Thursday, April 1, 2010

Doctor's Orders Are Teaching Me About Personal Autonomy

Well, it's been a while since I posted here. I've been avoiding it, I think.

I posted about going to the doctor to get to the bottom of my intestinal struggles, yes? Well, the skinny on the visit is this: She ordered so many blood tests that I had to spread the blood drawing out over 2 visits. They also collected the yucky kind of sample (:p) to test for parasites, etc. I was tested for vitamin D & B deficiency, blood-clotting problems (remember the terrible bruising?), Celiac, parasites, heart disease, colon cancer, liver/pancreatic trouble, etc, etc, etc.

Sooooooo, when I went in last Wednesday, I was really hoping to hear, "You have Celiac Disease" That's why you've been tired, uncomfortable, and depressed for years...No dice. Everything was 'inconclusive'. Everything. I had REALLY thought that I'd finally get some answers. I like eating raw, but I don't like wondering, "Maybe I just have a gluten intolerance, and I really could eat steamed veggies w/ rice if I wanted to..." I just wanted to know SOMETHING for sure. I usually go the naturopathic route for treatment, but I at least wanted a rigorous round of tests, and a 21st-Century diagnosis!

The good news: There's no obvious signs of horrible internal bleeding, anemia, cancer, or anything else really scary. The bad news: We both (me and the doctor) think it's likely Celiac, BUT since I've been eating raw or nearly raw for so long, any signs of it will not be in my blood now.

Doctor's orders: Eat a HIGH gluten diet for at least 2 weeks, and repeat the test.

So much for raw - FOR THE MOMENT - I want to stress that. I have to eat breads, cereal, etc in fairly high quantities for two weeks. I'm 1 week in now, and I honestly cannot fit into my clothes. I hate it. I feel crappy, I have muffin tops like I had 2 years ago, and my energy level is non-existent! Oh, and I don't want to mention what's going on in the bathroom....blech.

The funny thing is that when I was trying to reach this all-raw-until-my-birthday goal, all I wanted was flaky pastries and cheese, right? Well, now that I'm SUPPOSED to eat the stuff that makes me sick, I just want salad and avocado and fruit! I'm having to force myself to eat poorly.

What am I learning? I think there's a lesson here for me about choices. I thrive when I am choosing my life moment-by-moment. Part of it is probably being in my thirties. I feel I'm coming into my own, and the most wonderful part of that is truly being the authority in my own life. I may make good decisions or terrible ones, but there is a feeling of peaceful strength that I experience when I make choices that are from my center.

My center doesn't really change quickly. I have been evolving slowly over time. My center isn't volatile or indecisive. My center wants to be vibrant and alive, and that means making choices that are nurturing to my mind, body and spirit. At the same time, my center needs freedom. Which is more destructive: a lack of vitamins, or a lack of autonomy? My spirit and my body are out of synch with each other! So long as they are in disharmony, I will make choices that serve one, at the cost of the other. Clearly, my spirit's need for freedom and autonomy is shouting louder than my body's need for health. So, how to bring them back in tune with each other? That's the big question!

This is a big discovery for me. I can see that I'm making choices I don't like, but I'm doing them to serve another, very real and important need within me - my need for autonomy. I spent almost a decade in a very controlling environment. I did not choose my daily activities or my roommates, or my thoughts, for the most part. Now, after 4 years, I am still dismantling and finding my own feet.

I'm learning to trust my own mind, to trust my heart, and to make choices. I think that giving myself a strict regimen is destructive to my spirit at this point! So, what CAN I do?
I want to be physically healthy, and I want to be mentally and emotionally healthy, too...I think the answer for me right now is so sit and think about this for a day or two. I have to continue to eat high-gluten at least until next week, then, I can eat what I want. I'm thinking, though, that I need to trust myself more here. I need to trust that my center doesn't need a lot of external motivation in order to make good choices! I am going to live in the moment - no rules. The one thing I want to do right now is go deeper. I want to reach that place inside that feels most alive, and live from there. If I do that in each moment, as much as I can, I believe the choices I make in the moment will be beneficial ones.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

WHY am I doing this?!

I'm losing my gusto. I've been 'cheating' a lot. Candy, bread, whatever. It doesn't taste good, I feel awful after I eat it, but as a grad student/mother/overworked project manager I just want convenience.

