Friday, December 17, 2010

[Blog] Three Months & Two Weeks Raw

Raederle enjoying some greens in November 2010 in her kitchen, photographed by her husband Jay Paul Jacot.
Anyone care to comment on my choice of clothing...?

Six Benefits
Of Going Raw

Some Entirely Unexpected
My Personal Experience From 15 Weeks On Raw Foods

It has been three months and two weeks since I embarked on the journey of transferring to a wholly raw diet. There have been benefits, which was to be expected, but some have been unsought and curious in their arrival.

  • 1. Soreness & Stiffness Vanished

The benefit that showed itself the most prominently and immediately was the elimination of soreness. I used to wake daily with neck pains and a sore back. Almost immediately after the switch to a raw diet I began to wake completely free of stiffness and soreness regardless of activity or lack thereof the day before.

  • 2. Recovery Time Shortened To 10% Of Former Time

The second benefit that showed itself to advantage within the first couple of weeks is the quick recovery time. Where it used to take days to stop feeling sore or tired from hard activity, now it takes mere hours, or a little extra sleep. Where thirty minutes of walking used to call for an hour of rest, now I find that I can walk for twice as long and continue to be on my feet.

I want to make it clear that I have always been lacking in energy and muscle tone, my entire life. I have more energy now than I did as a toddler. I have always been so lacking in energy that I have never developed the muscle mass required for any real sport or heavy activity. To suddenly jump from an hour session of yoga leaving me sore all week, to being able to do an hour session of yoga on a daily basis is not a coincidence or a gradual build up. It was directly coinciding with the switch to raw foods, and incredibly unmistakable.

Last December I was working on a regime of doing push-ups in order to build up muscle in my arms. I was diligently following the 100-push-up-plan and seeing some result. I was doing the push-ups from my knees, but I found myself plateauing and unable to continue the plan at the suggested rate when I reached week five of the program in December of 2009.

The program suggested repeating a week if you could not progress smoothly to the next one. I repeated week five three times, without finding that I could go beyond it, and lost interest. I was tired of my arms always being sore and to so little perceivable benefit.

On September 3rd, 2010 I transferred to a wholly raw diet, unless you count cooked tea (which some people do), which I have a about six cups of a week. (Green tea generally, I have forgone black tea in the past couple months.) I expected more energy, but the ability to continue to gain muscle each time I work out, with less and less recovery time required, and more and more result without plateauing, I hadn't imagined.

[If you wish to see what a "wholly raw diet" looks like, I invite you to visit my Raw Food Log which contains logs of what I eat as well as extensive photography of my meals.]

  • 3. Constant, Unrelenting Energy

Energy was something I did expect, but I didn't quite comprehend how different it would be to have so much energy. It is not the same as a sugar-rush when you are bouncing off the walls with useless hyperactivity that soon degrades into melancholy at best, a migraine at worst. It is not the same as a burst of energy that comes from the happiness of a gift, or a unexpected visit from a loved one.

This type of energy is constant. It doesn't ebb away on you all of the sudden. It doesn't rush up and flood you and make you feel like you're going to burst. Instead, there is just the constant feeling that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.

There is energy to do a work-out, walk to the grocery store, carry the groceries home, put them away, wash fruits and vegetables, chop them up and make a gorgeous salad and/or smoothie, eat and enjoy them, clean up and then do another work-out before checking your facebook or retiring with a book. This is monumental when before there was barely energy to make the meal, much less walk to the store to fetch it and add in work-outs at any given opportunity.

And if, by chance, that energy seems to fade, it is so easily recaptured by throwing vegetables in the blender with lots of water and then drinking them. (Incidentally, I have found a way to make green drinks more palatable by half. Adding cranberries seems to take the edge off, for one, adding more water helps tremendously, for two, and for three, straining out the pulp and then using the said pulp to make crackers in the dehydrator also helps a bunch.)

  • 4. Mood Boost

I have always known that my mood was affected by what I ate. I didn't know it quite so well as I know now, however. Certain nutrients, such as Omegas and B-Vitamins are very vital to how your brain is functioning and how you are feeling. Other factors, such as toxins and parasites can also affect how you feel.

