Sunday, December 7, 2008

30 days for 30 years

If you have been following this blog you know I have a problem with binging, which means that I can never go for long periods of time on raw foods. My max is 21 days - is usually when PMS sets in and I lose control.

These days personal development blogger (and raw foodist) Steve Pavlina said something that caught my attention. When you want to try something out, do it for 30 days first and then see want you want to do. That way you won't keep thinking about all the things you will "miss out" on forever, etc. (and end up eating them). If you do it with a 30-day mindset, it is easier because you know that in the end you will be able to eat whatever you like (if you still do, that is!).
Yes, I had heard that sort of advice before, but for some reason it really clicked this time. Also, there is an extra bonus now. In a few months I will be turning 30 and I was telling myself how I deserve 30 days on a super healthy raw food diet. I did fill myself with junk for most of these 30 years anyway, so why not give myself a break? I could even celebrate every day in a different way, like today (day 7) I am healing from all of the traumas, bad food, or whatever I want to heal from when I was 7??
By the way, this time I am trying 80-10-10 (which I have sort of been trying - and liking - for the last months), but more on that later. Not being too strict on myself, but overall eating loadas of fruit as I always do, plus a lot of greens. Will keep posting on my progress.
What I have had today so far:
Spinach-banana-papaya-sesame-flaxseed smoothie
Fresh coconut water
Handful dates
Couple apples
Half a tomato
Some kale

Monday, November 17, 2008

Life on the wire

Midwife and author Pam England recently wrote an inspiring article called "Woman on wire" in the Birthing From Within newsletter. Even though it is essentially on birthing, it also applies to life in general, including our relationship with food.

The central message is that once we hear our calling in life we must be prepared for the challenges that come with it. Inspired on the documentary Man on wire (see trailer below), Pam England compares the story of Philippe Petit with the journey a woman goes through during pregnancy and birth*:

"Once we say yes to the Call, with every step, (whether a high-wire walker or woman preparing to birth), we begin to prepare by gathering inner and outer resources. From the moment Philippe heard his Call, and for the next nine years, Philippe followed his passion and mastered the art of high-wire walking. (...) Philippe was an accomplished high-wire artist, but he didn't bank on just thinking positively or past successes to protect him. He anticipated problems and found solutions."
I believe dealing with our often complicated relationship with our food is a great way to open to the higher callings in our life. A classic example are the people that change their profession after becoming raw. However, it is not always an easy path and we must be prepared to face the challenges lest they take over us.
Lately I have been going through an extra-difficult PMS phase and have decided to tackle it differently. I have never been able to go through PMS without binging and I am very tired of it! This month (before PMS) I was wondering if, in a way, PMS isn't a choice and if I couldn't simply decide to eliminate it from my life forever. Of course just thinking about it didn't change anything, but now that it is full-blown I have a plan. Once this phase s over, I will prepare in advance for the next cycle, just like the high-wire artist did for so many years before actually crossing the space between the two towers.
In case you have not been following this blog, I have binge-eating disorder (BED) and it gets much worse during PMS. I have used several resources to tackle the problem (even before I really knew what was the problem), such as:
- Years of traditional therapy;
- Journaling, blogging, and participating in online communities;
- Projeciology;
- Iridology;
- Raw foods;
- Colontherapy and enemas;
- Juice fasting;
- Juice feasting;
- Neurolinguistic programming;
- Reiki;
- EFT;
- etc.
All of these things were (are) WONDERFUL and have helped me learn a lot about myself and my journey. Still, BED persists, and it is certainly NOT because all of these things don't work! Often I just didn't prepare for the challenges. Yes, living on the wire is an exhilarating experience but it is also scary and we must prepare for the journey. Here are some sample preparation questions specifically for BED I will try to answer in my journal these days:
- What situations trigger my binging? How can I deal with these situations in a positive, assertive way?
- What specific people in your life that bring me into low-evergy situations and eventually binging? What can these people teach me about myself and how can I positively transform my relationship with them? If this is not possible, how can I end this relationship in a peaceful, loving way?
- What aspects of my life am I not happy with? How can I change them? What steps do I have do take to make the transition?
These days an image has been going through my mind. I am at the edge of a cliff. A turquoise-blue lagoon lies at the bottom, and my dream life is at the shore. The cliff is very high, but deep down I know that if I jump, I will plunge safely into the beautiful lagoon and will eventually be able to get to the shore. The problem is, in real life I can't even jump into a swimming pool!
So the question is: when will I let myself take the plunge?

*Article Copyright 2008: Pam England and Birthing From Within LLC .

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Raw food, mothering, and eating out

I have started to notice that one of the greatest triggers to my binging is linked to the need for “mothering”. There is one specific situation when this shows up particularly strongly:

When I need to cook.

Yes, I can finally admit it now: I hate to cook. As much as I try to avoid the word "hate", there is not much else to say. I also hate to uncook. Most of the time I don't think it's fun. I try to do it lovingly for my family, but it usually drains me. Even more so when it turns out bad (and my husband complains...).

Other than making sandwiches and snacks, my husband doesn't know how to cook. Our agreement after I started experimenting with raw food was for me to go on cooking for the family and he wouldn't bother me (not that I ever was a great cook...). Since then we have set up several other agreements which have all fallen through:

-That we only eat fruit in the morning;
-That we stop buying meat to make at home;
-That we have an entire raw food meal at least once a week;
-And so on...

The latest one was that he'd take raw soup at night as long as it was tasty, but I never really tried. In fact, most of these agreements didn't work out more because of me than because of him. The truth is, I want to spend the least possible time in the kitchen; thus, what I make for my family is what is easiets for me – the regular, cooked, omnivore food that I learned from my mom. I don't even know how a lot about cooked vegan food, since I went straight from a regular omnivore diet to raw.

Despite including some kind of meat most of the time, what I make for the rest of my family is not the worst thing nor ever was. It certainly doesn't compare to SAD (and of course we are in Brazil!). Since we got married, we agreed to never buy any cookies, excessively processed food, ketchup, mayo, canned stuff, or most junk like that. Eating out has always been more “liberal”, but our home is sacred. Additionally, people commonly eat a lot of fruit in the region we live in. Not as much as when we were growing up – as yards are increasingly being substituted by high rises in many cities – but still more than in other places.

Eating out ias another issue. It was a big part of the beginning of our relationship. Before I would have said we both love to eat, but now I know we are both emotional eaters. During my first year or so in raw it was weird because eating out all of a sudden had lost the point (besides being a trigger for binging), and I felt sort of lost. Now things are changing.

And this brings me back to the beginning. Eating out makes me feel “mothered”. Eating out = not having to cook = pampering myself. When I was a child, we rarely ate out as a family, so it had that “treat” feeling. Then (after everything that happened with my father), when I became a preteen I used to go to the mall with a friend exclusively to eat.

How to substitute eating out? I do not mean ruling out eating out whatsoever, but to stop using eating out as an excuse for eating junk and feeling mothered. Yes, there are dozens of ways I can have myself pampered, but it is hard to find something that provides that emotional “quick fix” eating out does, both alone and as a family.