The good things:

I've made amazing granola that I carry with me everywhere to snack on
Fruit salad is ALWAYS good
Sprouts and smoothies are easy
My seedlings are doing really well in the sunroom, and I think I'll have a great garden this Summer

The BAD:

I have started to bruise REALLY badly and easily - I am going to the doctor tomorrow about this.
I don't have the time to make gourmet raw foods daily.
I want fresh, easy, satisfying food, but I don't want to spend an hour in the kitchen for every meal.

Salads, no matter how varied, get old. I want something different. Soup? Crackers that are light, instead of flax crackers?

I am definitely NOT going to consider this project a success in terms of strict raw dieting, but I do think I'm learning about myself. I think that when I FEEL deprived, I rebel on principle. When I allow myself to 'cheat' I see how unsatisfying it is right away, and I'm more motivated to eat foods that make me feel good for that reason alone.

I'm also thinking I may need to drink a lot more water. A lot more. I wonder if some of my hunger is actually thirst.

On a little bit of a deeper level, I think I'm holding on to the 10 lbs of weight I've gained for emotional reasons. I've been grappling with some emotional questions that are pretty deeply rooted, and when I feel overwhelmed by it all, I take refuge in self-destruction. When I was a teenager, I smoked cigarettes. After I quit, I went through a phase of depriving myself of pleasure entirely. Now, I'm trying to find balance and inner strength. Part of that is taking good care of myself, but even that feels contrived and forced sometimes. If I eat raw to feel good, that's ok. If I eat raw because I 'have to' for whatever reason (because it's healthy, because I said I would, etc) I'll pay a high price in my spirit.

The problem comes when I'm stressed, sad, confused or angry. In those times, I don't WANT to take good care of myself. It's almost as if eating a bucket of lard would feel good because it's a way of saying, "F. YOU! To life, and its frustrations." I know that was what smoking felt like. It was just an easy release. A time-out from responsibility & effort.

Quitting smoking was HARD. I had to quit so many times before I REALLY quit. Now, I rarely think about it. I do admit, though, that since the last year has been extremely difficult emotionally, I've thought of it more and more. It's been 13 years since I had a cigarette, and I have no plans of smoking them ever again, but I'm seeing a real parallel here.

What I think I really need is a healthy, effective release. I love yoga. I love gardening. I love singing and dancing. I love long walks by myself. I love sparkly rivers. I love sitting with my thoughts for uninterrupted intervals of 15 minutes or more. Just thinking about these things brings me calm. But, when I'm stressed in the middle of the day, I don't always have space and time to do yoga or take a walk, and even if I did, the thought of chowing on something fatty, salty, sweet, fast and COOKED is often just so EASY to indulge in, that I've found myself saying, "I don't care. I'm working too hard to deprive myself."

So, there you go. Confession, rant, introspection....whatever you want to call it. I see the reality before me. I could use some thoughts and stories from anyone who understands.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Catching Up - One month to go!

I went on vacation last week. It was just 3 days, but as a mother 3 days with no child, no husband and no responsibilities is a pretty great vacation!

I had a wonderful time, and saw quite a few friends and family members I'd been wanting to reconnect with. It was wonderful. The problem: eating out! Most places have no idea how to make a salad, let alone anything else raw that might taste good.

I found one raw vegan restaurant in Portland (Maine) thanks to my little sister. I was ecstatic walking in. Wheat grass shots, salads, raw veggie burgers, etc. I had a salad made from beet greens, spinach, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds cucumbers, avocados, etc, etc...JUST like I'd make for myself at home. I was thrilled! I also brought a cooler of fruits and veggies with me so I could nosh late-night and in the mornings.

Still, most of the places I went to eat with friends had pretty slim pickings. I'll admit, I ate some bread and oil at one restaurant. While I'm confessing, I'll admit to eating a scone made by a client during a company visit on Tuesday...overall, though, I was probably 95% raw while on vacation, so I consider that a major accomplishment!

I've had many, many people asking me about my diet lately. I've also been getting better at my recipes. The flax crackers that I last made were better than the ones served in the restaurant my sister and I went to, for instance. My husband AND my dad both told me I could sell the cacao/sunflower seed granola. I'm settling into a comfortable lifestyle that I think I can handle and maintain...that's what really matters.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Two weeks

Dinner tonight was just an improvised dish because I had a ripe avocado and wanted to do something a little more civilized than just eat it plain with a spoon.

Each serving:

1 large avocado - cleaned and chopped (leave the skin intact to use as bowls)
1/4 red onion, diced
handful of cilantro, chopped
1 baby portobella mushroom
Splash lemon or lime juice
salt & pepper


Saturday, February 27, 2010


Yesterday I was in a little bookshop in Searsport, ME doing some research for a client I'm advising. I got to talking with the owner about raw food.

