Saturday, September 17, 2011

If you are what you eat...what am I?

Everyone in the health world seems to define themselves by how they eat.  It's very common to hear "I am Raw."  "I am Vegan." "I am Vegetarian." "I am Gluten Free." This seemed quite odd to me because I am used to defining myself by "I am a teacher.  I am a mom.  I am a child of God." etc...   When I was asked:  "Amy!  Are you going Raw?"   I had NO idea what that meant!  And honestly, it kind of freaked me out.  Once I began learning about eating healthy, I spent quite a few weeks learning this entirely new vocabulary and determining how it could/would apply to my life.  What new "I am" would I become?

All I knew at that time was that I wanted to eat healthier than I already was.  I dove into this strange new world like this:  Initially I was doing Weight Watchers.  I began to find it curious that foods I knew were extremely healthy (i.e. avocados and sunflower seeds) were the highest point values and therefore foods to avoid eating.  That didn't make sense to me.  One day I remembered my sister talking about eating right for your blood type so I Swagbucksed it and found Eat Right 4 Your Type by Dr Peter J. D'Adamo.  Another click and I learned that, for my A+ blood-type, I should be eating a vegetarian-type diet. (I highly recommend checking this link and reading about your blood-type.  You'll learn a lot more than just what foods to eat/not eat.  I began to understand a lot about what makes me me through this site.)  The very next day my neighbor asked me to "like" a FB page so that she could win a free un-cookbook and so began my interest in eating Raw.  Because, I rationalized, raw foods must be vegetables, I needed to learn about this to feed my blood-type.  Then I learned that just about all raw foods are also vegan foods.  And finally I read The Eat-Clean Diet Recharged by Tosca Reno and began to learn about eating clean.  At that point I figured I was going to become all of the above!

As I settled into Clean Eating (with about 60% of that being raw foods), I began to realize that certain recipes that were vegan weren't clean.  And some vegetarian recipes weren't clean either.  Suddenly I was confused again.  Weren't they all the same?  Vegan was vegetarian, vegetarian was raw and all of it was clean?  NO it was not to be!  And so more research ensued.  Here is a summary (extremely simplified) of what I learned.

What is Vegetarian?  A person who chooses to eat plant-based foods (i.e. fruits/vegetables) and who does not eat meat (i.e. red meat, poultry or seafood).  They may or may not eat animal by-products such as dairy and eggs.

What is Vegan?  A person who is vegan is an extreme vegetarian (my choice of words).  All the above rules apply PLUS all animal by-products such as dairy, eggs and honey.

What is Raw?  Eating a raw food diet is a lifestyle choice that includes whole foods that are as close to nature as possible.  These foods are uncooked, unprocessed, and preferably organic.  By not heating foods above 104 to 118 degrees Fahrenheit (40 to 47 degrees Celsius), the inherent enzymes and nutrients are preserved enabling for optimal nutrition. (info taken from here.)  You will almost always hear Raw-Vegan used together.

What is Clean Eating?  To understand what it means to Eat Clean, click here.  Or just click on the "Clean Eating" page above.  Clean Eating was the most appealing to me because it included eating whole foods and cutting out all processed foods and sugars from my diet.  I could easily combine Raw with Clean Eating.  One simple rule to Clean Eating is: if you can't read it, don't eat it.  All those crazy big words on labels...they're basically poisons to our bodies and we need to stay away from them. The process of transition for me was not easy!  It's taken me months to accomplish this and even now there are a few things that keep catching me by surprise...or temptations that pop up that are too hard to pass by. 

What I began to discover, though, was that some vegan and vegetarian recipes would contain sugar or other ingredients that were not allowed in Clean Eating.  So I've learned that I need to read recipes and ingredient labels carefully.  And that I am not a vegetarian (I still eat chicken & pork 1-2 times a week) and I'm not vegan (I cook with eggs, and go through a TON of honey!) and I'm not Raw (I eat cooked foods).  So I determined that I am going to be a Clean Eater and this lifestyle change will incorporate some vegetarian and vegan recipes that follow the rules of clean eating.  Fortunately all Raw recipes are also clean.  So I currently eat about 95% Clean with 60% of that being Raw.  I guesstimate 5% of the time I fail in all of the above.

I will emphasize a lot in my blog that the use of the word "diet" with these styles of eating does not mean "way to lose weight" but instead it means "lifestyle of eating".  If you are considering incorporating a Clean Eating diet plan...don't do it unless you're willing to do it for the rest of your life.  It should be a lifestyle change, not a 2-week crash course to weight-loss.  But I do hope you will join me and discover how fantastic the health benefits are!

And now I'm off to my first Farmer's Market.  So much more for me to learn...and fun to be had!  (I'm sure I'll be sharing about that soon :-)

Share: What are you?  Are you a sugaraholic and processed food junkie still?  What do you hope to be and why?

*I was surprised to read that Vegans do not eat honey.  I'm not positive on that info being accurate as I know my Raw friends who are also Vegan eat honey.

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