On the other hand, mothers and grandmothers seem to have a great influence on emotional eating... :) I have heard all sorts of accounts of people who found out this or that trigger food (or a specific food that they couldn't give up) were related to their relationship with a grandmother or mother. Mothering is that magic button, that special kiss on a wounded knee, that hug that makes everything alright. Raw food and an overall healthier lifestyle brings about bliss in the long run, but it also uncovers several emotional issues that are hard to overcome “in the raw” without moments of pampering. The challenge is to create resources to fill in these needs in a way that doesn't affect our physical or emotional health.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Fruit Series

Today my son and I invented a "detective" game to see how many fruit trees (or shrubs, vines, etc.) we could find around the neighborhood. I was amazed: 23 different types of native and exotic fruit (besides the ones I certainly missed!). I have always been in awe at how much bounty there is around here, yet I was still taken by surprise. We also tried to count how many trees there were of each, but soon we lost count because there were so many.
Here is the list:
1. Avocado
2. Banana
3. Cashew
4. Castanhola
5. Coconut
6. Jack fruit
7. Jambo
8. Jenipapo
9. Graviola
10. Guava
11. Ingá
12. Lemon
13. Mango
14. Oiti
15. Orange
16. Papaya (the large kind)
17. Passion fruit
18. Peruvian cherry (acerola)
19. Pineapple
20. Pitanga
21. Pomegranate
22. Starfruit
23. Tomato
Thus, I decided to start The Fruit Series - a series of posts where I will talk about these and other tropical fruit, one at a time. The first one will be the mango. I will also write a bit about my recent frutarian experiences.
P.S. Note that I have been increasing this list - everytime I go out I find new fruit!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A fruity day

Today I had

- Water from 3 coconuts
- 4 bananas
- 3 tangerines
- 1 small watermelon
- 1/4 melon
- 1/2 apple


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Perfectly fearful

I am back in paradise only to remind myself that paradise is ultmately within myself...
Here I am, back in Brazil for a little over a month, happy to have all the fruit again and for the first time in my life starting to seriously try what I've always wanted to do - be a professional writer.

It could be the perfect scenario. Take this exact moment. My husband and son are napping and I am all to myself, looking at the three little monkeys who just found some pink mango leftovers I left in the back yard. Yet today I am blocked, wanting to curl myself up in the hammock with some fiction and loads of chocolate wafers.

At first glance, there are "serious reasons" for this: the house is a mess (it has been raining all the time and the mold comes back as fast as I wipe it off), I don't have any sacred, private space to concentrate, there are a bunch of pending issues to resolve plus other projects, there aren't enough hours in the day... In other words, the famous "If Only..." perfection syndrome that happens to everyone at some point in life. Yet, as most people probably also know, it isn't about perfection, but about fear. This perfectionism is only an excuse to look away from the fear.

Thus, here I am trying to let go of this stupid fear for the nth time. I have dozens of (undone) writing projects that have been pilling up over the years, the largest and most ambitious being a book on food (habits, disorders, awareness, etc.). I have it all in my head (and its structure is written down) but when it comes to putting it down on paper, I just... can't. This is not the first time I am going over these fears (as my therapist knows too well!!) but perhaps letting them out publicly will help. Here's a random list:

- That after all the work, the book will not be good enough for publishing;
- If it is published, that it won't sell; or
- That it will sell too much and I'll be overexposed;
- Of being criticized and/or ridiculed by people close and not-so-close to me;
- Of having my thoughts exposed to people that don't know certain things about me (like the binge-eating syndrome);
- That people will think I am not qualified enough to write a book on such subjects
- Etc., etc., etc.

Now that I wrote it down, it seems almost ridiculous itself! Yet the fear still won't let go of me. I even wonder what will my readers think of all this!! :)

Hey, what are you looking at?? :)

Friday, June 27, 2008

101 things to do in 1001 days

This isn't directly related to raw food, but I thought it was so cool!! I originally found it on Chryselle D'Silva Dias' blog, The Inspired Writer, who in turn found it on Mridu Khullar's blog , who linked to the original idea at the Day Zero website (I'm linking to all three because they are such interesting reads!). You simply have to create a list of 101 specific things you would like to do over the next 1001 days and post it online. You can also post it on the Day Zero Website along with all the other lists (imagine all the great energy!). The Day Zero site also has a bunch of cool links to ideas such as The Happiness Project, the 100 Thing Challenge, Learning to Love You More, Book Crossing, etc. - worth checking out!

Here's my list (not necessarily in this order), starting tomorrow:

  1. Become a full-time professional writer;
  2. Get rid of binge-eating syndrome;
  3. Write a book on food;
  4. Write the two children's books that are in my head;
  5. Get something published by a big publisher;
  6. Finish the book my dad was never able to complete;
  7. Finish four other writing projects on my list;
  8. Go 100% raw for 60 days or longer and decide whether it is really what I want for life;
  9. Try the 80/10/10 raw food style;
  10. Finish fixing up my house, take advantage of it for a while and then...
  11. Move to the place of my dreams (or stay there if I think that was the place of my dreams after all);
  12. Have my dream office;
  13. Give homeschooling (or unschooling) a try;
  14. Make more progress in my "ecolifestyle" and come up with a list of things to change and how to do it;
  15. Go no-poo once and for all (well, using my favorite alternative, lemon juice);
  16. Get our family to be zero-waste;
  17. Also erradicate those plastic bags completely, once and for all;
  18. Go back to 100% composting in our yard;
  19. Have and/or adopt a 2nd child;
  20. Do water gymnastics during my pregnancy;
  21. Get weekly massages througout pregnancy;
  22. Try a natural water birth;
  23. Breastfeed for as long as I feel like;
  24. Learn shantala massage;
  25. Go live on the beach or spend at least two weeks a year on a beach;
  26. Visit Fernando de Noronha again;
  27. Take a course in Waldorf education;
  28. Enroll in a yoga class;
  29. Enroll in a belly-dancing class (especially during pregnancy);
  30. Take short family trips once a month (or once every two months);
  31. Make a long trip in northeastern Brazil;
  32. Get my photos all organized;
  33. Get all of my dad's old papers sorted and only keep the essential;
  34. Get rid of ALL my excess stuff;
  35. Get my garden going again and grow a bunch of edibles;
  36. Shower in a waterfall - more than once;
  37. Get all my pending academic papers finished and published;
  38. Finish my PhD;
  39. Start an environmental blog and/or writing project;
  40. Start a writing blog;
  41. Join the monthly blood donation campaign in my city;
  42. Meditate regularly;
  43. Take regular walks before sunrise;
  44. Plant a tree a week as soon as I get back home (and as long as I live in a place I can);
  45. Go on a real vacation, as a family;
  46. Have a whole weekend for myself, preferably away from home;
  47. Go camping;
  48. Go diving;
  49. Do something that tests my physical and bravery limits (birthing doesn't count!);
  50. Play maracatu;
  51. Go out to dance with my husband;
  52. Finish the undergrad course in environmental management that I dropped out of years ago;
  53. Go back to the orthodontist and finish fixing my teeth;
  54. Take a train somewhere;
  55. Take a boat somewhere;
  56. Start a "vacation savings account";
  57. Fix up my dad's grave;
  58. Pamper myself and have a day doing everything I like;
  59. Spend a week at a spa;
  60. Learn first aid;
  61. Make a mosaic sign with the number of our house;
  62. Visit all of the museums in our city;
  63. Get our "word a year" family project going;
  64. Sleep in the moonlight;
  65. Go back to the beach we started dating and spend a week there;
  66. Make a real time capsule for my woman's group;
  67. Spend a whole day with my best childhood friends, remembering the old times;
  68. Complete my training to become a certified doula;
  69. Take care of my pending health issues;
  70. Accompany my mom to all of her doctors once a year;
  71. Do something challenging/scary to me once a month;
  72. Take a practical course on permaculture;
  73. Have the anniversary celebration of our dreams;
  74. Try surfing at least once;
  75. Go bodyboarding;
  76. Learn good eye exercises and do them several times a day;
  77. Have green juice every day no matter what;
  78. Have professional photos taken of myself and family;
  79. Have professional photos taken of myself during pregnancy;
  80. Go out once a month with our goddaughters;
  81. Donate my father's remaining books that I don't want;
  82. Improve my astral projection skills and write down my experiences;
  83. Learn reiki;
  84. Take at least one more course at Intercampi;
  85. Visit the Chapada Diamantina;
  86. Visit southern Brazil;
  87. Set aside more couple time;
  88. List 100 things that make me happy;
  89. Perfect our family "dream board" and care for it regularly;
  90. Read the Tao;
  91. Try any of the martial arts;
  92. Learn new fun things to play with my son;
  93. Renew my drivers license and learn how to drive well again;
  94. Take a speech course;
  95. Take a sculpting class;
  96. Visit Pedra de Ingá again;
  97. Do a juice fast once a week (except when pregnant/breastfeeding);
  98. Finish the "dandelion path" in my front yard;
  99. Learn ASL;
  100. Celebrate the 1001th day doing whatever I want!

