Janie Gardener, Kauai, Hawaii
I first came into contact with Dr. Graham through his VegSource online discussion board about raw foods and sports nutrition. My visit there was prompted by my decision to eat raw again.
The first time I tried going raw I did it a differently—high fat, low fruit with ferments, condiments, oils, and the like. It worked better than any other diet I’d tried, but my body wanted me to do what Dr. Graham’s program is all about, even though I did not know Dr. Graham or his program back then.
Too bad I didn’t have the guts to just go with it like he did. I’m glad I found my way back. Thank goodness I came across that discussion board and found out about Dr. Graham’s 80/10/10 low-fat raw vegan diet. It has made all the difference in the improvement of my health, well-being, and life. The differences are radically beyond anything I had experienced before, beyond my hopes and expectations, and into a whole new realm of health and vitality.
Prior to starting back on raw, I could see my health rapidly deteriorating before my eyes. In the summer of 2001, I was diagnosed with antiphospholipid antibody syndrome. This autoimmune condition literally means that you have antibodies that are attacking your own phosphorus fats. Symptoms are mostly related to a tendency of the blood to clot and/or bleed excessively but also include heart attack, stroke, and easily bruised and sunburned skin, as well as miscarriages. The condition is found in lupus patients, but does not always develop into lupus or in all lupus patients.
I had at least four miscarriages and a host of other health problems before it was diagnosed. I spent some time following my MD’s suggestions (aspirin), then my chiropractor’s suggestions (fish oil), and a mix of alternating between the two, but it was just getting worse—and I had the side effects of the “medicine” to deal with as well. I tried eating more EFA-rich foods like salmon, flaxseed oil, walnuts, etc., but that didn’t help either.
When I switched to Dr. Graham’s program, I decided to stop all of the fish and fish oil, flaxseed oil, and aspirin I had been taking. I started working on eating the 80/10/10 raw vegan way in June of 2002. At first I misunderstood the 10% (or lower) fat recommendation, thinking it referred to overt fats, not all fats, as I couldn’t imagine not eating much overt fat. I had been eating a very high-fat diet all of my life, including when I ate raw/living foods the last time around.
Thus, I started out by keeping my overt fat intake down to not more than 10% of calories (about 20% overall), which isn’t quite 80/10/10. This intermediate step allowed me to get things going well enough to experience fantastic results and inspired me to keep on going. About six months into it, I discovered my mistake and adjusted my diet and activity level so that I was able to meet the recommendations soon afterwards. I don’t think I could have done 80/10/10 without this transition, even if I had understood it from the beginning.
I had enormous improvements in my first six months, even with my 20%-ish fat intake. The improvements were way beyond those I had experienced eating any other way (including other variants of the raw/living-food diet). I am now doing 80/10/10 fully, have taken no supplements or medications of any kind since the beginning, and I feel great! All of my symptoms have improved and in some cases, disappeared! I am wonderfully pleased with the results!
Backing up a bit, in college I became a vegetarian, and eventually a vegan, trying various versions of both. At the age of twenty-three, on a cooked vegan diet, I gave birth to my son and raised him on cooked vegan food. I discovered Natural Hygiene and living foods when he was a toddler and worked toward eating a vegan raw/living-food diet.
When my son was about seven years old, my husband and I decided to birth another child. It took a few years before I became pregnant. Unfortunately, I miscarried. My family and I had been following the living-food diet for about a year and a half. During that time, I was eating for nutrients and even created a custom Microsoft Access database to track my nutrient intake. This enabled me to compare my intake with the requirements for a pregnant woman, and assure myself that I was meeting all of the RDAs.
Some people, including my midwife, blamed my diet, assuming a lack of protein or “something,” although my OB/GYN (an MD), upon seeing my diet, did not think it was diet related. Even though my database indicated I was getting plenty of protein, I was unsure, as my husband was concerned about protein overall, and we had a friend who’d failed on raw claiming lack of protein as the culprit. (We now realize it was due to other conditions.)