One particular girl in my eighth grade class made this apparent to me. She was a sugar-addict. And I do mean addict. She was hyper-crazy one moment, and tired and complaining the next. She ate candy through every single class of the day. She was often seen in front of the vending machine to get another pack of starburst candies or skittles or twix, or whatever. She drank soda constantly as well.

I remember her because she took an interest in me. One minute she was pretending to be my friend, trying to get a dollar out of me so that she could buy some candy, and the next minute she was professing how ugly I was, how stupid I was, and how she was so, so, so much better than I. I was, of course, insulted, but I also was very timid at that point in my life and didn't want to fight, and so I answered anything she said quite meekly or not at all.

She became of interest to me. I started to watch her patterns. She drank a soda and ate her stores of candy throughout the beginning of the day, and she was happy, hyper and smiling. Then, shortly after she ran out she became vicious, angry at everyone, and continually had her hand on her head declaiming that she had a headache and ought to be excused from class. This pattern repeated almost every single day, every single class. When she came to school without her candy or soda, she complained from the start, but didn't have the headache.

And so, I've known all along there was a connection, but the connection is so very deep and complex and different from person to person that it can not be so easily capsulized. Especially because some foods lift your mood just because of an emotional response that is barely connected to the chemical reactions of the food itself within your body.

However, all of that said, I've found a combination of raw-vegan foods that contain some omega and b-vitamins, potassium and other important things that really, really does a number on my mood. While my entire mood has been improved since going raw to a degree I had not foreseen, I still have normal slumps whenever something unpleasant occurs or whenever I eat the same thing too much and let myself get out of balance.

My cure: A banana smoothie with these very particular ingredients: Two bananas, a dram of coconut juice, a little water, around a quarter cup of raw cocoa nibs, around a quarter cup of ground flax (or whole flax seeds), a few fresh berries (generally blueberries) and sometimes a little bit of a kale leaf. Sometimes I make these same ingredients into pudding or crackers. It depends on how wet you make it as to whether or not it is a smoothie or a pudding or crackers. (Turning it into a cracker requires drying it, and I do not find that the crackers lift my mood in the same way, although they taste great.)

  • 5. Expanding The Horizons Of Tastebuds

I've always been a very, very picky eater. I didn't like any meat with my cheese or any cheese with my meat, at all. I rarely liked home made cheesy pasta dishes. I didn't like broccoli plain and raw, nor did I like it steamed, but if it were cooked for an hour and then slathered with butter I would eat it. I would not eat canned corn, but liked it on the cob with butter and salt. I would not eat meat raviolis, but liked ravioli stuffed with cheese. I didn't like sandwich meats, but I did like bacon, lettuce and tomato with miracle whip atop wheat bread. I didn't like scrambled eggs, but I would eat them sunny-side up with a side of buttered toast. And never, ever did I want a salad, unless of course it was a fruit salad.

How did I manage to go raw with such picky tastes that didn't even include much of any vegetables at all?

If you've read my story then you understand that my diet began to change long before I discovered raw-foodism out of necessity. My entire diet was making me ill, and so I sought relief from the multitudes of things that were wrong with me.

Yet every change I made before I discovered raw-foodism was a struggle. I was always giving up something. It was one sacrifice after another without anything to replace the eliminations with. I knew I had to give up sugars, and so I tried to fill in the gap with fruits. I knew I had to give up pasta, so I tried to fill it in with brown rice. I knew bread had to go, so I tried to substitute with corn chips. I ate more rice and chips as a result of not eating meat. Salads barely crept into my diet, but it was still with resentment. Before I discovered raw-foodism, I was at a loss. I felt miserable about my options and I felt deprived.

Then I went to a raw food potluck for the first time in the spring of 2009. To my astonishment, I liked almost everything that was served. This, from a very, very picky eater, was baffling. I was used to liking one or two dishes out of twenty, so to be presented with twenty-five different entirely new foods and to like around fifteen of them was a completely new experience.

I've found this to be true at every raw potluck I've been to. I like nearly everything on the table, all except for one or two dishes, instead of barely liking one or two, as was my previous experience with family gatherings and parties. How could this be? What was the difference?

