February 1, 2010

Radventures Revisited

Tonight I re-read my post introducing the concept of Radventures and realized it has been eight months to the day since I wrote it. I haven’t talked about this very much in the time since, so I figure I’m overdue for an update!

It was really interesting to go back and read what was going through my head when I wrote that I was essentially becoming “raw-curious;” I’d been enjoying Gena’s blog for a few months and did a bunch of reading on the subject via other sources as well. For those of you who have found me in the meantime (welcome, by the way!) and have no idea what I mean by “Radventure,” here is an excerpt from the post in question:

…I've been giving a lot of thought to different dietary lifestyles lately, raw foodism in particular. …At the same time, I couldn't fathom how to reconcile that with my current lifestyle and preferences. Above all, I hate the thought of poisoning my body with what I choose to eat, or even the skin products I use. I only get one body and I'd better treat it right so that it doesn't crap out early!

I think it's safe to start with this notable quotable from Michael Pollan, which I'm sure you have come across before: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

That said, no one's diet is perfect, and yes, food is nutrition and fuel, but it is also a cultural source of enjoyment. Ultimately, my way of eating has to keep me both healthy and happy, so in the spirit of adventure, I've decided to embark on what I'll call Radventures. The R stands for raw, because that is the eating style that is currently most foreign to me and therefore peaking my interest, but whatever it is I try doesn't have to be raw to qualify as a Radventure. Anything I can do to clean up my eating habits, no matter how miniscule, is rad, after all. 

And clean up I did! I systematically purged my kitchen cabinets and fridge of foods and products that didn’t meet with my new (and VERY high) standards. Not wanting to waste food, I just ate away at it, replacing each lesser food with a greater one as I went. Naturally, processed foods were out, as were frozen meals (even frozen vegetables), things with added sugar or salt and even canned goods.

I shopped first and foremost at the farmer’s market, going to Whole Foods or health food stores only for things that couldn’t be bought directly from Old MacDonald himself (most of which was organic, too). Whenever I tried a new recipe, I would adapt it so that it met with my clean eating ideals: if I was cooking with high heat, I used coconut oil instead of olive (which was expensive, high quality cold-pressed and reserved for raw dishes only); if the recipe called for canned tomatoes or beans, I bought fresh tomatoes and/or boiled my own beans.

And then, all of a sudden, it wasn’t summer anymore. The farmer’s market dwindled to the point where my options consisted of apples, jam and cheese. Furthermore, the colder it got, the less I wanted to be out there digging through what was available to me! Combined with testing for the Happy Herbivore cookbook (wherein I need to follow Lindsay’s still-very-healthy vegan recipes exactly, of course), I was forced to relax my over-zealous clean eating ambitions.

That said, even with my current “relaxed” approach to diet and overall health, a lot of my Radventure of a makeover has stuck.

See, even when I wrote that initial post, I knew myself well enough to realize I couldn’t make it an overnight thing, nor could I hold myself to it in an all-or-nothing way. That is where I have been most successful.

Then: On the flip side of this quasi-project, if I find that I'm using the Radventures to a control-freaky or restrictive end, a rethink is in order, because this isn't what raw eating is about. If it's going to make me depressed to think of life without pizza and ice cream, heretofore some of my favorite things, then pizza and ice cream I shall have. Ideally, the more Radventures I embark upon, the less I will want that pizza and ice cream. For now, however, it's baby steps. Toes in the water, not cannonballs… Best case scenario, I'll enjoy the changes I feel in my body so much that I want to build upon them and I will cast nary a glance backward at my old ways.

Now: I can’t say that I feel so very different now as compared to eight months ago, but I am definitely more in tune with how certain foods affect me. I’m not lactose-intolerant, but yeah, cow dairy gives me gas sometimes. Large doses of processed soy sit my stomach forever, whereas bananas are but a distant memory a mere 30 minutes after consumption.