I also was not listening to my body’s desire for a diet like 80/10/10, as I was surrounded by fruit-fearing, living-food misinformation. I was eating for nutrients rather than health, and I was not feeling as vital as I could have on raw, as a result. Since I had my son while eating a vegan diet (including cooked), I decided to temporarily go back to cooked vegan (with raw) in order to have another child, and planned to go back to raw afterwards. Too bad I didn’t know Dr. Graham then. I could have saved a lot of time and heartache.
Going back to cooked vegan, of course, did not work, and I ended up having another miscarriage a year later. I decided to add in dairy and eggs and had another miscarriage the year after that. In the meantime I saw people who ate all sorts of diets and lived unhealthy lifestyles having children left and right. From my farmer’s perspective, I figured that maybe it was similar to the way plants go to seed when stressed, in order to continue their genetics before they die. I thought that perhaps I’d have a baby more easily if I was less healthy, and then I could regain my health afterwards. I was grasping at straws, trying whatever I could to have a baby.
During that third miscarriage I tried adding in poultry and fish and stayed on that diet to try again. I didn’t get pregnant for some time and thought, maybe I just couldn’t anymore. Years later, at the age of thirty six, I became pregnant again—unexpectedly—and again miscarried.
It wasn’t until this fourth confirmed miscarriage that additional blood work led to a diagnosis of antiphospholipid antibody syndrome. I gave up on birthing another child, because I did not want to take the drugs or risks involved, nor subject a child to them, either. In retrospect, it seems clear to me that my high-fat diet caused this condition and/or greatly contributed to it. After following Dr. Graham’s raw vegan program, including the reduced fat, which I feel is key, my observable symptoms of the autoimmune condition have either reduced or completely disappeared. And that is amazing.
Since our son is now an adult, we are not sure if we will attempt to birth any more children at this point. But at least I feel like it is a viable option again. Now that I am enjoying the best health and vitality of my life, I am confident that I would have a successful pregnancy and a healthy child, if I were to become pregnant while following the 80/10/10 plan.
Symptoms Gone Since 80/10/10
My condition tended to make my blood clot more readily, which affected my periods (and also caused the miscarriages). I no longer get the clots with my periods, nor the weird hormonal “off” feelings I’d get from ovulation through menstruation.
I no longer bruise mysteriously and easily with the littlest of bumps or pressure. In fact, it’s hard to get a bruise these days, even if I have some pretty major thing happen. Lesser events gave me major hematomas before. I also don’t get the “restless leg syndrome” all night anymore, or that pain in the veins and arteries of my legs that felt like a clot was forming (that got worse with aspirin or fish oil taken too late in the day).
I don’t know if it’s all gone yet, but I definitely know my condition isn’t getting worse (as it was when following the instructions of my MD and chiropractor). I do plan to get my blood tested when I can for the numerical proof; however, I don’t really think I need it anymore. I am fairly convinced that the condition is gone, or lowered to such a degree that it is not a problem anymore.
Unexpected Gains and Benefits
Dr. Graham’s program has improved my life not only in the ways I had hoped for, but also in ways I never imagined were possible. I have eaten 100% raw, low-fat vegan for more than four years so far, and things are still getting better every day. It’s amazing—absolutely amazing.
When I first read about Dr. Graham’s program, it made total sense to me and had the “ring” of truth. I had some questions about the volume and frequency of food at first, but soon learned (from my body) that my body agreed with even those recommendations. Admittedly, I tend to lean toward Natural Hygiene, and Dr. Graham’s recommendations are about the simplest and most efficient way of following Natural Hygiene I’ve found.
With every other diet change, my results were much more subtle than this. I’ve eaten variations of the standard American diet (SAD), SAD with no red meat, lacto-ovo vegetarian, lacto-vegetarian, vegan, vegan macrobiotic, vegan Natural Hygiene, and even raw (the living foods way), and others. I felt improvements with each diet change in different ways, but nothing came close to what I’ve experienced with Dr. Graham’s low-fat 80/10/10 diet. It’s worlds—no, universes—no, even more than that—different, and better.
