It was 2009 and I had just graduated from Chiropractic College. My husband and I were relocating from Perth, Western Australia to the Sunshine Coast, about 2,750 miles away. We packed up everything we owned in Ruby, our reliable maroon Subaru Forester, and headed off across the Nullarbor Plains. If any of you have driven across Australia, you are well aware of just how much of “nothing” there is out there! We eagerly awaited the next stop at each hole along the longest golf course in the world, often teeing off of the sandy Australian soil, watching the little white ball disappear into a field of sagebrush.
We lived on Coffee Chills, peanut butter, banana, and mountain bread (an Australian brand of thin, square, tortilla-like bread). By many standards we were not deemed “unhealthy”, but when you consider the broad spectrum of true health and what we have experienced since then, we certainly were not the poster couple who radiated energy and vitality.
We had been doing a lot of researching and experimenting with dietary changes and our plan was to begin 6 months of a strict Raw-Food vegan diet as soon as we got settled in our new location north of Brisbane. We thought that this might be the answer to all of our health problems, namely a severe lack of energy. We certainly didn’t think that it could have the opposite effect…
Since I was starting a new job at a fantastic family wellness Chiropractic Clinic, my husband spent his days preparing our Raw Food meals. In essence, he was our Raw Food Chef. Over the course of the next six months, we ate no cooked food whatsoever, no dairy, no meat (with the exception of some raw kangaroo meat that I tried once, just to see what the result was!), no eggs—just vegetables, fruit, some sprouted grains such as buckwheat, and sprouted beans (yuck!).
The results were eye opening. Of course, there were the initial couple of weeks of detoxification from our previous consumption, or overconsumption of said foods. For the most part, the food was absolutely delicious and I really didn’t miss anything (except coffee, but I eventually got over that). We made sprouted buckwheat “pizza” in the dehydrator, spiralized zucchini “pasta”, cauliflower and veggie “sushi”, and enjoyed plenty of delicious tropical Queensland fruit! My body felt and looked great in many ways—until it didn’t.
After a few months, I realized that I had lost all of my muscle mass along with the rest of the shed weight. As an avid exerciser of any and all forms, I found that my energy levels for any kind of physical activity were absolutely NOT THERE. It wasn’t just that I felt low energy during my normal workout; it was that I could not muster up enough energy to begin the activity in the first place. In fact, I remember vividly one morning my husband and I tried to play tennis and we could barely lift our rackets!!! We were sooooo exhausted!
I had also been having trouble sleeping through the night, so my body was not replenishing its reserves and repairing itself as it should. The bottom line was that we were severely protein deficient, which was feeding our existing adrenal exhaustion!
When a determined individual has their heart set on something like a Raw Food Diet, however, they will look to blame everything else before the very thing that they have set out to do. Even two educated health professionals were blinded by determination, convincing theories, and suggestive science about why raw food is so good for you and so incredibly cleansing and healthy that we failed to see what was happening before our very eyes.
Throughout this experimental phase, however, we learned a lot about ourselves, our bodies, nutrition, and the overall spectrum of health. We slowly re-introduced quality protein and began nursing ourselves back to a place of strength. It was a phenomenal reminder that, in health or any aspect of life, there lies a spectrum for a reason. One diet, one type of food, one paradigm--one of anything is not necessarily right for everyone or even one individual!
I believe that certain aspects of a Raw Food or even a Vegan diet are extremely beneficial and some people can thrive solely off of foods in this category. However, it is so important to take into consideration the unique body chemistry and makeup of your body should you decide to adopt any particular diet or lifestyle. Keep an open mind to the changes that may occur and give yourself the grace of flexibility if things don’t turn out as you’d hoped or expected.
*Incorporating Raw Foods into your dietary lifestyle is a wonderful way to increase vegetable consumption, reduce inflammation, lose weight (for some people), and improve many aspects of overall health. This author believes that a strict Raw Food Vegan-only diet is not necessarily a source of balanced nutrition.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Jennifer Morrow is a Chiropractor and Massage Therapist with a background in Kinesiology and rehabilitation. She is owner of Gorge Chiropractic at TrueMed Institute in Hood River, OR. You can connect with her on Facebook and Google+.