P.S. Just created a separate blog for this (Aug. 29, 2008)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Circles and cycles of energy

The small, but growing raw food movement in Brazil has an important but often overlooked feature: it emphasizes the energy in food. Not energy as in calories, but the energy flow in a broader sense.

When I first started heard about this in the beginning of my raw food journey, I didn't think much of it. I didn't really understand why all this fuss about arranging your food on your plate, squeezing your juice with your own hands, and so on.

The first time I started giving more attention to it was when I took a raw food uncooking class with Gorette Oliveira. That day, she told us about Ana Branco, an art professor at the Catholic University of Rio (PUC-Rio) who does workshops that links art and food. I had already visited this professor's website and even exhanged some e-mails with her, but Gorette's account really touched me. In the workshop she attended, Ana Branco asked each person to mindfully create a fruit mandala; at the end, all of the mandalas were merged into a single, big mandala. Apparently the experience was so intense and full of energy that it moved several people to the point of crying in happiness. There were even some organic farmers present (who had provided the fruit) who cried in awe because of the beauty that came from their "simple" produce.

After hearing that account I started to create my own mandalas, a practice I enjoy to this day. I don't know much about the "technical details" about them and what they are supposed to mean, but it is a practice that brings me peace. They are like little circles of powerful energy.

Often people ask what's the deal with being 100% raw vs. anything less than that. I can only speak for myself, but what I feel is that when I'm 100% raw I'm on a whole different energy level. Obviously I feel overall better physically, but I also argue less with my husband, have more patience with my son, and have an easier time at work, to name a few examples. Everything becomes more harmonious, even with people I'm not necessarily close to. My life literally flows. It might sound far out, but I even get the impression that people around me start to seem a tad happier too! :) Or perhaps I'm just better tuned with their happiness and true being...

When I'm not completely raw now I tend to rant at why in the world I can't stick to raw food all the time if it makes me feel so good!!!!! The last time I went 100% raw (for seven days, which ended last Thursday), during my 3rd day I felt amazed at how wonderful I felt, but also very scared. When I go 100% raw the third day is always critical. When that day came to an end (also a critical moment) a list of negative thoughts went through my head:

"You don't need to do this!"

"What's wrong with eating a little bit of cooked food? A bite of whole-wheat vegan pizza won't kill you!"

"You won't be able to go on long with out some cookies!"

"Just one piece!"

And so on...

The thing is, even when I am not 100% raw, I am eating the healthiest I have ever eaten in my life and would probably fare fine if I went on like this to the end of my days. HOWEVER, I don't want to be "fine", I want to live life at the fullest, with optimal physical and (especially) emotional/spiritual health. I want to be clear headed enough to know what life wants of me, to do whatever I came here to this Earth to do. I want to be happy and to grow continuously - individually and as a family. I want the best of my stay on the Earth and want to give it my best too.

I don't think it would be the end of the world if I got to the point where I ate 100% raw most of the time and every once in a while I ate something not raw or not so healthy, but for now that is not possible because it never stays at one bite or one piece or even one meal. The reason for that is because I eat certain kinds of things not for nutrition but to fullfill emotional needs that have been overlooked. And even when that's not the case, these kinds of foods seem to take me to a lower energy level, which in turn leads me to other foods and I am pulled in lower and lower until I feel terrible.

The opposite also happens. Certain people, situations, or memories, for instance, pull me down into an energy level that make me crave certain foods. Of course it is mostly my responsability - I will only go down if I allow myself too. Besides, these days a very disturbing thought came to mind: if I still allow certain people, things, situations, or foods to draw me into less than optimal energy levels, something in them must resonate within myself.

In respect to people, I am a firm believer in what so many self-help books say: if don't like a certain trait in someone else, chances are you have some shade of it in yourself and don't want to deal with it. Yet how would that work in relation to food?

Let's take the example of a store-bought cookie that came from a factory and break down the way it came into being:
  • The wheat probably came from a corporate farm, where it was heavily sprayed and was certainly not a happy plant (see this very interesting documentary called "The Secret Life of Plants");
  • Depending on where the sugar came from, in addition to being sprayed, the sugarcane harvest might have involved child and/or semi-slave or even completely slave work. Similar considerations apply to the cacao used in the chocolate chips;
  • The chicken that laid the eggs almost for sure were kept confined and not allowed to sleep much so that they would grow faster. They might have also been given certain hormones to gain wait faster, besides eating food not natural to them;
  • Similarly, the cow that gave the milk and butter was probably confined and was separated from her calf to increase her milk yield. She might also have been given antibiotics and other substances;
  • I almost forgot other substances used to "conserve" or do whatever to the cookies... Things with weird names like "dextrose" and "ammonium bicarbonate", not to count the "artificial flavors" (which are...?);
  • In addition, the ingredients certainly travelled a lot around the world, which involved a considerable amount of fossil fuels and pollution;
  • With all the ingredients in the cookie factory, chances are many of the people working there aren't exactly in their dream job (and maybe underpaid too);
  • To top it all, the cookie comes in a plastic (petroleum-based) package.
So, what kind of energy can we expect to get from eating this cookie? And knowing all this, I ask myself, why do I still eat cookies like that? That got me thinking and I made a list of my "deep dark secrets" (no, I am not going to reveal them all here! :)). No, I am not in favor of child labor, spraying crops, or the like, yet I do have issues. They may seem "minor" when compared to the big problems around this fateful cookie, but they certainly relate: submissiveness, not doing exactly what I want professionally, poisoning/polluting my own body (which is the natural environmental closest to us!), not always being completely there when my son wants my attention (or simply not being there at all)... The list goes on, but I think that is enough as a sample...
It is obvious that the problem is not about being raw or not, as the cookie could have been made from all organic ingredients that came from places that respected human rights and the principles of fair trade. The difference that raw food makes, however, is the LIFE in it.
Thus, in practice, I do these low-vibration things I listed, eat these low-vibration foods, am pulled down, relate to other people on this lower vibration, eat some more, do more of what I don't want to, go down even further, etc., etc. OR I eat raw, live foods, feel my whole body tinkle with good energy, am more aware of my actions and change them for better, improve my relationships, and feel more in awe with life at every moment.
Yet, for some reason I cannot fully grasp, I am still somewhere in between, in "raw food limbo", as Angela Stokes once said. Sometimes I'm doing great, sometimes (like today) I feel like s.... I go through these cycles an sometimes, within them, get caught in vicious circles that are hard to transform into something better. Fortunately I think all these circles and cycles, overall, have been an upper spiral of sorts. Things seem to be slowly improving...
And, with our without fear, I can't wait to find out what I will learn next!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

