Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My Life & Death Battle With A Food Demon by Jinjee Talifero

Posted on by Jinjee

Hands, by Storm Talifero

This drawing by Storm represents how love overcomes death...

How did it all start? It started with the best year ever! After about 7 or 8 years at 99% to 100% raw, my longest raw stint ever, I topped it off with a year of 100% raw without raw cacao and MSG, the two things I noticed made me crave cooked foods.

And during that year, 15 years after first going raw, I experienced a total healing of candida on a level I didn’t even know I had until it was gone!

I only know this because at the end of that best year ever I started eating some cooked foods again and had an interesting lack of negative reactions. Previously I would bloat from various food combinations, get yeast infections from eating cooked carbs, and get instant breakouts from dairy products. But now when I started eating some cooked foods again, I noticed no adverse reactions. I believe this was because I was now totally healed of the candida.

However, with this new freedom came a new level of temptation. There was nothing to keep me in check, physically. I knew I could get the candida back, but I wanted to be able to eat some cooked foods in moderation, and I so believed it was possible to do this and still be healthy, that I started experimenting with incorporating some “healthy” cooked foods in to my diet about two years ago now, when all this began.

It began when my 17 year old daughter started eating cooked foods at home, and I would have just a little bite of her food once in a while. After a year or so it seemed I was still able to keep the cooked food in moderation. I also noticed I looked a bit better, my face filled out from eating dairy, which at my age made me look a bit younger. When I did start to break out a little, it would clear up within a couple of days where in my pre-raw-vegan days it would take weeks.

But I noticed some new health issues I’d never had before. My eyesight got blurred and I now needed reading glasses. I have learned from others’ experiences that this may be a direct result of consuming dairy. I also noticed some joint stiffness in my hip. I threw out a knee. I pulled a hamstring. I think it is easier to get injured when you eat cooked foods. Tissues tear more easily. Joints become more stiff. The body doesn’t regenerate as quickly. This was more noticeable now to me than before, perhaps because I’m in my mid-40′s now.

And then, the addictions set in. I realized I have some very specific food addictions. I don’t want to name the foods as doing so might trigger someone else to fall off the wagon. But I can tell you, when I was eating really poorly I would go to sleep after eating. Sometimes I was too tired to work. Usually I was able to get my eating under control a bit then, and include more raw foods to start feeling better.

I was trying to find a balance. I noticed when I was on an upswing or a downswing that in the beginning there was a time when I looked better. So it almost seemed like just a very little dairy was good for me. But I think I just wasn’t getting enough minerals on my raw diet as I wasn’t eating enough greens and other vegetables. And so the minerals in the dairy from the greens the cows ate helped a bit. Also, I think one has to be careful to get enough fat on the raw diet.

I learned through this experience the importance of having a raw food menu plan that has a balanced raw diet that includes daily greens and vegetables, and some oil, avocado or nuts for fats. As many minerals are fat soluble they are absorbed better if fat is present. So by eating salads with a raw dressing containing oil or by eating dishes that contain vegetables along with either avocados, coconut, or nuts we can better assimilate the minerals in the greens/vegetables. So, a dairy craving may indicate a need for a combination of minerals and fats. This is how we have set up our “Go Raw!” Programs’ menus, but although hundreds of others were having great results, I wasn’t taking the time to eat right myself.

I would sometimes offset my poor eating choices with extra exercise. I actually developed better exercise habits during this phase that have lasted me into my new 100% raw phase. I realized that when I ate too much cooked food and got no exercise that this combination was devastating. I was learning more about balance and about the power of exercise.

Meanwhile I was getting more addicted. Sometimes I was frightened by the level of my addiction. I was behaving like an addict, sneaking cooked food, hiding it, leaving the house just to get it, overdoing it, feeling terrible about it. Sometimes I wanted to give it up and was surprised to find I just couldn’t! Part of me was not ready to let go of this new thing in my life – addiction.

Through journaling, I came to know that my food issues were related to “me-time”, having something outside the house to do that was all my own, that gave me an excuse to shut down. I realized I was always doing something I was supposed to do, constantly working to keep up with it all, and for years not allowing myself any time to just do nothing. Now I had a decadent release. I was enjoying it, at times. The lesson here was that I needed to develop some healthier rituals in my life that could be relaxing time-outs.

But wow! When I really got on a roll at the worst of it, I couldn’t believe how fast weight piled on, or how quickly my face started to look older. I lost that first nice plumpness, became craggy looking and more wrinkled, and a bit puffy. Something around the eyes was darker. And towards the end, I just didn’t see any beauty any more. That’s one of the things that turned the tide.

Shortly after a sincere prayer for help, I would wake up one day and just know I could go through the day raw without craving anything cooked. It was a reprieve from my addiction. What a blessing! But even though I wasn’t physically craving cooked foods anymore, I would still relapse. Why, I don’t know. Did I want to be addicted? Was there something more I had to learn from this? Did I forget the hell of addiction the moment I was out of it? I had so many reprieves, and so many relapses.

I think I know how this works now. The Universe conspires to help you. You notice, you are grateful, and you are free. Or you don’t notice or don’t take advantage of it, you aren’t grateful, and you throw the reprieve away. You wonder if you’ll ever get one again. Gratitude seems to be key for me here in helping me to get on the wiser path.

At the end, I was caught in the grips of my animal nature. And from this deep, dark, messy place out of which I felt I had no power to move, as I sank deeper and deeper in to it, I called out to God, knowing He would help me, without a doubt. I begged him from my stupor, to give me one more reprieve. And it came. And I hung on to it for dear life. It was hard to grab on to this reprieve. But it would have been harder still, maybe impossible, if I hadn’t been at rock bottom the day before.

