Wednesday, February 16, 2011
I have found the books by Brian Clement, the co-director of the Hippocrates Health Institute to be very helpful as well as the books by Victoria Boutenko that discusses making green smoothies. My local Barnes and Noble Bookstore has lots of books on raw food and perhaps you can find one that has a day by day plan. I like to keep my approach simple. I eat 100% raw to lose weight and I make large salads with lot so vegetables. I slice hardy vegetables, such as onions, cabbage, add broccoli slaw, red bell peppers, sliced almonds and marinate it in a dressing of fresh squeezed lemon juice, EVOO, fresh garlic pesto, and spices that I like. I make this ahead of time and when I want a salad, I bring out the baby spinach, sprouts, mache, cherry tomatoes and my wife and I make it like a salad bar, with each of us adding what we like to our plate. I only have to make the marinated vegetables up ever few days so it is a time saver to have everything ready.
I buy organic, prewashed greens in convenient bags, organic broccoli slaw so that I don't have to prepare that too, as well as shredded carrots. Trader Joe's is my source for a lot of the items that are organic and pre-washed and packaged. My local health food store and even the markets carry many convenient items like this. I supplement these items with, as available, sun chokes, jicama, celery, radishes, daikon radishes, etc. The important thing is to have all of the ingredients ready to use, so that it takes a minimum of time.
For breakfast, I make smoothies with greens: I use a combination of baby spinach, broccoli, a banana, an apple, and sweeten it with stevia. You can find exact recipes in many of the books, but I just add what I have, but keep it simple.
There are great recipes for dehydrated foods, but I don't have a dehydrator, nor want to take the time to bother with it. I just want fast, healthy, simple food. I keep raw walnuts in my freezer, raw almonds, pumpkin seeds, and pistachios in my pantry ready to add to my salads or for an after exercise snack with a piece of fruit. One can make eating raw food complicated or simple, I prefer simple.
The guidelines from the Hippocrates Health Institute are to eat mostly green leafy, vegetables, sprouts of all kinds, colored vegetables such as red bell pepper, carrots, etc., sea vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fruits in that order. Making smoothies makes it easier to eat lots of greens, but chewing is important too as it maintains the health of our teeth.
Fruit juices are not healthy for kids or adults. Too much fruit is also not recommended. Fruits have been hybridized over the the history of agriculture and are too sweet, 30-40 times sweetener that they once grew naturally. They taste great, but they are not that good for us in large quantities, except when we are competing in athletic events and we will burn all of the sugar in the process, but not for daily consumption in large quantities.
I hope that this helps you get an idea of what you need to get started. It can be an easy thing to do all raw food or a very time consuming, but refined culinary activity that yields tasty results. It all depends upon what you have time for and what you enjoy doing.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Sometimes when we struggle to be "perfect" we are defeating ourself. Perfectionism is a trait of someone who needs to please someone, usually from our past, but it continues as a habitual response to new challenges. "If we can't do it perfectly, then why start?" we tell ourself. "Be safe and set small goals, instead large ones." We can't fail that way." we accept less and expect less from ourself. Perfectionism may be a symptom to why we struggle with our weight, our exercise programs, our lifestyle changes.
When I started to make changes in my diet 4 1/2 years ago, I started out with the Atkins program. I was going to eat meat, meat , and more meat. When I discovered SparkPeople, all I was looking for was an easier way to track my calories. Wow, did I discover much more than that. I decided that not being able to eat fruit for as long as it took for me to love 160 pounds was not going to work for me and I decided to switch to the Carbohydrate Addict's Diet. This would allow me to eat some fruit as part of a balanced reward meal.
After reading all of the CAD books and following the program, my weight moved downwards. Unfortunately, my doctor diagnosed me with Diabetes. I had been pre-diabetic, but after successfully losing weight on the CAD Program, I has a life threatening health problem and I was adverse to starting on the slippery slope of diabetic medication. I had been following the dietary options of the CAD program so when I found the Halt Diabetes in 25 Days program, it was not that big of a change from what I was doing, so I made the transition in 5 days instead of 25. This brought my blood sugar down and I lost a bit more weight, but I hit a discouraging plateau.