New roots

Shortly after I began reading Eckart Tolle's book "A New Earth" I began feeling this weird desire to shave off my hair. I came up with several rational excuses for the idea and a dozen others for why I shouldn't just go ahead and do it. A couple of weeks later, I told my NLP therapist at our session and she commented it probably had to do with my wanting to start anew. After all, when we turn upside down our hair becomes... our roots. That made a lot of sense to me.
She also said some people here in Quebec shaved their heads to raise money for cancer research and I thought it would be good to do something like that. When I got home I searched the web and found some links to "shave-to-save" events and other related activities nearby, but all were over and there was nothing upcoming. I thought of other ways I could use this seemingly crazy idea to help people, but in the end I just did it for myself.
It was pretty scary at first. In fact, it's like food - when you start shedding the extra pounds there is no longer that cushioning or protective shield betwen yourself and the world. For a couple of days I was irritable and fed up with everything and everyone around me and even did some uncharacteristic things I would rarely have done (also scary, but it actually felt good).
Shaving my head was not the only issue involved. During that NLP session, my therapist did a very intriguing exercise in which, in a nutshell, I was able to "look" at two sides of myself and why each of them wants to go a different way. In other words, why does part of me want to binge and anesthesize myself with food, while the other wants optimal physical and emotional health?
The results were quite surprising. It was like half of me was this pampered two-year-old who wanted all she could get, while the other side was some sort of serene, patient being waiting around to see what happened. Yet I was able to recognize that this "two-year-old" had also got me a long way, as her willpower made me do things my other, mellower side, would have perhaps let go. Both had good intentions, but were not in harmony.
However, I realized that all that time the "little girl" was screaming for me to do what I should and I was mostly ignoring her and stuffing her with food to keep her quiet - she had grown a long time ago and I was still treating her like a stubborn baby. Thus, at the same time I realized I was being governed by a two-year-old, I realized she wasn't there at all.
The end of the exercise was to thank each side for what they had done for me, to forgive them for whatever harm they had brought (and vice-versa), and to finally merge them into a harmonious, new (and grown) me.
At that moment I wondered how that would translate into my eating patterns. A few days later a new "click" came. Perhaps I needed to thank and forgive... my food?
Whoever has gone through repeated dieting and other food related disorders knows that the phrase "this will be the last time" is often only the beginning. Farewells aren't needed when you're sure of what you want. It's like sleeping with your ex. If you were really over him, chances are that would never happen again. Yet, on the other hand, a relationship cannot be over if you do not throughouly acknowledge and resolve several things first.
So I thought, maybe that is what is missing between myself and the foods I still eat for reasons other than nourishment and well being. Nevertheless, the moment I realized that I also saw something that is not easy to admit even to myself: I don't know exactly why, but I am still not ready to let go.
As I said, it's not an easily acceptable fact, but I'm trying not to be too hard with myself. Once it took several months to actually stop seeing a guy I had been with during several years, but then everything had been resolved and it was really final. I never felt like seeing him again. Could it be that way with food too? How long will it take me to let go of a relationship that has been going on for almost 30 years?
Regardless of being ready to let go or not, I decided to write a letter to my food. I copied it below. "Kit" represents all the food I have eaten and/or still eat for emotional reasons. Let's see what happens after this...
Dear Kit,
I would like to start thanking you for all you have done for me during these years: the times you soothed me when I felt anxious, numbed me when I felt fear, filled me when I felt emotionally empty. You were there when the world was too much for me and I needed a protective barrier to insulate me from all of its problems. You were also there when I wasn't able to be myself fully and needed to escape. The sad moments you were there to comfort me are countless. And it wasn't all about bad times. It would be impossible to count all of the joyful times you were by my side: festivities, family reunions, meetings with friends, dates...
As much as you have been helpful, our relationship must come to an end. I have learned a lot from you - and I'm also thankful for that - but now I must move on. Yet before that I must say that I forgive you for all the harm you unadvertedly brought me: the emotional instability, the headaches, the muddled thoughts, the leg pains, the extra pounds, and all of the other little things. I fully forgive you for that now.
I also ask that you forgive me for having used you unappropriately and excessively and for the many times I blamed you for all my problems when I was really the one responsable. I am truly sorry.
In case our paths do cross again in the future, let's take the pledge to respect each other.
All the best,

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The A-word

Yesterday my husband informed me that our state was once again ranked the most violent in Brazil. The previous report had not been much better: it said one in every four people in our city had a chance of being shot to death at some point in their lives. I don't want to get into detail, but as much as I love my place, sometimes I would just like to leave.

Violence and other not-so-good news is not only limited to developing countries. I hear that right here in Quebec, where we are living temporarily, there are street gangs in Montreal and occasionally other people are hurt when accidentally caught in their fights. Just the other day I saw a documentary on television that mentioned that 13 teenage girls from a single community in a southern California town had had their gallbladders removed. Why? The only "food" they had access to was cheap fast-food - the community had no markets whatsoever (and they wouldn't have afforded the produce anyway). And speaking of California, a fellow raw food enthusiast from Give it to me raw had his San Diego apartment ransacked and all of his musical equipment taken just this week...

The list goes on... I went to a lecture this afternoon on immigration between Mexico and the USA and the stories are ringing in my ears until now - I don't even want to talk about it. I also hear from a friend that there are neo-Nazi groups all over Germany. Neo-Nazi what? In the 21st century?

And what do you say about climate change? The island-state of Tuvalu is going underwater and they can't even find another country to take 3000 of their inhabitants who need out (much less for all 12000 who will have to leave when most of the island disappears or becomes inhabitable during the next 30 years).

Is the world doomed forever? Are we still in the middle-ages or what? Should I just go out and jump off a building?

No. I do think things are changing... for best!! In fact, there's a mega revolution going on.

No, there are no arms, protesters, secret societies or guerrillas. There is no ideology behind this revolution, no "this is right and this is wrong". It is silent, introspective, and very very fast growing.

It is the revolution of awareness.

You may start being aware of what you are eating and how this relates to the rest of the world. Or you may start to think that perhaps you wouldn't like so many chemicals on your body and start making your own fruit-based shampoo. Perhaps you are pregnant and decided to try a home birth after the doctor said you had to give birth a certain way; after all he knows what's best for your body. Or maybe it was the time the school psychologist said your kid had a certain ADS - wouldn't it be better to take him to the doctor to get a prescription for something to calm him down (said what?).

Or perhaps you just sat still and heard your inner voice and felt one with the universe.

None of this is new. There have been people aware of themselves and their rights ever since the beginning of humanity (fortunately!). However, I think there is a difference now. I have no "scientific data" to prove my words, but I believe there are many more of us and the numbers are increasing steadily and in places unthought-of before.

The first time I realized this was when my NLP coach recommended that I read Eckart Tolle's book "A New Earth". She also said there was some sort of online seminar going on that close to one million people were following, from over 100 countries. Okay, one million people in a world of over seven billion is almost "nothing" in terms of percentages. Yet picture it - one million people online at once because each one of them wants to grow as a person and, consequently, make the world a better place (just thinking of it I am energized!).

That is only one example. After starting to read E. Tolle I surfed the web a bit and was taken aback by the number of books with topics related to consciousness and awareness. In fact, there are even a few international organizations dedicated solely to studying a field called conscienciology (I took a course in one of them last year and it was fantastic).

Another, more local, example: the last time I visited my mother I was surprised to see that a center for holistic medicine had opened in her city. She lives in a teeny tiny semi-rural town in Brazil which is quite conservative - it would be the last place I would think of for a clinic like that. I immediately set an appointment with the iridologist (I had always wanted to go to one!) and asked how things were going, if there were a lot of patients showing up, etc. Her answer was impressive. Three years ago when she opened her other clinic (which operates in a nearby and very similar town), people thought her practice was quite strange, but at that moment she had a waiting list of people wanting an appointment!

