si dawson

experiments in self-improvement

Category: raw

Raw: Simpler is Better

I’m coming to the conclusion that the closer a food is to being alive, the better it is for us to eat it – no ground breaking realisations here of course – just important to realise these things for oneself.

The antithesis of this being: the more processed, complexly combined & further from this natural state, the worse it’s likely to be. It’s a handy rule of thumb.

Which leads me to dessert:

Freshly cut organic apple, strawberries & cherries, topped with passionfruit. Takes about 3 minutes to make, healthy & absolutely delicious. The only thing better would be if I’d picked it all myself.

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    How to Make Spirulina Tasty

    Ok, so everyone knows spirulina is good for you. But so many brands taste like ass (uhh, ok, not exactly like ass).

    What to do, what to do?

    Well, I’ve finally found a way (other than the obvious, masking it in smoothies, with tons of fruit, or, you know, buying all the brands out there till you find one that’s bearable)

    Start like this:

    That’s cacao powder (on the left), maca (for a bit of kick), and spirulina on the right.

    Mix it all up with some raw organic honey (ahh, it’s debatably ‘raw’, but we’ll let that slide), stir in a little water if you like, till it looks like this:

    Black Gold! Four superfoods in every mouthful!

    Now it LOOKS disgusting (but tastes sooo good), so let’s make it look more appealing. How about this?

    Aha! See, now it’s a treat!

    If you need some spirulina in a hurry, don’t have time for a smoothie, running out the door to some serious exercise, this is a great way to get it in you fast. Just be sure to follow it with some water or juice – spirulina is so green it has a tendency to leave one with ‘hulk teeth’.

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      The Dangers of Fasting

      Having recently finished a 30 odd day juice feast/fast, followed by a 4 day water fast, there were a couple of things that deeply concerned me.

      To be clear, I don’t think these are procedural issues – that water or juice fasting are inherently bad – but rather things that, perhaps due to my personality, worried me. I suspect these may also be dangers for others.

      Psychological
      There is a lot of talk, if you look around, of people being on fasts, feeling clear, light, connected to everything, full of energy and so on.

      The problem is – if you don’t feel like that, it’s very easy to start thinking “Maybe I’m doing something wrong?” This is a very dangerous & slippery road.

      After a couple of weeks, I got it in my head that perhaps my digestive track still had too much crap in it, left over from bad diet earlier in life. As per “official recommendations”, I was taking cascara sagrada (a low key natural laxative). In addition, I regularly drank psyllium and bentonite shakes (which help detox heavy metals, & generally cleans you out). It didn’t help that I would “slip up” and occasionally eat something – this would then spiral into a cycle of “I need to clear that out” and “once it’s gone, THEN I’ll feel light”, etc.

      I never did feel that lightness (except when meditating). But the drive to empty my stomach? Isn’t that anorexia?

      My lifelong habit has been: I eat whatever I want, whenever I want it. I eat until I’m full, and then I stop. I don’t stress about eating healthily, but I do make a point of avoiding rubbish as much as possible (excepting a very stressful period in my early 20’s where I ate complete junk & generally treated myself & my life badly).

      Since going raw, I’ve learnt a lot more about what is and isn’t healthy, so those boundaries are moving (cooked food in general being less healthy than uncooked – whereas before I would eat, say, japanese because rice is more healthy than burgers), but the attitude remains. To eat healthy: think healthy; avoid rubbish; chill out.

      I never get sick. I’m fit enough that I run half marathons every decade or so – I’m not a runner, and never run other than the half marathons, it just seems to work out that way (don’t ask, I can’t explain it. I get spontaneous). I always have tons of energy. These external indicators tell me that while my diet can definitely improve (& has been), generally it’s working for me, and my behaviours are reasonably sound.

      So, for someone like me to be exhibiting anorexic tendencies? That’s VERY scary.

      Physical
      When I went on the water fast, I knew it would be rough.

      Typically a water fast works like this. You eat nothing, but drink lots of water. Your body survives by using up (in order):

      1. whatever food is still in your digestive tract
      2. your fat cells (which is where you store toxins, so these then get released – this is desirable)
      3. your muscles (a 10 day fast you’ll lose maybe 0.5->1kg/1-2lb of muscle)
      4. tissues from your internal organs, in reverse order of importance

      Now, because I’d just been on a juice feast, I didn’t have any food in my digestive tract. What little fat I’d had to start with had mostly disappeared. I went straight into hardcore exhaustion. I spent 4 days pretty much unable to get out of bed.

      Remember also, I was still doing colonics every week. Now, if my intention in doing these was to empty my digestive tract, I’d be more concerned about this, but what they did do was both help me clear toxins out faster, and also remove long term build up (I won’t get into details here). Plus, from a healing perspective I’ve found them.. surprisingly effective. Suffice to say, I don’t think they, in themselves were a bad thing, and they probably saved me a lot of pain. However, the combination of all of these things (fast, colonics, laxatives, internal cleansers) did have side effects.

      One of the things that made me realise that I didn’t NEED to be fasting was the inimitable Dhrumil. That what I was seeking wouldn’t be found “out there” or by chasing some ideal goal of (mental) lightness, (digestive) clarity, or anything. No, this was an internal game, and you only win by letting go.

      The other thing that made me decide enough was enough was seeing this in the mirror:

      That doesn’t look so bad. What’s scary is, this is me deliberately relaxing my stomach, and letting it expand out as much as it possibly can.

      To give this some perspective. For 20 years, my weight has been between 57kg and 65kg (126-143 lb). This doesn’t matter how much, or what I eat. My lifestyle. Whether I exercise once a year, or three times a day. I eat three dinners to try and gain weight, and it’s gone in two days. If I hit 65 kg I know it’s time to do some exercise. I walk a bit more and I’m back down to 62kg (my longterm average, +/- 1kg) in a week. I’m STABLE. I’ve given up trying to gain weight, since it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.

