Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Raw Food Pot Luck on Bainbridge Island! Yippie!

I am so psyched!  I received an email from the organizer, Rain, as well as an invite to their Yahoo Group to get started.  The next pot luck is July 26th.  I hope there is a good turnout.  Rain said there are about 25 people registered with the group, but they only tend to have 10 or so show up each pot luck.  Either way, I'm so glad to meet other people here who are following raw food and can work with me, maybe, to get some more restaurant choices on menus!

Health-wise, I saw a wound care specialist yesterday.  We had a great appointment and he really understands what's happening with me.  He said spot on my leg that's not healing looks health enough to heal, but because of all my complications, it may take longer than expected.  I'm cool with that.  I feel good vibes from this dr. and know he'll do all he can to help me.  The best part is he gave me compression stockings!  Ohhhhhh...very oh, la, la!  Only the best Italian grandma's flash those kinda knee highs!  But, it will help with my poor swollen ankles and feet.  One day, and it's already better.  I could get on semi-normal shoes today for the first time in weeks.

Raw food?  Doing well.  I did have my first cooked meal in a month yesterday, but I decided it was best to make it a vegan meal.  I love Indian food, so I chose to go to Chutney's Grille on Capitol Hill.  Their write up's talk about how they use fresh produce and make everything from scratch.  It was quite good for taste, but I will admit it didn't make me pine after cooked food.  I only pined over the leftovers of my Saag Chole (spinach with chickpeas) and rice because it was delicious.  I also had a tomato based bisque soup with summer veggies.  Very tasty too, though it was a bit hot for my mouth now that I'm getting used to cooler foods.  My glucose did as before when I had a cooked dinner, by lunch I was in the 200's, but normalized quickly.  So, I'm still off all diabetes meds, with a smile and a "yatta ta ta" dance.

It's still pretty easy.  I enjoy making my own food.  I enjoy the food I'm eating.  It tastes wonderful to me.  I never thought I'd be following a vegan diet, but here I am.  Periodically, I'll have a craving for eggs or cheese, but not enough to make me go back to diabetic medications.  I'm sure I'll be able to have a traditional farm breakfast some day, just as a splash out, but by the time I'm ready to splash, I may not want it.  Strange as that seems to me.  Breakfast out was my favorite meal out.  Now, it's next to impossible unless I go get a smoothie somewhere.  Not many choices on the "where" these days, though there is a place on the Island that sells a few smoothies.   I had one this afternoon, and I like mine better!

Time to rest up and read a bit.  Checked out a bunch of cook books on Indian food from the library in hopes of finding good recipes to use or convert.

Peace, love, out!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Get your facts straight, girl!

My book arrived today!!  Well, not MY book, but the book I ordered after taking the raw food prep class with Heather H. Phillips at Redmond's Whole Foods.  Becoming Raw by Davis, Melina, and Berry has been tauted as the most comprehensive, facts based book on raw food to date.  I've started reading but still have a ways to go.

The first part is a historical and "movement" overview.  I've learned much already.  I thought Ann Wigmore was one of the first published, but I was off by a good 100 years.  Much of the movement started in Germany during the late 1800's.  (boy, Germany must have been a crazy place at that time when you think of all the medico's whose practices were considered Freud and others).   As I work through it, I'll post a better review.

The raw food life is going well.  I'm have a bit more craving for the standard diet, but have been able to fix that by filling the appropriate nutritional request the ol' body wants.  It seem that protein cravings are the strongest, and I'm very happy filling them with hummus or black bean dips.  It's strange, but ever time I reach for the can of salmon to fill it, I change my mind and reach for a can of beans instead and make a dip.  Yes, canned and processed, but with the rarity of use it's the best way to make sure I can get what's needed without wasting food.

For most of my life, I took foods for granted.  Unlike some Native American practices where all foods are blessed for giving their energy and life to the human consumer, I just consumed.  Since becoming raw, I'm appreciating where my food is coming from and what it takes to get it there.  I've seen several documentaries on food production in the past, and it has always made me very sad, but did not convert me to vegetarianism or veganism.

What actually impacted me most was a short story from an Australian author.  Of course I can't remember who the author is or the title of the story, but I think it was published in an anthology of Oz SciFi and Fantasy stories.  It was about the creation of a hybrid "meat" creature that was raised to feed humans after other animals were emancipated from production-like environments.  The scientists who created the "meat" creatures were interviewed by a reporter to tout the benefits of these animals had as "food" because of their superior genetic design optimal for human consumption and, most importantly, that the creatures had no understanding of who or where they were.  They were the perfect food fodder because they were senseless.  The story unfolds that the reporter is approached by one of the beasts who communicates, in their own way, that they are cognizant and know what's happening to them.  More than a documentary, this strange and disturbing story lodged in my mind the not so fair practices of animal domestication and husbandry.  When a hunt occurs, at least there is some chance for the hunted.

