This year I gambled with some nutrition and lifestyle changes- and I lost that gamble. As a result, I started to not feel good. Lesson learned. But right now, I do not feel like I want to feel. But in the road to undoing the damage that too much wine and processed foods did to my health (along with a few other things like low vitamin d- I won’t bore you with all the details), I was drawn to try something this summer that resonated with me- some. I was drawn to try raw paleo.
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Why I tried Raw Paleo
The reason I was drawn to this was based on my exposure to Kirlian Photography. This type of photography is able to capture the energy fields or EMF’s that come off of food and other bodies. According to the images, it shows that organic and raw foods have more “energy” in them than cooked ones. And it seems I was drawn to things like raw vegetable juices, and raw fish- I wanted to dive deeper. I was hoping that by consuming more energy- I would have more energy.
I felt like I had no life force- and wanted more life force. Even my doctor said that some things she found during the physical exam (as an osteopath) related to this. I was hoping this would be something I could do to get me there. I needed something where I could take action- now.
For comparison’s sake, I think it is only fair to know where I was before the dietary change: I was… dead inside. I had lost my fire, passion, and energy. I wanted…. nothing. I wanted to sit on the couch and watch tv and nothing else. And this was NOT me.
I formerly was a highly motivated person, with drive, ambition and woke up every morning ready to change the world. I hated TV. It was such a waste of time and energy. I wanted so much more out of life… until I wanted .. nothing. I sometimes needed a crash day- because I was always full steam ahead. But I could also prevent it. Soon, even a walk started to make me tired, where it used to energize me.
I was also starting to have some neurological symptoms- pre-syncope or blacking out/passing out. It happened twice that I remember but as a person that formerly had Dysautonomia, I didn’t want to put off reacting and healing this ASAP. As a clinician, I knew testing was going to happen, but that also takes time and the testing didn’t show what I expected- it was a dead end with the exception of some new anomalies that I had never seen before. But nothing remarkable.
I went to my doctor- she did some detox magic (Ozone in my nose and ears) and it helped some- I had 2 days of energy, and then crashed. Then I had 2 more days and crashed, and so on. This was better, but I needed more.
During this time I started researching raw paleo. Raw paleo is when a person eats fruits, vegetables and meat only- and eats 75% to 100% of that diet raw. I wanted to try this- so I started gathering recipes, making a meal plan for myself and gathering ingredients- and adjusting it to what I was ready for- and what I wasn’t.
A few words of wisdom
Now I am a very adventurous eater- but this pushed things even for me. There was new foods I was willing to try- raw beef, raw fish or seafood (I loved sashimi and sushi and rare beef, after all) but raw chicken was much more than I could wrap my head around- So I gave myself permission to eat those minimally and cooked (part of the 25% max, right?). Raw fruits and vegetables was easy- except that I wondered if they could feel like a meal? How would I feel with this?
I knew this was not necessarily something I was going to do long term- but wanted to give it a good try: So I committed to 30 days with at least 75% of my foods raw and to be as raw as possible- with few exceptions. I also gave myself permission to stop if anything did not feel right to me.
I also did plenty of research on how to do this safely. There are many articles on how to do this safely and avoid problems associated with eating rare of raw meat. Let me make this very clear: I did NOT take the meat from a conventional grocer and eat it right out of the package. For more about doing this safely, see this blog article here.
I also did not want to be religious about it- If I wanted cooked meat or food, I would have it. If it didn’t feel good, I would stop. But the intention was set. And I would still let myself have my green tea, collagen powder and would not go hungry if only cooked foods were available. I figured out some balanced breakfasts, lunches, and dinners to get started. I was ready.
The first week was a learning curve: Even though I prepared, I still had to figure out what worked and what did not. A typical day would be some smoked salmon with pumpkin seed vegan cheese spread and olive oil on a plate with some fruit salad for breakfast. I also drank low sugar vegetable juices or smoothies. For lunches and dinners, I did salad or sandwiches with either smoked fish, raw ceviche, or beef tartare, or sometimes some cooked protein. I ate my potatoes raw, and focused on things like homemade cole slaw, raw veges with homemade raw dips. I also did smoothies with raw duck eggs. For snacks, I did a raw trail mix (the chocolate chips were not raw, but oh well). I also allowed myself to have some hot tea in the morning as part of my “up to 25%” that was allowed not be be raw foods.
Pictured Below: Sashimi quality raw fish (can be eaten raw)
AS far as the protein, I figured out quickly, I needed more options, as I need protein to balance my blood sugar at most meals and was going to get sick of the same two recipes and smoked fish and smoothies with raw egg. I made a plan to pick up some sashimi, oysters if they were available, some lamb and start researching some other recipes for raw meats. I also tried to wrap my head around maybe some raw liver or heart- but was going to need some convincing. More research was needed.
But during that first week, I no longer was crashing every third day. I didn’t push it, but was able to get through my workouts and move forward without a day on the couch every third day. This was progress. I was also sleeping deeper. I am not going to lie- I wasn’t enjoying those workouts as much as I usually do, but I did them without being miserable- that was an improvement. A BIG one.
Some claim that raw meat is easier to digest- but the first 3 days I had gas after dinner- I wasn’t sure if I was having a hard time digesting or if it was a detox reaction or simply a normal response to a change in diet- which any mammal would have when the diet is changed. But on the 4th night it was less. I also noticed that after my evening meal- which was raw meat- not smoked meat (which is a grey area in the raw paleo world and debatable if it counts as raw), I felt really good. Better than I did after smoked meats. I wasn’t sure if it was the time of day, or the food. And I felt best after raw beef. Maybe I needed to try this for breakfast? by the end of the week, it was a normal amount, but I had not been taking any digestive support- which I normally do.
