Saturday, March 31, 2012


Just got back from the first day of
The 2nd Annual Living Dynamically Wellness Expo
March 31st and April 1st
Waterloo Gardens
Exton, PA.

Arnold and I had a vendor table at the Wellness Expo representing Arnold's Way Raw Vegetarian Cafe' and Education Center, where I am a raw chef, and he is cheif proprietor! We had such a great time, and such a great response to our offerings! We SOLD OUT of our raw vegan cheezes (cheddar, toona & no-bean hummus) and had only a few packs of our famous Living Breads left...! Our minty refreshing Green Smoothie was also a big crowd pleaser! What a great day!

Make sure to get to the Expo tomorrow (Sunday, April 1) for more of our cheezes (Arnold will bring more) and more special treats!!

There are over FIFTY vendors this year at the Wellness Expo, including two AMAZING raw food vendors that i must highlight for their unbelievable scrumptuous treats:

WENDY LANDIAK of BALASIA WORLD CAFE' is a dynamo raw chef. A wisp of a girl, but I've never seen anyone with more energy...or personality!

Today BALASIA's incredible chefess offered an exotic menu of all raw vegan fare in designer take-away bowls:
-Rubbed Kale Salad
-Carrot Hummus (!) (I ate 2 up and could have eaten a bucket load)
-Curry Vegetable Buddah Bowl
-Chia Seed Balls
-Zucchini Spaghetti Bowl with exotic red sauce

MAKE SURE YOU STOP BY WENDY'S TABLE!!! What makes her food so amazing is how light and fresh it is, while being incredibly exotic, satisfying, and just bursting with asian fusion flavors. Simply scrumpuous!

And, LINDA LOUISE and her PULSE DESSERTS have simply wowwed me! A 3 oz. CAKE POD was just enough to satisfy. All raw vegan, these little pies in a POD are simply divine! I had Blueberry Lemon at the Expo which was so delicious. And after my dinner of Wendy's carrot Hummus, I mmm'd my way through the Pumpkin CAKE POD. It tasted BETTER than traditional Pumpkin pie! 3 oz was just the right serving....decadent, yet reserved. WOW wow WOW! My guy, Cliff, had the Chocolate and loved it, and I have Strawberry and Lime Cake Pods in the freezer already at home! You simply MUST try one (or many) of these amazing little desserts! Buy 4 for $18, get one FREE!

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Today was my fifth day raw, and it was such a gift. Great food. Great people. Great Event. I drank Green Smoothies until I felt like something more substantial. Then enjoyed one of Wendy's Kale salads, the Curry Buddah bowl, the carrot Hummuses, and the Cake Pods. And Brad's Raw Chips was at the event, too, which made for nice sampling of some new flax chip and kale chip flavors (yum!). Aside from being nourished by food, my soul felt nourished - so many interesting health related healers, teachers, speakers, visitors to our booth... It was a beautiful day!

Good news on my ability to resist temptation - My cooked 'hubby,' Cliff, wanted traditional pizza tonight, so, so be it! I sat with him at the restaurant, and I'm not lying when i tell you that i didn't even WANT the pizza he was eating. I told him, "It's like a miracle. It's like a switch flipped. I don't even WANT it." First of all, i wasn't hungry, and second of all, i was dreaming of that carrot Hummus! I think when you start to eat vegetables again and you start to feel so so much BETTER, and you are truly S-A-T-I-A-T-I-N-G yourself and SATISFYING your CELLS with NUTRITION, pizza just doesn't appeal. Pretty incredible. I'm back to the raw-me of 3.5 years in just DAYS.

Being so 'in touch' and focused is new for me, again. Sometimes I question signals of discomfort. For instance, on the ride home after the Expo, I'd had such a great day, why did i feel so antsy? Well, I searched myself. It was still early, I'd had a great day, but Cliff hadn't slept well last night and wanted to go home and go to bed, so, now looking forward to an evening at home alone, I was feeling bored! I have energy now back on raw...I want to USE it! I came home and decided to blog. It's creative and keeps me on track and in touch! Before I would "reacted" to that antsyness without questioning it....but by EATING, by stuffing it. Today I realize: "I want to be STIMULATED, but not by food because i'm not hungry." I used to confuse signals. Hunger and antsy-bored kinda feel similar! Today, when needing stimulation, creativity, excitement, adventure: I turn to other things!

xoxo michelle joy

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Oh, my. I HAD....ZILCH!