We humans practice such unfair advantages over other animals that it's sad.  It shows us not as smarter because we can farm them, but there is a selfishness and a cruelty to it.  I ask myself now, is it enough to walk away from a hamburger when I feel my health is strong enough to permit myself some cooked food?  I don't know.  It's like Victoria Bentenko says, "We are addicted to cooked foods."  I find the pull even stronger than anything else.  I know it's partly because food is the center of life.  We socialize around it, and like other addictive substances, we comfort ourselves with it and use it for other purposes than its meant.

An interesting sidebar that has also surfaced since going raw has been a re-centering of the food addiction principle in my life.  I still eat with gusto and enthusiasm, but I find I don't have the cravings for things as with cooked food.  The window of what I could eat with cooked food was so wide and broad that a desire to fulfill any fixation was possible.  With changing to raw foods, so many of the unhealthy attachments I had to food come to the surface before I can indulge them because I have to think about HOW to get the "fix" in this new food world.  It makes me stop and think twice before I prepare and eat something based on a desire, as opposed to a bodily need.

Since going raw, I can hear my body ask for different foods more for need than want.  I like it.  I feel more at peace with my kitchen, my pantry, and my body than driven by a desire that is manufactured in more ways than mentally created.

I know I have much to learn and a long way to go on this journey.  Where I end will be intriguing to me.

Peace, love, out!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Joined "The Vault"!

The wonderful website "The Raw Food Rehab" has a program called The Vault.  It's an 11 week commitment program to eating raw, taking care of yourself, exercising, and finding a solid spiritual path for yourself in those few short weeks.  I decided to join because if I change locations (from the PAC NW to DC) the stresses will be different, but it will still be stressful. 

In these 11 weeks (and then some), I'll also be undergoing a major health change by reducing my prednisone by 5 mgs a month based on the treatment plan my Hopkins doctors have in store for us.  At 40 mgs a day, that means I'd be off prednisone in 8 months if all goes well.  If I can rebalance my body in that period of time, I will then have to face what to do with myself!  I'll also have to start rebuilding that retirement account I thought I'd never use!  I'll do it happily! 

Will raw work?  I don't know.  Am I skeptical.  Yes, a little bit.  Do I have hope?  More than I probably should.  Will I go for it?  YOU BET!

To start The Vault (July 10th), I have to post a picture and physical stats.  I've done that because I already captured that information for this experiment.  My weigh in day will change from Tuesdays to Friday/Saturday or Sunday at the latest.  I have to post once a week to keep an active status in The Vault.  It will be interesting to meet all the new people.  They are just wonderful so far.

For my own Food Health Experiment, I have to get my stat's done for this month, but the good part is that I've captured the data.  I just have to do the math...yuck. 

This week had its "downs".  I didn't loose any weight, but I didn't gain any either.  For being out and about, (5 days in DC coming off a 10 day visit with my little sister and her kids) I think I did OK.  The "up" side is I didn't gain either.  I was exactly as before.

My back pain has really curtailed what I can do.  I hope to be better soon.  I seem to keep re-injuring myself in the evening while reading in bed or rolling over, etc.  Nothing like lightening volts of pain shooting across your lower back to make you never want to move again.  My brain screams, "Call 911!"  A few short breathes and it seems to get better.

Wish me luck with The Vault.  It will take me through to September 24th and 30mgs prednisone, if all goes as planned.  I don't see the eye doctor until July 20th to record the exact status of my eyes and can start tapering after that's done.  I'm still waiting for my doctor to chime in on his thoughts about going to DC for tapering.  Hope he'll send something soon.

Take care all!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Basic Raw Food Information: The Low Down

 After following raw food for one month and having amazing results with my diabetes management, plus starting to see some other physical changes, I realized I needed to put together a short primer of links to explain raw food and raw foodism.


What is meant by raw food?
Raw refers to food that is unprocessed, unrefined and not exposed to heat over 116 degrees, which kills the enzymes and nutrients. It is composed of fresh fruit and vegetables along with nuts and seeds. Raw isn’t a fringe movement. We all need to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables. Raw is another way to incorporate them into your every day diet, but in an interesting way.
What are the benefits of a raw diet?
When your food is prepared so that it doesn’t lose it’s nutrient content, your body can utilize those nutrients for maximum function. You experience increased energy, mental clarity, weight normalization, and superior health. Your body was created to heal itself and to be able to ward off disease. Without the proper nutrients as it’s building blocks, your body loses it’s ability to do this. Raw foods also help you slow the aging process.

Do you need to be 100% Raw?

