Like many (if not all) expecting mothers, I wanted everything to be perfect when my little one arrived. I wanted the perfect carrier, the perfect sleeping arrangement and among many other things I wanted to raise my child with the perfect foods. In my opinion those perfect foods were raw, living vegan foods. When I got pregnant I had been raw for about five months. To my dismay, pregnancy can sure throw a wrench into a perfectly inexperienced plan. The reality of the situation is that many of the lessons that I needed to learn in order to make raw foods work for our family were still to come.
Looking back, the good news was that I didn’t have a raw pregnancy like I had originally dreamed. I had been eating raw foods in a way that I can only compare to what I call “a junk food vegetarian”. These are people that don’t eat any animals but don’t eat many vegetables either. There isn’t much veggie in their tarians. For months I had been eating some salads, a lot of nuts and dried fruits, some smoothies and an occasional juice and fruit. I didn’t experience many healing benefits, I developed pretty bad acne, which could have been detox but also could have been dehydration, and I lost minimal weight. There is no way that I could have sustained a pregnancy like this. The day that my husband came home to discover a half-eaten roasted chicken by his long-time vegetarian wife is a memory I won’t soon forget! I did do something great in those months that followed and that was to give myself the gift of eating instinctually. At times that instinct did lead me to the drive-thru for a chocolate shake, but by the end of my pregnancy I found myself going through mandarin oranges and apples by the crate. Eating instinctually was a great practice and definitely a beginning step to the overall success in diet changes that have come since.
The next transition that I went through with raw foods came when my son was about six months old. That urge to be all raw came again but instead of hitting it hard and setting myself up for potential failure, I made a small achievable goal with raw foods. It set me up to experience my first tastes of its benefits but, far more importantly, set my son up with the best first foods possible. At this point I began starting my day with a fresh pressed juice or smoothie after my son and I went for our morning walk to the market. I would then usually follow with a raw lunch of salad or something else relatively simple to make. I did dabble with my new dehydrator and food processor, but I believe the most success was achieved from the morning meal. My eczema started to clear up and I found energy and brighter moods that I hadn’t previously experienced. It was a wonderful first step. As for my son, I found an incredible resource in the book Rainbow Live-Food Cuisine which, at the time, was one of the only published raw food resources for raising children raw. We stuck mainly to fruit and avocado, all freshly pureed for the first little while and eventually at 9 months started adding Green Smoothies. I remember the first time that Cillian drank one up in our kitchen. It was romaine, water and bananas and he drank it up ravenously as if it was the most incredible food he had ever tasted. It was also in these months that I would find my little guy nibbling on green leaves like spinach that he would help himself to right out of the fridge.
From there the next major change that we experienced was about a year later when I decided to go 100% raw for 3 months while blogging about my experience. Again, I kept things simple. Green Smoothies and juices in the morning, simple raw foods like salads or easy to prepare meals for lunch and dinner with lots of fruits for snacks in between. Once a week I prepared a full gourmet meal with salad, entrée and dessert. To this day, my specialty is undoubtedly my desserts. There is one teeny, tiny part of me that does regret that I made it to 2 ½ months and gave up. But I believe there was a bigger lesson outside of food and diet that needed to be addressed. If I had made it to the end, it’s possible I might have missed it.
So you may be wondering if I was making all this raw food and still cooking for my son and husband. Yes, I was. And if you are also wondering why I gave up with just 2 short weeks to go, it was also because of my son but mostly my husband. Now not in a million years did he ask me to give up, or even give me a hard time about my diet change or having to eat raw eggplant pizzas on Wednesday nights. It was all me. I was beginning to feel disconnected to my family because of the division at the dinner table and so I confidently decided that 100% raw foods was not for me. Now that a year and a half has passed since then, many more lessons have been learned. Many more connections with my husband and son have deepened outside of food and meals, and the gap between me during those 2 ½ months and me right this second has closed substantially. I look forward to the natural transition to all raw foods that I believe is a definite part of my future. As for the boys, they eat raw food dinners that I prepare and drink their Green Smoothies when I place them under their noses. In particular my sweet little Cillian is a dynamo in the raw foods kitchen. He recently created his very own first smoothie recipe, and he can gobble down a raw nut burger on a leafy lettuce bun unlike anyone I know. He especially benefits when I go on little cleanses of my own, because there is that much more nutrient dense food around the house for him to nibble on.
They say that only 1% of the population can make a drastic change, like going 100% raw, and make it stick overnight . I am not one of those people. Since the majority of the people that I know aren’t those people either, I feel that it is far more important for you all to know that raw foods does not have to be all or nothing. Personally I wouldn’t want us all going raw overnight anyway. That would be a lot of detox at once and a lot of general crankiness that could better be avoided! My top four recommendations that I think everyone needs to include in their lives (and not just raw foods) are:
•Small, easy, achievable, winnable goals that we are completely passionate about
•A positive outlook on illness. Our bodies are talking to us and we are not slowing down to listen.
As for the present day state of affairs, the gap between my reality and my ideal lifestyle is gradually closing and is already so much smaller than it was when I first started my raw foods journey. I am finally at a point where I am ready to look inside at attachment to food, eating mindfully and letting go of emotional eating patterns. That is a huge growth for someone like me that normally just focuses on body image. As for my little ones involvement, without him realizing it, he has kept me accountable and far more on track and honest than I could have ever possibly been about this journey if he wasn’t doing it with me. He has kept me passionate about the health of the world and has never allowed me much time to wallow in self-pity. Most importantly, if I didn’t see the positive results that I do in him I would be missing out on the landmark observations I’ve made – children are perfect just as they are and they are here to teach us.
Summer is the perfect time to embrace raw foods into your diet. I highly recommend visiting your local farmer’s market and checking out the incredible selection of greens that is offered that can’t be found at any grocery store. Bring some home, blend them up with water and then add your favourite seasonal fruits. After a couple of days of Green Smoothies, you might just find yourself craving one!
Green Smoothie Popsicles
2 C Spinach or Chard
2 C Frozen Berries
1 C Water
Blend greens and water until liquefied. Add fruit and blend until smooth. Pour into popsicle mold.
My Absolute Favourite Green Smoothie
1 C of your favourite greens
1 C of fresh squeezed orange juice
1 C water
2 C frozen blueberries
Blend greens and water until liquefied. Add fruit and blend until smooth. Enjoy!
Suzanne Serwatuk Seeger is an actor, entrepreneur, writer and raw food chef. She blogs about her adventures in parenting, knitting, sewing, acting and raw foods at Enchanted Chameleon . She just wrapped up coaching over 200 people in a 2 week Green Smoothie Challenge, and her mobile juice and smoothie bar Juice Caboose will be at Vancouver Farmer’s Markets June 2010. Suzanne resides in North Vancouver with her husband Jeff and son Cillian.