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Three Days Totally Raw

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For years whole food advocates have been cheering "Rah! Rah!" for raw foods. I used to wonder, what was the big deal? But after three days of raw eating, I am now a convert and have been adjusting my shopping and food preparation habits to integrate raw into my life permanently. Originally, I had no intention of going raw..

For years whole food advocates have been cheering "Rah! Rah!" for raw foods. I used to wonder, what was the big deal? But after three days of raw eating, I am now a convert and have been adjusting my shopping and food preparation habits to integrate raw into my life permanently.

Originally, I had no intention of going raw. Then I was invited to a three-day raw food retreat hosted by the Ekaya Institute, a non-profit organization that has a passion to make it cool for teenagers to eat healthy. I expected to join a group of wannabe hippies; instead, I could have been at a financial workshop full of professionals, all of whom had a desire to learn more about good food.

Being a coffee drinker, the first day of the retreat was a little rough. Fortunately, lots of water and freshly picked oranges and grapefruits for juicing helped. I love fruits and vegetables, but I started to get nervous about the prospect of no ice cream or chocolate for three days. What saved me was the most amazing raw dessert: frozen mango pie with almond-maple crust. The desserts got even better with combinations of fresh fruits, dates, coconuts and almonds.

The next great discovery was wild greens. My guide on day two was Raven, a seven-year-old girl who helped me find plantain, watercress, sweet grasses and fennel growing in the wild. She has been raw since inception. Lucky her.

By the third day I was amazed at how little food I really needed and how much better I felt with meals that didn't sit heavily in my stomach. Raw certainly takes less time to prepare and there is so much more variety and flavour. Try eating fresh corn on the cob, not cooked it is delicious!

Now, four weeks later, I have lost eight pounds, saved a lot of money (no more Starbucks, muffins, pizza or chocolate bars) and am amazed that I had never been taught during university about how my body works best on uncooked, natural foods. I have more energy, feel clearer and my whole digestive process works like a charm. Yet the most exciting thing about raw food for me is the idea of looking 40 when 50 and avoiding heart disease, cancer, diabetes and premature aging.

OK, I haven't been perfect, but I am moving in the right direction. Like any new skill, it takes time to learn and adjust. The key for me is to be prepared. If I can get out of the grocery store with just my planned shopping list, I have overcome most of my habits and temptations. Each time I slip into old food habits, I pay the price with lethargy, feeling full or constipation, which reinforces my resolve to plan ahead.

I encourage you, too, to learn more about the pros of raw foods and the cons of cooked foods. Stay young. Prevent disease definitely good motivators.

What Is the Ekaya Institute?

The Ekaya Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to research and education in the field of nutrition and healing with living foods. Ekaya's programs include raw retreats, youth retreats, wilderness adventures, arts and technology programs, and the Take a Fruit Break campaign, which promotes healthy eating to kids via advertising on major TV and cable
networks. For info on upcoming retreats, e-mailinfo@thegardendiet.com. For more info on the Take a Fruit Break campaign, visit takeafruitbreak.com.

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