This is a difficult topic for me to discuss openly, and I have been waiting for the right time to do it. The right time being simply when I felt ready and called to share. And today happens to be that day.
Over the years I have experimented with all kinds of nutrition plans and diets, whether it was low carb, weight watchers, candida diet, paleo, leaky gut diet, vegan, raw vegan, you name it I’ve pretty much tried it.
And for the past two years or so I was mostly raw vegan. My body really started to clean out, and I felt AMAZING for a good portion of time. Like, TRULY amazing. My energy levels were high, my digestion was great, I had regular eliminations (which was never the case in my life until going raw vegan), and stomach aches were few and far between (which had also been a regular thing in my life). I even felt more inspired than ever, and had more brain power which allowed me to stay at a constant high energy level for hours at a time. In a nutshell, the raw vegan diet and lifestyle felt like the non-caffeine version of coffee intermixed with a gentle laxative that kept my otherwise slow bowels moving. I felt great! In fact I was so passionate about the lifestyle that I took a course that graduated me with the title Certified Detoxification Specialist.
But after about 18 months, I started to have digestive issues…and this time they were BAD. Worse than ever, in fact. I got stomach aches after literally EVERYTHING I ate. I had to keep food and food combinations to a minimum. For two months my diet consisted almost exclusively of bananas, spinach, onions, garlic and coconut oil. It’s all I could stomach without pain or discomfort. I had a constant lump in my throat, and at certain random points in my day I would begin to feel nauseous. One morning I woke up and looked in the mirror and found a big red spot in my eye, almost like a big blood vessel had burst. Bowel movements ranged from diarrhea, to constipation, to no elimination at all, and I had constant, heavy bloating. I just felt downright terrible.
I began taking herbs for parasitic infections, I tried cleansing out with laxatives, and I could only digest food if I took at least five digestive enzymes with each meal. I was miserable and could not figure out what was wrong. And when I mentioned it to friends, they responded, “But you eat so clean!”
All of these symptoms just baffled me. How could I be having these problems if I am constantly eating foods that detox out the nasties?
I went to see my Naturopath and was diagnosed with candida overgrowth. Again, I was baffled. From all I had read and studied up to that day, the foods I had been eating were the candida fighters! Fresh, raw fruits and vegetables are the detoxers that remove invaders from the body. I was even taking herbs to strengthen internal organs and tissues. So why was I having these problems?
I began taking some supplements I received from my Naturopath, to fight the candida, and started bringing in principles of the candida diet, from a book I read years ago titled, The Body Ecology Diet. Within a day of eating foods that starve the candida, I realized this was not the way my body could live. Because the candida diet requires little to no carbohydrates, I felt constantly light-headed and my brain was foggy. The human brain needs sugars to survive, and I was not getting them. Needless to say, that diet went out the window quickly.
I was at my wits end, and one day it came to me: Ayurveda. Long before modern medicine, Ayurveda was developed in India and is one of the world’s most powerful mind-body health systems. The basis of Ayurveda is that the mind and body are not separate, but rather they are deeply connected. And, according to this healing tradition, to heal the mind is to heal the body. Beyond this, Ayurveda is a science, and means “the science of life.”
Lucky for me, I knew someone who had the credentials to help me establish an Ayurvedic lifestyle and make some major changes. A yoga mentor, friend and Ayurvedic practitioner of mine was on my speed dial that day! We had an hour session where she gave me some basic lifestyle and diet changes I could make to start feeling better and getting my health back. I started implementing them immediately, and within four days my bloating was almost nonexistent, stomach aches were gone, and I was able to have a normal bowel movement for the first time in years (or maybe ever).
It has been about five months since that day, and although I am still battling candida to a certain extent, I am feeling much stronger, and much healthier than ever. I am able to eat a whole lot more food now, and have expanded my diet to include nourishing foods such as bone broth, ghee, chicken stew and wild caught fish.
Something I never thought I would do was go back to eating meat. But once I did, I could literally feel my body receive it with ease, down to the cellular level. I don’t eat meat all that often, I would say about once a week or so. If I’m feeling really depleted, maybe twice in a week’s time. And each time I do, I pray over it and thank the animal for helping to keep me alive, strong and healthy.
