nutrition

I Made a Book

When I was little, I wanted to be a cat when I grew up. I used to meow in response to questions and decapitate Barbies so that I could bat around their heads with my paw-hands. When Cat stopped seeming like a viable career goal, I decided I wanted to be an author instead.* I could think of nothing more magical than making words happen. And if I was stuck with my opposable human thumbs, I might as well put them to use.

*This is actually kind of a lie. In preschool, I learned the words “author” and “pilot” around the same time. Neither one made much sense (does an author “auth”? Does a pilot “pile”? What kind of convoluted language is this?), and I spent a while confusing the two. The worst was when a local news channel came in to interview my preschool and ask all the students what they wanted to be when they grew up. I was going to say “cat,” but my mom told me she would give me all my Hanukkah presents early if I didn’t say “cat,” so I decided to say “pilot,” which I thought was the word for a person who writes books. People kept giving me toy airplanes after that, which I tried to flush down the toilet. I never got my early Hanukkah presents, and it was the last time my mother succeeded at gift-bribery (hi Mom I love you!).

Anyway, I thought I’d open with that anecdote to distract you from the fact that I haven’t updated this blog in seventeen months and I disappeared without warning and it was weird and horrible. I’m sorry. But let’s not think about it that way. The real issue here is that I was a really messed up kid, and there’s nothing to be done about it now.

That said, I have some news! The reason I dropped off the face of the earth was this:

dbfp_cover

This is a book. Some of you know about it; some of you don’t. I started writing it in March of 2011. I thought I’d be done by September of that year. To which my now-older-and-wiser self responds, (more…)

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A Closer Look at the China Study: Meat and Disease

As promised, it’s time to unveil all this China Study business. Grab a raw, nonalcoholic drink and make yourself comfy!

Let me start by saying that this isn’t an attempt at “debunking” the China Study or discrediting T. Colin Campbell. Quite the contrary. “The China Study” book is excellent in many ways, if only to underscore the role of nutrition in health. If I ever met Mr. Campbell in person, I’d give him a jubilant high-five and thank him for fightin’ the good fight—for exposing the reality of Big Pharma, for emphasizing the lack of nutritional education most doctors receive, for censuring the use of scientific reductionism, for underlining the importance of diet in disease prevention. Campbell and I are on the same page in many ways. His scroll of accomplishments is impressive and I sincerely believe his heart is in the right place, even if I don’t agree with all of his conclusions. (more…)

Cleansing vs. Building: Can Detox Go Too Far?

Rub-a-dub dub, raw food in a tub.

Pop quiz time.

Say we’ve got a 2-year raw foodist—we’ll call her Betty Lou. Lately, Betty Lou hasn’t been feeling like her usual vivacious self. She’s always tired and fatigued, and even when she musters up the energy to exercise, she can’t seem to build or keep her muscle tone. Her husband Billy Bob keeps pointing out the dark crescent-moon circles under her eyes and complaining that she’s too bony to cuddle with. Poor Betty Lou! She decides she must be going through a deeper phase of detox, and decides to speed up the process by going on a two-week water fast.

What’s wrong with this scenario? (more…)

What is the “Optimal” Diet for Humans? (Part 1)

Does this fella offer us nutritional clues?

Part of what first led me to raw foods was a curiosity about our “optimal diet.” It seemed like such a simple concept: a combination of foods that our bodies are best adapted to, that we could easily discern by looking at our anatomy, that evolutionary history supported, and that would lead to the best health possible. It shouldn’t be rocket science, right?

Unfortunately, it kind of is. (more…)

The Great Protein Debate (Part 2)

Ah'll be bahck... with my whey protein shake.

(Some common raw protein myths and issues, continued from part 1 of The Great Protein Debate)

There’s no medical term for “protein deficiency,” and you can only be protein deficient if you’re starvingright?

This is quite a popular argument lately, but it’s also a misleading one. The claim is that protein-deficiency diseases like kwashiorkor and marasmas only happen with a very low calorie intake—and therefore you don’t have to worry unless you’re severely undereating.

That’s only partly true, though. In developing countries and other areas where starvation is rampant, local cuisines yield a higher percentage of protein than raw vegan diets because they contain proteinaceous foods like legumes and animal products (albeit in smaller amounts than Americans see). Even grains are typically twice as high in protein as fruit. It’s impossible to get kwashiorkor if your diet is based on those types of food sources and you’re eating enough calories—hence why protein-deficiency diseases are widespread only where calorie intake is extremely low. (more…)

The Great Protein Debate (Part 1)

If you’re like most raw foodists, you’re no stranger to the controversy surrounding the notorious “P” word: protein. Whether you came to raw from a vegetarian cuisine, a low-carb regimen, or even the good ol’ Standard American Diet, one of your earliest concerns was most likely: where will I get my protein?

And again, if you’re like most raw foodists, you probably had your fears placated early on. Maybe you were told that most people on cooked diets eat far more protein than they need (which is true) and that all raw plant foods contain protein (which is also true). Maybe you were told that cooked protein isn’t digestible, so you get more protein from raw sources anyway (which is not quite true). And maybe you were told my favorite whopper: that broccoli contains more protein than chicken (yikes!).

Raw food literature is woefully short on science. And although the cooked world is swirling with protein myths (often perpetuated by meat and dairy industries), the raw world is guilty of its own dietary delusions.
(more…)

Raw Gone Wrong: When the Honeymoon is Over

Paradise no more

It starts like a good relationship.

You meet someone new. Sparks are flying. You both like Hitchcock films and that obscure reggae band from Norway; clearly, it’s meant to be. After a string of perfect dates, all-night phone calls, and butterfly-inducing smooches, you’re sure that they’re “the one.”

Then a month later, you wake up and realize the other person has some pretty freaky nose hairs. And they burp without apologizing. And they snore. Oh, do they snore!

So it is with raw. Almost without fail, the beginning of the diet yields a brilliant honeymoon phase—filled with surging energy, renewed vigor, and zest for your lively cuisine.

But somewhere down the line—months for some people, years for others—the wonder starts to wane. Maybe you start feeling like something is inexplicably missing. Maybe your energy takes a dive and noontime naps become the norm. Maybe your weight loss plateaus. Maybe your last dentist visit wasn’t so pretty. Maybe those niggly health problems you had prior to raw—aches and pains, lethargy, allergies, arthritis, skin conditions—start resurfacing out of nowhere. Whatever the reason, raw just doesn’t seem to be working as well as it did in the beginning. Your enthusiasm diminishes, and in its place comes doubt, discontentment, and a plethora of questions.

In other words, you start seeing raw foods’ freaky nose hairs and you begin to wonder: what did I get myself into? (more…)