The whole raw food movement is yet another example of how people are more aware and wanting change, whether it is their food habits or they way their children are taught at school.

The question that remains is: is all this awareness talk just one more fad that will pass with time?

I will answer this question with another story that happened to me last year. I was giving a class to a group of environmental sciences undergraduate students and we were discussing a chapter from Daniel Quinn's book Ishmael. If you are not familiar with the book, a gorilla called Ishmael teaches a guy about what he calles the big myth of humanity and why everything has been faring so badly. At some point he talks about how the hippies and other movements from the 1960's sensed there was something wrong with our society and tried to change it without success (because they were not aware of the myth he talks about). That moment one girl raised her hand and said: "Well, my parents lived the sixties and I don't think they failed. Even after all those movements were over, they chose to live 'apart' from society, the way they think is right, and they are doing that to this day. And they feel very happy and fulfilled".

Wow! That really got me thinking for days. These people not only planted very important seeds back then, they were still alive and kickin'! And even though they didn't "save the world" at that time, they surely had influenced many, many people along their lives, effortlessly, just by having the courage of living the way that made them most happy. Plus, the change they indirectly caused in other people was probably much deeper and lasting as it came from example, i.e., from looking outward and then within.

The new revolution of awareness is all about that. Each person has their own path, whether it comes through food, "alternative" medicine, or even religion. In this revolution, each one chooses which "weapons" are better for their own, personal "battle": there are never any intermediaries or people telling what you should or should not do. Learning is by sharing and example - when desired. It is a path learned and lived within, seemingly alone, but with the conscious or unconscious support of all of humanity, of all life on earth, of the supreme conscience in whatever form you wish to call it. It can be scary but is ultimately the most fantastic experience on Earth - and you end up pulling in several other people on the way.

And you? Will you too dare to use the a-word?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Following my bliss in practice

(Why is it so hard?)

Why in the world is it so hard to simply do what we like and what is best for us physically and emotionally? Where does all this fear and guilt come from?

As I said in the last post, my second juice feast made me see how important writing was for me. In fact I think and binge less and am less depressed when I write regularly.

I began to work when I was 14, shortly after my dad died. I started teaching English as a second language and helping out with kids who did not do well in school. When I was 16 I became a volunteer at an environmental NGO. I hated the first and enjoyed the second – environmentalism is my second passion after writing. When I was about 20 and in a pretty destructive relationship, I began to use working for its anaesthetizing effect as I had been doing for years with food. I committed myself completely to environmental issues and worked on several kinds of activities (for pay or not for pay) seven days a week. During my last year of college (which was also the last year of that relationship) I had a part-time job in waste management, an internship in marine biology, and was a fulltime student, plus several other smaller parallel activities. For one year I made myself so busy I “did not notice” he was dating me and living with someone else at the same time. Needless to say, it was then that I reached my highest weight (excluding when I was pregnant later).

Despite working, volunteering, and all the food, there was always a gap – that big “hole” so many people feel inside them. I went from trying to find out the reason for it (and coming up with superficial or childhood-related answers) to brushing it off as something inherent to the human condition.

The following year was pretty intense. I finally broke up with my boyfriend after over six years of emotional abuse, started my masters in another city, and for the first time lived on my own (an old dream come true). I discovered The Celestine Prophecy and a bunch of weird and interesting “coincidences” started happening (or I started noticing them…). I learned and grew a lot during that year, but at some point I began to feel stuck. Then due to several other coincidences, I met my husband, was pregnant in two months and then got married.

That was hard. I was never too sure I wanted children. I learned a lot with pregnancy and motherhood, especially because it does not come naturally to me. Now I love it, but I still have to work at being a good mom every single day. My greatest difficulty is to really “be there” when I’m with my son. I spend a lot of time with him, we play together, etc., but ever so often I am just going through the motions and my mind is elsewhere.

Yet how does all this come together and also link to raw food?

First, I now realize that I write all the time – and most of the time I’m not even writing on paper! In other words, while I’m working, I’m “writing in my head” at the same time; when my son should have my full attention, I’m secretly going over what I would like to be writing at that moment; when I’m with my husband, I’m taking mental notes of what I want to write down later on… The result is that I’m never doing what I should be doing because I’m trying to find my bliss, and when I do have some time to actually write, I generally don’t because I feel guilty for not “being there” in all those other moments.

This causes a lot of frustration and I now believe it is a big part of that void I mentioned before. Further evidence: for years and years I’ve had this weird feeling that I’m always forgetting something really important that I have to do. So I make and remake “to do” lists, go over priorities, plan, setup schedules and the like, but no matter what or how much I do I can’t get rid of that feeling (I have it now!). It is very unsettling. After the last juice feast I started asking myself if that missing thing wasn’t writing.

I decided to test the theory. I told myself I would leave home earlier and let myself write for one hour everyday, first thing in the morning at work. Guilt would not be allowed during that hour. Then the rest of the day I would try to be productive and do what I had to do work-wise and then write some more if there was time left (after all, I suspected my general productivity would rise).

In practice, this only happened a couple of times in these two weeks. Even stopping to mentally allow myself to write and release the guilt, many days I would busywork, busywork, do a bunch of things that were not priority or that other people asked me to do, then get to the end of day having done neither what I should have done in work nor followed my bliss and written guilt-free. The final result would be to go home frustrated and with that gnawing feeling again and eating a bunch of junk to fill the void.

I don’t want to work because it’s not exactly what I want to be doing and I don’t want to do what I think I should be doing because I feel guilty about it.

On one level I feel guilty because I think I should be working/doing my research. I’m afraid people are looking over my shoulder and seeing I’m doing something else, even though they probably don’t even care! I also feel guilty because I’m here “wasting time” when my husband had to leave his job and temporarily become a homemaker for me to be here.

Yet those are all superficial issues. There are other, deeper issues, related to my dad’s death and my relationship with my mother, who never learned how to follow her own bliss and put herself first when she needed to. My greatest fear is repeating these patterns with my son, which is also my greatest motivation in curing myself of the binge-eating syndrome and other destructive behaviours I have acquired through life. I believe exploring these issues will go a long way, along with raw food, and some “outside help” I am starting to think about these days.

I hope to post about improvements soon….

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Follow your bliss

If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living… I say follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be… Wherever you are- if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time…” (Joseph Campbell )

Its still fullblown winter here in Quebec, but the wheatgrass flourishes in our warm, sunny kitchen.

At the end of the third day of binging after my second juice feast, I did my first honest-to-goodness enema at home. I’m not going to describe it here, but wow! What a difference that made! All of a sudden my “I want to eat the world up” feeling went away and I started to eat more sensibly.

Yet it was during those hard days, when I felt the yuckiest, that once again some now obvious aspects of my life (and what it should be like for me to feel happier) became clear. I also did an exercise called “follow your bliss”, from Our Birthing from Within Keepsake Journal, a book we bought a while ago when we started thinking of a second child. In fact, I did it, my husband did it, and we did it as a couple. The exercise basically consists of listing three things that bring you bliss. This exercise made me realize even more that there are two things I need EVERY SINGLE DAY OF MY LIFE:

Time for myself;
Time to write;
AND/OR both together.

Now I will step back in time to explain. Simply said, I LOVE to write and writing has been part of my life ever since I can remember. It doesn’t even matter what I write: it can be blog entries, scientific papers, short stories, or just plain old journaling. My secret dream profession (which even some of the people closest to me don’t know) was always to be a writer, but I never believed that could come true in practical terms. Besides, I am the kind of person that is always interested in several different things at the same time, so it’s not too hard to find a job that I can be fine with (I am quite a workaholic too).

