Our idea of what constitutes "food" in American culture has become so skewed that it is almost unrecognizable. Our supermarkets are packed with products whose ingredients include unpronounceable chemicals, dyes, bacteria, and growth hormones. They are irradiated without our consent and contain GMOs.It's time to bring back FOOD. Pure unadulterated organic RAW food.This blog is a documentation of my continuing journey on a plant-based lifestyle.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Overeaters Guide to (Stop) Overeating


Ok, so let's be honest. Raw Food Potlucks are the bomb! It doesn't get much better than sharing delicious food with like-minded people. For me, as a raw food chef, it is a chance to test my new recipes on people who are not family. Potlucks are my favorite part of being a raw foodist: Lots of yummy food, that's well...free! However, for some, the potluck can turn into a serious digestive complication that can leave you bloated and wishing you hadn't gone back for that second...or third...plate of food. And this is a crime which I have committed more times than I would like to admit, but, fear not, there is hope on the other side! It IS possible to go to a raw food potluck, indulge, and not feel like death afterwards.

My overeating began in my teenager years and its roots are purely emotional. Even to this day, certain foods instantly take me back to a certain memory: everything bagels with cream cheese = Christmas morning. Not to mention the fact that I just really LOVE food. I have always been pretty lean as well and never really thought about the connection that food and ones body had. In my junior year of high school I became aware of my body and the fact that sure I was thin..but, I could always be thinner. (I never said my story was original as I believe most girls find themselves in this position when they hit adolescence.)

My best friend got me into the Atkins Diet which is one of the most dangerous fad diets out there. It is based on the"low-carb" principle which means that the consumption of meat and cheese is paramount because both contain barely any carbs. (Just LOADS of fat and calories, oye.)  You are instructed to not eat any fruits and veggies for the first two weeks and only 20 carbs a day. I have never been so hungry in my life.

This lead me down a horrible road of more fad diets, binging, and then starving myself. When I binged, I would eat ten egg omelets or an ENTIRE loaf of "low-carb bread" with butter and jam. I could easily eat half a block of cheese and I CRAVED red meat. One time, my friend and I ate an entire package of Jimmy Dean sausages. And all this time I was wondering why my skin was so bad, my stomach ALWAYS bloated, and why I was always sick and tired. By the time I got to college I had let go over my binging and starving, but my eating was still Atkins-centered, full of fat, factory-farmed meat, and pounds of cheese. All my salads were loaded with blue-cheese dressing and cottage cheese. I would eat three burgers w/ cheese minus the bun. (Notice the dairy pattern here??) I don't even want to get into the cartons of ice cream I consumed on my own during this perilous dietary abomination. Oh, what my body has endured! When I think back, it all makes sense now. Ahh, so that's the reason why I couldn't fit into my pants, why I had the worst/longest/heaviest periods ever, and had migraines so bad that I had to go to the hospital twice. Not to mention the random bouts of depression.

When you eat this way, you get what you deserve. Eventually your body just says, screw it, and stops fighting. This is where disease and illness comes into play as your body slowly degenerates. To this day I am STILL repairing my digestive system and working on eliminating all the poly cystic fibroid I created from such high meat consumption. Meat takes at the very least 3 or 4 days to digest and by the time it makes it out of your body (if it ever does) it is no longer meat, but rather a petrified/fermented/rotten mess which only means problems for your stomach, intestines, and colon. Your body has to work overtime to break down that meat and in the process uric acid and a host of other toxins are released into the body. Cancer anyone?

When I became vegan, things improved, but, still were not as great as they could have been. I went vegan essentially because I couldn't stand it anymore. Every time I ate I felt sick - like I was going to puke. Trust me, I wish I could say it was for ethical reasons, unfortunately, it was purely health-related. (Although, a sure blessing in disguise as it has lead me here!) As a vegan I ate A LOT of tofu. And often I ate eggs and fish.  (I was far from the model vegan!) My digestive system was still pretty shot and tofu contains a digestive inhibitor which really didn't help matters. Veganism lead me back into my old habits of overeating because I was always hungry. I would go out to dinner. Eat. And be thinking about what I could eat when I got home. The notion of digestive combining or spacing my meals to let my food be broken down and absorbed was not on my radar.

