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.

Monday, March 3, 2008

My story

I first heard of raw food in 2006, while reading a newly released Brazilian magazine for vegetarians. At that time I was not even a vegetarian, but I was always interested in "natural foods" (as well as junk!). At first I thought raw foodism was far out, but still it sounded interesting. There was a website listed at the end of the article (Raw Fit), and I checked out some recipes. I started with the Refreshing Soup, a mixture of cucumber, mint, and other ingredients, and for a while I was hooked on that! Then I started reading all sorts of material on the web and saving recipes, but there were so many hard-to-find ingredients and recipes that called for a dehydrator. Yet synchronicities started to happen and soon a friend lent me a book by a Brazilian raw doctor called Lugar de médico é na cozinha (“A doctor’s place is in the kitchen”), which was great because of all the recipes with regular Brazilian ingredients. Things only got better when I met the first 100% raw person (and chef) in my city, Gorette, and took two one-day raw food courses with her – seeing someone actually make the recipes in front of me was so helpful, and meeting other like-minded people was just as great!

This story could be told another way… When I was 11, my dad was diagnosed with myeloma (bone marrow cancer). We were very close. At first he stayed about one month in intensive care and everyday after school a friend of my mom would take us to the hospital in her car, and she had a boy that was about my age who would go too. Visiting hours were restricted (even more for children), so we would sort of just hang out in the parking lot and around the hospital. I don’t remember details, but I remember there was some sort of snack bar and we would eat this guava-jelly cake (and other stuff too, I suppose). Three years later my dad died, two days before my 14th birthday. Again, food was present. People brought me all sorts of edibles – I remember I got like six birthday cakes and a bunch of other stuff to eat. Sometime in those three years I developed a binging disorder that has lasted to this day (almost 18 years!).

Besides teaching me a lot about myself, raw food was the first thing that really started to change my binging pattern. My weight stopped being important too. I’m still not cured from it, but I think I’m on the right path. My biggest problem is cheese – which is also something that I feel is very hard on my body. I rarely have digestive problems, but food that is not good for me is for some reason always extra-hard on my lungs. I never smoked or lived with smokers, but if I binge (especially with cheese) the next day I’ll be coughing and my lungs will be full of mucus. I don’t know why it’s the cheese (I would think I would want to binge on cake!), but I think I’m on the right path to find out.

All this seems obvious to me now, but I only traced my binging to my dealing with my dad’s disease/death story about a year or so ago, when I started on raw food and blogging about it. Before I knew there was something wrong and tried to change it (I did about 8 years of therapy), but what worried me most was my body weight and the like (although my self-image was always bad no matter how skinny I got). My weight fluctuated a lot too.

Thus, I know more or less what my reasons are and how my pattern works, but I still don’t know how to get out of it. One of my aims in juice feasting is to find out “the complete story” around my binging disorder and to get rid of it once and for all!

My relationship with juice fasting/ feasting also goes back in time. Years ago when I was a teenager and had never even heard of raw foodism, I discovered a book that had been my dad's, called "The Juiceman's Power of Juicing". It talked about juicing and brought several recipes and tips. Now that I think of it, I believe the author was a raw foodist, although he didn't say it with all the words. I started juicing daily (I had three old juicers that had been my dad's) and went on and off over time. He also suggested a weekly juice fast to cleanse the body, and I did that for a while too. Then I started getting interested in juice fasting and bought some books on that. One day I finally did a fast, which was supposed to last 10 days but only lasted three – though it felt wonderful and I lost 3 kg and fit back into my favorite jeans! :)

Now I know that it didn’t work because I was fasting for the wrong reasons and at the wrong time. This year I am more focused on what I want and why I am feasting. I have been writing my goals and will be posting on that here soon…

On to the feast!