Two years ago, when my son was about one year old, I decided to quit my job and stay home. The plan was to stay with him fulltime AND try to write professionally, as we couldn’t afford to put him into daycare with only my husband working (we also thought he was too young for that). It was the first time in my working life that I “stopped everything”. It was also one of the most difficult years in my life. All of a sudden I went from being a workaholic to staying at home being a fulltime housewife and mother. Yes, because in practice that was all I had time to do – you don’t have much time to concentrate on writing when you are alone with a toddler. Much less on my diet at that time, which left me feeling tired 24-7. The little free time I had was for housecleaning, sleeping, or doing some translation services to complement our budget. All the writing I did was some occasional journaling – far from professional writing.

Still, it was that bit of journaling was life-changing and eventually directed me into raw food. At some point, when I felt depressed all the time, I intuitively did two things that brought results that eight years of therapy in the past had not even come close too. The first was to take quick notes on my daily moods starting from the first day of my period. The reason was because I wanted to see what portion of my moods repeated themselves each month according to the moment of my menstrual cycle and how much came from external stress or other issues. This was crucial because it made me see that a lot was “normal” and repetitive, so that when certain moods came at certain times I could (at least in part) know it was mostly related to my hormones and not feel as scared.

At around the same time I found out about raw food and started blogging about it (that was the second thing). That brought several changes in many aspects of my life, among which more energy, fewer binging episodes and more awareness of this problem as a psychological and medical disorder, less depression, etc. However, as I was not too clear on what I wanted yet, I decided to go back to school for a PhD as I couldn’t stand being home all the time anymore – I think the emotional pressure of stopping everything and being able to really think about my life was too great.

My plan was: I would go back to school and apply for a doctoral bursary which would enable us to put our child at a Waldorf pre-school part-time (three mornings and two full days) so that I could go to class. By that time I had basically given up on professional writing and believed that solely writing academic papers would fulfill my needs. Besides, I was changing my line of studies a bit and was excited about that (I love to learn and to do new things, no matter what).

In reality, this is what happened: I passed the doctoral entrance exam, but had to stay over a year on the waiting list for a bursary; we did get a big discount at my child’s school, or else we wouldn’t have been able to pay (but we could only afford five mornings). However, all this caused a lot of stress because my schedule became almost unbearably hectic. On the days I had class in the morning I would have to run out at the end in order to get the bus in time to pick up my son and then go home and stay with him in the afternoon and then stay up until 2 or 3 am reading my material for classes (THAT was only possible because of the extra raw food energy! :)). Then my husband had to leave work on the day I had class in the afternoon, which caused some more stress. And so on…

Enough on that, though. What I wanted to say is that, during this second juice feast, one more obvious thing downed on me. If I had tried and taken the risk, I would have been able to put my son in school and been able a few hours every day! I never needed to go back to school – I could have tried the discount without having to go get a PhD! BUT I needed some sort of justification as paying for his pre-school JUST for me to stay home and start to try and write something (and be successful or not) was not enough. I didn’t think I was worth it! And then there are other guilt-related issues like how my dad always wanted me to finish school all the way to the end (i.e., a PhD) and do well academically, etc., etc., but that’s a whole new story I won’t get into now.

Now, don’t take me wrong – I don’t regret the fact that I got back in school for a number of reasons I won’t get into now either. Yet I have to find a way to also write things other than academic papers (which I enjoy too, but not only) and start thinking what I really want to do when I finish, not what I think others expect me to (and honestly I don’t even know for sure who these “others” are – probably my dad’s memory once again). I still can’t envision myself being a writer 100% of the time (for practical-financial reasons), but I would like some sort of job which would allow me time to write whatever I wanted for about two hours a day.

My husband is also going through a professional crisis and I believe the ideal would be for the two of us to work part-time and then do something at home which we like (like writing for me and probably something hands-on like artisanship for him) which might eventually bring in some income too. The problem is how to accomplish that in practical terms, but I believe we’re now finally close to finding out as long as we continue to "follow our bliss"! :)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Crashing the second feast

(The subtle and not-so-subtle reasons for why I broke the feast before I had planned to)

As described here previously, there were clear reasons as for why I broke my first juice feast. Although I believed I would stay at least 30 days on this second feast, it was much harder than I had expected and uncovered several issues that were not easy to deal with – until they became unbearable and I crashed it with a binging episode.

I do not want to justify why I interrupted this feast prematurely, but I would like to write about it to make things straight in my head. In practical terms, there was the problem of being here in Canada during winter and on a tight budget and having to buy lots of fresh, organic fruit and greens (of course this I had already anticipated). Then there was the fact that the Global Juice Feast started right during my PMS – NOT a good time to start anything. Perhaps I should have waited until after my period (like the last time), but I was hard headed and wanted to start “officially” with everyone else because I thought it would be good energetically; in fact, on the first few days right before going to bed I would think about all the other juice feasters and try to feel all of the good energy coming from this extraordinary group (and of course send some good vibes to everyone too!). That was helpful and I should have done it throughout the feast.

Other issues were related to not setting my time goals straight and mixing them up with other things I wanted to do that would require me to be eating. For instance, some relatives (which I haven’t seen a few years) will be visiting over Easter. They love to eat out and do not know much about how my diet has changed (they basically think I have become vegetarian). I kept debating over whether I should maintain my JF and face their reactions fully; modify the feast before their arrival so that I could have some salad and sidestep the issue; or just stop the JF fully. Other issues were related to my trip to Montreal in the beginning of April, where I want to go to the Montreal Raw Food Potluck and also eat some food from Crudessence, a raw food delivery service. This is important to me as I haven't had a big variety of gourmet raw food and I am very curious about that.

That said, let me describe how I crashed my JF in practice. It all started in the morning when my son left some of his chocolate-flavoured, organic soy drink, and I thought it wasn’t the end of the world if I took it. Later on, I decided to bake some peanut butter cookies for him and my husband, and I accidentally put in too much sugar. My husband was passing by and asked whether it wasn’t too much. I wasn’t too worried because the peanut butter I was using had no sugar, so I thought the extra amount wouldn’t be a problem. HOWEVER, I decided to taste and check. I tasted once and I thought it needed more sugar, so I started adding some maple syrup and tasting the mixture (sugar-peanut butter-maple syrup) until I thought it was okay. The cookies were ready pretty fast and since my husband had gone out I thought I should to taste one to see the final result. They were MUCH too sweet and were not that good at all, but I had three of them. It felt (and tasted) awful but I kept going. Then after a while I had two more.

I knew I would feel terrible and probably be sick, so I took two anti-acids and drank tons of water. Then I had a BM and took a nap. Later that day I recorded the experience in my journal and did my first real (correct) enema, which felt great. I thought a lot about what had happened and debated whether I should started eating the soaked prunes and call off the JF, or whether I should go on and use the experience to work on something that is very hard for me: go back to being completely raw after a binging episode. Several questions came into my mind, especially if I would have to start counting again from day 1 or if it was minor enough for me to say I was still on the same feast. I also asked my husband’s opinion and he thought I should call it off because of my relatives’ visit (he thought it would be rude to go out with them and not eat).