It was at this time that an old acquaintance saw me and told me about the exciting Hippocrates Health Institute Program that is very sick wife and been referred to and how she was now off her diabetic and cholesterol medication and he had lost 50 pound from his gut and felt 30 years younger. I was so impressed that I ordered all of the books by Brian Clement, the current director of the Hippocrates Health Institute and found books by Ann Wigmore and Victorus Kulvinskas, the co-founders of the HHI. I started the live food program immediately and completely. My blood sugar numbers dropped even further and I lost about 2 pounds a week. What could be wrong with that? From Atkins, I had become a Live or Raw Vegan! This was quite a change, but I had done it in small incremental steps that were easier than one giant leap.
There is nothing wrong with the Raw Vegan Program of HHI, but with the best program, if we don't address our internal issues, we start making exceptions, feeling guilty about them, and the usual order of things is to quit, gain all or more of our weight back and look for a new diet or recycle one that worked temporarily for us in the past.
I decided to not give up completely, but accept my limitations at this time and forgive myself and explore why I was not sticking to the program 100%. Well, I found out some interesting things about the psychology behind our food addictions and compulsions from reading Broken Brains or Wounded Hearts byTy C. Colbert, Ph.D. that I am working on understanding and applying to my situation. I also found out that one of my favorite raw food chefs who has a blog called RawAmazing struggles with eating all live food in the cold winter too. Perhaps we are not made that way, if don't live in a year round tropical climate? For whatever reason, I discovered that I wasn't alone, that it was not my fault, some moral imperfections or lack of will, but a reaction to the climate and my subconscious use of food as a way of avoiding or dealing with pain.
Armed with this new knowledge and by forgiving myself for not being perfect. I started to make my salad preparations again, stopped going out to even Souplantation to avoid the "other than salad" temptations and the chance of over eating. I made one last visit to Souplantation and did not over eat, only ate live food, and only used lemon and olive oil dressings, so that I would know that I could do it.
Now that the weather is getting warmer in San Diego, unlike most of the rest of the country, I'm eating more live foods, having live green and fruit smoothies for breakfast and renewing my commitment to an hour or more of exercise (rowing in my case) every day plus adding in more strength training. I am being persistent, but not trying to be perfect or setting the bar too high for me or too high for others.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Sometimes, people who are on a raw or live food diet strive so hard for perfection that they give up because perfection is too hard, if not impossible. While I think that the live food diet is very healthy and can address many health issues, it won't allow us "To eat our way into heaven." as Dennis Klocek once remarked to a very passionate biodynamic farmer. We strive to have the healthiest diet that we can follow and to eat it mindfully. But when our ego gets to attached to being raw, we become prideful and arrogant, which is not being very mindful about ourselves. If we are 100% raw that is commendable, but to brag about that accomplishment is not constructive to good relationships or encouraging to someone who is struggling to achieve it. Being a raw vegan is only a recent experiment. There is little precedence for it except perhaps in Yogi monasteries and even this is not truly verified. The one yogi that I met in 1967 who first introduced me to this dietary practice was not perfect in his practice either according to a friend of mine, whom he dated for a short while. Most people who profess this lifestyle today are not 100% in their practice either according to reports that I have read.
I think that the best practice is to eat the highest quality of vegetables and fruits that we can grow or afford to buy, accept our limitations, do our best, and eat as many of these live as possible in the largest variety. But we should forgive ourselves and others if we are not perfect in our practice. Like the bumper sticker says, "we are not perfect, just forgiven".
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Why do we struggle with staying on a healthy diet that works? It's complicated, because we are complicated. It is not just about calories in calories out, It is not just about the type of food you eat. It is not just about how much exercise that you do. These are all true, but there is another factor that is not addressed. It is the psychology of eating. Why do we eat? Why do we "want" top stay fat? How does it serves us? Doctors have prescribed diet pills, performed lap band surgeries, etc. These address some of the symptoms, but do not deal with the underlying causes. I am reading Broken Brains or Wounded Hearts by Ty C. Colbert, Ph.D. and his book suggest some answers. Like the smoker, the alcoholic or the drug user, we are self medicating to deal with the past pains that we have experienced to suppress the hurt feelings. Our self esteem has been destroyed and we don't feel worthy, so why should we care about being healthy and doing the right things. Perhaps this is why our New Year's Resolutions or the hot new diet only last a little while, perhaps long enough to lose all of the weight that we wished for, but we drift back into old habit patterns. What is the answer for this psychological component of health and weight loss? I don't have THE answer, I'm just working it our for myself. I think that we all have to find our unique solution to our particular reasons for not being as successful in this area as we think that we should. What do you think?
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