I just can’t begin to describe the difference. My health has far surpassed the condition it has ever been in for as far back as I can remember. I have experienced improvements in my energy, vitality, abilities, attitude, and appearance that I never even imagined were possible. I don’t get so worn out at the end of the day anymore, and I sleep much more restfully. I have a new level of joy in my life, and I experience daily the plain enjoyment of being alive. I’m feeling less shy and more adventurous socially as well, so I’m more outgoing.
I am back to the clothing sizes I wore once I reached my adult height at the age of thirteen, yet am firmer and stronger than I was then. The stretch marks from the pregnancy of my now eighteen-year-old son have become firmer and less saggy—even when I’m on my hands and knees. I now get regular and varied exercise and plenty of recreation. I have greater strength, power, agility, muscle, and overall physical and mental abilities than ever before.
I recently broke a toe 90 minutes into a terrific Ashtanga yoga practice session, while I was doing a jump-through on a cement floor and didn’t quite lift enough (as I’m still a beginner)—oops! I had broken that toe on the other foot before 80/10/10 and had such a rough time with it back then. This time, even though it took a lot more to break the toe, it hardly swelled up, so it didn’t really hurt afterward. I am also more in touch with my body, so the toe healed much more quickly and smoothly than before. Last time I had to tape the toes together, wear a special shoe to walk, and keep it up for several weeks, in pain. This time my toe “said” it didn’t want taping. It was not painful, though it still wanted to be put up—but not as desperately, and it simply wanted mainly sleep for the first two weeks. I still had to work and walk at the farmer’s markets and in our garden, resulting in more time on the foot this time, yet it hurt less and healed faster.
At three weeks, my toe was what I would have considered completely healed before, as I could do everything I did before 80/10/10. That’s less than a third of the time it took the first time. Since I’m more active now than at any other time in my life, it took a few more weeks before I could do everything I was doing again—still less than half the time it took for a less-severe break that occurred before going low-fat raw vegan. My foot feels as good as new now and doesn’t give me any trouble in any of my activities, even with the contortions and stresses I put it through in the process. Nice.
Now I Love To Exercise!
The first thing that I noticed when switching from approximately 20% of calories from fat to 10% or less was that I felt better. My body seemed to get down to deeper repair work. My legs suddenly felt lighter and stronger, too, like they could jump really high more easily—and they wanted to, so I did. My husband was simultaneously amused and amazed.
When I first started eating low-fat raw vegan, I used to have to get my son or husband to carry the watermelons I got at the market. Now, not only do I carry them myself with ease, I can even carry two of them at a time—and they’re each twice as big, too!
For the first time in my life I actually truly want to exercise. I find myself looking for excuses to move my body, which is very foreign to me indeed. I had always been one to find excuses to sit where I was and not exercise. Never before have I experienced looking forward to my free time in order to exercise! As a result, I’m starting to look more athletic. People now think I’m a dancer or a gymnast.
I feel so physically adventurous now—loads more than I ever was before. I’m no daredevil or anything—I’m not skydiving or bungee jumping—but I have become more athletic, and I’m willing to try new things that require physical activity, purely for the fun of it or just to see if I can. (It’s not hard to be more willing than I used to be … heck, I wasn’t at all willing before.) I’m no bodybuilder, although my body’s been building itself quite nicely. I have been gaining strength, endurance, and muscle weight while eating this way—once I got rid of most of my excess fat, that is.
I discovered new physical abilities, as well. My balance, coordination, and dexterity dramatically improved somehow, even at the beginning, before I had been active much at all. My aerobic exercise had always been limited by my breathing capacity, because I would lose my breath long before my muscles would get enough of a workout to work out my heart.
