Eating only raw food for the past two weeks has been horrible in every way imaginable.
The food tastes horrible.
There have been a couple of things that don’t taste horrible, like Kyeli’s Tangy Twitter Salad, a cacao/avocado pudding thingy, and some fruit smoothies. But almost everything else has tasted either meh, bad, or too horrible to consume. It’s gotten to the point where I’m dreading meals because I know I’ll have to force icky-tasting crud down my gullet.
It’s ridiculously expensive.
We bought a $500 blender, and it doesn’t even work that well. It’s shorted out a couple of times, and some of the smoothies it makes are still a little gritty. It wasn’t the cure-all it was made out to be. The actual food is ridiculously expensive, too, especially when we buy organic. We’ve spent between $800 and $1000 on groceries in the past two weeks. Sure, some of that has been staples that won’t get used up quickly, and some of it was stuff we threw out because it was disgusting, but even accounting for that, it’s still ridiculous.
It takes a huge amount of time.
Kyeli is doing all the food preparation (*huge crazy appreciation*) and she’s been spending about four hours a day on it. And this is when we’re making recipes from The “Lazy” Raw Foodist’s Guide and Raw Food Made “Easy”! If this is easy, I can’t even imagine difficult.
I’ve had less energy.
At first I thought I might have found an advantage of raw food, because I was sleeping better. But I think I’m just sleepier. I’m getting sleepy around 9 or 10 instead of 11 or 12, and getting up at the same time. I’m more awake in the mornings, but I get nappish throughout the day.
I’ve been spacy.
I’ve been getting spaced-out a lot. It’s not quite the same thing as the “cottonheaded” feeling I’ve described before, but it’s close.
I’ve been miserable.
All these accounts of euphoria and an increased sense of well-being that raw foodists report? No signs yet. In fact, I’ve been significantly more miserable for the past two weeks. I’ve been grumpy, depressed, and irritable. I’ve had a couple of brief hour-long spurts of feeling happy and good, but for the most part it’s been all bad emotionally.
The food cravings are driving me mad.
I’ve been craving food that’s far less healthy than what I was eating before I went raw. Greasy jalapeño poppers with ranch dressing. Meat Lover’s Pizza. A Big Mac. I’ve never even eaten a Big Mac! The meat cravings have lessened over the past two days, but they were very intense and difficult to resist for about a week. Oh, and now Kyeli’s talking about bacon on the phone and now I want bacon. Augh! It’s so weird! And now I’m craving Amy’s Southwestern Vegetable Soup. A lot. And I have been every day for the past two weeks. I’m so attached to these food lollipops that I’m driving myself depressed over it.
So why is this happening?
I think it’s happening because we’re doing it wrong. When we decided to do a 30-day raw trial, we thought it would be roughly like our 30-day vegan trial. We would stop eating a bunch of foods, we’d have cravings, and we’d see what it’s like.
Being a raw foodist is not a diet change.
Being a raw foodist is a lifestyle change.
We didn’t understand what we were getting into. You just eat different food, right? No. It’s so much more than that. Let me enumerate the myriad ways in which we’re doing it wrong.
1. We didn’t do enough research beforehand.
We felt intuitively called to going raw, and a couple of our friends whom we trust say it’s the best thing ever, so we jumped in headfirst. We had no idea. Without knowing a lot about nutrition, we don’t know what to eat. We have a meal plan, but we haven’t been able to follow it accurately because of taste and time. When we fail to follow it, we don’t know what to replace it with, so we just eat whatever’s at hand, like fruit, raw nuts, and sundried raisins. Since we have no clue about the nutrition side of things, we’re probably eating all the wrong things in all the wrong combinations, so it’s no wonder we’re feeling crappy.
2. We didn’t allocate enough time to eating raw.
We started eating raw a week before we moved to a new house. It was a very busy and stressful week. We didn’t want to put off the trial due to busyness, because we’re always busy. But we didn’t understand the time investment it takes to do raw properly. We ended up making every single meal while we were blindly delirious with hunger. We didn’t make time to prepare things in advance, so we’ve been constantly scrambling. It’s been a huge source of stress in our lives. And whenever our routine gets out of whack, for instance when we moved and packed our blender, or when our internet was out and we spent several hours at a coffee shop, or when our house smelled like gas and we needed to evacuate until they could fix it, we were screwed! We either ate random raw snacks we had on hand or we just went hungry, which led to more blind delirium when making the next meal.
3. Umm… I guess “a myriad” is two.
There are oodles more things we’re doing wrong, but they all break down into not realizing that being raw would be a lifestyle change instead of a diet change.
All this leads to two questions. One is the obvious one: “What now?” I’ll save that for last. The second one is a tangent, but I think it’s a very important one. Oh, wait, there’s a third question, too. Let me come in again.
1. Did you lose any weight?
Yup, we lost about 5 lbs each in the past two weeks.
2. Why did bad-tasting food make me so depressed that I didn’t want to
get out of bed in the morning?
None of the raw food information I’ve read has placed a strong emphasis on taste. They say “If it doesn’t taste great, add berries, agave, or raw honey,” but they don’t talk about what to do if all the recipes make you want to gag, you have to force-feed yourself to get them down, and the thought of eating another salad makes you want to vomit. So perhaps I’m in the minority here.
I have two theories about this, one psychological and one chemical. The psychological theory has to do with the part of myself that wants to feel safe and warm and comfortable. It’s part of my primal self, and it’s very childlike and simple. Food has a direct tie to this part of me, so it equates “yucky-tasting food” with “not safe, not comfortable” and gets scared.
The chemical theory is that since I wasn’t eating raw in a healthy, well-balanced way, my brain chemistry got all wonked up, so I got depressed. Maybe due to vitamin B12 deficiency (although I’ve been vegetarian for a decade, so go figure) or maybe due to some other nutrient deficiency. When I’ve gotten depressed in the past (thanks, Elly, for helping me realize this) I feel like everything sucks, regardless of the root cause of the depression. If I’m depressed for an emotional reason, a circumstantial reason, or a chemical reason, I still feel like everything in my life is horrible.
So, the depression isn’t necessarily a sign that everything in my life is wrong. It’s a sign that something in my life could use some attention and improvement, and that if that something gets better, the other horriblenesses will (*poof!*) away like magic, since they were made of illusion and cotton candy in the first place.
On to the final question:
3. What now?
Kyeli and I are, as of tomorrow, aborting our raw food experiment. We do still feel called to raw food, but now that we know the costs involved in terms of time, money, yumminess, and focus, we’re choosing to put our time, money, and focus elsewhere, like on our business, our son, and our relationship.
We know that we’re missing out on all the awesomeness of being raw if we started doing it right and got through the rough bits. But right now, we’re already feeling overwhelmed with being full-time entrepreneurs and full-time moms, and we feel that adding “full-time raw foodists” to that would bring us too much stress and badness to be worth the potential goodness.
We’re definitely going to change the way we eat, though.
- We’re going to eat more fresh vegetables in various forms.
- We’re going to eat much less refined sugars and processed food.
- We’re going to avoid wheat, either entirely or mostly.
- We’re going to cut down on starches and carbohydrates.
- We’re going to supplement our vitamin B12 and see if that makes a noticeable difference in how we feel.
- We’re going to experiment with various foods and combinations of foods to see how they make us feel and how they affect our bodies.
We’re going to put time and effort into educating ourselves on health and nutrition, and eat more mindfully and informedly.
We’ll let you know how it goes. (: