Loving The Raw Life

By: Jinjee | Posted: 23rd February 2011

I LOVE food! My Father was a Hungarian-Jew and raised me on rich deli food. I teethed on Hungarian sausage, fattened on cold cuts, cheeses, Westfalian ham, lox, cream cheese, Swiss chocolate and German nougat! When I was 15 I started my battle with weight and overeating, a battle that raged continuously for 11 years! Every day of my life I promised myself that "tomorrow" I would control my eating, and I meant it. But no matter how hard or consistently I tried I wasn't able to overcome my eating problem. I prayed, meditated, and worked out furiously. The workouts helped somewhat with my weight during the year or two that I went to the gym daily. But by then I had also become a complete junk food junkie. I ate chocolate bars every day! I was a big fan of milkshakes, ice cream, pizza, nachos and cheese, bagels, pastries, chips, burgers and fries, chocolate chip cookies, anything with meat sauce, and quite simply anything that tasted good!

Looking back in my journals they are filled with the normal and not so normal events of growing up, but the common thread that runs through each entry over the years is my battle with food. One day I'd tell myself that tomorrow I'd eat no sugar, the next day that I'd eat only 3 meals a day, or that this month I'd loose 5 pounds, 10 pounds, 15 pounds, that I'd stick to a certain meal-plan, or try a new diet I'd read about. But nothing worked. My skin began to break out. I tried cutting out chocolate but it didn't help. My face was starting to scar up, ravaged by junk food. My Father, who was overweight and a very disciplined concert pianist, told me to give up, that I was going to drive myself around the bend. But this only made me more determined to win this battle. I was going to vanquish the forces within me that sought my destruction.

Pursuing a music career at 25 I enrolled in College in Santa Barbara California. I was 180 lbs., my heaviest ever, at 5'9", and young and free. Storm Talifero was also in the music program and we met in the practice rooms and started playing music together. I noticed there was something special about him, an energy, - he glowed. He was very lean, very muscular, very athletic. He was captain of the fencing team and he was on crew, and also took jazz dance and tennis. Later I also discovered he was a martial artist, sailor, and mountain-climber. Although he wasn't on the track team, he spent a lot of time at the track and would often work out with the college's top track athletes.

I was stunned and appalled when I learned that this man, who I thought was in his 20's, was 47 years old! He never talked about his diet, but I noticed he often walked around with a bottle of water. When we started spending more time together playing music and hiking in the mountains, I observed that when he ate, it was usually plain shepherds salad, sprouts, or grapes that he got at the Farmers Markets, which were large gatherings of farmers who sold their produce twice a week on State Street in downtown Santa Barbara. It was there that I discovered the joys of fresh organic avocados, tomatoes, sprouted humus, fresh squeezed orange juice, dried apricots, raisins, pecans, almonds, pumpkin seeds, guava pineapples, strawberries, bananas, smoothies, wheatgrass juice, seaweed, melons, peaches, sprouts and Tom Shepherd's delicious pre-washed salad mix that I could eat right out of the bag. I was caught up in the sensuality of eating these foods uncooked, in their natural fresh state. And I suddenly found myself rarely eating anything else. Between Santa Barbara and surrounding areas Goleta, Montecito, and Carpenteria, there was a Farmer's Market nearly every day of the week!

I was feeling really good and losing weight, but then I started to get sick. Very sick. I developed a killer migraine, and I had a flu that wouldn't go away. One night, at the worst point of all this, I was vomiting, shaking and very frightened. I thought I might be dying. I called Storm. He asked several questions about my condition and then explained that I was going through a de-toxification of my system. Because I had stopped putting junk food into my body, my system was finally able to begin cleaning house. He said I could slow down the detox process if I ate some rice. But now that I knew what was going on I didn't feel as afraid. I was still a little unsure of the safety of this way of eating. I worried about becoming anorexic and about getting all the nutrients a body needs. But I decided I'd rather die than go back to my former battle. So I kept to my new habit of eating raw vegan foods.

