A lot of people ask me about my diet. The topic usually comes up when I’m eating half a watermelon, playing outside with monkey-like energy or just in general when people want to know why I am so lively and fit.
I am always too happy to tell them that I get the joy of eating all the fruit I care for as well as tender, leafy greens. Sometimes I have some nuts or seeds, but that tends to be a special occasion. I prefer to eat mono-meals, filling up on one single fruit until I am satisfied and calling it a meal, however there are great combinations I enjoy eating regularly as well, such as bananas and celery. After my last fruit meal of the day I have a giant salad, usually complete with a fruit dressing.
Of course I didn’t always eat this way. I grew up eating a standard American diet. By the time I was 10-years-old and began experiencing the varying health problems and eating disorders of my family and other loved ones around me, I started taking an active interest in health and nutrition in particular. I saw the amount of pain and anxiety eating was causing in the world and I wanted to change that. I was interested to know how many calories foods had and I paid attention to how they made me feel.
Over the next decade, my nutritional experiments and observations continued slowly, taking the back seat to my busy athletic and social life. Playing sports brought me great joy and I knew that was an essential part of life, but I still couldn’t quite figure out what I needed to put into my body to feel my best and my health suffered because of it. In high school I suffered from multiple bouts of Pneumonia and Mono and I was getting the Flu every couple months. It felt like my body never fully recovered. Migraines were a nearly daily occurrence, I often felt nauseous, and there wasn’t much I ate that sat well in my stomach.
During my first year of college I participated in a 40-Day program at a local holistic health center that was focused around daily yoga and meditation along with moving towards eating healthy whole foods. During the program there was a 3-day fruit feast, where we were encouraged to just eat fruits and vegetables, which turned out to be my first glimpse into my health-filled future. At the time I remember loving the lightness I experienced and the lack of digestive discomfort. Looking back I realize I was not eating enough calories during those three days and so with the lower energy levels I didn’t imagine a continual fruit feast was something I could maintain, but it definitely got me along the path of eating more fruits and vegetables, which I already loved and enjoyed regularly.
Nevertheless, I continued to push my body and I suffered. Between attending classes, working, going to the gym, and visiting friends and family, I did not make my health enough of a priority and I continued to get sick. On one trip to Costa Rica to visit my boyfriend at the time I pushed my body so far that I wound up with Shingles and spent the 10 days trying to cover up the red spots that ran down the inside of my left leg and across my lower back (not the ideal romantic getaway in tropical paradise).
It wasn’t until 2010, when I completed college and started working for the same holistic health center I took the 40-Day program at that I began to implement real changes in my diet and lifestyle. Finally, low and behold, I began to witness the changes in my health. After finding out that a cousin of mine had recently been diagnosed with Celiac’s, I did some food testing on my own and was overjoyed to notice the relief I experienced when cutting gluten out of my diet. From previous years of experience, I knew that dairy didn’t sit well with me either, but my love of the creamy- cruel substance kept me making special allowances to suffer on occasion. Nevertheless, I cut way back on that as well. I was never a very big fan of meat, so that did not play a major role in my diet.
Simultaneously I was working on other aspects of my health. In addition to my cardiovascular and strength training, I started attending yoga classes regularly and began to pay a lot more attention to the role that breathing and meditation played in my life. I took courses in mindfulness based stress reduction, received massage, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, and generally just explored alternative modes to manage stress and discomfort in the body, which was coming in handy as I was no longer allowing myself a number of the comfort foods I once indulged in.
In 2012 some flip inside of me switched and I realized I did not want to half-ass things anymore. I knew that optimal health should be obtainable and I wanted it. ASAP.
In February of 2012 I signed up for 6 months of health coaching with a woman who worked at the holistic health center with the mission to take on my goal of finding the vibrant health I was looking for. After two months of logging my food diligently, and cutting out foods as they disagreed with me I was down to eating a cooked vegan diet and I still was not thriving. I felt better than before, but migraines and nausea still plagued me, I wasn’t digesting starches or legumes well and I just didn’t have the energy I knew I should.
I expressed my frustration about this to my health coach, explaining how I didn’t know what else to try. That is when she said those magically words to me: “Well, you could try raw.” Low and behold, the doors finally opened. That is all she had to say. I had never really heard of raw foods before or considered it as an option for a full-time diet. That night I was on the internet looking up everything I could. I found Megan Elizabeth’s youtube channel and was hooked. Yes, I can do this, I thought. Megan mentioned something about Dr. Doug Graham’s book 80-10-10 Diet and I ordered it right away. I went raw overnight and basically never looked back.
Reflecting on it, I am so grateful that I found Megan’s channel and got right into low fat raw, because I know a lot of folks that get drawn into a high fat gourmet lifestyle, find it unsustainable and fall off the wagon. I found the idea of 80-10-10 so simple and appealing that I never thought to look elsewhere.
Within a few days my migraines and nausea were completely gone and my digestion felt great. I had some minor detox symptoms during the first couple months, but I welcomed them with open arms, grateful that my body was cleaning out the crap.
There were other interesting changes. Without the heavy digestive load and emotional eating, I was left to face my emotions and my life head on. It took some getting used to, but I quickly came to love the clarity and acuteness with which I experienced my life. I could immediately identify the factors that were hindering me and those which propelled me forward and I began to clean house.
In 2012 everything changed for me. My relationships with my loved ones as well as my relationship with myself began changing and improving. I found that the people that no longer served me, or those which I was no longer serving began to disappear from my life. I quit my job, began an online business and started living the vagabonding life I wanted. Above all, 2012 was the year I truly became to believe that everything is possible. I started to take my dreams seriously and began to live the life I had always wanted.