Sunday, 23 September 2012
Raw Food health by Philippa Pickering
I grew up in a big family, with big appetites. We never had very much money and so food was cheap, feeding 7 (sometimes 8, sometimes more) hungry people. Due to the expenditure we always had to eat everything on our plate – like it or not. I have a memory of being sat at the dining table looking at a plate of grey, wobbly liver, crying because I did not want to eat it. My mum would not tolerate hard earned food being wasted and so I had to sit there… luckily my sister came along and ate it for me (thanks Sis) but there began my lifelong dislike for meat. It always felt wrong to me to put this dead animal into my body and so I survived on mainly potatoes, chips, spaghetti, cheese, crisps and chocolate! I’m not sure how I actually survived my teen years with the rubbish I used to put into my body, not forgetting the drugs, cigarettes and alcohol. I was probably a typical teenager but looking back at my diet I find it quite unbelievable that this was me.
Then, my life began at 21………. (there’s a song in there somewhere)…….
Up until this moment I had not been REALLY living, just plodding along. I made a massive decision to leave my life behind and travel to Israel to work and live on a kibbutz. WOW! What an experience for a young, small-town girl. I was opened up to new sensory experiences, a fusion of new sights, sights, sounds and tastes. Being away from home made it easier to experiment with different foods, to find out my likes and dislikes. The kibbutz food was buffet style every day so I could try a little of everything, to my delight. Falafel, hummus, olive oil, pita bread, olives….the list goes on, and although these are now classed as mainstream foods, for me in 2000 these were amazing! I remember walking through Ber sheva with a smoothie made with fruits I had never tasted before, thinking ‘surely this can’t be good for me?’ how wrong was I?
Whilst in Israel I developed the travelling bug and made plans to go to Australia the following year for 12 months. The food there was fresh, wholesome and grown in their beautiful sunny climates. I tried no end of different salads, smoothies, juices, vegetables that were not even available back in England. It was also there that I met my beautiful husband who has been an absolute rock for me over the past 10 years. We travelled together to Thailand and experienced exotic freshly cooked foods that I still dream of today.
Returning home together I started at university and money was fairly tight. I also worked part-time and so healthy eating was not a priority. I remained a vegetarian but commenced my junk food diet – just without meat or milk. I had a real love of anything sweet – cakes, biscuits, chocolate, I just could not get enough. Fortunately/unfortunately I have always been a great cook and so would whip up big dinners and always pudding for afterwards. I could eat as much (and more) than my husband, which is a lot for a little lady. My plates would be piled high and I never forgot my mum’s words telling me to ‘eat everything on my plate’ and so like a good girl I would obey and polish off the lot. My huge appetite was always commented on whenever we ate out with friends and family, leaving me to feel and call myself ‘greedy’, as this is what I believed was true. Looking back I now realise that this was my body’s way of trying desperately to gain any nutrition it could from the food I was eating. I may not have been eating meat or milk which is very stressful to the body but I was consuming an awful amount of bread, wheat and sugar that are equally as stressful and toxic for our bodies.
All this changed when on my 31st birthday I was diagnosed with breast cancer. To be told at such a young age (or at any age) that you have cancer is almost too much to take in. You realise in that instant how short life is and that you are living on borrowed time. I was TOLD what procedures I would be having, surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, medication, i was never asked so I went along with it, swept up in the medical world trying to ‘save me’.
Rewind several months to a chance overhearing on a train that changed my life and has led me to be where I am today. Sitting opposite a young woman I overheard her discussing a ‘holistic nutrition course’ she was on and how amazing it was. As the woman and I got off at the same station I stopped her and asked for the details and made some enquires on the internet when I got home. Fast forward to laying on the couch recovering from my third batch of chemotherapy a few months later, when I received a phone call from the Nutritional Healing Foundation asking me if I was still interested in joining up for the course. In my current state I thought this wasn’t possible and told the woman regrettably so. Putting down the phone my mind started to wander at the possibility that maybe I could do this, or at least go along for the introductory day to see if I could manage.
The following Saturday I alighted the train at Salford and hobbled along the road on blister covered feet , mouth as dry as a dessert with a white, swollen tongue and a terrible wig perched on my head (all lovely side-effects of the chemo) to a place where I knew I belonged. I met so many like minded people, all looking for a way to improve not only their own health but also the health of others. I was hooked. The course taught us that the food and fluid that you put into your body affects every cell and that we do have the power to heal ourselves. I took a good look at the food I was eating; stopped drinking alcohol completely, cut out refined sugars, reduced my wheat intake and generally improved my diet. Armed with this new knowledge I informed my Oncologist that I would be cutting the chemotherapy short, that I would not be having radiotherapy and that I would not be taking Tamoxifen (I did end up taking Tamoxifen for a short while after much persuasion).
After completing my first year on the course and feeling stronger and healthier I decided to leave my job and go travelling again. My husband and I travelled extensively in Malaysia, Singapore and New Zealand, sampling some good and mostly not so good cuisine. Returning home felt good and I knew that I could begin to start eating well again. Throughout the journey my old eating habits had slipped back firmly into place and I was as addicted to sugar and bread as I had ever been, if not more. I had eaten muffins, cakes, biscuits, pancakes, fried banana bread, chocolate peanut-butter waffles, naan bread until I thought I could eat no more, and returned home feeling bloated, uncomfortable and addicted.
