This month I'm doing a 30-Day Blog Challenge. Each day I will offer up a serving of what's in my heart in the moment. My wish is for you to receive a delicious blessing, and my hope is that you will feel inspired to leave a precious morsel of that in the comments. Thanks for stopping by!
I was a vegetarian from the time I was fifteen until I was twenty-three and pregnant with my first child. I was inspired by a couple of classmates in high school who shared with me all the reasons they were doing it--not killing animals, better for the planet, healthier, etc. I decided to join them. This in the mid-1970s, decades before Whole Foods came on the scene making it easier to eat foods that were different from mainstream America. Most "health food stores" were tiny little hole-in-the-wall stores that focused on supplements and not much food. Not very inspiring to a teenager. I had to work hard to find food I could eat. I lived on veggie elbows and cheese. For Thanksgiving, my mother baked spinach and ricotta cheese pie. I stuck with it and often lecture others about the benefits the way my friend had.
Along with the pregnancy cravings that drove me back to a meat-eating diet, I was also tired of the limitations and always having to accommodate a different way of eating.
Fast forward to the present day or actually two and a half years ago when I decided on a whim to try a 10-Day Raw Cleanse as part of a national challenge sponsored by Cleanse America. It was the first time I'd really challenged myself to shift my diet since I'd given up vegetarianism. I had recently purchased a Vitamix so I was ready to jump in with both feet. I soon discovered it would have been easier if I also had a dehydrator and a spiraler. Both of those, along with a good blender and juicer make eating raw possible. Ah well, I did my best attempting dehydrating a couple of things in my over and drinking nothing but green smoothies for three of the ten days.
Overall, it was a great jolt to my system and it got me to give up gluten, dairy and meat, essentially becoming a gluten-free vegan. I flowed right into the diet naturally. I didn't feel inclined to do raw as a friend of mine who did the raw cleanse with me did. It seemed too labor intensive and too difficult to find the foods I needed. It has since gotten a bit better as the raw food trend grows, but I was content taking a less extreme route.
After two and a half years of being mostly gluten-free and vegan, I'm again at a crossroads. As I shared in a previous post, the arthritis in my hands is painful and I'm really ready to find a healthy way to eliminate or significantly reduce this pain. I see food as medicine and knew there might be a solution to be found there. Well, two options came up, both of which I'm considering. One is to go raw. There have been endless claims of diseases of all kinds being cured by a raw food diet. It makes sense to simply remove cooked food and simplify. However, since I'm still traveling, it would be a major challenge because of the lack of equipment I mentioned above. I simply cannot haul a juicer, Vitamix, dehydrator and spiraler everywhere I go. So to do raw, it would mean I would have to stop traveling and settle somewhere. I'm not sure I'm ready for that yet.
The other option that came up is 180 degrees from a vegan, gluten-free diet. But it's the only one I can find that claims to help people heal from auto-immune diseases--the Paleo Diet. The stories of healing and reduction in symptoms are pretty convincing. But...what a leap from where I've been--adding meat but eliminating all sugar, all grains, all legumes, all dairy, all alcohol and for the immune compromised all seeds and nuts, plus potatoes, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes! and eggs! Imagine a life without bread, chips, cereal, pasta, cookies, pancakes, tortillas and beans for Mexican food, hummus and baked potatoes...just to name a few of the foods I would miss!
Prior to this I was truly seeing myself evolving away from animal-based foods toward a plant-based diet. It seem to be more in line with my values and lifestyle. However, what good is a healthy lifestyle when you're in pain? In looking closely at all the research, I suspect that my lifestyle my not be that healthy after all. The whole leaky gut things makes sense to me. My only regret is that I didn't know about this fifteen or twenty years ago when I could have really stopped the downhill deterioration of the joints in my fingers.
So the past two days I've been dipping my toe into the waters of eating Paleo to see if it helps me. I'm going to experiment with adding and removing foods at my own pace so I can observe what benefits if any eating this way will yield. It's supposed to take at least 3 - 4 weeks to see any change and probably longer with auto-immune issues. I wish my life was not so complicated by all of this, but I'm also grateful that food when eaten in total alignment with what our body needs can truly heal and restore us.