Monday, August 6, 2012

The Garden Diet, Day 1 and the Top 6 Obstacles To Raw

I'm so excited!  After 75 days of being mostly "high-raw" with very pleasing results, we have decided to go on Storm and Jinjee Talifero's Garden Diet 28 Day Transition to Raw!

Even though we've already been raw for about 10 weeks, this will help us take our summer project to the next level by adding exercise and positive reinforcement to what we are already doing.  They provide shopping lists, menus and easy recipes, and I'm thrilled that the planning will be done for me.

I'll be posting a little bit each day on our progress.  Yes, I know I've been saying it's not about weight.  And I still don't feel that losing weight is a priority for its own sake.  It's just that health IS the priority, and weight is part of it.  Today my weight is only down about 8 lbs from where I started, but my clothes are much looser.  My husband is down 15 lbs. too.

Today I'd like to list our Top 6 Obstacles To Raw, and what we do about them:

1.  Social pressure:  There are times when we are out somewhere, and people are serving food.  They expect us to eat.  We don't feel like discussing our dietary preferences all the time, mainly because the discussion can become awkward.  The best way to handle this is to eat before going out so as to enjoy the time with friends without feeling hungry in the presence of food that we choose not to eat for health reasons.  In this way it's possible to truthfully say that we are full. 

Because we are high raw rather than 100% raw, it's okay with us to occasionally eat some cooked food, even some non-vegan food, and OH THE HUMANITY - junk food!  I have found that it isn't the end of the world when this happens.  The worst thing that I've experienced is not feeling so hot the next morning, a bit like having a hangover.  We just get up, enjoy our juice and smoothies, and start fresh.  It doesn't happen often enough to be a problem.

2.  Poor planning:  Sometimes we have found ourselves miles from home, ravenous, and nothing but SAD (Standard American Diet) food in sight.  In those times, if we are hungry enough and it isn't practical to leave, we make an exception and eat what is available.  The obvious solution is to do a better job of planning next time. Basically, if we are planning to leave the house for several hours, it's necessary to bring a cooler full of fruits and veggies!  But if it happens again, we aren't going to beat ourselves up over it.

3.  Raw food doesn't taste, smell or look like SAD comfort food:  That first serving of "neat loaf" may look a bit scary. No matter how skilled the raw chef, raw vegan lasagne doesn't look or smell exactly like a traditional meat and cheese cooked lasagne complete with pasta made from semolina.  The only solution I have found is to soldier through it, try the new flavors, and develop the raw food preparation skills.  Not every recipe is going to be successful every time.   Approach it like the first time you tried sushi, and keep an open mind.  I find that as my taste buds adjust, I actually prefer the flavors of raw food.  I don't see the benefit in having my taste buds trained to prefer unhealthy food, do you?  And of course salads are still salads, which means that most of us are already eating some raw food.

4.  Cooked food cravings:  Once after dropping off one of the kids at the library, it occurred to me that I could swing by the drive-through at KFC on the way home and no one would ever know!  The idea of inhaling greasy fried chicken tormented me the entire 15 minute drive.  The one thing that saved me from a heart-stopping tryst with Colonel Sanders was the knowledge that we had a batch of "eggplant bacon" at home.  I thought about that eggplant bacon, and scooped up a handful as soon as I was in the door.  What works for me is to have some sort of healthy alternative treat on hand.  Other foods that have helped include a cup of warm herbal tea with a drop of honey, a refreshing glass of cucumber mint water, raw peanuts, or a big juicy apple.

5.  Organic Food is expensive.  This is a big one.  When we started this, I was determined to keep our budget under $140.00 per week for a family of four.  I haven't hit that goal once since we started.  In fact, most weeks we've more than doubled it.  We've lowered some of the cost  by getting some of our food from Bountiful Baskets and signing up with a local organic farm - we pay them for several weeks up front and pick up a bag of produce once a week.  Still, because we can't afford 100% organic, more than half the produce we buy is not. That's just going to have to be good enough for now. 

Another solution is to grow your own.  We put in several tomato plants, harvested about 20 tomatoes, and then they died.   Other people do successfully raise food in this heat, but we haven't figured it out yet.  We are simply doing the best we can.

One thing I try very hard to do is to not let any of it spoil.  If something looks like it's about to turn, it goes into the next smoothie before it does.  Fortunately we have a dehydrator, so if we have too many bananas or onions or even fresh herbs, we dehydrate them to be used later.  Anything we don't have to throw out is a cost savings. One time we had a huge durian catastrophe, but apart from that we've been pretty good.  (If you think durian smells funky, wait until you let it spoil.)

I try to keep in mind that we either pay now or we pay later.  Processed foods might be cheaper, but they were gradually making us sick.  My baby brother died two years ago from a sudden heart attack.  You can't get more real than that.

6.  Family traditions:  In our home, if you are a member of this family, on your birthday you get to choose whatever meal you want for your special day, and we will cook it for you.  So if you choose lobster, we go out and buy a lobster and if necessary we will buy a lobster pot too - even if we are only going to use it the one time.  This is the rule in our house.  Fortunately, no one has asked for lobster - yet.  But last week when my son turned twelve, he asked for organic grass fed beef burgers and red velvet cake.  And that's what he got.  Fortunately, he ordered it with asparagus, veggie kabobs, and he allowed me to make an almost- raw vegan version of Chunky Monkey Ice Cream.   And yes, I had a burger with my family.  It was my first serving of meat in more than two months.  I was concerned.  Would I get stomach cramps?  Would I grow horns and become a drooling, meat eating monster?  Would I die from guilt?  No.  None of those things happened.  I just got up the next morning and made some green juice followed by a smoothie.

So how are we going to deal with the family traditions?  We are simply taking it one day at a time.  Every day is a new opportunity to be our healthiest.  In time, maybe even our most cherished family traditions will become healthier too.

Come back tomorrow, and I will share three of my favorite easy raw recipes, including raw vegan Chunkee Monkeeeeee!

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So what do you think? Have you tried raw vegan food?