Now, in retrospect and in comparison, it was like I had been running on dirty fuel when I exercised before. Suddenly, aerobic workouts felt so “clean” and “crisp.” I felt like I could go forever (but my heart wasn’t used to it, so I took it gradually). I could breathe really deeply and not have that sick and dirty feeling at the beginning. It was and still is great! Now when I’m exercising, I feel happy and my body feels happy, which makes me happier, which gives me more energy and motivation to keep exercising, which makes me even happier, and so on … I love it! I’ve never felt like this before.
Until I was following Dr. Graham’s program for a while, I never was able to do full-on push ups, even though I used to bodybuild a bit in college and could do hundreds of bent-knee push-ups in various hand arrangements when doing martial arts in high school. I discovered that I could do a full push-up after eating this way for a time, and I worked on them to see how many I could do. I got up to 23 in a row before I moved onto something else.
I later went back to push-ups, going airborne this time by quickly powering the pushing so that at the top of my full push-up my hands and toes hop off the ground while keeping my full body tight and straight! I got up to 15 in a row before I got sidetracked with pull-ups.
I got a pull-up/chin-up bar for myself and couldn’t even pull myself up enough to make a movement at first—as had been the case all my life. My husband showed me how to help myself with a step stool and after a month, I could lift myself halfway up. Exciting! It wasn’t much longer before one day I pulled myself all the way up—without the step stool. My chin was all the way above that bar on my own—not just above but high above, so the bar was at my chest and my chin was above the door! Not long after that, I became hooked on Ashtanga yoga practice, so I haven’t continued with the chin-ups much since. I’m having so much fun!
I went surfing for the first time ever about a year into the 80/10/10 lifestyle. I did pretty darn well, especially for a then thirty-eight-year-old mom who had only ridden a skateboard a few times (for only a few feet each time), a boogie board once, and a surfboard not at all. I stood up and rode the very first wave! I was catching little waves on my own and riding after only about 45 minutes. Cool!
I belonged to a health club for a while about a year into 80/10/10 and was surprised to find myself, a petite 5'2", then 98-pound woman, lifting about the same weight or more than the businessmen there, without effort. I was more surprised to find that some days I could just keep adding more and more weight, seemingly to no end. I would go with small increments, so on those days, I usually ended up getting tired from the number of reps before the weight ever got to be too heavy.
Big guys were always there lifting tons of weight in order to build more muscle and get more “cut”…and then there’s little old me lifting relatively minute amounts of weight while my muscles just burst out. I can actually feel my muscles growing during my “off” time, and they don’t get sore if I eat fruit afterwards like Dr. Graham suggests. It makes me feel bad for them—if only they would do their exercises properly and follow Dr. Graham’s program, they’d get much better results for their time and effort.
These days, I no longer go to the health club, as I’ve gotten more into bodyweight exercises, Ashtanga yoga, aerial fabric, dance, and other things. I also have free weights at home and at work, if I decide that I want to use them. The machines are fun, but they aren’t “calling” me right now.
This is Eeeeeasy...
I have found this way of eating is much, much, much easier, quicker, and more efficient than any other I’ve tried. Life itself has also become easier overall. Not only do I have greater peace of mind, increased physical abilities, increased energy, and greater health and happiness, but my personal needs are so much simpler and easier to meet than before. I have more time and resources to spend on other things. My life is very full of activities and responsibilities, so this improvement really helps.
I know that there is no way I could have done all that I have done and all that I am doing, if I were still eating any other way. Since beginning Dr. Graham’s program, I started homeschooling my gifted and dyslexic son with self-created custom curricula, started two corporations with my husband, organized a local branch of our church, was ordained as one of the clergy, and counseled members of our congregation. I have also started a homeschooling support group, a raw-food support group, and organized regular raw-food potlucks, all with corresponding websites.
I am still doing all of these things now, and I am also writing two books, filming a video/TV series, working on building up my fitness level, doing occasional work for long-standing clients from my old consultancy, and of course, continuing to maintain terrific and loving relationships with both my husband and my son.