My biggest habit change was to eat raw until lunch, a pattern I have maintained five days a week ever since. On the weekends, when I have time to get fancy, I’ll have oats or pancakes or similar, but during the work week, it’s green juice and fruit until lunch, along with a weak coffee doctored with hemp milk and stevia (as opposed to my former skim milk and Sweet ‘n’ Low coffee cocktail), just for sanity’s sake. Actually, just in the last week, I have replaced half of breakfast’s fruit with a small salad of mixed greens and dulse, plus a cup of miso broth. I’m loving the change and so is my body. I don’t tend to eat much fermented food otherwise, and I think my, ahem, system is appreciating its effects. The toilet, on the other hand, is likely getting tired of my fairly frequent visits.

Do I still enjoy the aforementioned pizza and ice cream? Yes. And regularly. Do I depend on a meal like that to make me feel like I’m having something truly fun to eat?

Not anymore.

The foods I look forward to are no longer mutually exclusive of the foods that look forward to me. It’s not a black and white situation; it’s more like a Venn diagram wherein the overlapped center consists of foods I love and are good for me.

I’m still taking those baby steps—there are still plenty of days where I’m eating from outside the diagram’s center—but man, do those baby steps add up. It’s true: if you keep putting one food foot in front of the other, it may not seem like you’re getting anywhere, but before you know it you look back and you’ve walked a mile.

Most importantly, I’ve learned what works for me (not anyone else, excellent example though s/he may be), and that’s a pretty rad venture.

If you’re still with me after all this ruminating on healthy choices, you’re a major trooper (but thank you, I appreciate it). I could go on and on, but I think I’ll put a cork in it and turn it over to you now.

How do you feel about “clean eating?” Or rather, what does it mean to you, if anything? How do you reconcile what your body needs vs. what you “want” but is “unhealthy”?

--> SUB-QUESTION FOR BLOGGERS: Has food/health blog-reading affected how you think about your own choices, for better or worse? Care to share any interesting revelations regarding your own choices/habits?


Anonymous said...

Great post, Diana. I like how you've gone back and revised statements you made before. I think in time I'll be doing something very similar. Somehow I thought I'd been eating vegan for a whole month, but looking at an actual calendar with numbers, not my made up mind calendar, it's more like 17 days. I love it, I feel better, and I'm happier with my decisions. But I am really careful not to say, "I'll never eat another animal product again," because I know it's not sustainable. Just because I've fallen into a parallel universe where I'm not craving cheese, french fries, and pizza, doesn't mean the earth won't right itself and one morning I'll wake up jonesing for something cheesy and fried -- and that's okay! Like Gena says on her blog (I'm paraphrasing horribly) even adding ONE raw meal to your daily roster will give you great results. It doesn't have to be an all or nothing.

It's difficult because when you get passionate about something and you believe it, you want to just go at it all crazy with your blinders on, but life just isn't black and white like that. I like your approach and your honesty. It's helpful to hear, because I'm going through something similar and look forward to going through even more of it in the days to come! (sorry for the novel!)

sophia said...

Interesting post, Diana.
For me, I am wary of such restrictive diets. I am wary of declaring any one food as "forbidden", or even any food as "healthy". Every one is different, and every body works in rather different ways, and I can't say I will feel my best in such a restrictive diet: vegan, vegetarian, macrobiotic, or raw, etc. The reason isn't physical, but mental. I used to be severely orthorexic to the point that food was binding me. And even now, I'm still learning to let go of alot of obsessive thoughts, and to accept ALL food as just fuel, not some kind of superfood that I MUST have (or I must NOT have). It forces me to get mentally unhealthy, which really means that no matter how "healthy" I am physically and nutritionally, I'll still be inhibiting my own life and happiness.

I'm interested to hear others' discussion though!

Christine said...

