When I first heard that Matt and Angela were coming to Melbourne I did what most people do and googled them. After watching Matt’s vids on YouTube, and reading about Angela on her blog. I was doubtful about spending an entire afternoon listening to a young guy from California, sporting dreadlocks and a tanned body, talk about his great adventures eating raw. Angela; well, her story sounded good, but I didn’t have a weight problem and have always been wary of D*** word.
How glad I was then to have decided to go after all. OK, so I am already eating 100% raw, but have only been doing it for a short time. Matt is into his eighth year of eating only raw foods, and Angela has been eating raw for six. I wanted to find out what to expect whilst going through those first few years of transition. I knew, from having given up alcohol in my late twenties, that it doesn’t just stop the day you have your last drink. I suffered immediate detox, but for up to 12-18 months later my body continued to release toxins.
in his search for more information, Matt turned to the work of Dr Fred Bisci, who has been 50 years on a raw food diet. Dr Bisci, now in his 80’s spends most of his time supporting people healing from degenerative diseases (cancer and the like). The transition diet that Matt recommends in his first book is based on Dr Bisci’s work.
Matt and angela are examples of two completely different approaches to going raw. Matt, a self-admitted extremist ( I would count myself in that category), went 100% raw overnight. He said it happened after he read Dr Norman Walker’s book, Becoming Younger. I’m a fan of Norman Walker as well, and his juicing book is my juice bible.
Angela on the other hand, started eating raw when her weight reached 120kgs. For her the detox effect was so great that she slowed her transition by eating about 70% raw. Even whilst eating 30% cooked food, she lost 50kg in her first year of this diet. Mind-boggling. That is equivalent to my current bodyweight! Angela now eats 100% raw, having transitioned gradually on a combination of raw and cooked foods.
Matt’s key message was “you don’t have to eat 100% raw to achieve the benefits of a healthier body”. And angela underscored this with “you don’t get a halo for eating 100% raw”. Yes, it is easy at the beginning to think that anything less than 100% is failure. Being a perfectionist, that was my initial thought. At the beginning I really did think that a completely raw diet was too big a mountain to climb. But taking one step at a time has given me an opportunity to enjoy the journey along the way.
The Food Groups
These are the groups that Matt explains in his most recent book, Raw Success.
- Refined sugar (as found in sweets, bakery items, cakes, biscuits . . . you know)
- Animal protein
- Processed starches (the most common are bread, pasta, cereal)
- Raw vegan foods (fruit, vegetables, nuts, sprouts, seeds)
Interesting to me (a vegan who understands the dangers of animal protein; read Colin Campbell, The China Study), Matt’s view (and Dr Fred Bisci’s) is that the TWO most damaging food groups are refined sugar and processed starches.
Matt gave us three core principles for raw food eating. These come from his own experience and from studying Dr Fred Bisci’s methods.
What you leave out of your diet completely and without exception is the way to ultimate health
In other words, even if you ONLY cut out (completely) refined sugar and processed starches from your diet, and didn’t eat entirely raw foods, Matt believes you will still see significant health benefits. This is important. I realise now I learnt this in one of my dietary adventures 3 years ago, but didn’t recognise it at the time.
Essential when on 100% raw diet to assist with removing the build-up of waste. This has to be the most useful message I got from the afternoon’s talk. People on 100% raw food diet are detoxing quickly and waste is being eliminated at a cellular level from the entire body. Years and years of waste and toxins. The body’s normal elimination channels – the skin, bowel, lungs – are not capable of clearing the toxins out of the body fast enough. So we need a little help in the form of colonics. This prevents us from becoming ill and experiencing the side effects of de-toxing, or autotoxic (forcing the body to re-absorb its own waste) reaction. Read matt's article on "the missing link".
Green vegetable juices
Being an avid juicer for several years, this was not news. Fresh organic vegetable juice (in particular the green juices) is the way to ensure that the body receives enough minerals to remain completely nourished and keep the system alkaline. On a raw food diet, it is simply not possible to get that level of nourishment from eating the vegetables. Juice goes straight to the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive process. Smoothies vs juicing is an interesting conversation that raw foodies have, and matt’s views of this are in his article "juicing vs blending". Norm Walker followed this principle and I tend to agree. I experience the vitality and health that comes from drinking juice daily.
This is just the summary of matt’s talk. Woven into these core principles matt also discussed enzymes, the cleansing properties of fruit, use of supplements, some good juice combinations, the gas diffusion principle (explained fully in raw success), bowel bacteria, water and much, much more.
There are many reasons for eating raw, and for most, it is focussed around better physical health, which of course is a good place to start. One of the beautiful outcomes of eating more raw food is that it raises the body’s vibrational levels and increases awareness of and receptivity to nature and our spiritual being. Personally I was glad to hear Matt talk about the spiritual changes in his life, including the opening of his third eye and solar plexus chakras. Joe Alexander (a blatant raw foodist) also makes reference to this in relation to his creativity. As a visual artist, he discovered that eating raw food sharpened his sense of colour and enabled him to draw more vibrant and lively compositions.
Angela’s story of morbid obesity began with an underactive thyroid at age 11. After transitioning to raw food, she is now half the size she was, and certainly twice the person. Angela’s skin literally glowed with health. She talked about how so many people try eating raw, often jumping in to 100%, then hit some kind of detox wall . . . only to go back to cooked food. Her philosophy is to start with where you are, but more importantly: start NOW! By start, she means at least 50% raw. Eating at least 50% raw is all you need to do to see some benefits.
What does 50% raw mean?
Percentages are rife in the raw food community. Angela explained thus. If you have a dinner plate, and half of the plate has spaghetti and meatballs on it with the other half containing a few leaves of lettuce, some tomato, and cucumber, let’s say. That is 50% raw by VOLUME. But the spaghetti and meatballs weight more than the lettuce leaves. So when we talk about 50% raw, it means by WEIGHT.
Top ten tips for going raw
Angela gave us her top ten tips for going on to a raw food lifestyle.
- Start now
- It is a lifestyle, not a diet
- Eat whole foods
- Do it for yourself. There is no need to convert other people
- Have a supportive social network
(raw food communities are popping up everywhere – even Melbourne!)
- Dry skin brushing helps remove dead skin and stimulates the lymph system, aiding elimination
- Chew your food well (matt talks about Fletcherising in his book raw success)
- Have your greens (1 green juice every day)
- Structure – recognise it is always changing (what Angela eats now is different from what she ate 18 months ago, 6 months ago)
- Seaweed is important for minerals; sprouts are the best form of live food; and, water, drink plenty of it and as pure as possible (matt discussed the benefits of distilled water)
Angela talked about her recent Juice Feasting experience, eating (drinking) nothing but raw juices for 92 days. There’s a global movement (excuse the pun) of juice feasters. This is something I’d like to try. One day. According to the geneticist on ted.com, it is possible to change your genetic structure within 90 days.
Thanks Matt and Angela. I’ve come away from this talk inspired to make some micro-adjustments to my current raw lifestyle. 1. Start the colonics next week. My body is wanting it. 2. Today I started straining my juices – and wow, I can really taste the difference. 3. Attempt to avoid snacking between meals and no eating late. This has always been hardest for me, but I know the benefits. 4. Go back to doing a green juice in the afternoons. I gave that up over a year ago when I returned to full-time work. It’s a chore to clean out the juicer twice a day, but now I have so much more energy . . .