Now I find it much easier to go places for the day, or even a few days. I have less stuff to take with me. I no longer need to walk around with a water bottle on a shoulder strap so I always have water. I don’t even use it during the day now. I still drink water in the morning and after intense exercise, but I don’t find the need for it otherwise. My body regulates its temperature better, so I don’t need to take as many clothing options with me when going out, either.
Because of my autoimmune condition, I used to get sunburned almost in minutes, at times even in the shade, whereas now I can stay in the sun without a burn ten times longer than I used to. My skin is not tan yet, but it’s not pasty anymore. I don’t need to desperately seek out the shade at the beach, or figure out which hat will stay on and give me adequate protection. I can actually take walks on the beach without all the cover-up gear and out of the shade. I only use a sun hat if I’m out in the full sun during midday. For the first time, I can go to the farmer’s market in the afternoon without a hat and no burn!
My hair is just getting silkier and better looking—without shampoo or conditioner! Wow! My skin, teeth, and nails have never looked or felt better either. Amazing, because while I brush and floss my teeth and bathe daily with water, I haven’t used shampoo, conditioner, face soap, body soap, toothpaste, deodorant, makeup, lotion, sunscreen, bug repellant, or anything but water on my body (except dish soap on my hands) for over two and a half years now. Funny—just some scrubbing and water. Who’d have thought?
My skin has never been smoother or more lovely than it is now, and I am virtually free of the acne that I’ve had ever since puberty. People comment frequently now on how my skin “glows,” how healthy I look, and how pretty my hair is, wanting to touch it and do things with it. I haven’t had people wanting to do that with my hair since I was a very young child.
Eating this way requires little food preparation. All I have to do is put my fruit for the day in a box, and maybe grab some salad and tomatoes if I don’t have enough at work already, and go. No need to slice, spread, arrange, layer, bag, or cook, transfer, clean, etc., as with cooked food. Of course, you can make the 80/10/10RV food fancy enough for any gourmet undertaking if you want, but you don’t have to go through all that every day just to eat.
If I don’t have enough with me or get caught out at mealtime, I can go into practically any grocery store and get fruit. No more shakiness, spaciness, and low blood sugar if I have to skip or delay a meal. Instead I feel fine and still perform well mentally and physically until I refuel.
If I know I’m going to have a busy day, I’ll throw some fruit and possibly greens or celery in a blender with water in the morning before I leave, to take with me to drink while working. I take a bit of this, watered down, to Ashtanga as my sports drink and often drink the full smoothie afterwards on my drive back to work. I have a blender at work too, in case I decide to exercise or have a smoothie or dressing while there, as I am often at the office for over twelve hours at a time. But in truth, I rarely need or want to use it at work.
I use less trash, and have more compost with which I can grow more food. At the end of the day, I have only a salad bowl, occasionally a smoothie container, and a compost container to wash for the whole day. You can do that with just water, too, if you do it right away.
The day we got rid of our stove was such a wonderful day. It was such a freeing experience, and it made the whole kitchen seem so much cleaner somehow. I have no need for pots, pans, ovens, or other cooking appliances and accessories. In fact, I could get away without any food-preparation utensils or dishes at all if I wanted to. I don’t need spices, herbs, medications, vitamins, minerals, or other supplements, either. It’s just so much simpler and more natural—less expensive too.
Finally, I'm at Peace
Prior to going raw, I had been close to a nervous breakdown as a result of living in a high state of stress for several years. I knew I needed to de-stress, but I couldn’t see how, without conditions changing in my life. I couldn’t exercise or do other stress-relieving activities, because I would just feel like I was getting further behind on things, which would stress me out even more (counterproductive to say the least).
Now I am far less prone to stress and emotional baggage issues. My emotions are more even and at a higher level than before. I still attend to things, but I don’t feel stressed about them. I feel too good to bother, actually. It is not my life that changed, it’s me. I simply am not as stressed about things anymore. In fact, I have had even more stressful things happen in my life than before, yet I have felt less stressed during these times.