I can't believe the difference!

It is only my third day raw, and this evening, I am positively brimming over with energy! [i wrote this last night] Now, you should know, i'd gotten my 'monthly' this afternoon and felt dreadful at work, but got through it, and did what i needed to accomplish at work. Then, after 9 hours raw cheffing at Arnold's Way, you would have thought i would have crashed. Instead, the cramps magically left (maybe the wheatgrass juice earlier helped?), and I actually felt inspired and energetic enough to DO MORE stuff instead of laying like a lump after work as I had become accustomed to on cooked! I went supermarketing, I came home and cooked up a storm for Cliff, did all of the dishes in the kitchen, packed away all of my finished burgers and crackers that I dried today, and practiced my Easter solos! When i was binge eating on fast food from drive throughs again, i barely had enough energy to get out of the car and go into the house and make my way to the sofa. What I also find SUPER amazing is - when i was eating HEALTHY cooked, vegetarian low fat good stuff like beans, I didn't even have THIS kind of energy. That is REALLY saying something for RAW. Raw food really AGREES with me! I have my old energy back!

~ ~

SELF PRIDE. I'd lost it at work. Today I found it!

I can't believe the difference!

Two people at work today asked me these exact words, "How raw are you?" When i answered 100%, i was positively beaming. Being a raw-eating-Raw-chef again feels so right. I feel like i'm HOME. In only 3 days, I feel like i'm back to being the ME I was meant to be. I have hope and direction for the future. I know the weight will come off again.

~ ~

FEET. Oh, my. They KILLED ME....DAILY. And every NIGHT....TINGLY jumpy FEET with shooting nerve pains so bad I couldn't find a place for myself. Painful aching feet during the day. Shooting pains at night. And swollen ankels, day AND night.

I can't believe the difference!

In only 3 days of aching feet are NOT aching after a day at work, and after working at home. And now I awake to my 4th day raw and am amazed that last night, my feet did not twitch, shoot pains, possess me to thrash constantly. It's hard to believe and fathom actually. And last night when i got undressed, I was amazed to see my thin ankles again. My feet feel NOTHING like what they had felt like on cooked, bad cooked and good healthy cooked. I can't believe THAT never has to be my reality again! It must have something to do with internal swelling / inflammation? WOW. Wow. wow. I am AMAZED.

~ ~

BINGE EATING. Oh my. It haunted and taunted me daily.

I can't believe the difference!

It's day 4 and my focus, my mental clarity is so vastly improved i can hardly believe it. I had ZERO binge thoughts yesterday, on my ride TO and FROM work when i used to get attacked regularly...and NOTHING. Something is so different and right. And I listened to my body yesterday. When it had had enough food after lunch time and my period cramping began, it didn't want any food for dinner. I'm listening.

Cooking dinner for Cliff last night was a vastly different experience than it had become. Intuitively sensing the need NOT to be alone in the kitchen preparing cooked food, I asked Cliff to help. Cooking together meant i didn't have to be afraid of sneaking a bite and starting a binge. All ALONE in the kitchen is bad for a binge eater. Having him there with me, working with me, I felt stimulated by the interaction (instead of by tasting food), and so SUPPORTED. It was beautiful.... He now has some GREAT healthy dishes he is excited about because he partcipated, and I'm still RAW!!!

Over my previous 3.5 years raw, people often asked me how i cooked for a cooked hubby and stayed raw. Well, like I did last night.

#1) Never taste. Do your best to season and ask hubby to taste test.

#2) Don't cook or stay alone with the food in the kitchen if you feel 'unsafe.' Ask for help. Oila'.

If you never take a bite, you never have to go off of your raw diet...and binge!


xoxo michelle joy


Hello there! I wrote this this morning:

Good morning!

Wonderful smells are wafting from my dehydrator!!!

Time to flip the burgers!!!

Actually, instead of flipping them with another dehydrator-tray like i do for living bread, I flipped these burgers with a spatula as they were kind of delicate, and I left them on the teflex with their 'raw' side facing up, to dehydrate a few hours longer. They've been drying since about 6pm last night and it's 8:30am now. I'll let them dry until 9:30am and then take them out.

These burgers will have taken roughly 15 hours. I'll fix my recipe from yesterday! 20-24 hours for THESE burgers [that have no fat/oil and much more veggies than seeds, and the seeds are soaked] would be too long. The heartier (fattier) and thicker the burger mix, the longer they will need to dry. These were not that thick.