      Now, I don’t have scales in the house – where’s the point? But I did weigh myself at a friends, before I started the water fast, and I was down around 52kg. I only got lighter after that. What really scared me though? Was this (again, this is as far out as I could comfortably push my stomach):

      That? That’s unhealthy. And damn scary. And that was enough.

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        Food Processor – Inner City Styles

        I’m seeing more & more recipes that need a food processor – but my kitchen is only big enough for midgets (or two regular people if one of them stands on the bench)

        I already have a juicer & blender (that both see a lot of use). Between them they already take up half my bench space. I have room for a chopping block, and that’s it. So what’s a guy to do?

        Well there’s always a solution if you look hard enough, so how about this:

        It’s a coffee grinder (not that I drink coffee, but hey). There’s a drinking coconut next to it for scale. It’s TINY. Amusingly, once I got it home, the instructions explicitly said “Do NOT use this for nuts”.. but hey, yah gotta try, right?

        I figured cashews would be ok – they’re softer than coffee beans. Sure enough, here’s the result on a coarse grind:

        That looks pretty damn good to me! Better yet was the result:

        Melon, passionfruit, and cashew nut cream (cashew nuts + some chopped dates + water -> blender).

        YUM!

        Now true, it’s really only going to work for small recipes – but I’m generally only uncooking for one, so it’s pretty much the perfect compromise – at a fifth of the cost, and a tiny fraction of the space.

        [Update: ha ha! So much for that clever idea. I blew the damn thing up the 4th time I used it *laugh* Got a bunch of nuts stuck underneath the blade, and all the magic blue smoke escaped. Doh!]

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          Recovering from a Juice Feast

          First of all – a disclaimer. I ain’t a juice feastin’ expert. I can only talk about my own experience.

          And so I shall!

          Ok, some background – why did I do a juice feast in the first place? Spiritual clarity, essentially. In the process of weeding my emotional garden, I knew that the lighter my food intake, the more detoxing I’d do, the more things would come up, and the more I could heal. Did juice feasting help with this? Definitely.


          Yes, I drank this much green juice.

          Now, what did I do? I juice feasted – which means drinking at least 4L (4qt) of mainly vegetable juice, every day. I did this for 30 something days. After that, I went straight into a water fast (hey! why not? In for a penny, in for a pound!).

          While I was doing the juice feast, I had colonics every week (more on those later) – which helped enormously, btw. Did I manage to just drink juice the entire time? No, I “screwed up” on several occasions. Oh, I also drank psyllium & bentonite shakes several times daily for most of that time. Theoretically that should have helped clean me out. Did I notice anything? Not that I could tell. Between the shakes and sporadic eating, I suspect my digestive system never really got to the super calm, clear state that people talk about – but in terms of healing, ahhh, hehe, yeah, it was plenty intense enough, thankyouverymuch.

          So, what have I learned coming off the feast?

          1. It’s VERY easy to overeat.
          Even though I’m not 100% my digestive system ever completely switched off, I find pretty much every time I eat that my stomach is hurting afterwards. I never ate much to start with, but I think I’m going to have to start making half portions – ie, about half the size of a child’s meal.

          2. It’s VERY easy to underdrink.
          Normally I drink 4-5L (4-5qt) of water a day. I have a big glass, and I just sip it throughout the day. When juicing, I’d drink maybe 2L of water a day, but 4L of juice. Take the juice away, and it’s been hard to remind myself to start upping the water again. This has, of course, messed up my ability to digest food (I’ve been more clogged up than I would be on water).

          3. The “6 day feast breaking” is wayyyyy too short.
          I’ve been off for two weeks now, and my body is still freaking out every time I eat anything. It’s not over after 6 days, that’s just the beginning of the adjustment.

          4. You’re going to be drinking juice for much longer than time+6 days.
          When I finished, I was all with the “Thank God!! I am SO sick of juice!!”. Ahhh, famous last words. It’s not just the feast breaking time, but also with a shrunken stomach, so reduced food intake, where will your nutrients come from? Juicing is still the easiest way to get them – without messing up your system. Psychologically this has been realllly tough for me to realise & accept. Must. Keep. Juicing.

          5. Hard food is bad.
          Even two weeks later, I can feel that my body is not ready for hard to digest food. Eg, I’ll juice celery, but I haven’t put it in my salads yet. I’ll blend (small amounts of soft) nuts, but not eat them raw, and so on.

          6. Your tastes will change, drastically.
          I just threw out all the toxic stuff in my house. I had a mouthful of something that had stabilizers, emulsifiers etc and instantly felt ill. Now I’m someone with a concrete stomach lining, so this is pretty unusual. Also, things that I used to like are just too sweet for me now. Kale, I can’t get enough of (never used to be able to stand it). Wuhhh.. what just happened?

          7. The healing hasn’t stopped.
          Several issues *cough*likethisone*cough* have continued to bubble up as I’ve been transitioning. I figured everything would just halt, but noooo, still more to go, food-in-my-belly or not

          8. Pace yourself!
          All those things you’ve been missing while on the juice? Ahhh, pace yourself. Think, as Kristen points out in terms of a couple of different things a week. Don’t do what I did, which was have all those things I’d missed in one day. *OW*. Yeah, it’s stupid, I figured that (eventually). I like to learn experientially. Thanks though.

          All that said, it’s great to be back eating again. I’ve missed textures. I’ve missed subtle combinations of flavours (instead of everything-blurred-together-soup). Oh, and I’ve missed body fat. Holy crap I need some – it’s winter here!! What was I thinking?

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