The Raw Food Solution with Paul Nison
"Your food shall be your
remedies, and your remedies shall be your food." -- Hippocrates
"Always take a good look at what you're about to eat. It's not so
important to know what it is, but it's critical to know what it
was." --Texas Bix Bender, "Cowboy Wisdom"
It seems a particularly Western idea that in order to attain a high
level of health, it must be something we eat, drink or otherwise ingest.
The search for a "magic pill," fueled by unrelenting
pharmaceutical media campaigns, enforces this belief. "Here, take
this for your headache, take these to lose that weight, and smear this
stuff on your face for everlasting beauty," yell the pitch men--and
we obey, opening our wallets and in many cases ignoring common sense in
Other cultures focus on such things as yoga, breath, mantras and karma.
More archaic societies focused on spirits, gods, ancestor worship, and
shamanistic blessings. Of course, these time-intensive alternatives
would never do for our breakneck lifestyles where instant gratification
is aim of most daily or weekly endeavors.
A fine compromise between these two divergent health strategies is the
raw food lifestyle. This month we spoke with raw food advocate, Paul
Nison, who was in town on yet another tour of the country touting the
true health benefits of eating raw food.
"People are getting interested in it for several reasons,' observes
Paul. "One reason is that they're sick and they hear that it will
cure them. Another reason is it's a trend, or people think it's a trend.
Hollywood's picking up on it, so people want to follow what's in trend.
But it's not really a trend. It's a diet--it's a way of eating. People
just want to feel better, and they want to avoid disease and illness.
They see people who are doing this with such great results, and it makes
so much sense, that they figure they're going to try it."
Paul was led inadvertently to the raw food lifestyle at age 19 via a
diagnosis of ulcerative colitis--one of the most painful of intestinal
disorders. "I got colitis flare-ups about six times per year,"
says Paul. "Every time I went to the doctor, she told me to stay
away from dairy foods until I felt better. Then she increased the dosage
of steroids she was giving me. When I felt better after a few weeks, she
said it was okay to eat dairy foods again. After that I began to
eliminate whatever the doctors told me was okay to eat. Eggs, meat, and
sugar to name just a few. I told my doctor I felt better without these
foods. She told me food had nothing to do with my condition. After
hearing that from her, I knew I was on the right track."
As Paul continued to eliminate cooked foods from his diet, he also
continued to research the lifestyle, being greatly influenced by Dave
Klein (Publisher/Editor of Living Nutrition magazine), and David Wolfe,
who had books and radio programs circulating. Joining raw food support
groups, and networking with other raw fooders, Paul ended up with a 100%
raw diet. "Since going 100% raw, I have completely overcome
ulcerative colitis. I feel better than ever and have become increasingly
inspired about life. I quit my stressful job and began working as a raw
food chef in a vegetarian restaurant. I organize raw-food potlucks every
month. I have started a raw food support group, and I give lectures on
the raw food lifestyle to help others that have gotten their wake-up
One misconception about adopting a raw food diet is that it is
time-consuming, and complicated. Paul points out that it is really just
a matter of doing the learning curve and being aware and alert to raw
opportunities. "It's the quickest, the easiest, the cheapest, and
has the most variety of foods of any type of diet in the world. So any
of those reasons alone would be positive reasons why to eat this
way," enthuses Paul.
Paul has written three books. His first, The Raw Life presents
practical, easy and smart ways to incorporate raw foods into a cooked
diet, and how to transition to 100% raw. He has interviewed dozens of
long-time raw foodists, who divulge their strategies and ways of
thinking about eating.
Making the transition to raw food also takes some self-reflection and an
awareness of habitual patterns. "I find that people eat too much
sugar, too much fat, too much protein and too little green food,"
says Paul. "Then they switch to a vegetarian diet, but keep doing
the same thing, and keep running into the same problems. Then they
switch to a raw diet, but continue to eat too much sugar and too much
fat and too little green food, and they run into the same health
Variety is the key to consistency in any diet, and raw fooding is no
exception. Cravings for such things as pizza, lasagna, ice cream, pies,
and candy can, amazingly enough, be mimicked with raw, uncooked foods.
"There is such an amazing variety of raw foods, but people aren't
aware of it," says Paul. "People need to get a raw food recipe
book and make some recipes. Anything you can make on a cooked food diet,
you can eat on a raw food diet. You can make raw food pizzas, you can
make raw food hamburgers, raw food pies. You can make lasagna--you can
make everything with raw foods."
Lately Paul has been traveling the world to experience new cultures and
exotic fruits, and although he travels to native climes, most exotic
fruits and vegetables are available in America. "There are so many
kinds of fruits in this world, you could eat one different fruit every
day for the rest of your life and not come close to tasting all the
fruits of the world. We get most of them in this country. They don't
grow here, but we get them here. People have to open up their horizons
and shop at Asian markets or Latin groceries and see the different types
of foods that are out there."
Just going to Safeway and rummaging around in the produce section, isn't
going to fully accomplish shopping goals for raw fooding. Several
factors come into play, as Paul points out: "The most important
thing when eating raw food, is we want it to be the highest quality
possible. That would be raw, fresh, ripe and organic. Now, it's very
easy in today's world to get raw and organic. Ripe and fresh is another
story. You've got to work really hard to find where we can get ripe and
fresh foods. But raw and organic is everywhere. Organic is so important
because it's a high quality food, and when it's not, it's a low quality
food. Some of the dirtiest water we can get comes from un-organic fruits
and vegetables." Paul recommends searching the internet for
resources in local areas, as well as hooking up with raw food groups
that are springing up everywhere.
Raw fooding is basically anti-technological. ""We don't need
anything other than our fingers. We don't even need utensils when we're
eating raw, uncooked vegetables and fruits," notes Paul.
"However, there are some things that will make things easier, but
they're not definitely needed. A good blender, a juicer, a knife and a
cutting board, are the four things I would highly recommend."
Food isn't everything...
In his travels, Paul has heard it all when it comes to symptoms,
diseases and conditions people want to heal by raw fooding.
"Probably the most popular problem is problems with Candida, which
is actually one of the major causes of more severe health
problems," declares Paul. "Everything from cancer to
arthritis, to chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel disease,
inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes--the raw food diet will heal every
disease out there that is caused by diet. But, a person won't
necessarily stay healed if they're only going to look to food for the
answer. There are spiritual ways to heal, also. For example, if a person
is eating the best diet in the world, but they're holding on to
bitterness, and they're not forgiving other people for things, they
could very well get some diseases. Vice versa, somebody could eat badly,
and have that down and be healthy. There are many factors other than
just food that affect our health, but we don't have to worry about food
when we eat raw food."
About the Author
Boyd is the webmaster of www.subtleenergysolutions.com
and the newsletter writer for that site. He enjoys a wide range of
experience both in the ways of the internet, alternative health,
environmental issues, and in freelance writing. An active, professional
drummer, Boyd performs in the Portland area with several area blues and
R&B bands. Boyd is also an avid, daily practicing Bikram Yoga
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