Thursday, 24 January 2013

finding food

Food is one of those things. It's one of those things that draws people together, it's one of those things that we all have in our lives, and it's one of those things that you literally can't live without. Along with air and water, food is something that produces energy within the body, so for someone living with a chronic illness where a distinguishing symptom is overwhelming fatigue, food is one of those things that you eventually turn to for help.

As a part of my treatment for ME/CFS I attended consultations with many different doctors, specialists and ihaveaveryimportantdegree-ologists, but in the process of my recovery I was never referred to someone who addressed the issue of what I put in my mouth everyday. I guess having a condition that raises more questions than it answers spurred me on to do my own research into how I could aid the healing process. In this process I sought out the resources I needed to change my food lifestyle, and have done so with the support of a dietician, a naturopath and a lot of books. What I found is that the old adage, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food" (Hippocrates), is more relevant to us now than we are willing to admit, especially in a twenty-first century world where regardless of your weight loss or weight gain, your socio-economic status, your race, sex or favourite television show, malnutrition is a major problem and it does not discriminate.

Food is used by the body for the sustaining of life. Our lives. The body works to make use of or discard the nutrients within food, and this either works to produce good or poor health depending on your diet. In order to build a body that produces good health we must maximise our nutritional intake. Let me stress that it is not enough to do this with vitamin supplements; it must be done firstly and predominantly with food. I do this through plant-based eating. To be more precise, I do this through a raw vegan diet.

If you want all the scientific research on a plate a book I highly recommend is The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell II, which is the most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted. Now before you judge me and think that all I eat is rabbit food, and how boring that must be, let me say I have never enjoyed food as much as I currently do. Though I eat a raw vegan diet, I feast on a colourful and flavourful menu of food made from fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts and a small amount of sprouted grains, such as blended soups and smoothies, salads, and numerous raw desserts and snack foods. Almost any cooked dish can be replicated in the raw kitchen, and not only does it taste better, but it nourishes your body and the added bonus is, you don't need to count calories! 

Raw food means that food is not cooked or heated above the temperature of 46 degrees Celcius, and this ensures that all the enzymes, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals within the food are kept intact, ensuring optimum absorption of the life-giving nutrients into your body. I understand that the challenge with this information can be putting it to practice in the day to day of your life. One of the reasons I began this blog is to write about these things in a practical, relatable and informative way. So, given that dark leafy green vegetables (e.g. kale, watercress, swiss chard, spinach, beet greens) are the best source of nutrient rich food, try adding these into your diet whatever that may be. I find a great way to do this is in the form of a green soup or a green smoothie. Here is a favourite combination of mine:

brooke's green smoothie

2 cups kale, stems removed
1 1/2 cups water
1 apple, cored 
1 orange, peeled
1 frozen banana, peeled
1/4 cup frozen berries


1 handful mint leaves
1 stalk celery
1/2 lemon, peeled
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Add the water and all the ingredients into a high powered blender and blend until smooth. Drink as a mid-afternoon snack, energising breakfast or hearty main meal. You can replace the water with young coconut water for electrolytes and substitute the kale for any other greens. Add the young coconut meat for a creamier smoothie. 

Though I have just touched the surface of this way of eating, be encouraged that positive change occurs when you take a step forward. You don't need to go raw vegan overnight to benefit from diet changes that promote better health. You just need to take the first step and keep on stepping. A universal law is that we reap what we sow. I want to reap good health; how about you?

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