"You know, Matthew Kenney's a Searsport boy." She said. She had signed copies of Everyday Raw and Raw Food, Real World (my 2 favorite raw cookbooks). I guess he comes into the bookstore from time to time. In such a small community as the raw foodies world, it's nice to have little run-ins like that.

Anyhow, I stocked up on produce and nuts again today. Oranges, coconut, avocado, fennel, peppers, grapes, strawberries, clementines, and a bunch of potted herbs for my kitchen windowsill.

Breakfast today was a few of the cacao/sunflower seed cookies I made the other day. They're all gone now. I'll definitely need to make a new batch tonight. My husband likes them as much as I do.

Lunch was Matthew Kenney's Avocado, orange and fennel salad (see picture). It's in Raw Food, Real World. Very simple, very goooooood!

Great raw day so far.

I'm also making progress in my yoga practice. I can hold my headstand for quite a few breaths now, and I'm working on a new challenge pose that has beefed up my biceps a LOT in the last 2 days alone. I'm far from achieving the balance and strength I need for the asana, but I am getting there.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

2 Recipes and a Rant

Alright. I've lost track of how many days this is, but I haven't lost track of my goals: lose the holiday weight gain, and be healthy, and energetic.

Sooooooo....I've decided that I don't want to be raw vegan... when I was raw last time around, I was raw VEGETARIAN. That's what feels good to me. I know Joe is probably shaking his head. "You're just addicted to cheese," he's saying. Joe, you may be right. I LOVE me some CHEESE!

I bought raw cheese at the Natural Living Center (the only thing that passes for a grocery store around here that I can handle). I think I spent $20 on cheese! I missed it. When I broke off a bit of Maine-made Amish colby, I thought, "Why did I miss this so much? It's not that great." But, it filled me up. Three bites filled me up! I thought for about 30 seconds about eating disorders, and I wondered if I eat raw for the wrong reasons...then, I got distracted. I DO have a 4-year-old, and she was in the car. So, after about 50 questions from her, I'd forgotten all about raw food, eating disorders, and everything except silence an sleep! I have lost 5 lbs of my 10 lb holiday gain, but I've done so while eating like a horse, so I doubt this is an eating disorder thing for me.

I'm coming out as a RAW VEGETARIAN! I love raw honey. I love raw cheese! I'm not going to apologize for it! :) I discovered FENNEL!

Why did I not know of this incredible plant? It tastes like licorice! Looooove it! I made a salad of purple cabbage, fennel, and cauliflower. YUM! I tried it with Asian dressing: NOT so good! I'd love some suggestions about dressings that complement fennel.

I'm also drying some crackers and cookies - both original recipes.


Flax meal
flax seed
taco seasoning
Sesame seeds
Nutritional yeast

I just did it all to taste, and then spread it out as smoothly and thinly as I could on the dehydrating sheet. I'll let you know how they come out!


5 dates
2 hands full of cranberries
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup soaked-and-dried buckwheat hulls
pinch of salt
2 tbsp cacao powder
agave or raw honey


Monday, February 22, 2010

Struggles, and a little victory, too.

The weekend was difficult. I had company from out of town visiting to work on a project that has been taking quite a lot out of me over the last six months. Add on top of that some rather complicated emotional history with the people involved, an you have a very tired, cranky me.

I held it together for the most part, I'm happy to say. I stayed raw through the entire working weekend, even though it was a bit of an inconvenience to my guest. Looking back, I wish I'd been less stringent. Some things are more important than being 100% anal. Anyway, I did fine UNTIL, I went to take my 4-year-old to dinner to reconnect with her after my working weekend.

She wanted pizza. I ate it.

I thought of my ten followers, who I don't know, but feel obligated to. I thought about not telling you, but that's just not my way. I caved. I told myself it was for my little girl, but it was really because I was tired and emotionally drained, and I just wanted cheese.

Please, please, please! Anyone have a recipe that REALLY tastes like cheese? Nutritional yeast doesn't do it, really. Cheese and butter are the things I'm longing for. It's the salty, fatty, subtle comfort of those two that I'm after. I'm going to try to make sunflower cheese tomorrow if I have time.

Tonight, I made a gorgeous fruit salad with strawberries, grapes, and squeezed lemon juice over it. I tried adding mint leaves- not so good.

Now, I'm snacking on an Asian salad of purple cabbage, blood orange, bok choy, shredded carrots, and a dressing of white wine vinegar, soy sauce, and oil. Mmmmm....