Another note: leaving the burgers to dry on their 2nd side on the teflex, I think, is a good solution for burgers, too. That way they don't get dried out too quickly. You want them to be moist (but to have a 'crust' of sorts on the outside.) (With raw bread, you WANT it to dry out as much as possible, so you want to take the teflex off to dry the 2nd side.)

Mmmm, I tasted a burger 1/2 done! Yummy! Kind of paprika-ey, but i like them!! I'll lessen the amount of paprika on my recipe. For no added oil and salt, they are delish!

Oh! You know the sunflower seed 'dressing' i'd made and gave you the recipe for which I said was NOT so delish? Well, it turned out really spectacular little thin snack crackers, with a very pleasing taste! I flipped those by just peeling them up from the teflex and left them on the teflex too, otherwise, they are so thin, they were flying around! They need another day yet to dry. Mmmm....I can taste the cilantro and onion! These are GOOD! They kind of look and feel like fruit leather now, pliable, but are krispy on the edges. Soon, they will be krispy through and through!

I guess the rule of thumb with dehydrating is:

"Dehydrating is like a box 'o chocolates. Ya never know what you're gonna git!"

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I'm off to work at Arnold's Way Raw Vegetarian Cafe' and Education Center today where i am a raw chef. We have a big event this weekend to get ready for which is taking place at Waterloo Gardens in Exton, PA.

The 2nd Annual Living Dynamically Wellness Expo - March 31st and April 1st from 10am-4pm. Arnold's Way will be there selling green smoothies and our famous 'cheezes' and 'toona' and living breads. There will over 50 raw vegan and health related vendors this year!
For more info:

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Our wonderful volunteer, Sunny, helped out at Arnold's Way today as I made Toona, yummy Cashew Sesame Hummus and 'Cheddar Cheeze' for the Expo this weekend! Tomorrow I'll make Chili Cheddar Cheeze!

Hope to see you there!

xoxo michelle joy

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Hello! It's Day 2 of my raw journey!

FOOD: Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Br: 1/2 small personal watermelon
hungry! 3 glasses low sugar green smoothie

Blenderize in Vitamix and enjoy immediately! Makes 3 big glasses!
1/3 large cuke
2 stalks celery
1 apple, cored
2 bananas
3 leaves collard
2 cups water
ice cubes

Not delish by any means, but slightly sweet and inherently satisfying!

Linner: cherry tomatoes in yesterdays sunflower dressing. Not delish, but tolerable. 1/2 cup soaked sunflower seeds. 1/2 avocado with lemon spritz.

The rest of the thick sunflower "dressing," i poured by spoonfuls onto dehydrator teflex and will dry into seed Krackers. These will likely need to dry for 48 hours. Flip after 24 hours.

NOTE: I feel kind of dizzy now after my lunch. Too much fat? Interesting information. I'll find my way!

Dinner: Amazing Tahini Salad

OMG, this was SOOOO delish! I was SO hungry and this REALLY hit the SPOT! I was debating if i should give in and eat something bad. This was just perfect, although raw tahini is full fat and not made from soaked sesame seeds, so, it's not ideal OHI diet, but it saved me tonight. I'll experiment with making my own tahini from soaked seeds! I'm sure it won't be as good!!! But for being basically a 300 calorie low salt salad? This was freaking DIVINE!

Serves one BIG hearty salad.
In a large bowl, add:

2 Tbsp raw Tahini & 2 Tbsp water and mash together to form dressing
juice of 1 lemon
1-2 Tbsp raw vinegar
1/2 tsp of agave
Lots of shakes of garlic powder
Lots of shakes of onion powder
3 shakes of cayenne pepper
5 shakes of curry powder
Mix together again.
Add 3 huge handfuls of mixed greens
1 handful crunchy sprouts
1 handful cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup of nutritional yeast
Toss with dressing and eat immediately.

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I thought i would make up some veggie burgers for myself for this week. I used about 6 carrots. I wonder if that is too much sugar for what i'm doing? I don't recall OHI using carrots as the base for things... I should find out!

This burger mix happens to taste incredibly DELISH! Wow, i did good!

