I grew up in daycare eating from a brightly colored tray with five compartments. Those five compartments were filled with starches and cholesterol, fried food, dessert, bread and a vegetable usually cooked in butter and/or bacon. Corn dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches, hot dogs, corn, green beans, fruit cocktail, fried chicken, hamburgers, fish sticks, whole milk or juice, white bread, refined sugar, fast food a couple nights a week, and soft drinks after hard played soccer games – this was my diet.
Today I eat a little better. A little. No red meat, no soft drinks (I’m off again), few sweets, soy or rice milk, lots of water, all colors of fruits and vegetables (some grown in our backyard – see picture) sans butter and bacon, whole grain bread, limited refined sugar. We pick the least chemical infested and artificially flavored option if there is one but don’t avoid chemicals and artificial ingredients altogether. Moderation and enjoyment are key right now. Don’t give any food up, just eat the healthiest version you can – that’s the current game plan. Healthy relative to the junk I could eat.
At the far end of the diet continuum, as far in the “healthy” direction you can go, way past moderation and enjoyment, is the raw diet. Brian‘s wife, Amy, is reading a book about eating raw and has convinced my wife, her sister, to try it out. The rules to staying on that diet are simple: No chemicals. No animal products. No cooking.
No chemicals because they’re not necessary and sometimes harmful. Dyes have been linked to disorders and diseases from ADD to cancer. Same thing with chemicals used as pesticides and preservatives. Even when outlawed by America these chemicals can find their way into our plates. DDT, for instance, outlawed in the 1970’s, is still sold by America to farmers in places like Mexico where produce is sprayed with the cancer causing chemical then sold in American grocery stores. Not cool.
No animal products because, well, one of many reasons given is that we have long intestines, the kind God gave herbivores. When a herbivore eats meat, the book says, it sits in their long intestines and decays. Of course the people of the Old Testament were permitted to eat certain meats if prepared the right way (drained of blood, for instance). And Jesus at the very least ate fish along with his fishermen disciples. If the Creator ate meat then I’m not sure I buy the argument that our bodies aren’t created to digest any meat properly.
No cooking because. a raw expert says, cooking fruits or vegetables destroys the enzymes in them needed to digest them, depletes the food of some of its nutrients and “kills” the food. (Not everyone agrees with the science of this claim.) Eating live food, one raw author says, keeps the body alive while eating dead food kills the body. Coo-coo. But, all you really lose in not cooking food is taste right? And if giving up the taste of cooked food means I get more nutrition from my food, what’s the big deal?
Well, the big deal is that I’m not just giving up good taste but I’m subjected to bad taste. I found that out when we started on the raw diet this morning. One meal in and I’m ready to get out.
Here’s what I had for breakfast – “green lemonade”:
1 head of romaine lettuce
5 cups of kale
1 lemon (organic, in season so it’s not imported, with the peel on)
2 apples (organic, in season, peel on)
2 tbs ginger
Directions: Juice this stuff, pour it in a glass, hold your nose, and drink. Savor the flavor of vomit and an aftertaste resembling lemony gasoline.
There’s no way we have the cash or the space to buy enough raw food to feed a family of five this kind of breakfast every morning.
The things I’ll do for my wife and her dietary experiments.
I’m writing all day today, so we’ll see how this diet affects creativity and attention span.