No. In fact, when people are transitioning, I don’t even recommend it as it can set some people up for failure. If you can get to 51% raw, very specific health providing benefits will be experienced and can even get measured. I am all about starting the journey and helping people find better health and vitality along the way.

Why don’t you heat the food above 118 Degrees?

Mainly we don’t want to kill the enzymes. Enzymes are considered to be the building blocks of our bodies. Our cells need enzymes to survive and function. Research has shown that people with chronic disease have lower enzyme content in their blood. There is clearly a connection between low enzymes and disease. Eating food with their enzymes still available aids digestion and because we can use the enzymes in food, we don’t deplete our own stores of enzymes.
Where do I get my protein
Vegetables and fruits actually contain at least 15% protein. Protein is also available in nuts, seeds, greens and sprouts. When eaten raw, that protein is assimilated  better by the body. So, you don’t need as much protein if you are eating it in a raw form.

From a recent radio interview with Rawmazing's Susan Powers (not the militant exercise guru from the 90's)

Talking about raw food is a passion that is turning into an obsession. Trying to communicate why we should be eating more raw foods in a short amount of time can be tricky. When you start talking about raw food, people seem to fall into a few different categories. There are the fast food junkies who don’t want to know anything about food affects their health. They look at me as if I am from another planet.  Then there are people who are becoming aware but giving up their comfort foods just isn’t an option yet. They still look at vegetarian, vegan and raw as extreme. It is the next group that I am the most interested in. They are the people that have made the connection. They know that what they eat can dramatically impact their health. They are interested in learning about healthier ways to eat. Those are the people I love to talk to.

When I talk about raw food, I really am just trying to help people understand how valuable it is to incorporate more fresh, nutrient dense foods into your diet. The more the better. Rawmazing is all about learning how to do this painlessly and joyfully!

It is easy to understand why you should be eating more raw, unprocessed foods. Think of this: your body is designed to be a self-healing machine. You cut yourself, and your cells go to work. Voila, the cut heals. This self-healing occurs on many levels in our bodies. When fighting free radicals and disease, your body is constantly working to heal. The main fuel for this healing is the nutrients in your food.

If you are constantly eating nutrient void food, your body has no fuel to heal. That is when chronic disease sets in. It is a pretty simple theory. All we have to do is look around to see how our over processed, nutritionally absent diet is affecting us. Heart Disease, Cancer, Diabetes and Obesity are raging out of control.

The other day, I told a friend of mine that I no longer wanted to play Russian Roulette with my health. That is why I eat raw. I would rather stack the deck in my favor than try to grab at a passing card once in a while. Nutritious, unprocessed raw food will help you stack your deck. And it also tastes great!

Nutrients lost when food is processed (freezing, drying, cooking, cook & drain, and reheating)

This is just the beginning of explanation on what "raw" means.  They also follow the concept of food combining, meaning that raw foodist recommend eating fast digesting foods separate from slower digesting foods to prevent putrification in the gullet, which causes indigestion, gas, burping, and other discomforts.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Doctor, Doctor, give me some news, I gotta bad case of "autoimmune"! :)

Saw Dr. L yesterday. It was a good meeting, and interesting too.

He started by saying, "I'm not the same dr. I was 3 years ago, so my approach to your case will be a bit different from before." He noted that my primary concern is my eyes at this time. Most of my eye issues, except the scleritis and corneal melt have not been vision threatening. So, what he wants to do is treat my case like a new case. He wants to get very careful documentation of my eye flares and what controls them. He wants me to taper the prednisone slowly and if a  flare occurs with a non-vision threatening event, then try topicals besides steroid (which is what my topicals have been primarily), before going with the "mac truck" systemic prednisone, as he calls it.

His concern about infusions is that we've tried almost every type of immune cell suppression out there, and none reset my immune system. He's worried that without "new approach" data, he'd just be winging it as opposed to being methodical (a part of his methodology changes. that was influenced by my prior physician). So, infusions may occur, but not for 6 months or so if the data supports it. His hope is that we'll strike upon something that will control the eye topically and remove the steroid that way.

My opinion: Not sure this is going to work long-term, but I'm happy to try.. I agree to help him get his data in order to give him everything I can so he can work my case with confidence. I need to do this with Dr. L because if infusion is the end result, he'll need to be my referring physician for insurance purposes and it must be done at JHMI. It would be easier if I was local, but he thinks with coordination with my Seattle Dr's and possibly a recommended Optha from JH's Wilmer Clinic, we'll be able to get the data he wants and needs. It may make things rough going for the fall, but I guess the most important part is that I can get the coverage I need based on what happens.

