i thought i was quite the expert on healthy living. wrong. i have just been taken to a whole new level in the past month or two by the goading of holly lomelino, my good friend here who is one of the best people to exchange ideas with. what i love about holly is that she is a person of action. she reads, she absorbs, she acts. it's not just a sitting-around-discussing-theory thing with her. and she's a great listener, i could go on and on. she has three young ones and also a stay-at-home mom, and this past semester we did our own preschool together twice a week, so she is one of the people i hang out with the most.
several months ago, she started talking to me about this book called a full quiver. "i don't wanna know," was my first response. but a few weeks later when she mentioned it again, i said, "oh yeah, when are you giving me that book to read?" holly: "i thought you didn't want to." me: "holly, give me the book, build my faith. i probably won't agree with everything in it, but whatever. that's not going to stop me from approaching the information." the book changed my life. (if you are familiar with the bible, you can probably guess the topic and stance of the book just from the title. but we will leave that for another post and another day.)
a few weeks later, holly got into perfect health the natural way, by mary-ann shearer. she started moping about my kitchen telling me i HAD to read it and help her work through all the info, cause she felt it was so impossible to follow the dietary recommendations, esp. with kids in the house. and that is how this all began. before i had a chance to read it, she burned through another one that was making her even MORE mopey: why christians get sick, by rev. george h. malkmus. this was a major upheaval because it was changing her whole concept of how a meal should be built, and in today's modern age it is practically impossible to escape the foods and food combos that are not recommended, not to mention keeping them away from your kids and convincing your husband of the joys of this new milk-free, practically meat-free, heavily raw diet.
i finally got a chance to read perfect health (still in the middle of the other one) and again, it changed my life. by the time i was reading it, holly was getting a lot more gung ho and into the swing of things with feeding the kids right and starting to feel all this transformation and energy from her newfound knowledge. she had gotten a recipe book (i think it was this one), geared toward moms with young kids, from the malkmus angle. she is looking fabulous, by the way. she's a skinny minnie, and has super radiant skin. "well i'm not getting sleep, so it must be the food," she says.
indeed, i can testify. a few weeks after beginning my own transformation, i was up til 4 AM writing my business plan for the self employment training class i was taking through WEV (amazing local small business center. i recommend their services and the class to anyone). as you know, when moms stay up til 4 am, they don't have the luxury of sleeping in. oh, no. up at 6 again, and at 'em! i had read in perfect health that eating only raw food when under stress or with little sleep can help you to keep functioning well. so that is what i did the next day. raw food until after the class was over (9pm) and then we had some bread and cheese and champagne to celebrate. but it was seriously amazing, the immediate effect of the foods i was eating. i was full of energy that day.
the other thing this lifestyle change helped me to do with relative ease was to quit caffeine. quit caffeine!?!!? why would i do such a thing, you ask? yes, haha anyone that knows me knows that coffee was pretty much one of my #1 joys in life. when it was time to go to bed at night, i used to get this secret little excited feeling that the next thing i would get to do was wake up and have my cup of coffee! mmmm mmm mmmm nothing but peet's for me please, i am a coffee snob and was a coffee/tea educator at peet's when i worked there. actually, my husband and i fell in love over church and coffee snobbery, so it was a big part of my life to say the least.
however, when i read perfect health, there was a section of the book where the author mentioned that caffeine can contribute to aggression, and the sentence stopped me in my tracks. for the last couple of months i had been bumming on my frequent anger outbursts with sparrow over small issues. yet, i would be SO tired and feel not in control of my emotions many times, if she was testing me just a bit too much or refusing to take her nap, etc. i had so far heard nothing bad about coffee except as concerns its acidity (can leach calcium from your bones), and i felt i could deal with that risk. now i was confronted with a very real opportunity to change my attitude in the home, if i would be willing to give up that one half-caf cup of coffee that i loved so much. and i decided then and there that i would take the challenge. how could i not at least try and see what happened? i waited awhile, though, then went a little less on the caffeine one day, then decaf. it was pretty hard goings for about three days, when i felt sluggish and blah all day. but it was still amazingly easy for the likes of me, coffee addict extraordinaire, and i got zero migraines or other intense symptoms. and almost immediately i also noticed a change in my aggressive behavior. now i feel like i am in control of my voice and my frustration a LOT more, which is amazing, and i know it makes a difference in sparrow's life. my daughters needed that.
(caffeine, by the way, can rear its ugly head in a number of other ways, too: moods, stress levels, hormonal functions, blood sugar, and blood pressure. i found it made me extremely tired after the high, and now i am more evenly energetic throughout the day.)
seriously, perfect health was a major wake-up call and paradigm shift in the way i thought about nutrition for health. i thought i was doing pretty good because we eat whole grains, don't have a lot of sugar, eat fruits and vegetables every day, don't eat a lot of dairy, and very rarely have red meat. sounds pretty good, right? wrong. enter food combination theory. sure, i had HEARD of food combining before, but come on, that just sounds hokey. not to mention complicated. so the major rule of food combining is: don't ever eat meat or other protein with carbs/starches. and when i found out why, it made so much sense. our stomach uses different enzymes to digest proteins than it does to digest starches. when the two are eaten at the same time, the one enzyme cancels the other out, and the meat sits in the stomach undigested, and ferments, then putrefies. gross. a meal like this can stay in your stomach for up to 12 hours. just the stomach!! when foods are actually supposed to travel through the entire digestive system in 15 hours or less.
mary-ann shearer led me through research, science, and common sense on the matter, and i am a complete believer. which is good, because since we don't buy chicken anymore, our food for the week is cheaper. but i love love love this book because it didn't make things hard. i had no burden while reading it. i love that she is so big on eating fruit. lots of the anti-cancer and weight-loss diets are really warning against fruit as high in calories and sugar. this is completely missing the picture. i hate diets that focus on calories. God made fruit to be the most attractive food group on the planet. why on earth would we suddenly think it is bad for you? it is full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and even protein. it is a live food that builds cells instead of tearing them down. it is alkaline-forming in the body instead of acid-forming, like most other foods. note that fruit is best eaten by itself. when consumed with carbs, it can stay in the stomach too long and ferment and indeed create acidity. this includes a glass of orange juice with your cereal or strawberries on pancakes. but if you eat fruit by itself and do so a lot, you will find your cravings for other foods going away, and you will stop obsessing over food.
i have seen this in my own life to an amazing degree. parties used to be a major gorging ground for me; if i went to a social gathering where there was food, all my healthiness would go right out the window and i'd eat whatever the heck looked good, and a lot of it. now i find that the unhealthy foods at parties mostly don't even appeal to me anymore. it is a huge freeing breakthrough for me, actually.
so step 1 is to eat one fruit meal a day. step 2 is to eat for your cravings: if you crave salty foods, your body is craving healthy fats, so try eating an avocado. if you crave sugar, your body needs fruit. step 3 is to eat something raw before every meal. there are 5 steps, but these 3 are the most important. i recommend buying the book for anyone who wants to have more energy, be less dependent on food, think clearer, be more upbeat, have better skin, avoid chronic diseases common to western society, improve their digestion, get better sleep, feel more rested in the morning, lose weight, deal with hormonal imbalances or behavioral issues, or generally get more healthy.
most health problems can be taken care of with a change in diet. doctors don't know this, nor do they want to know. they want to give vaccines and prescriptions so they can get their perks from pharmaceutical companies. ok, that might be generalising doctors a bit, but seriously, doctors get practically NO nutritional training during their 12 years of schooling, so some won't even acknowledge a link between eating and health! and they do get perks from big pharma when they prescribe & vaccinate more. does anyone else think that should be illegal?! helloooooooooo, conflict of interests! (don't get me started on vaccines. the best book i've read on this is raising a vaccine free child, by wendy lydall)
two more reasons why i love the approach of mary-ann shearer is that she presents the lifestyle as an "add-to" diet, not a "take-away" diet. and she also has lots of common sense about vitamins. if you are being pressured by a diet promo to purchase a bunch of supplements, you should be wary of it. i think this is super good advice, and so freeing. i used to bemoan our inability to spend money on supplements. now i know whole foods can supply all we need.
i am up and blogging at 1:40 a.m. and will be up at 6 or 7 tomorrow. how do i have the energy with my 2 little ones? caffeine? red bull? super pills? nope. good, plain food that is renewing my cells and giving my body life as God intended. be inspired!