Great post and it's great that you can reflect back on older posts, something I'm looking forward to as I log more of my journey. Switching to clean eating has been an overall positive thing for me, even when I'm not raw, I still use whole foods and nothing processed or canned - the Vita-Mix has been a blessing in that area, allowing me to thicken sauces with fresh carrots and zucchini instead of cornstarch, etc. High raw/clean eating has done wonders for weight management and my energy levels.

Though it has been a struggle to not be obsessive, sometimes too much knowledge is tough when eating out or visiting relatives void of anything fresh in their kitchen and I'm still trying to find a balance of clean eating, but still being able to fully enjoy time spent with friends and family and not worry about the not-so-clean menu.

Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) said...

High Raw All Vegan Chose Me, I did Not Choose It. Same with GF and Soyfree/light. I have food allergies, some very serious, some nuisance. It all effects my body, mood, mind, which effects my spirit, my personality, how joyous I am or not, it's all connected. Could I eat gluten? Yes. Will I feel horrible for 48 hrs with lingering nasty effects for 2 weeks. Yes. So why bother. That's where I'm at with it all. All my choices are based on trial and error. And trust me, I wish I could do more soy, it would make life easier b/c soy is in everything. But really, it just reinforces M. Pollan and I watched the Oprah show w/ him (1st time i taped oprah since high school!) but people dont know how to cook or even grocery shop in this country. At least food allergies have shown me a whole world i never would have known or known much less intimately. But now the world knows i love raw balls. Chocolate ones :)

Anonymous said...

love michael pollan's quote, i esp love the fact that it doesn't contain RULES, it's just guidelines. "raw curious" <--- such a great description lol!

Anonymous said...

love michael pollan's quote, i esp love the fact that it doesn't contain RULES, it's just guidelines. "raw curious" <--- such a great description lol!

Anonymous said...

So fun to read your reflections!!

The blog world has taught me so much, and helped me to try so many new foods and ways of eating!! I tried eating mostly raw, but it wasn't for me! It was a neat learning experience though for sure, and I definitely took something away from it!

Thanks so much for sharing!! And i wish so much you could come and share my India adventure!! it would be so much fun to have another food blogger with me! esp. one that has been before!!! i am being spoiled right now by clean cities and nice hotels! apparently a lot may change in the next couple of weeks!!

happy tuesday!!

Simply Life said...

Looks like you've made a lot of great, healthy changes!

Sophie @ yumventures said...

This is a great post, and I'm with you girl! My boyfriends mom turned me on to raw food...she has been doing it for a while, and sent us a bunch of raw cook books. I was skeptical for a while, but after doing some reading and following some raw blogs, I thought it sounded interesting! However, living with my boyfriend I didn't feel like it would be possible to eat raw (or even vegetarian) dinners most of the time, so opted "raw until dinner", the same as you! I did REALLY notice a difference, I had so much more energy! I have been slacking on that the past few weeks, but you have re-motivated me to hop on the raw train! I have some left over pad thai for lunch today but after that I'm going to get back on track =) Thanks for the pep talk!

Nutririous Foodie said...

I can so relate to this post as I went through the same process. Last year I started reading books by Natalia Rose and really enjoyed them.. She is a also a Raw Nutritiounist in NY. The first thing I did was go through my fridge and cabinets and fridge and get rid of all things that did not fit in with my new food rules... and like you I only eat raw till lunch.. or most times till dinner and have my first cooked meal in the evening for dinner. I have to say.. I am loving it and I think it is a great concept...

I have also been enjoying Gena's blog as I find it her posts very informative :)

Gabriela said...

Such a great post! You're a very articulate writer. You've perfectly put into words how I feel about my diet, and about "clean" eating in general. Over the summer, I went completely vegetarian (I'd never much liked meat, but Food, Inc. was more than enough to put me off it forever), and cleaned up my diet in general. Over the past few months, I've experimented with various foods and, as you said, become more familiar with the effects certain foods have on my body. I love yogurt, but I realized that it was the cause of the lower belly bloat I'd always had and loathed. So, I avoid it most of the time, but give in when I'm craving it. There's no reason not to eat pure foods as often as possible, since they're obviously the best things for you, but at the same time, there's no reason not to indulge, either.