It’s kind of hard to describe … I guess the best way is to say that I’m at peace, more so than ever before—at peace with who I am, who everyone else is, and with what is going on in my life and around me. From my experience, good health truly is happiness and peace of mind. I just plain feel good, and it’s hard to get too down when you feel so darned good all the time, you know? My body tells me it wants to play, and I follow!
Learning to Eat Enough Food
Once I started on Dr. Graham’s program, I started really liking my food again. It is yummy, and I look forward to it. I don’t put off my meals until I get ravenous anymore. I used to be so disinterested in and uninspired by my food that I’d wait until I was so hungry I would just grab whatever was closest and quickest—which was almost never a healthy food choice. My body just wasn’t interested in the food I was giving it. Now that I’m providing healthy food for my body, it loves my food, and so do I.
I find it fairly easy to get enough calories now, but it took a while to get to the level of eating this much. When I started out, I wasn’t eating enough calories, although I felt fine. I think my body just didn’t want that much food back then, because it wanted to clear out old stuff. I figured out that I was only eating as many calories as would support an 80-pound person, but I also realized I had some fat to live off of to help my transition.
Over time, it did work out. Initially, I only lost weight because I had excess fat. Eventually I lost most of the fat, gained some new muscle (and weight along with it), and gradually started eating more calories naturally as my body adjusted to things. Currently, I probably eat more calories than some would think I should and many think I could. It works out anyway, as I am getting stronger, gaining weight while keeping a healthy body-fat level, and I am feeling quite well.
Don't Live a Little... Live a Lot!
If you’re looking to save time and effort in finding what works, look no further. Dr. Graham’s method works. I used to “live a little” from passing pleasures like non-optimum food, sacrificing my health and well-being in the process. Now I “live a lot.” I don’t feel badly about my food choices or feel like I’m giving up anything. I’m choosing better health and more lasting pleasure, and I am all the more happy as a result. I feel so much better and see so many results that I am inspired to keep going and don’t want to go back to cooked food or even high-fat raw. The fleeting satisfaction just isn’t worth the risk of losing all that I’ve gained.
This raw stuff is amazing. Not raw any way—but this low-fat vegan way—that’s what’s making the difference! The more I follow all of Dr. Graham’s recommendations (which incorporate other lifestyle factors besides diet: exercise, rest, pure water, pure air, sunshine, sleep, recreation, etc.), the easier it is to stay on the 80/10/10 raw vegan diet, and the better I feel. In fact, eating this way has enabled me to joyfully and naturally make improvements in many other areas of my life, which I was unable to do before, no matter how hard I tried.
To sum it all up, I just feel so alive! I want to tell the world! It’s so simple, and it works so well! I feel like my body is celebrating life on a cellular level—it is happy to be alive and wants to move to celebrate. I gladly oblige. Happy happy, joy joy, happy happy, joy!
Reading my praise of Dr. Graham and his program, you may not realize that I am actually exceedingly cautious and conservative about recommending any products or services, as I take this responsibility seriously. That said, I highly recommend that you read and reread this book as many times as necessary, until you are able to try this program and discover for yourself just how life-enhancing it is. Give it a good chance though, and follow everything as much as possible. Like any generic guideline, the program described in this book may need adjusting for your individual situation. The general method has worked wonders for me. I wholeheartedly recommend a private consultation with Dr. Graham to clarify or address special health issues, if you need to. You won’t be sorry.
Janie has a website, www.ringlet.org, which documents her first six months of following Dr. Graham’s program and includes a photo history of her as well. She is currently writing two 80/10/10 raw vegan-related books: Ready for Raw, due out in Summer 2005, and A Fruit Lover’s Guide to Edible Fruit, to be released later. She also stars in a video/TV series on similar subjects due to be released in late 2005 or early 2006.
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