And then, after a few weeks, something happened! It was like I had passed through some invisible barrier, and had come out on the other side! I felt like my body had been born again. I had reached a level of health that I had never felt before. I was tingling. I was completely in touch with the sensuous universe. Colors, sounds, trees, smells, thoughts, every vibration had a profound effect on me. I was very clear, very aware, very at peace, very energized. I relished just moving, just breathing. I felt so thankful for each moment of being alive in this incredible living and vital body. The pleasure of it was so intense that the cravings that would soon resurface had very little power. The pleasure of junk food was incredibly small in comparison to the pleasure of my new sense of being truly healthy. I was glowing and high with energy. I was floating on air, walking 10 feel above the ground, running effortlessly up mountains, swimming across lakes; things I'd never dreamed of!

I had gone from eating whatever I wanted to living on a diet consisting exclusively of raw fresh organic vegetation! I still ate large quantities of food and enjoyed eating as much as ever if not more, but I lost 20 pounds in the first two months and another 22 pounds over the next three months. I'm holding now at my ideal weight of 135 pounds. The intense pleasure of good health just gets stronger all the time and I'm finally enjoying my youth.

One of the things that really helped me to never go back to my former eating habits was Storm's gift with recipes. He was able to replace any food I might be craving with a raw vegan version. For instance, if I craved meat, he made a nut-loaf out of ground nuts with red peppers, tomatoes and onions, with a sauce made from raw tahini, lemon juice and garlic. He replaced milk shakes with nut-milk. He replaced pastries with raw apple pie that tasted better than any pie I had ever had. He replaced rich deserts and sweets with fruit salad texture-blends from heaven. He made Sushi from ground nuts and avocado wrapped in dried seaweed, nut pizzas, smoothies, salads with dressings of avocado, vinegar and honey. For almost every junk food craving there was an even better substitute from the world of living foods.

Since being on this diet, which I now know is called the "raw vegan" diet, I am seldom depressed or irritable, my PMS and menstrual cramps have completely vanished, and I sleep 5 hours a night instead of 9. Chronic candida, food allergies, and a lump in my right breast the size of an egg have all totally disappeared.

Doctors disagree as to the right diet. Some say that in our society we eat too much protein. Some say that vegetarian diets don't have sufficient protein. Some say that high protein diets are dangerous. There are so many conflicting opinions coming out of the medical community, that I think we need to start thinking for ourselves. I think when considering a diet, you should always look at the author and ask yourself "Would I want to look like that?". If they can't eat the diet themselves, maybe it isn't really do-able for the long term.

When it comes to knowing what foods to put into our bodies, perhaps our inner knowing is farther along than science. I believe we all know in our hearts that there is a right way to eat, and that the foods that the forces of nature bring forth on this earth are good, in their natural uncooked form that they were put here in, and that everything else is suspect. People just don't believe that it is POSSIBLE to eat an all-natural diet in today's society. But it is!!! And once you grab hold of that "golden ring" , as I have come to think of "good health", it becomes the easiest thing in the world. The raw-vegan diet is the only diet I have ever been able to stick to, - and I've tried everything from "Aroma-trim" to "The Zone". With this diet, I went off it one time and tried to get back on it for two years. I had had a major lifestyle shift, moving into a different climate, and didn't think it was possible to maintain a raw diet in Canada. So I went "off the wagon". But fairly soon I knew I had to get back on it as soon as possible. And I promised myself that next time I got hold of the golden ring, I would NEVER let go!

Jinjee Talifero, now 43, is a long term raw vegan, writer, musician and mother of 5 home-birthed, home-schooled, raw vegan children. She lives with her family in the mountains of Southern California. She maintains the raw vegan information site http://www.TheGardenDiet.com where you can sign up for her Daily Raw Inspiration email newsletter. She also runs the 28 Day Transition to Raw Program at http://www.28DaysRaw and you can read her blog at http://www.JinjeeTalifero.com
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Tags: music career, cream cheese, common thread, burgers and fries, chocolate chip cookies, meal plan, chocolate bars