After settling in back at home and awaiting a start date for my new job I went for my regular smear test, expecting as you do, that the results will be fine……then I received that dreaded phone call AGAIN, only this time it was cervical cancer. I could not believe I was in this situation again and in some ways this hit me harder and in a different place. I felt I had no excuse this time. Yes my eating habits had slipped but surely I was healthier than the average person? Obviously I wasn’t. I knew I had to really sort myself out this time and address any issues that were causing my body to react in this way. I believed (and still do) that cancer is not something that ‘just
happens’, that there must be a causative factor. The medical professionals admitted that they did not know the cause, all the knowledge they had centred around removing the cancer. I was again TOLD that I would need a radical hysterectomy, followed by a combination of chemo/radiotherapy. I (politely) informed them in no uncertain words that there was ABSOLUTELY NO WAY I would undergo any of these procedures and instead opted for (against the consultant’s advice) a much smaller procedure of a biopsy to remove any cancer cells still present on my cervix. I was told that in all his years of working the consultant had NEVER met anybody who had turned these procedures down. Well I have always wanted to be different!
I embarked on a raw food diet, cutting out any processed, refined foods. Bread, dairy, fish, sugar, cooked grains, all went out of the window and in their place I ate green smoothies, soups, salads, fruits and sprouted seeds and grains. I got in touch with my tutor who devised a technique plan for me too, using enemas, castor oil packing, flaxseed tea, hot and cold showers, daily exercise, and as importantly I have worked on emotional issues getting amazing results with EFT from a German New Medicine practitioner.
This brings me up to date to today. This recent ‘dis-ease’ is not long behind me but I understand and feel differently about cancer today. It has been described to me as ‘our bodies last defence at protecting itself’, which I have taken to understand as like a blister forming after a shoe has rubbed too long. Cancer is inflammation of cells; a blister is inflammation of the skin cells, both trying to protect the delicate tissues underneath.
My journey to heal myself continues and will not end until my last day on earth, but how lovely it feels to be looking after myself, at last! My diet is now almost 100% raw and remains similar to what was earlier advised; only now I’ve added in nuts, seeds, and occasional raw chocolate and raw desserts. I’m not rigid though; if I go out for a meal with friends and there isn’t a raw option then I’ll eat cooked vegan food and appreciate the company of my friends rather than focusing on what’s for the next course. I still love sweet food only now I satisfy this with fruit. If I’m going out for a special occasion and know there won’t be a suitable dessert for me then I go prepared and take my own, which I must admit tastes better than the manufactured, mass produced, ‘plastic’ food that is always present at these events. I have had horrendous cravings for bread which after time have now passed and I no longer have cravings of any sort. I can replicate nearly everything I used to eat before only in a healthier, raw way. I absolutely love the new world of raw food that has opened up before me, the fantastic like-minded people I am meeting and the recipes and food that I am experimenting with. My path has changed again but I would not change it for the world. I don’t ever wish that I hadn’t had cancer as I wouldn’t be here today doing what I love. It has shaken me out of my reverie and made me appreciate my life, what I have and realise the potential of what I can be.
Blog written by Philippa Pickering
So what is ‘raw food’?
Raw food is uncooked, unprocessed and organic (where possible) food that has not been heated above 47.7 c/118 f.
It can be dehydrated, fermented, sprouted and sundried.
What is a typical raw food diet?
A raw food diet is based around vegetables, fruit, seeds, and nuts.
It does not include processed or refined foods.
What are the benefits of raw food?
It is pure, unadulterated, whole food that is rich in vitamins, minerals, enzymes and phytonutrients. Eating a raw food diet will renew energy and encourage weight loss. Raw foods are very nutrient dense and energising and possess many health and health-promoting properties, these include:
* Weight loss
* Improved digestion
* Improved immune function (less colds & infections)
* Clearer complexion
* Increase in energy & vitality
* Improved mental clarity
* Reduction in fluid retention
* Reduced risk of chronic conditions (heart disease, diabetes etc)
Why not eat cooked food?
When food is processed or heated above 47.7 c/118 f, many of the natural enzymes, phytonutrients and essential nutrients are destroyed. cooking can also produce unnatural chemical substances which places strain on the bodies detoxification organs i.e. liver, gut and kidneys. Many processed foods have no nutritional value at all and are often loaded with fats, sugars, salt, preservatives and chemicals.
How do I go raw?
Why not try replacing one cooked meal with one raw meal. Find a recipe in a book that reminds you of an old favorite and try a raw version. When you learn to make a few raw food dishes, many mysteries of raw food preparation will unravel and the whole process will seem easy.
Benefits of ingredients used in raw food preparation:
Raw cacao powder/butter:
Packed with antioxidants for mood-boosting and a concentrated source of nutrients (particularly Magnesium).
A nutrient dense fruit used as a natural sweetener. It provides fibre, vitamins and minerals.
A Peruvian root vegetable rich in protein, iron and calcium. it is naturally sweet and is renowned as a hormone balancer and an aphrodisiac.
A natural sweetener from the agave cactus plant that is low on the glycemic index, making it safe for those monitoring sugar levels.
Is not considered raw but it is used as it is low on the glycemic index and is unprocessed, unfiltered, unbleached and contains no preservatives.
Full of nutritional value. They contain essential amino acids and fatty acids our body needs.
High in iron, protein, calcium and potassium. They are packed with essential fats, vitamins and minerals that are nourishing and energising.
NATURE’S GOODNESS, LOCKED
NOTHING COOKED, BAKED, BOILED
FULL OF FLAVOUR, FOREVER
SAVOUR THE TASTE, FOREVER
Philippa has just joined Global Tribe Cafe team! Pop by to say hi!