People who become raw-foodists are not just ordinary people. They have generally been through a tough health struggle that led them to find answers. They are seeking something more from life, seeking more from their bodies. Suddenly bereft of the food they grew up they become very creative, inspired and driven in the task of inventing new dishes and discovering amazing things to do with food. The ultimate result is high-quality dishes bursting with creativity, inspiration, love, compassion, quality, flavor and nutrition.

When I make a dish for a raw potluck I'm looking to do several things: To impress. I love to show off what I can do, don't we all? To nourish. The whole point of this diet is to give the body what it really needs; you should feel good after you eat, not bad. To be creative. I want to do something new and different as often as possible, and express my creativity in the flavor and arrangement of whatever I bring.

I think that everyone must feel the same when they put together what they are bringing to a potluck. They all want to bring a flavorful, impressive, nourishing, creative and delightful dish. The result is that everyone experiences something new, everyone is left full, satisfied and deeply nourished, and everyone is in an excellent mood. It makes a great gathering that feels like family, even among strangers.

I wasn't looking to discover new foods and new ways of eating when I started trying to fix my health many years ago. I wasn't planning on it when I decided to go raw over three months ago now. And yet, since I started really exploring raw foods six or seven months ago, and especially since I've "gone raw" I've discovered countless new ways to prepare food, countless new edible fruits and vegetables, and countless combinations pleasing to the eye, mouth and belly.

  • 6. Beautified Experiences

I didn't expect this one, at all.

Fresh foods are colorful. Bright red (peppers, strawberries), blood red (beets, cheeries), pink (raspberries), blue (blueberries), orange (mangoes, carrots, kumquats), yellow (lemon, pineapple, bananas), dark green (chard, kale, spinach), medium green (lettuce), light green (celery, cucumber), etc.

Cooked foods are not. Most everything above will turn brown when cooked, excluding only a few, and the few that do not turn brown still lose some color except beets. Besides cooked foods, other things which are not healthy tend to come in shades of brown, white, and cream. White flour, white sugar and the various shades of breads, sugars, pastas, etc.

Fresh foods are naturally more beautiful. The way things are in nature is naturally more aesthetically appealing. To compound the phenomenon, I have been photographing much of what I eat which makes me very conscious of the aesthetics of the plate of food I am about to eat. Even when I'm not going to take a photo, I now automatically try to arrange each plate in a pleasing manner. It's become habit.

I wouldn't have ever thought about it previously, but now it occurs to me that it is much more pleasant to always be eating such a beautiful meal. It's very delightful for each and every plate to be a work of art. It's the same as feeling good because you are in a beautiful room or viewing at a lovely vista. It is soothing to the soul to see something of beauty, which is why we are forever seeking a mate who is not just kind, but also attractive in our eyes.

We crave beauty. I begin to believe that part of why the raw food diet leaves me so much more satisfied might very well have to do with the innate beauty of everything I am eating, and the art I create on each plate before I devour it.

While I am an artist, and thereby this may have more of an effect for me than for some, I do not believe this effect is lost on others. In general, people respond positively when presented with something beautiful, even if the dish is not all that good, even if it is not what they wanted. It takes a truly exceptionally well-flavored dish to overcome a poor presentation when it comes to presenting someone with something unfamiliar.

Luckily, when working with raw foods, it's quite easy to make a dish very appealing and beautiful, even if you are not an artist.

~ Raederle Phoenix An Lydell West Jacot

PS: I'm currently preparing for a major awesome event that I'm hosting with a yogi-friend of mine. It is taking place in San Fransisco on January 9th 2011. It will include a raw food banquet, a class on nutrition, practices to strengthen your internal organs, creative expression that is hands-on, as well as a chakra-based free-form interactive dance. For details, click here.


  1. I never had seen this blog...enjoyed reading it, love the outfit and I looked at the date so the San Francisco event has been held I assume and are you holding anymore? I was in SF at that time. I haven't read your bio yet and will and I also want to know how veganism has affected you since the inception in 2010? ~Connier

  2. Really appreciate reading this blog as I'm making a transition to raw food. Thank you!


What brings you here? What are you thoughts? Do you consider yourself a raw foodist? Approximately how much of your diet is raw? Do you consider yourself healthy? What would you like to see more of on this blog? Will you be back? Is this too many questions?