Before following a low-fat raw vegan diet, I was struck with serious health issues in 2007, that changed my life forever. My previous diet was standard american for most of my life; although I was vegetarian for several years. I had taken a few medications as a teenager, for acne and anxiety, which was hard on my body and contributed to building the ill health I experienced. I was always slightly over weight and for a short period in my senior year of high school I got up to 170 pounds!
By the time I was 21 I had lost a portion of the weight by cutting out dairy products and not consuming much meat. I was down to about 130 pounds (mostly fat still, not much muscle to speak of). Then I took a dose of steroids for an allergic reaction to some make-up and at 21 years old I had already reached my toxic tipping point. Within a few days of taking the two week tapered dose of prednisone I could no longer think clearly, I began having severe headaches, and I could not sleep. I continued tapering the dose until it was gone because I figured my symptoms would go away when it was out of my system.
Over the next few weeks, even though I was finished with the steroids, my symptoms got worse. I had allergic reactions to every product I put on my body, my hair started falling out, I broke out in rashes, and I had a constant headache that got worse whenever I ate anything! Even though I was eating so much food I was losing weight rapidly and was 107 pounds at my least; 63 pounds less than my senior year of high school. I had to stop working and withdraw from college.
I spent the next 8 months in a downward spiral that seemed like a bad dream. I had to lie down for much of my time because it eased my headache. I had every type of test you can think of and saw every specialist that would see me. Everyone thought I was crazy because nothing would show up on the tests. Did I have a brain tumor? No. Did I have a thyroid problem? No. Lyme Disease? Nope. I was in constant pain and felt like I wanted to check out. What was causing all these bizarre generalized symptoms?
I finally found a Holistic Doctor who was able to somewhat figure out what was going on and helped me stop the progression of my illness. He ran new tests, ones that they didn’t even consider when I was at the hospital. He diagnosed me with severe adrenal fatigue, leaky gut syndrome, and multiple chemical sensitivity or environmental illness. I had never heard of these terms prior to my illness. He immediately started me on natural supplements to support my immune and digestive system. I also began a rotation diet of specific organic whole foods to avoid developing food allergies.
The next couple months were much more stable. I started to have a few good days here and there, where I could go outside, get some fresh air, and a little exercise. My hair stopped falling out and my constant headache somewhat diminished. I finally felt like I was on the right path and I was not going to stop searching until I was healed. I tried acupuncture and other natural forms of healing; however, I was not improving beyond a certain point. I had reached a plateau.
After about 4 months of stagnant, poor, but manageable health I found the raw food diet through happen chance. I was willing to try anything to feel normal again. Arnold Kauffman took me under his wing and showed me the ropes. I started out eating a gourmet or high-fat raw diet to help me let go of all my cooked food cravings. I was afraid to eat fruit because I also had symptoms of candidiasis, so I ate lots of raw veggies and fats like avocado, nuts and seeds. I did this for a few months and saw minimal improvement. Arnold insisted that the next step was to follow a low-fat, high fruit, raw vegan diet.
A few weeks into following this low-fat high fruit program, I was a changed person. I immediately felt a heavy fog lift! I gained back so much of my mental clarity and energy and became physically active again. I took on new physical challenges, like rock climbing and jogging, which I never imagined myself doing. I noticed my mood became very stable and I experienced happiness like never before. My skin began to glow and my hair and nails became strong and healthy. I fell in love with this new fruit-filled lifestyle, eating lots of mangos, durian, jackfruit, sapodillas, and so many other amazing tropical fruits.
Although my sudden digestive issues caused a rapid weight loss, it has nothing to do with why I am 117 pounds today. I could easily gain weight back if I reverted back to my old ways, as I have seen it happen when I consumed to much fat, salt or cooked food. The low-fat raw vegan lifestyle keeps me happy, healthy, and high-energy.
I feel lucky that I have gained access into this seemingly small, yet incredibly fulfilling world of health. I cherish the lasting friendships I have made through this lifestyle. The daily support I receive from my biological and chosen family is astounding.
Following my success, my parents have both seen improved health from incorporating more raw fruits and vegetables in their diet, such as, decreased cholesterol, eliminated joint pain, improved mental clarity, focus, and mood, more energy, and better overall digestion and elimination. My younger brother is vegan and mostly eat some raw food too, he enjoys experiencing the wide world of fruit.
Achieving your health goals can be as easy or hard as you choose to make it. I have benefited from this experience in so many ways and am grateful for the knowledge I have acquired along the way. Once the information has been given to you, it is your responsibility to implement what you have learned, seek out the support you need, and take charge of your own health.