This was worse than when I did drugs and alcohol as a youngster. And it wasn’t that much food that I was eating. I wasn’t bingeing. I did, however, overeat cooked foods the day before the “worst day”, perhaps not coincidentally. But I think being overall very healthy and eating lots of raw foods still, that this cooked stupor just felt terrible to me by contrast. And I didn’t have a tolerance for a lot of the cooked food toxins any more.

A wise old raw vegan once told me that if you can’t stay raw, it may be better not to try as it could be dangerous to go back and forth, due to this loss of tolerance for cooked food toxins amongst other factors, such as your body’s need to maintain homeostasis.

That last day, I was so tired all day, very foggy brained, and depressed because I felt like a junkie, and feeling like a junkie because I felt depressed. All I thought about was the food addictions. Ashamed and humiliated, I looked awful. I felt like a real addict, stuck in an addiction, trying to get out, but defeated by a monkey on their back, a food demon in my case. I just had this feeling that I was not going to be successful at kicking this demon, and that was terrifying.

Physically, emotionally, spiritually, and visually I was at rock bottom for me, or the closest I’ve ever been to rock bottom, and the closest I ever want to get.

As I was thinking crazy thoughts on the last night of the addiction, I suddenly just let go and smiled and gave it over to God. In that dull, fuzzy, stupor I found God. And He got me out of it! I woke up in the morning with that familiar feeling of reprieve and knew I could easily ignore my addictions. “I’m going to do it!” I said. And I did. And it has been over a week now, 100% raw.

Do I really need to relapse ever again? Do I really need to go through all this again, on worse and worse levels?

Here’s what I mean by the Universe conspiring to help me out of the addiction. Within a few days before “kicking” the addiction, these chance happenings took place…

- I picked up and speed-read the book “Food and Loving” in a book store. It explained how food addictions or compulsive overeating put strain on a relationship and helped me to see some connections in a way I hadn’t before. Sometimes just understanding what is going on can help you find the ability to make a change.

- I stumbled upon the “Faces of Addiction” photo essay I shared with you a few days ago. This moved something within my soul in a profound way. I felt an affinity with these drug addicts and realized that addiction is nothing to play with. I can’t really express everything that photo essay did for me, it was deep and complex. But I know it was part of my journey, one of the gifts, the catalysts for change, something my eyes were ready to see and learn from.

- I was sitting and working in a Denny’s-type of restaurant. A waitress was chatting with a customer and said “I know food is supposed to give you energy but I have no energy after eating. I can’t even do my work. So I just eat once a day before going to sleep”. I realized that the low quality of food that was available to her was such that it gave her no energy. I realized that she didn’t have a clue that what she ate was unhealthy. And I realized I have no excuse for being in the same position as her.

- Now, going in to that particular restaurant was an experience in itself! The menu made all this greasy junk food look all-American, hearty, home-cooked, and delicious! I remember thinking “what a foreign consciousness came up with this place”!

So, I’ve been strictly 100% raw for over a week now. I’m on the wagon. I’m grateful to be here. I am glad for the experience I had of realizing that I am an addict and I need to be “on the wagon” for life! Just like an abstinent alcoholic can never have a sip of alcohol or they seriously risk becoming a “using” addict again, I will always be a food addict. I am now an abstinent food addict who can not have a bite of cooked food or I seriously risk becoming out-of-control again and hurting myself with food.

I think it is important to recognize that cooked food is a drug. Cooking creates toxins in our foods, and toxins are addictive. Drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, chocolate all contain toxins which is what makes them addictive. I would say toxins are drugs. It is hard to remember this fact that cooked food is poisonous, when people are eating it all around you and they think of it as healthy. So, a cooked food addict is at a disadvantage, as their addiction is not recognized by others, or usually even by themselves.

I’m so glad I see this now. No more wondering if maybe a little cooked food is helpful or possible to have in my diet. No more experimenting to see if I am now mature enough to be “high raw” and keep cooked food in moderation. No more question about whether 100% raw is the healthiest way to eat or not. For me, it is a life-saver, and that’s definitely healthier!

I’ve been sorely tempted many times this week, but have not “broken the seal” on my 100% raw diet. I’m excited about the path ahead of me, excited about raw foods again, looking forward to creating a new menu plan for a totally balanced raw diet including more mineral-rich greens with lovely raw fats so that I remain fully nourished and thereby better able to make good choices going forward!

I have a new lease on life! I am grateful for the entire process, the whole journey above. It is exciting how we can grow through trials and tribulations. It is amazing how much we learn. It is awe inspiring how it all comes together and makes sense. I needed to go through this in order to embrace a 100% raw lifestyle for life, which I believe now is my path. I can’t wait to see what this journey holds in store!

In Joy!

[I was so moved by this blog entry by Jinjee that I had to share it. This was so beautifully written, I just couldn't have said it any better myself! The food demon has had me by the throat, too. I have been kidding myself, as Jinjee says she was, too, trying to achieve "balance," but seeing it constantly unravel, and produce terrible side effects: loss of energy, weight gain, breakouts, swelling, addiction, inability to stop. Finally, I give up. Hallelujah, I give up! I'm returning to the raw diet that worked for me at OHI. I'll talk tomorrow about details. xxooxo michelle joy]

1 comment:

Jinjee said...

Thanks so much for re-posting my article! :)
I was searching for it on google (easier than scrolling through my long blogsite) as someone asked me for the graphic I had in the original (http://jinjeetalifero.com/?p=1395) and your blog came up! :)