Most people are quite happy to lose weight on a raw food diet, but for some people it goes too far and they just get skinnier and skinnier.
I was one of those people. When I began eating a raw food diet back in 2003, I was already at a healthy weight. I was doing it for health reasons rather than weight-loss, but as I continued to eat a raw food diet the pounds kept falling off and I soon became quite concerned that I wouldn’t be able to maintain a healthy weight.
It was a difficult and confusing situation, because although my health was improving in every way and I felt amazing eating raw food, I started to look pretty skinny and unhealthy by most people’s standards.
I was working away during the time I began eating raw, and when I returned home friends and family who saw me for the first time were genuinely shocked and concerned by the change in my appearance. I look back at pictures from that time and I don’t blame them – at one point my weight dropped to 80 lbs (I’m 5’ 1”). I looked anorexic, my periods stopped, and I was so small I had to start buying children’s clothes. It was like everything was being stripped away from me and I was getting scared it would never stop and I’d just fade away…
I remember having to go for a medical for work, and being worried that I wouldn’t pass due to my weight. I went along with pockets full of change to sneak in a few extra pounds! Luckily I passed – in fact he told me I was in excellent health, ironically!
I would look at myself in the mirror and burst out crying in frustration at it all. Here I was, feeling the best I’d ever felt in my life, with so much energy, but looking like a skeleton! I knew I didn’t want to go back to my ‘old’ style of eating because I’d healed so many health issues and I didn’t want them to come back.
If you are in this position now (or you know somebody who is), the good news is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel! I eventually managed to gain the weight back and am now at what I feel is an ideal weight for me.
Here are five strategies I implemented to gain my weight back:
1: I got help
I contacted a nutritionist who specialised in raw foods, and together we decided on some changes I should make to my diet and lifestyle. She operated from a Natural Hygiene perspective, and recommended I eat more fruit (especially high-energy foods like bananas) and less fat.
For example, I had been in the habit of drinking a green juice then going for a run every morning. She suggested I should ease back on the cardio, adopt a more gentle exercise routine, and swap my green juice for something with more calorific value.
2: I simplified my diet
Taking heed of my nutritionist’s advice, I began to eat much simpler food combinations. Instead of preparing complicated dishes (especially high-fat ‘gourmet’style ones), I would choose 2 or 3 ingredients and make a meal from them.
For instance, one simple (and tasty!) recipe that she recommended was: 5 bananas and 5 sticks of celery, blended (without water). It could have been larger (eg 10 bananas and 10 sticks of celery), but 5 was the most I could fit in 😉 This was my breakfast on many days.
I learned about food combining and how to make it easy for the body to digest and assimilate foods. It made sense to me that if I was going to put on weight, I needed to help my body efficiently digest and assimilate the nutrients from the food I was eating. And one of the best ways to do that is to combine foods wisely; keeping fruits and fats separate, and eating lots of mono meals (one type of food at a time).
3: I began sun-gazing
I learned about sun-gazing and realised that food is not the only way the body gains energy. I went through this process over a period of several months and witnessed dramatic changes in my mind and body. (If you are interested in sungazing, please be careful and follow the correct protocol, to protect your eyesight).
4: I used the power of my mind
I came across a book called ‘Science and Health’ by Mary Baker-Eddy. Quite a peculiar old book; it was written in a very old-fashioned biblical style; but it taught me so much about the power of positive thoughts. I had been into the power of positive thinking / law of attraction / manifestation for many years already, but this gave me an additional perspective and was hugely inspirational.
Funnily enough, the book continually stressed how diet is not instrumental in ones’ health – but that didn’t sway me away from the rawfood diet (also, bearing in mind this book was written in the 1800s, when food was a different ballgame altogether – not like a lot of today’s chemically laden fare!).
I did however gain great inspiration from the overall message of the book, that your mind is capable of great things and can influence your body in many ways – something I now witness on a daily basis as a clinical hypnotherapist.
5: I gave it TIME
Like they say, time heals all, and when the time was right I gradually began to gain back my weight (and by the way my periods also returned, good as new, minus PMT and any pain, and regular as clockwork!).
What would I do differently if I could go back in time?
If I could go back to the first day I went raw and give myself some advice, I would tell myself to take everything much more slowly, and ease myself into my new way of eating. I really feel that any changes we make to our diet should be made gradually, so the microbiome has time to acclimatise to the different foods it is processing.
Of course, I’m not sure whether I would have taken that advice, even if I’d been given it! I was so eager to jump head-first onto the raw bandwagon that I probably wouldn’t have listened to anyone who told me to do otherwise.
But there was certainly a lot of learning in that experience, and I’m glad to be able to share it now, from an older and wiser perspective.