As most of you know I am an animal lover and so to honor the animal that is in front of me is very important to me. In most old traditions the killing of animals was not so brutal, and it was not taken for granted. It was honored and the animal was blessed and gratitude filled the hearts of the hunters. I take meat eating very seriously, and know that I am very lucky to be able to have access to these animals at my fingertips. It is equally important to me to purchase ethically raised, organic, Non-GMO meat, as well as wild-caught fish. This is an important piece of the puzzle for meat eaters in general, not just for me. Avoiding pesticides, GMO’s, antibiotics, hormones and other chemicals is essential for our health and well-being.
Now to clear up the question that must be going through your mind right now… “So, what IS the right nutrition plan?” It’s a great question! And unfortunately I have a very vague answer for you.
Everyone is going to be different. Every. Single. Body. is going to be different. One nutrition plan isn’t necessarily “better” or “superior” to another. There isn’t one “cure” for the human body. And, as mentioned earlier, if we are looking at things from an Ayurvedic standpoint, our physical body is highly affected by our state of mind. Going a step further, the tissues of the body store old emotional wounds, and our spiritual body is where illness actually originates from. So, how can we say that illness is only caused by food? What about our state of mind?
To tie this in with my raw vegan experience, I do not believe that it was truly just the raw fruits and vegetables that caused my symptoms. My mindset was of one that began to believe that fruits and vegetables were the only healthy foods one could consume. And then I would read articles and books about certain fruits and vegetables that were “good” for you, and ones that were “bad” for you. And pretty soon, I cut out all the supposed ones that were “bad,” and I was left with bananas, spinach, garlic, onion, and coconut oil. If I would have kept up the mindset of “everything else is bad,” and the raw vegan lifestyle, I believe I would have ended up not being able to eat anything at all without pain.
One common theme I always stick with when it comes to food, however, is that it is important for humans to avoid processed foods, processed sugars, and pesticides, and stick with eating organic foods as much as possible. This is the only concrete answer I have for you. And this is why teaching nutrition has taken a back seat for me. What I can offer though, is spiritual guidance from a nutrition standpoint, and that is how I have been working with my clients as of late.
For example, we can explore one’s eating patterns and tendencies and where these possibly stem from. For example, late night eating and sweet cravings. We can explore energy blockages in the body, and do a Reiki and chakra balancing session to encourage internal organs to start functioning properly. We can even move through a yoga sequence with a focus on calming the nervous system, which in turn can help heal in countless ways.
In Ayurveda, there are different mind/body types, and they all possess different qualities that require different healing foods and lifestyle practices. If you are curious about Ayurveda, I recommend reading about it, or contacting an Ayurvedic practitioner who can help guide you in the right direction for you. I am not an Ayurvedic practitioner, I only know things from my own experience. If you are lost on who can help you, please contact me and I will try and connect you with someone who can! One great resource I can recommend though, is The Every Day Ayurveda Cookbook, by Kate O’Donnell. This has really helped simplify things for me, not to mention the recipes are delicious!
I want to wrap up this post by saying that all this was NOT to bash the raw vegan lifestyle or diet! I think it is one of the cleanest, healthiest diets out there, and is FULL of life and FULL of nutrition. I also know from my studies in detoxification, that these are the foods that detox the body particularly well, and I do believe in cleansing now and then. I think choosing a raw vegan lifestyle totally depends on the individual and whether they have a constitution that can tolerate it long term. I know people who THRIVE eating raw vegan. I wish I were one of those people, but it is not so. I do much better with warming, grounding, moist, cooked foods like soups, stews, and oatmeal.
There is much more to say on this topic, but here it is in a nutshell. I’m not raw vegan because I simply can’t be. And, it’s ok with me. I am embracing my new lifestyle and diet changes, and feeling the effects each day. I still have a long way to go in my healing, but overall I am stronger not only physically, but emotionally, mentally and spiritually as well. This lifestyle has cultivated the brand new relationship I have with food. One of acceptance of ALL mindsets, of ALL diets and nutrition plans that can help to heal individuals all around the world. So whatever path you are choosing, God Speed! Love and light to all of you.
Blessings dear friends,