Part of me wanted to stop and part didn’t (unlike the first time, when I did not want to stop at all!). I decided to continue the fast and the message that came o me was “I deserve the best and that is what I want!” BUT, the next day it all happened again, this time much worse. It was actually quite a nice day. I went out to do the laundry, the weather was the nicest since I’ve arrived here in Canada, and I took a stroll down one of my favourite streets. Then I went to the drugstore to get something and decided to buy a box of truffles for my husband and son as an Easter gift (deep down I think I did it on purpose and knew I would want to eat some). On the way home I saw an 100% cacao bar, which I had never seen before in my life, and told myself it wasn’t the end of the world if I bought one and had a piece. After all it was just cacao (LOL)! I had a couple of squares and when I arrived at home and presented the truffles, I thought I would have one to share that moment with the family and have one too. This was the final result:

- A few squares of 100% cacao;
- 2 truffles (which were actually pretty bad);
- At this point I thought I should call of the JF and so I had several soaked prunes;
- 3 of my yucky peanut butter cookies;
- 1 whole-wheat apple muffin;
- Top crust of one leftover wedge of salmon pie;
- Handful of wild rice crackers;
- Several tortilla chips with salsa dip;
- A few regular salt crackers;
- A few baby carrots;
- One English muffin;
- 1 slice of lactose-free cheese;
- 1 slice of regular cheddar cheese;
- 2 Alka-Seltzers;

Then a break and then:

- 2 truffles;
- 1 piece of chocolate;
- 5 (yucky) sandwich cookies;
- 2 Alka-Seltzers.

Needless to say, I felt awful, both physically and emotionally – binging is not about enjoying your food! And what I am learning it is not (in my case at least) a matter of willPOWER, but a matter of WILL. I know I have willpower, after all, I was on two juice fasts which lasted 20 and 15 days, respectively, and that takes some amount of willpower. But when I did what I did to end them I did it because I wanted to. Not because I wanted to feel sick and eat all that junk, but because I wanted to avoid facing all of the emotions that the JF was helping surface. I also wanted to avoid dealing with my family that would visit during my JF. I wanted to anaesthetize myself again. And I did.

However, the other part of it is my binge-eating disorder, which technical aspects I want to learn more about to understand the other side of my problem. After all, I know there are other (physiological) factors involved, which make these binging episodes virtually uncontrollable after they are triggered, and that is NOT my choice.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

My second juice feast

On March 1st I started my second juice feast along with everyone else on the Global Juice Feast. Initially I was aiming for 30-60 days, but ended up breaking the feast on the 15th. Before I get on to that part, though, let me write about how the feast went overall. I wish I had been able to write here daily, as this feast it was especially rich in lessons learned and self knowledge. However, it was a complicated period where there was only time to take notes and catch up on writing about the first JF.

The first three days were extra hard and I wanted to “eat the world up” – a lot of false, emotional-related hunger. It was so difficult that I asked myself whether I should really be doing the JF, until I realized the cause behind all that hardship: I had started my feast right during my PMS! After that insight I stopped worrying, things started falling into place, and I began to feel quite good. Day eight (my birthday) was especially good.

Day nine was one of the worst days in relation to my mood – it was the peak of my PMS (I got my period the following day) and I was extremely irritable, especially with my son. Yet as everything is worthwhile growth-wise, it made me think about several aspects of my relationship with my child. He is three and is incredibly in sync with me – for good or for bad. For example, I never binge in front of him, but when I go through my binging phases he invariably will start binging too. During my fast he started eating extra vegetables and wanted carrots for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. It was really funny! On the other hand, like me, he almost completely stopped going to the bathroom and was having BMs only every three days or so.

This issue, in fact, could take an entire post in this blog. I am usually (and have always been) the kind of person that goes to the bathroom daily, or even more than once a day. Yet during both of my juice feasts I felt I was holding back and not eliminating the way I should. I almost never had BMs, not even diarrhea. When I felt like going I would find an excuse to wait and would end up not going at all. I bought cascara sagrada and only took it twice (although it didn’t really have an effect – it was mixed with other stuff as I didn’t find it alone) and kept procrastinating on the use of my newly-bought enema bag.

I then started looking around for colonics and found that they are not much more expensive than in Brazil. I decided to discuss it with my husband again and thought he wouldn’t even want to hear about it, but he was quite open and agreed that I do some sessions as soon as we are able to save some money for them. That was a big surprise, since for some reason he has always been against colonics (not even he can explain why). I was euphoric, but at the same time scared to death. Ever since I heard about colonics for the first time a year or so ago I have this intuition that it is something that will be extremely helpful for me psychologically and in the cure to my binge-eating syndrome. And at that point of my JF, the truth is I wanted someone to extract all of my pending emotional issues, i.e., I did not want to go to the bathroom and eliminate them myself! It was all about that old “magical wand” solution. So when my husband finally agreed to the colonics (my last resort and panacea I thought would only happen sometime in the distant future) I panicked. The feeling I had at that point in my fast was that some major issues were about to burst from my insides and I wasn’t too sure I wanted to know what they were yet!

What held me for a few more days (and generally throughout the feast) were thinking about my goals and telling myself what I wanted to do before ending the feast: overcome my PMS days, surpass my 20-day mark, start doing enemas, cleanse my liver and kidneys, buy a dehydrator, etc. On day 10 I actually did my first-ever enema, but (now I know!) I did it all wrong and felt no difference whatsoever. I also started skin brushing, which felt (feels) wonderful!

Day 11 was one of those blissful days that often happen on JFs, when several things click into place and all of the sudden start to seem obvious. This time it was related to my professional life, something I have wanted to improve/change for the last few years. More on that later…

Except for those first three days, I was not hungry on this JF and could have even done on less juice, but I did not want to lose anymore weight than I have. I am so skinny and bony! That was one of my JF fears until at some point I decided to let that go too. First because I knew I would gain back easily; second because I realized part of my fear was related to what people would think about my being so skinny when I always tended to be a little overweight (especially some relatives I will be seeing soon and whom I haven’t seen in four years); and finally because I felt I needed to shed my (false) “protection shield” between myself and the rest of the world.

Unfortunately, this JF once again did not end the way it should have, but I will leave that for the next post…

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

My raw food goals

Here are some of my personal goals I think raw food can help me achieve:
1. Heal from past traumas and move on;
2. Get rid of my binge-eating disorder;
3. Clear my mind to know what I truly want personally, professionally, and from life in general;
4. Become more open to spiritualistic experiences and find out what life wants of me - where I should be and what I should be doing;
5. Learn more about my marriage and help it get on the right track;
6. Improve my relationship with my son and work together for us to heal traumas related to his pregnancy;
7. Prepare myself for my next pregnancy, including finding out when is the right time;
8. Improve my (oral) communication skills.
9. Acquire the skills necessary to make delicious raw food for myself and for my family.

Between feasts

Snowstorm in Quebec City.

We arrived in Quebec City mid-morning, the 20th and last day of my first juice feast. During the first week we stayed at a temporarily rented kitchenette, which had all sorts of appliances except for a blender (much less a juicer, of course)! By the time we were able to go to a supermarket that first evening, I was tired of having to drink pasteurized bottled juices and going through a full blown PMS-crisis (I had had almost no PMS symptoms during my JF up to that point). To top it we were short on money and the organic produce was SO expensive (and of course I didn’t have a place to make the juice anyway).

I started feeling very very frustrated. It was not time to stop. I did NOT want to stop. I felt no desire for eating solid food. But I did not have much choice and started to give in. I was cold and miserable. There was nowhere near the apartment where I could buy a blender. My paycheck would still take a while and I needed to save money for food and other stuff for my family. Memories of past hard times when I was in cold places far from Brazil started to go through my head. I decided to try eating some fruit for some days until I got organized and could get a blender.

Unfortunately it did not work that way. I did start eating some soaked prunes (which I had brought on the plane just in case I had to break my feast while travelling). I bought some apples that tasted like plastic and made me feel sick – I could not even swallow the peel, it was so plasticky (and that wasn’t only me, my husband and son too!). Even the tap water made me feel sick and I felt bad spending money on spring water when we were so tight. My husband started complaining I was giving too much priority to my food and too little attention to the family.