Blogging has definitely made me more accountable for what I eat. I think more about everything that goes into my mouth, which is usually a good thing but sometimes annoying. When I want a third cookie just because it's there, I reconsider, but sometimes when I want to eat absolute crap, I worry about how that looks. It's ridiculous, because food should be fun, but I think on a subconscious level we all feel that way. Even in the everyday world, our food choices reflect somewhat on who we are, so to be defined by them in a community such as this can be a little demanding at times. I guess it's important to realize that we're all only human, and life is meant to be enjoyed!

Mo Diva said...

This was so informative! I have the clean eating cook book and I have used several recipes.
I really enjoy the recipes but financially my bank account couldnt afford the pantry makeover. But I make it count when i can.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

This is a great post. It definitely takes time to develop new habits and have them stick, But I think you have a very healthy approach and way at looking at things. For me I tend to get obsessive about things, so I have to be careful not to get into such a restrictive way of eating. Like my grandmother always said - everything in moderation.

Marina said...

I used to basically just eat to survive or only eat things I deemed "healthy." So for me, in order to recover from that sort of mentality it meant for me to start eating what I actually "wanted" instead. So I really try to eat whatever I want now with some healthy stuff added in. I really enjoy being a vegetarian and feel like I'm making no sacrifice at all. I like eating vegan when I can too. But raw food is my limit. I just can't go raw...

Anonymous said...

Great retrospective! Glad you do what works for you. I try to do the same. I know that for me, foods -- all of them, including meat and dairy -- work int heir most natural states, i.e., whole. I have always eaten pretty well, but have been much cleaner in the last year than ever before. If I do buy a processed product, like cookies or crackers, I try to get one with few and recognizable ingredients. Kashi typically serves me well in this regard. I know a lot of bloggers are vegan/vegetarian, and I totally respect this and love hearing about their adventures, but I know that this will probably never work for me (I'm insulin resistant, and need lots of protein, and meat/dairy don't give me digestive trouble). As a blogger, I don't feel pressure really; I tend to use other people's posts as inspiration. For example, I had never tried sweet potatoes or oats with peanut butter before, and know they're practically staples for me.
Have a great Wednesday Diana!

thedelishdish said...

what a great post!! i agree that its important to make sure we eat as cleanly as possible, but its ok to treat ourselves and enjoy favorite foods when we feel like it. ive also noticed that the cleaner i eat the less i crave unhealthy foods and the more im repulsed by highly processed foods too, and tend to enjoy my treats to a greater degree since i dont just scarf them down!

Shannon said...

what a great post! very thought provoking. i've avoided labels, and often comments about organic, etc on my blog, b/c i think it's a very personal choice. but sometimes i think i should say something, after all i had to learn about it myself and value other opinions (but i take it as that--opinions not a fact!). i really love how you've been incorporating more raw eats with those you love. i'm trying to phase out my old kitchen, but man am i stocked ;)

Gena said...

Awesome post to find waiting for me as I catch up! I'm so happy my blog influenced you in a healthy way, but more happy that you simply fell into a clean, healthy, and wholesome routine that you love. Over our conversations this year, it's been clear that, while you used to find yourself influenced by what you read, you're working your way toward a Diana lifestyle that's 100% your own and suited to your needs. That's what we all want.

Congrats :)

LC @ Let Them Eat Lentils said...

Really interesting post. Thanks so much for the thoughtful comments on how this new way of eating is working for you. I had the same problem once it wasn't summer anymore and I could just pop over to the farmer's market every week for gorgeous raw veggies!

Nora@LiveLifeEatRight said...

I love breakfast because it is the one meal that I feel like I can get away with having anything and everything sweet! I would definitely eat the cereal sorbet as a morning treat! Why not...perfect start to the day!