I started taking digestive support, which I have needed regularly, but found I needed less support than before the change of my diet.
I also started to enjoy my work again. I wasn’t dedicating every spare minute to it and obsessing about it as I did before, but no longer felt behind or was waiting until last minute to do my tasks. I was enjoying work again, but still only working part time. I even started to blog again. (Disclaimer, I had also given up social media and energy intensive parts of my business about 3 week prior, and this contributes to enjoyment, but there was a noticeable difference this first week that was new). I no longer felt dead inside. I was making head way in one week. I wondered if I was on to something. I also started to write blog articles again- I hadn’t done that in years because I was “too busy”- but since I wasn’t on social media this was how I could express the gift I have to give this world.
At the beginning of the second week, I had celiac food exposure- so I was fatigued to some extent at the beginning of the week- which is a normal reaction when a celiac is exposed to triggering ingredients. I was able to push through the fatigue and still be active. It was a soft fatigue- as opposed to a hard crash.
I also had my first craving- a cooked egg and indulged in that one cooked egg. I was eating less cooked foods- in the first week I ate cooked meat 2 times. And I had also had below adequate protein requirement for the 2 days preceding the craving of a cooked egg. It may have been a need of protein, or for some specific nutrient found in an egg- I had heard that the egg white is more nutritious cooked but the yolk was more nutritious raw- not sure what I needed, but I gave my body what it asked to have- with a raw smoothie that included a raw egg also.
I discovered new recipes and ways to serve the same raw beef or ceviche to myself to make things new- and even came up with some new salad dressings to keep things exciting. I also learned to shuck oysters and enjoyed the sashimi that was already a favorite food of mine. I changed the recipe weekly for the fruit salad to make it new, enjoyed my salads with my new salad dressing recipe, and tried some new recipes for main courses. I also discovered that I prefered my meats marinated or spiced in some way- while other raw meat eaters liked the taste “as is”. I found it bland.
By the end of the second week, I had no digestion issues and was able to connect the raw food with how I felt. I noticed that the nights that I ate a fully cooked meal, that I didn’t feel as good the next day. If I did this 2 days in a row, I was heading back to how I felt before this began.
I did have cravings- but they were emotional cravings- I craved carbs when something sad or bad happened and it was a hard week. It was also a holiday weekend and I wanted to have a holiday meal. But the only physical cravings I had were for raw beef. I started to associate this with feeling good. After having my holiday meal- my one cooked supper that week, I realized that even 25% cooked food was more than I really wanted to have for the immediate future. I liked knowing that I could choose to feel good each day. I could alternately choose to eat cooked foods.
While I know that the way I feel was not a “raw meat deficiency”- this was a tool I could use to feel good. I knew that I still needed to find the root cause to this new health change- but also knew that would take time and that dietary changes are a good tool to use for a quick boost.
I knew that when summer was over and the cold weather came in, I would crave warm foods like soup and cooked comfort meals. But I would worry about this later- and could always eat more warming foods. Warming foods are food that make you more warm natured, such as ginger and sweet potatoes. I could also experiment with foods cooked up to 100 degrees fahrenheit, which is technically still raw. Or I could just start eating whatever foods made me feel good at that time- cooked or raw. But that was months away. I did not have to figure this out today.
The third week, I began to weary of eating only raw foods. So I decided to see if eating.cooked foods would undo the progress of what I had accomplished so far. I was also starting to find the root causes of why I felt this way to begin with- even if I was unable to address these yet. I read that Melissa Henig, author of the book
Raw Paleo: The Extreme Advantages of Eating Paleo Foods in the Raw mentioned that she ate her vegetables raw and her meat cooked, so I decided to try this approach. In one of her videos, she mentions “I eat cooked food, too” and proceeded to mention that eating raw was something she did a few days a week and considered it a “vitamin supplement”. With my cravings for comfort foods and cooked foods, I decided to blend the two ways of eating and see what happened- and it went well.
I was also able to make more observations: I did find vegetables easier to digest cooked- no surprise there. But I was surprised that the meat was easier to digest when I ate it raw. However, including cooked meats also widened my variety- for example, bacon:) I also found that I craved raw foods still- and also found them easy and convenient when I did not feel like cooking.
Pictured above: Steak Tartare (raw beef dish eaten worldwide)
By week 4 I had found my stride and noticed that I had decided to keep a lot of my new habits- raw egg in my smoothies, sashimi and ceviche is still making an appearance in my menu and when i do not feel like cooking, I am reaching for some kitfo (raw beef with spices) or steak tartare. I also find that I prefer many of my vegetables cooked, i still enjoy salads and fruit the way “god intended it”- raw.
Now, what dietary tool will I try next?
Update: After the 4 weeks My energy is much better and the root causes are being addressed- I am feeling better already! Remember: Poor diet can be a root cause, but some dietary tools are just that- a tool. Addressing diet and lifestyle can be a game changer to taking your body back, but so can addressing the root causes and making informed decisions for your health.
At Integrative Health Coaching Services, we are trained in over 100 dietary theories and utilize many different “tools” to help our clients feel the way they want to feel in the face of Thyroid, Cognitive Decline, Autoimmune and Neurological disorders and CIRS. While we generally do not ask our clients to eat raw meat (ok, I have never asked them to do this, actually), we do help them navigate the many dietary tools available and help them customize their diet just for them, their health history and health goals. We ALSO help our clients identify the root causes of those issues and help people like you become the expert your own body while making informed decisions to Take Your Body Back.
At IHCS, if you have health goals and would help using diet and lifestyle to reach those goals, we are here for you.
Use the tab at the top f the page to contact us and let’s discuss what will help you reach those goals- no raw meat required:)