Raw Journey: Part 1

So there I was: 16, far from vibrantly healthy, and about to embark on the dietary quest of a lifetime.

In the beginning, I gleaned the bulk of my raw information from Doug Graham’s message board on Vegsource.com. I am a “lazy in the kitchen” type person, so the simplicity of the “811” eating style—lots of fruit, minimal fat, and no gourmet recipes or superfoods—seemed enormously appealing. I read briefly about other raw dietary approaches, but they all seem too complicated and supplement-heavy.

So, still living under my parents’ roof, I loaded up on fruit and started on my merry raw way. I was already accustomed to eating a large salad most nights for dinner and snacking on loads of fruit, so the transition was fairly painless—the toughest part was giving up salty, crunchy items like chips. Prior to going deliberately raw, I was probably averaging 60% raw per day, simply because I was allergic to nearly everything else.

About a week after eating 100% raw, I ate some rye bread with roasted almond butter for breakfast instead of my usual fruit. It sat in my stomach like a brick. The drop in energy was immediate and horrible. It was almost a full year before I touched any cooked food again.

Epic Failure #1: high-fruit undereating.

My first year as a fruity raw girl was a mixed bag. I’d managed to graduate high school two years early (more due to stubborn determination than to genius-ness), and thanks to a flexible college schedule, I could go home every day for lunch and avoid gobsmacked stares as I inhaled huge meals of fruit. I embraced mono meals, learned about food combining, and reveled in the explosive, mind-boggling energy I suddenly had. For the first time in life, I wanted to move and run and jump and exercise. I needed less sleep and bounced out of bed each morning, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. The depression I’d always ascribed to teenagehood was completely and utterly gone. Life was as sweet and juicy as my fruit.

There was just one problem. Even though I was eating even more calories raw than I had been on a cooked diet, I was shedding weight like crazy. Not in a good way. At one point, I got down to less than 95 pounds on a 5’5″ frame. I’m sure everyone thought I was anorexic. I wasn’t happy looking like Skeletor, but I felt so good that I didn’t care too much.

Slowly but surely, other unpleasantries started cropping up: hair loss, lightheadedness, insomnia, hoards of dental cavities and gum recession. I stopped feeling quite as energetic as I had in the beginning. I became incredibly spacey and absent-minded—I left my purse in classrooms on multiple occasions, I lost at least three different jackets on the bus, I misplaced my keys, and concentrating on schoolwork felt nearly impossible. Brain-fog mania!

After returning from a family vacation that year, my mom hauled me off to the doc.

I wound up with a naturopath who was more knowledgeable about nutrition than most physicians, but not too keen on raw—she was trained in Chinese Medicine, which is heavily pro-cooking. A blood test revealed a few deficiencies: B12, iron, and potassium—the latter of which made no sense at the time (hello, bananas!). The B12 levels were so low, in fact, that the doctor said I was probably facing neurological damage.

Indeed, I was not eating nearly enough, even though it seemed like so much. Confronted by worried family and persuaded by anti-fruit folks on other message boards, I ditched the high-fruit diet and looked elsewhere for answers.


  1. Hello,

    The information you’re giving seems so contradictious to what I’m living with 811 diet for almost 2 years and many others examples I met personally and read about.

    The weight loss and the mental problems really seems the most stranges “evidences” you gave. I’ve never lost a kilogram since the begginning of the diet and my mental activity is increasing fast (I work and study at university with computers so believe me mental pressure is high).

    This and many one other fast conclusions you got, fast switching between diets and probably immaturity led me strongly think of the possibility that you just one more well paid jornalist that writes to confuse people.

  2. Hi Denise,

    I have a few non-confrontation questions. During my transition to a more raw diet I came across some issues myself and have had blood tests done more out of curiosity than because of any health issues.

    I noticed a few things going raw – I needed more calories. I lost a ton of weight when I was just eating salads and minimal fruit. I went from 160 to 150 in a matter of months (without exercising). I’m 5’10/150 lbs and typically need around 2200-2500 calories on a daily basis with exercise. When I started consuming an adequate # of calories I felt fine. I’m curious if you were calorie counting at this point of your journey?

    Also, I take a b12 supplement as well. I was told that b12 can remain in the system for a while after stopping the consumption of animal products. How were your b12 levels just using supplements?

  3. Vitamin B12 is found on natural, fresh, raw fruit in the wild. I consider it therefore acceptable to take a supplement if you are unable to eat fresh fruit just picked.

    This is contrary to all my experiences also, and I’ve been eating this way for nearly over 5 years now. Any dental problems are due to malformed teeth, some aloe vera toothpaste and dental floss will allow you to eat ANYTHING, just like the other great apes in the wild do. Also, I find the title “epic failure” a bit offensive. If a person isn’t eating the way you consider best then you are free to disagree with them, but calling it an epic failure and sort of vaguely wishy-washy implying that this applies to the diet in general is acting a bit like fool Campbell et al.

      1. Exactly.

        At least denise has the balls to point out that she isn’t a genius, not like mister “Padraig Hogan” ignorance. Bacteria need amino acids and Vitamin B5 to produce Vitamin B12. Its impossible to find B12 on a leaf and the little quantities in dirt aren’t enough to fulfill the bodies needs. You all need to supplement; even those eating animal products.

  4. He said it’s possible, he didn’t say whether people should do it or not. What he said is entirely correct and not “hogwash”. And I love Denise but I know for a fact that a very high fruit diet is NOT an “epic failure”, it is 100% optimal and will be until GMOs ruin everything.

    1. You mean high fruit diet with Organic fruit. Conventional fruit is so high in organophosphates, aka pesticides, that ingesting large quantities leads to demyelinating disease, aka brain damage.

      What a messed up world. I wonder when the chickens will be liberated and placed on fruit orchards to eat the insects.

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