Benefits of raw food
My raw food story
Fortunately, I have had enough food to eat my entire life. It has been my constant companion; sometimes it was full of joy, sometimes I made it my survival and sometimes it became my worse enemy.
From the time I was born until the age of fourteen, I lived in six different families. I experienced food within families on many different levels, and they all had something to offer and teach me.
There was the family that had a kitchen garden, which we harvested from; every night there was a home-cooked meal on the table, the TV was off and there was conversation and connection to be had.
Then there was the family where there was no joy around food, only burden. 99% of the family meals were out of a tin or packet, and I was never allowed in the kitchen; we ate with dinner on our laps, always in front of the TV.
My birth mother would make us wonderful, delicious Nigerian food when we visited; it is the food that connects me to my ancestors and nourishes me on many levels.
Then, when I was 14, I arrived at a house that was full of the joys of food - whether it be growing your own, sharing it with others, or baking the weekend away. As my peers were out doing teenage stuff, I was baking, picking and preserving.
The road to raw
At 16, I trained to be a baker, and started working extensively as a chef, which I did for 17 years. I have always loved creating with food, and being around its endless possibilities.
Like many teenage girls, I became a vegetarian, the problem was, although I loved animals I hated vegetables, and lived on beans on toast! When a doctor diagnosed me with anaemia, his prescription was to have a bacon sandwich. It took me a few years to put down the bacon sandwich!
What with the junk food, complex carbs, lots of processed sugar, ready meals etc, I became very overweight. Even though African beauty is defined by curves, and I would not feel right without my breasts and bum, I was overweight, and I was unhappy in my body. In my late teens I found the gym; it became and still is a huge love of mine.
In my early twenties, I was in training as a yoga teacher in India. All that was available was vegetarian food, and it got me back on the path. I knew then that I wanted to commit to vegetarianism again - the healthy way. I understood the health benefits of not eating meat. I still eat a mostly vegetarian diet with some fish.
Then I met a man, and he bought me a book called The Tao of Health, Sexuality and Longevity (Daniel Reid). I was already eating organic and working as a chef in an organic restaurant. I was very conscious of my food choices. But this book opened a door to something new: raw food, and its healing and sustaining power. All I did was change my lunch each day to a very big and satisfying salad. The impact was huge. I had had big issues with constipation all my life, from eating too much of everything not good; to suddenly have everything working at least twice a day was amazing. As a result, I felt lighter, had more energy, and felt less burdened. I was persuaded of the power of fresh raw foods, even though I had changed only one meal each day.
The man who gave me that book is by far the sexiest man on the face of this planet; he later became my husband!
When I fell pregnant, it all went belly up – including my belly! I wanted beef?@#$% and lots of quick fast food. I wanted Thai, Nigerian, Chinese, Indian food, anything that I could eat a lot of and that would arrive fast. As it was my first pregnancy, I just went with it. I was very nauseous all through my pregnancy, and eating helped a lot.
I even ate chili beef just before my last stage of labour. My midwife had not seen anything quite like it. But as soon as my son Benjamin was born, I did not want any meat, and the thought of it made me ill. When he was weaned, at nearly a year, I knew my body needed a full-on clear out. The owner of my local organic shop was a raw foodie, and a woman in the play group I hosted was very keen on raw foods; she loaned me Raw Energy (now published as The Raw Energy Bible) (Leslie and Susannah Kenton) and I embarked on their 10-day raw detox. I loved it. I loved how I felt, I loved how it widened my food world and I loved the creative possibilities.
It is one of the books I highly recommend for beginners.
Effects of eating raw
I kept a journal of those ten days, so that by the end I could review the changes I had experienced. I wrote at the end, "I have found a new way of eating and feeling, and this will be part of me for the rest of my life". And it has been. A few years earlier, I was of the mindset: "Raw foods? Why would anyone want to live off of celery sticks and carrots?"
I no longer have periods that keep me wanting my bed for the first two days (I used to take a prescription tablet that eased the pain and made me violently ill). I now have no idea when they are coming until they arrive, and I often do hot yoga on my first day!
My body is my temple and I am so proud of it and what it allows me to achieve, and it keeps getting better. I know the older I get, the fitter and healthier I will get. A master photographer I did not know came up to me at a wedding to ask me if he could take pictures of me for a competition he was entering and judging; that was very flattering. My husband says I am getting sexier, and my body is getting younger, every day.
The raw food journey
My journey has been slow in some ways. I never set myself the destination of 100% raw, but as my body has taken to this way of eating my mind had been a little slower. I worried about what people would think of me as I was always a foodie and now I was not eating the 'normal food'. Also my whole business had been set up around food traditions, many of which involve cooking, and how important those traditions are in our lives. I still believe those traditions are vitally important, but now I also believe that everyone benefits if there is some 'life' on the table as well. It has always been very easy for me to eat raw until dinner and sometimes I go for weeks 100% raw, but if I want to eat cooked food then I will.
Now that I have learnt to prepare incredible raw foods, I can now enjoy Pad Thai, Biriyani, hummus, pates, pasta, breads, biscuits and cakes – raw. To be honest, my constant favorite raw food is greens, and if I run out of them or bananas I get a little shaky! The way I choose what to eat now is usually based on the question 'Will I feel good after I eat that?’, because I want to feel great all the time. It has nothing to do with good or bad food, fat or no fat, it has to do with feeling vibrant and powering on all cylinders all the time.
Who knows if I will eat 100% raw one day; but I do know I will not eat 100% cooked food again! My raw recipe book collection is such a source of excitement and inspiration. It will soon overtake my cooked recipe book collection. I have not held a cooked dinner party for over two years now. Raw dinner parties give me such a high because they open people up to new ways of eating; I love to see people’s faces as they taste raw lasagna or chocolate cake!
I am so grateful for all my companions who are on the raw path; we share so much. My other huge support has been raw podcasts; there are so many out there. It is so inspiring to hear what people have overcome by living this way, and it is wonderful to be part of the huge international raw community.
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