughter is doing from 95-100% raw. Her meals are utterly delicious. I am on the lazy side and do not usually do a lot of planning, which is essential. However, I have found some sources on the internet which has really made a difference. There is a video on foodmatters.tv that can be watched from start to finish for free. One can also purchase the DVD. I liked the video so much that I did purchase it, and have been passing it around.
    I love finding like souls. I find it empowering.

  13. Nancy Peer says:

    I was just reading all the comments and am so excited that more and more people are finding ways to be in control of their own health. Raw has the enzymes to heal what is wrong with you. I just have to say eat as much raw as you can-the sicker you are the more raw you should be. You CAN all heal yourself.

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