In Cuisinart with S blade:
2 cups soaked sunflower
6 carrots, chopped
5 stalks celery, chopped
1/4 cup of onion
1 large garlic clove
1 large red pepper, chopped
1 yellow squash, sliced
2-3 large Tbsp of paprika
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 heaping tsp of Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp of ancho chili powder
(Ancho chili powder is not raw, but i'm not militant regarding spices. Alot of chili powders have hidden salt, at least this doesn't.)
Enough water to get mixture going and everything chopped very fine.
Optional: salt to taste &

1/4 cup olive oil

Grind ingredients until smooth, adding water to help mix to move and chop everything.

Remove every other tray from dehydrator. Burgers are thick and this will make room for the burger height, without accidentally shaving off the top of the burger with a dehydrator tray in the very next slot.

Spoon out mixture into extra large burger 'plops' on Teflex sheets. Burgers shrink as they dry so no need to worry about forming mix into burger patties by hand like you do with meat. Just plop down with a spoon. (After they dry a bit, you can shape them nicer if you like.)

Dry overnight on 105degrees. Flip the next morning to dry on the 2nd side.

They should end up good hearty burger consistency. The longer you leave them in, the dryer they get. I would guestimate they need 20-24 hours total to dry depending on the size of the burger. If you overdry, you'll have Jerky!

These freeze very well. Or last in fridge at least 10 days.

xoxo michelle joy

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Hi Folks,

Did you read Jinjee's blog yesterday about going back on 100% raw? So inspiring to me. I'd been praying for validation from someone that for some, only 100% will work. So many people do mostly raw or High Raw, and thrive on it. Why couldn't I?

Some of us are addicts, i suppose. Knowing Jinjee feels the same way is SO validating.

I'm having cooked food thoughts as i write this, and it's only day ONE back on raw. It's been two year OFF of raw, and it's cold again here on the East Coast after weeks of an early-seeming Spring. It would be so snuggly to cozy up with something warm. To get right back into the cooked would be easy. It would just take ONE bite and i'd be RIGHT back there.

No such luck. Today is the first day of the rest of my RAW LIFE.

Hard to come to terms with, but necessary.

I weighed in at 367 today. I was surprised the number was not higher because I feel and look so fat. I am in fact not my highest (425 lbs). I'm still 68 lbs from that. I'm not even the highest I'd swung up to again and again recently (375 lbs).

But enough is enough.

I watched an episode of My-600-pound-Life last night, and that seriously motivated and scared me. I could easily end up in bed, immobile and 450 lbs if i didn't make a clean break with what i've been doing, and make a change for the better immediately. If I didn't, I knew i would dig myself so far into denial, i wasn't sure i'd be able to come out of it. Because everyday for the last two years i've wanted to get back on raw. But then i eat cooked and i'm sucked in again.

I feel rotten after yesterdays binge(s). No energy. Puffy. Broken out. So front heavy. My stomach feels like waterladen waterballoon belly.

For all of the successful days of balanced eating (cooked and raw, in moderation) that I was so proud to achieve, I was and I did, the reality is, there were just so very many more days where food swung wildly out of control.

The inability to control cooked food and eat it in moderation is what initially LED me to raw food. I believed myself to be a cooked food addict. I had given up and surrendered. I went to Optimum Health Institute for 8 months, ate raw exclusively even when my coworkers went out for cooked, and lost 140 lbs. When i came home, i stayed raw for 3.5 years and lost 35 more pounds.

I'd kept my weight off for 3.5 years! I'd never done that on ANY diet plan.

During that time, there were what i'd NOW call mild fluxuations in weight of 20-35 lbs, when I would get out of control with gourmet raw. Pfft, that was NOTHING compared to the binges I've been having. I actually yearn for those days again. The days of weighing 118 lbs less....

I had self pride. I dressed funky cool and looked attractive! I was starting to get male attention. Strenuous walking and easy mobility were everyday blessings. Getting in and out of my car was never a struggle. Getting in and out of the tub made me feel as free as a fish in a pond! Squeezing behind people seated, restaurant chairs and booths fitting, it all made life easy.

I had to eat 'abnormal' to live normal.

I've been trying to eat normal the past two years....and my life is abnormal again.

Some of us are addicts.

For 3.5 years as a raw foodist, i never felt sorry for myself because i "couldn't" eat cooked food. I knew if i started, i wouldn't want to stop, so i never started. Cravings for cooked were nonexistant.

When i went off of raw, i ate beans with a raw food friend who was NOT an addict. I rationalized how they were lower fat than nuts. I was big into low fat then.

