Epic Failure #2: high-fat, raw-dairy-crazed, low-glycemic madness.
I think the bitter warring has died down in recent years, but back in time (2003-ish), fruit versus fat was the most vicious raw debate around. You were either in the fruit camp or the fat camp (sometimes called the “green camp”), never in any sort of grey zone between. For the sugar-avoiders, fruit was a hybrid, unnatural dietary monster; for the fat-avoiders, oils and other raw lipids were the culprits behind candida, deficiency, and every other health woe imaginable.
I jumped the fruit ship and landed in a sea of coconut butter.
In my search for the “right” raw diet, I started reading up on low-sugar approaches to raw. “High greens” sounded more appealing than “high fat,” but I found it impossible to slay my hunger without resorting to more calorie-dense sources—either fruit or fat. I loaded up on avocados and raw almond butter and fresh coconut meat.
I wasn’t a big fan of oils, but after reading The Coconut Oil Miracle by Bruce Fife, I became convinced of the health-enhancing virtues of this delicious-smelling oil. It quickly became a staple in my diet. And by staple, I mean I was eating probably 8 – 10 tablespoons a day. No joke.
At some point during this phase, I started talking privately with a girl my age who had attempted a fruitarian diet, felt her health suffering, and adopted a diet espoused by the Weston A. Price Foundation. If you aren’t familiar with Weston A. Price, he was a dentist who traveled the world in the early 20th century, examining the health and dental development of “primitive” civilizations untouched by Western culture and diet. He found, unequivocally, that peoples eating traditional diets—whole, unprocessed foods, fermented products, raw animal foods, and specially-prepared grains—had beautiful and flawless facial development, whereas cultures infiltrated by processed and refined foods suffered from crowded dental arches and cavities. He published his findings in the book Nutrition and Physical Generation, which you can read online for free:
I think this is a wonderful book—especially the photos—that clearly shows how much a Western diet can degrade your health. However, the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) has taken the information in this book one step further, and uses Price’s work to validate a diet high in raw dairy, saturated fat, animal products, and other items considered “taboo” by mainstream nutrition. Although I now see many holes in the Foundation’s claims (along with some still-sparkling gems of wisdom), back then, I became thoroughly convinced that they were infallible.
Enter: raw dairy phase.
Having been a vegetarian since age 7, I wasn’t keen on going back to meat like the WAPF advised, but dairy was something I could do. After soaking up books and articles and websites delineating the benefits of raw—not pasteurized or homogenized—dairy, I started thinking my earlier reactions to milk products were due to eating cooked dairy. Perhaps I was just reacting to the altered proteins and denatured lactase enzymes in pasteurized milk. After all, if cooking plant matter creates undesirable compounds, wouldn’t heating dairy do the same?
The more I researched, the more I became convinced that raw goat dairy, in particular, was the best way to go. Due to its smaller-sized fat globules, goat dairy is tolerated by some people who react adversely to cow dairy. It has a slightly more similar structure to human milk.
I never cared for the taste of milk as a beverage, but I sure had loved cheese for most of my life. So I hopped over to the local health food store and bought a giant chunk of raw goat cheddar.
I took one bite and then inhaled half the block. Having been salt-free and low fat for some time, the rich flavor and saltiness was almost drug-like in its potency.
My taste buds were happy, but the rest of my body was not. I spent the night hacking and coughing and battling some gnarly post-nasal drip. Although the congestion wasn’t quite as bad as regular cow dairy used to give me, it was still there and it was still a nuisance.
Maybe most logical people would have decided, after that first day of unpleasantness, to nix the goat dairy. Not me. The mind is a powerful force, and I had thoroughly convinced myself—from the literature and anecdotes I had read—that raw dairy contained something magically healing, something vital, something necessary for health. For the next year or so, I consumed up to half my daily calories from raw goat dairy products such as cheese, unpasteurized yogurt, and a special fermented beverage called “probiogurt” I ordered bulk from a farm in Texas.