Not sure where I read it, maybe Alissa Cohen's book, Living on Live Foods, but I believe she said that people who are seriously underweight and those who are overweight share the same problem -- they are malnourished. Both sides usually have a poor diet and their bodies are forced to work extra hard to try and find the nutrients it needs to survive and sustain itself. I don't think I was ever getting the proper amounts of nutrients my body needed and therefore, I was constantly hungry. Naturally, my body was yearning for the correct vitamins and minerals to feel satiated.

It wasn't until I became a raw foodist that I found some sort of balence and overeating peace. I finally would eat and feel full,  but not gross and bloated. I didn't even have the urge to overeat anymore which was something that I hadn't experienced in years! I stopped fixating on my food in general as I had read in Victoria's book 12 Steps to Going Raw about intuitive eating; in essense your body will crave what it needs -- so if you want to eat a basket of figs or a whole watermelon go right ahead! I live by this principle still and I have been a raw foodist for two years at almost 100 percent. When you eat this way your body just knows what it wants and when to stop eating; it's whether we choose to listen or not that makes the difference.

And then I discovered Raw Food Heaven -- the Potluck. (Hope I haven't digressed too much as this IS supposed to be about potlucks!) My first was at Arnold's Way in Lansdale, PA; a cute store/cafe whose owner, Arnold, has been raw for eons and works very hard at helping people go and stay raw through green smoothies. (He has tons of videos on youtube.com from people who have healed themselves of a myriad of illnesses ranging from diabetes to all types of cancer all using raw foods.) It was here that I met two of my best friends and sometimes stuffed myself to the point where I could barely stand up. Then came the familiar feeling of guilt that always accompained my overeating and of course the bloat and swearing that I was never going to do this again. They say that when you have negative feelings while you eat, you compromise digestion. So, not only was I overeating, but the feelings that came with overeating only further compromised my digestive process.

When I came to California and found the Orange County potlucks on meetup.com I made a promise to myself that I was not going to over-indulge. I wanted to start fresh and prove that I was capable of controlling myself. My first potluck was not a sure success. I would say that I didn't totally overeat, but I was definitely filled to my max. I waited about four or five hours before eating again. However, I ate way to many figs and then a green smoothie which made me feel sick.

My second potluck was this past weekend in Laguna Beach. For the first time I did not overeat!!  I knew that I was in more of a dessert mood and decided to save room for that versus the savory dishes.  It really is so hard not to keep eating because when things taste good I don't want to stop. Nevertheless, to have a happy belly, it really is a must, esp. for someone who has always had digestive problems.

I have been on a quest to find the best digestive supplements since I started taking them a year ago. Honestly, I do not know how I ever survived without them. I am not a supplement type of person, but I really think digestive enzymes are crucial regardless of how you eat. Two of the best are Healthforce Nutritionals and MRM Digestive Enzymes.



With the holidays coming up, a notorious time for stuffing thy face, here are some tips I use to try to control my urge to over-indulge:


-Pace yourself!
-Take smaller portions so if you plan to go back up for seconds.
-Think positive: when you are positive about what you are eating your digestion of that food will be much better.
-TAKE DIGESTIVE ENZYMES WITH YOUR MEAL. I never leave home without them. They are imperative for a happy non-bloated tum!
-Eat slowly.
-CHEW YOUR FOOD. Gosh, cannot tell you how important this is. It keeps you in the moment w/ your food and your body won't have to work as hard to digest.
-Fast pre-potluck. On potluck days I have a green smoothie and that is about it. And I always make sure to drink A LOT of water before you eat.
-Wait 30 minutes to one hour before drinking anything after or during your meal.
- Always wait at least 3 hours from your last bite to eat again.
-After the potluck drink some digestive tea.

If you follow these tips you are sure to prevent both the emotional and physical issues that plague us overeaters!

*pictures are from google images