Somehow, eating those beans opened a door to something that had been closed. Big mistake. My mostly raw still skinny and gorgeous and mostly raw and I gained 120 lbs and my life spun out of control with fast food binges daily sometimes.

I know it will take time to get back there - to the priviledged land of raw food with no cooked cravings - to losing weight, and keeping it off, to being effortlessly disciplined and planned and prepared, to indulging in gourmet raw meals out and savoring and enjoying and actually believing they are GOOD for me and HELPING me to lose weight, to exercising because it feels so freaking good - and knowing I'll never ever miss cooked food again. It's a mindset i once had. It will take time, but I believe I'll get there.

I've decided to go back to a modified version what worked for me when i initially lost the first 140 lbs over 5 years ago at Optimum Health Institute.

If you're interested, here's my plan.

No looking back. Just forward!

  • Low sugar Juice FEAST: 1x/week
  • Melon for breakfast. Or green smoothie relatively light on the sweet fruit.
  • Special sweet fruit breakfast 2x/wk with sweet fruit monomeal (mangoes! papaya!, etc...).
  • Low sugar fruits, and vegetables (tomato, cukes, peppers, carrots, greens, etc...) as soups, dressings, salads, salsas, etc... for lunch and dinner.
  • (Soaked) seed cheeze dressings, pate's, soups, etc... lunch and dinner. No added salt or oil. [Seeds: sunflower, sesame, pumpkin, hemp, chia, etc..., soaked.]
  • Germinated Flax/Buckwheat/Seed crackers. No added salt or oil.
  • Germinated Seed veggie burgers, meatballs, and krackers. No added salt or oil.
  • Lots of sprouts.
  • Lots of water.
  • A green supplement with wheatgrass, 2x/day.
  • Avocado - 2 whole per week.
  • Snacks: Germinated seeds, veggies, low sugar fruits, flax crackers, as needed.
  • Enzymes - To replace Rejuvelac.
  • SPECIAL GOURMET MEALS OUT with salt and oil - Freely allowed, seated and calm! No eating in car or standing! And not allowed at home!
  • Daily vigorous exercise (water-walking, swimming, walking, dancing, etc...)
  • Colonic Enemas.
  • Nutritional Yeast, Nori Wraps - Allowed. They make meals tolerable!
  • Corn, wheatberries - sure, a few times a week.
I felt tempted to stray already from my plan twice today, but having to fend off those a given and will be a daily challenge until i get back into the swing of it.

I went to Whole Foods and renewed and on-track shopping, my grocery bags consisted of: organic collard greens, rainbow chard, lemons, tomatoes, celery, spring mix, watermelons, apples, cucumbers, cilantro, basil, tarragon, bananas, an avocado, various seeds, some of which i already have soaking in the fridge. Everything i need for a week of low sugar low salt no nut RAW.

It's remarkable how DIFFERENT this program is from what my boss, Arnold, of Arnold's Way, teaches. He teaches Natural Hygiene and 811 - ALL SWEET FRUIT and greens and 10% fat (nuts, seeds, avo, durian, etc...). The only problem with that plan is that on that i lost mongo amounts of hair, and gained weight incredibly rapidly when i ate gourmet raw. At OHI, those two things never happened to me, so I'm going to trust what worked before for me will work again. It's all a matter of what we're attracted to, too. I think the sweet fruit thing seems to appeal to jock types. Lots of energy to burn off. At OHI, sweet fruit was a treat, not a mainstay. It worked for me then. And i distinctly recall that on the nights i would eat a sweet fruit snack before bedtime, i'd wake up, and NOT lose weight! Nope, something about OHI's plan....worked.
My breakfast of lackluster melon was disappointing! :-( I'm looking forward to summer melon.

My lunch of sunflower cheeze sauce over spring greens with a few spritzes of raw vinegar was equally as disappointing! I'm missing salt and oil. Oh well!

SUNFLOWER DRESSING - Blend in Vitamix - Lasts in fridge for at least a week. Would taste MUCH better with salt and oil, oh well!
1 cup soaked sunflower
some raw tahini
2 garlic cloves
juice of 1 lemon
2 cups water
1 red pepper
1 Tbsp onion
fresh cilantro and tarragon
1/4 cup of Nutritional Yeast
2 stalks of celery (to provide natural saltiness)
1 carrot (to provide sweetness)

Pray for me and keep in touch, please.

xoxo michelle joy

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]