Next step is to get a baseline eye exam.  Since all the Wilmer  Eye Clinic JHMI folk were not available this week, I emailed my former Optha, Dr. T and asked if she wanted me to head back to Baltimore to see her.  She emailed back saying if I could get into UW to see Sanjay, who I know from my time as her patient, she'd be more than fine with his info.  That's a good thing!  So, off I go to do that...need to get my baseline beore I can start my taper. 

It will be interesting to see if my raw food also helps the situation.  I know it won't be 100% clear because there are two changes occcuring at the same time, but if I can taper and keep flares under control, it would be an interesting combination.

On my raw quest today, I made a nice, spicy kale salad for my friends and they liked it.  I also made the chocolate mousse and key lime mouse for them.  That, too, was a hit.  The nut dip, not a hit!  haha. I didn't like it as much as the first time I made it, too.  I think I used pine nuts before, where tonight, I used sunflower seeds.  they were too strong a taste. 

Onward and upward!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Discombobulated Days!

Nothin' like a red-eye to mess up you're system!  But, I'm here in Washington, DC for a very important purpose.  I'm going to see my former Rheumatologist at Johns Hopkins to set up a treatment plan for the next 6 months or so.  It's a very pivotal point because it could mean I have to return to the DC area temporarily or permanently depending on how it goes.  There are goods and not so goods about both, but I'm rolling with whatever needs to happen if it helps my health.

My little sister and kidlets left earlier on Sunday than my red-eye, but as far as food goes, I flopped from the frying pan to the fire when it comes to challenges.  I'm staying at a dear friend's house and she's more than accomodating.  She and her husband were driving back from a family party, so i came into a house all stocked with foods I need and a blender on the counter!  WHOO-HOO!  I've got the best friends in the world :). 

I've made up some food already, so I'm ready to go!  We went out to Korean tonight and I had bibimbop, which is semi-raw.  Avoided the rice and miso, so I think I did much better than I might have done.  We'll be doin' Korean again on Thursday (she is Korean by you may guess) and whenever we see our group of friend's, it's always around the grilling table at a Korean restaurant based on our demands. She does the ordering and we eat quite well!  There is a cold noodle dish I might have.  It's semi-raw also, the noodles are buckwheat and cooked, but served in a cold broth with lightly blanched veggies.  Better than many choices. 

Tuesday night, I'll be having dinner with another friend who specifically looked up a raw menu for us to meet Raw needs.  How sweet is that??  I'm making the every popular chocolate mousse for her as a thank you.  She's very dairy intolerant and this may change her world!  :) 

After several days of hard raw focus, my glucose is easing back down to under 125.  I don't think it will stay there as I make some cooked food choices, but I'll do the best I can.  I have to do it or it's back on the meds.

We're coming up on the one month summary!!  Can't wait to review the data and get it all in order.

Stay tuned....

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Iron tablets, UGH!

Before starting the Great Food Health Experiment, I was diagnosed with Anemia.  It was one of the "slippery slope" diagnosis that helped me realize I had to keep trying new things to heal myself.  Since last June, when I was first diagnosed anemic, I've managed to get the general anemia under control but my iron stores are continually low.  This means....iron tablets.  UGH!  Nothing gives me a sour, painful stomach faster than iron.  I've been able to take prednisone at high doses for years without this type of trouble, but he minute I pop the ol' iron pill...ouch.

The only thing that seems to help is putting something soothing in the tummy with the pill.  Sadly, there are not many super-soothers in the raw world that I know of yet.  What I used to eat was fiber cereal because it was filling, had fiber I needed and seemed to calm the discomfort.  As a processed, baked, wheat-based gluten item, it is no longer a possibility.  Many of the toasted cereals in the raw world are from gluten-based berries.  I don't know yet if I have a gluten problem, but I do know that wheat = carbs = glucose impacts.  So, I'll have to decide what to do when July testing of foods begins again.

With all the cooked food eating I've been doing in the last week's dinners, getting my glucose back under control has been quite the challenge.  My readings have been very high and still worries me.  I haven't hit the threshold set by my Dr., but I'm getting close.  I've had 2 days of very raw (90%+) and I'm still getting higher readings than I like.  The only other impact is the fruits and veggies I've selected:  green peas for soup, dates as sweet snack, and a cube or two of the forbidden mango that I was cutting up to put into the freezer.

This morning we have "Pancake Breakfast" scheduled and I made my raw pancakes last night.  Flipped them in the dehydrator before I sat at the computer and tested the outcome with a bit of the residual dough that stuck to the teflex sheet.  Might have ruined my glucose reading for this morning...sigh.

I guess I'm feeling the trials and tribulations more these days.  Not with the food, the prep or the lack of anything, but more with the nitty-gritty of trying to figure out what I can eat or can't eat or shouldn't eat in the raw world to keep my glucose under control.