So I finally gave way and binged… It was a Friday evening, the day after we arrived and the same day I officially broke my fast. I was the only one awake. I felt overwhelmed and it was finally “my time”. We had bought my son some Valentine’s cookies just for the sake of it, but they were still closed because he had also gotten a sick tummy. I was somewhat afraid because I knew I would probably be very sick. I had two or three of the cookies. They were gross (we ended up throwing them out later) – greasy and so sweet it burned my tongue. Then I went and took some of my husband’s coke to “wash it away”. I don’t remember if I had anything else, but that was enough to do it.

This “my time” thing is recurrent since my adolescence. It’s not always a binging episode, but usually I want to be alone, with a book and food, for a special sort of “high”. Fortunately it has become less frequent after I became high raw.

Needless to say, I was very sick the next few days after that episode with the cookies. But I was such an emotional wreck that I went from feeling very sick (diarrhea, throwing up, etc.) and promising never to put junk into my mouth again, to feeling a bit better and eating whatever junk. Those days are all muddled up in my head and I don’t remember many details, but I felt very angry with myself for doing what I was doing to my body and for ruining the 20 cleansing days. I was also mad that the old comfort foods didn’t give me the same “high” as in the past and made me so sick (but also secretly glad deep inside!).

After a few days I decided I should just relax, accept that the moment was difficult, and allow myself some comfort food and then set another date for another JF. When I took that decision things slowly started to get better. I was finally able to buy a blender and began to eat healthier foods – salads and smoothies, mainly – and the variety of comfort foods I wanted decreased. In the end it was basically some crunchy chocolate and salad sandwiches (both for texture), as well as cheese, which is my main addiction. The amount of these foods I “needed” also diminished as the days passed by.

The whole in-between feasts period lasted 15 days – basically one really bad week and a nearly okay week. Then I started my second feast with everyone else on the Global Juice Feast, March the 1st. Today is my 11th day (I postponed writing this for a long time).

The decision to start a second juice feast wasn’t easy either. Firstly, I didn’t know whether I should/could (to this day I don’t know if or how much one has to wait between feasts). Secondly, there were (are) several disadvantages for me as to going on a JF in Quebec, especially during winter. In Brazil I am used to picking loads of fruit and leaves right off the tree or aloe and other herbs out of my yard; I can also order affordable organic produce from a co-op that delivers to my door. Plus, we live in a semi-rural area with water that comes directly from a spring in the forest, no chemicals added. There, when I was late, I could give myself the luxury of leaving home without juicing and just drinking fresh coconut water or juice from a corner stand or restaurant.

Conversely, during my stay in Canada I have to live off a very tight budget. Produce is overall expensive and organics even more so. I live with my family in a tiny, kitchen-bedroom apartment which of course has no yard and the variety of fruit and leaves readily available is null. I have been here almost a month now and have only found one juice bar. Besides, I can’t afford spring water all the time and have to drink the chlorinated, chemical-loaded tap water. The list goes on… The greatest barrier is surely my budget, as thing would be much easier with more money, but despite this and all of the other issues, I decided to give it a try and will soon be posting here about how it is going.

[A note to Quebecois readers. Don’t take me wrong, I love Quebec! It’s a wonderful province with very hospitable people! It’s just somewhat harder to do a JF here than in Brazil :) On the other hand, there are loads of raw products here that I can’t get back home – raw almond butter, for instance – and that I will surely appreciate when my JF ends!]

The first juice feast

Fresh sugar cane juice - caldo de cana.

My first juice fast lasted 20 days (January 26 – February 14th, 2008). I had been wanting to try (a juice fast, actually – see My story) since I did a 3-day fast about ten years ago. But I procrastinated, got pregnant, nursed, and then... procrastinated more! :) Then this year we started to plan on a second baby, and it downed on me that the fast had to happen soon! I also started reading about juice feasting, which was new to me, and that sounded much more possible and easier to me than what I tried years ago.

I probably made a lot of mistakes (not enough exercise, no enemas, too little green juice, too much fruit juice, sugar cane juice, and rejuvelac…), but it felt wonderful. It was a period of intense emotional healing and joy. Just rereading my blog about it in Give it to me raw makes me feel wonderful! I didn’t feel hungry and I even traveled, participated in the local Carnival festivities, etc. It didn’t stop me from doing anything, on the contrary, I had all this extra energy!

My initial plan was to feast for ten days, which is one of the reasons why I wasn’t too strict about it (i.e., all the sugarcane-lemon and fruit juice). I would be travelling to Canada and was afraid of how the JF would go during the long plane trip and the stressful pre-trip days. When the 10th day arrived, however, I felt sad about stopping and wanted so much to continue. I was feeling wonderful and I knew I wasn’t ready to interrupt the feast. The JF was so much easier to do with all that stress around the trip – just juice or juice! – and having other options would almost for sure make me binge and “say goodbye” to all of my favourite Brazilian foods. Besides, although I’ve been in raw food for over a year, I’m not much of an uncook (I was never a good cook either) and would not be able to make many raw comfort foods. So I decided to go on as much as possible.

Surprisingly I didn’t have any cravings for cooked/junk food. My only real cravings were for bananas – dried bananas, banana smoothies, and just plain old bananas! Yummy! I also missed textures, like regular soft bread buns or a crunchy chocolate.

At some point I felt extremely frail and afraid because I was becoming so skinny – no more “protection” between myself and the rest of the world! On the other hand, there was one day (about the 11th or 12th, I believe) for the first time in my life I felt I deserved the best. Okay, everyone says or even thinks they want the best for themselves, but it was as if up to that day I had not wanted that for real – hard to describe.

The 18th day was a landmark for me because my previous 100% raw food mark had been 17 days (I’m not obsessed with being 100% raw, but I prefer to be because it keeps me from binging). The 19th day was the day of the trip. Before I left the house I drank loads of green juice. The two airports I went through in Brazil were fine because there was a lot of fresh orange juice. The complicated part was when I went into the boarding area in Sao Paulo, to get the plane to Toronto. There is a rule where no more than 100 ml of liquids can be taken through security per jar, so there was no possibility of taking fresh juice into the plane. Inside the boarding area there was a place that sold fresh orange juice, so I drank some more of that before embarking. Then my husband found a place that sold one of the best (or least bad!) boxed coconut water – the kind that still resembles the real thing, though to me they all taste awful! He bought me a half-dozen small cartons to take on the plane and to this day I feel nauseous when I remember them!

I had pre-ordered a special fruitarian meal from the airline just I really had to eat something. When they brought it, I saved it and stuck to the coconut water. Then I got tired of that and started my “personal juicer” (LOL!) method: chewing on the fruit and spitting out the pulp (the family across the aisle certainly stared a lot at me!!). But the fruit tasted weird too and also made me feel nauseous – they must have been treated with something (or irradiated or whatever) to last longer on the plane – they just didn’t feel right. The pasteurized orange/apple juices that were served didn’t help either.

When we arrived at the Toronto airport the next day I could find no fresh juice whatsoever. I bought some (yuck!) pasteurized juice and even tried V8, which to me tasted like bad pizza sauce – I could only take a sip. And that was the 20th (and last) day of my first JF, which was actually a pretend day as I was taking all of these fake juices…

Overall, I think I wasn’t clear about my goals on this first juice feast and did not have enough time to elaborate on them and know how to act when it stopped. I also did not have enough time to work out certain emotional issues that lead me to binging neither to learn more about other issues I feel need to surface. Hopefully the second feast will help be work out the issues I need to.