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Janie's Journey to Raw...

And Back Again
To Stay ;-)
I had eaten raw before for a couple of years, went away from it and came back with a different method that has worked beautifully in ways I never imagined. Thanks Dr. Douglas Graham!

I frequented the Raw and Sports Nutrition Discussion Board during the first 6 months of this journey back to rawing again. It's hosted by Dr. Graham.

Someone asked me about how I had done raw before and went away from it, why, what I did before, what I'm doing differently this time, etc.  Here is my answer. (Sorry, I don't have the question anymore to post too)...

Well, actually it was longer than two years of eating cooked inbetween...

I don't mind posting it - I actually already have here in detail - somewhere...

I've put in short and long versions here...

---Here's the short version---

Basically it was a combination of things...

I had the wrong method of eating raw, had a miscarrage & was vunerable to bad advice around me.  My husband was convinced that he was eating up his own muscles and wasn't getting enough protein by a friend of ours that had been raw for years and stopped.  Our son was very physically active in gymnastics while refusing to eat the recommended amounts of protein as well as having trouble with reading and writing in school and my hubby feared they were related. My midwife said that the miscarrage might have been due to lack of protein, even though I had tracked my food intake and documented adequate protein.  I thought maybe I was allergic to all the almonds & didn't have a better solution. I had been a regular cooked food vegan while pregnant with my son & thought going back to it might help... I ended up having at least 3 other miscarrages after that (those are the only confirmed ones), changing my diet farther and farther away from raw each time.

It turned out that...

I have an autoimmune condition called antiphospholipid antibody syndrome which caused the miscarriages.  My hubby had always been skinny and we didn't really know how enough about how protein is made in our bodies.  Our son has a combination of giftedness and dyslexia and did much better on the raw food before.  I was eating way too much fat (via olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocado) and salt (via Bragg's Liquid Aminos) which was probably why the autoimmune thing didn't clear all the way at the time - although it may have started since I did actually get pregnant (when I hadn't been before). I was too focused on RDAs and all... I should have just stayed raw and adjusted the method instead.

---Here's a longer version---

My journey away from raw and back again...

The way I was eating raw didn't make it that much of an improvement from the natural hygiene cooked vegan fruit for breakfast way I had been eating beforehand.  I continued to overindulge in salts (Bragg's Liquid Aminos) and fats without regard for any limits with them - and definitely overdid it in retrospect (higher than even a SAD).  My family and I tended to feel like eating the way that Dr. D. recommends and I am now (didn't know him then), but didn't do it that way much then because I was surrounded by fruit-phobic supposedly health informed people advising against it... This resulted in my tendency to even eat more fats to get the calories I was missing from limiting my banana intake. I also did lots of sprouting and fermented foods, etc. I felt pretty good though - actually better than I had before (but not nearly as good as I do now), so I thought it was okay.

Anyway, after about a year of raw fooding I became pregnant - which was good.  We had been trying for a few years.  I wanted to stay a raw fooder, but had no info., support or role models for raw pregnacies (except one friend who had her first while raw & had since gone back to cooked 'cause she thought she needed the protein - after that child was 3 years old). I did all kinds of research on the nutritional needs of pregnancy and what was in raw foods.  I made a custom database in MS Access for myself and figured out what my staple foods would be in what amounts in order to meet the difficult nutritional areas (calcium, folic acid, iron, protein, B12, etc.). I ended up regularly having lots of soaked almonds and raisins, a date a day, nutritional yeast, Bragg's Aminos, tahini and hijiki and other stuff in addition to the organic baby green salad mix we were growing for a living then - I can't remember anymore exactly what else the staples were.

I then started having a miscarrage and was told by the most alternative midwife I could find that she thought it was due to lack of protein.  She said that sometimes lack of progesterone can cause problems so gave me some sort of more natural type of progesterone cream to use - it didn't work. I went to a regular Ob/Gyn when it didn't resolve after a few days & became more clearly a miscarrage in process.  I showed her my charts and figures and said that I didn't see how it could be protein.  She was impressed and said that she didn't think it was nutritional - that it just happens sometimes.  She also asked for a copy of my nutritional database to use for her patients. (Needless to say, she stayed my Ob/Gyn until she moved away).

Anyway, I wasn't so sure - I was vunerable at the time to the suggestions of my midwife, my friend who had stopped eating raw, and others.  My hubby was concerned about our son's dyslexia as well as the fact that our son was really involved with gymnastics - was taking 5 or 6 classes a week and on their team in training for eventual competition, but wasn't interested in eating as much protein as the charts said he should... All of this combined with my desire to have another baby (and knowledge that I had my son while vegan before) caused me to add tofu back into my diet and that led to a basic cooked vegan way of eating. I got pregnant again about a year later and had another miscarrage... was told it happens...

I remembered that there were a couple of months that I suffered through adding dairy products back to my vegan diet when I was pregnant with my son before, so I added them back.  I got pregnant again about a year after that and, yes, had yet another miscarrage. :-( I tried to get tests done, but my body re-absorbed the baby and my Ob/Gyn didn't think blood tests would help at the time. I had been having some cravings for chicken skin and charred beef fat during the pregnancy that I had been ignoring & thought that maybe I shouldn't have been, so... yes, I added back some meat - but not beef, only chicken and also eggs (can't remember exactly why - think it was the protein thing).  At this point I was thinking that I wanted to completely eliminate the question of protein being the cause & thought maybe those cravings were trying to tell me something.

I thought that plenty of people have kids on the SAD, so maybe that's what I needed to do to have another child.  I thought that I could go back to eating raw once I had the child. Remember, I was rather vunerable, wanting to have another child and having these difficulties and all, seeing all kinds of women eating all kinds of junk and all with tons of kids... I also started to take vitamin and mineral suppliments at some point - can't remember when... got the kind that was the closest to food as I could. The thing was, I didn't get pregnant again.  I added fish into my diet too and was preferring it to the chicken.  We can get freshly caught fish here and so I had a lot of ahi (a kind of tuna), which was the only kind I could stomach (always had trouble with fish). It seemed like I just couldn't have kids anymore...

I was just starting to think about going raw again when I unexpectedly got pregnant again a few years after the last one. By now my son was 12 & would be 13 by the time it was born.  Quite a gap!  Let's see... we waited until he was 5 or 6 before trying for another and it took about 3 years until the first miscarrage, then one every year for 3 years, that would make it about 2 or 3 years between the 3rd miscarrage & this pregnacy.  Anyway, I had thought I just wasn't able to get pregnant anymore, so it was kind of a shock at first.  I wasn't sure what to think with such a gap at first.  I also wasn't sure whether to get excited about it considering my history and all... I had just started to allow myself to be excited and tell people about it when... yup, you guessed it - another miscarrage! Ugh!

At this point I was determined to find out what in the heck was going on.  My Ob/Gyn was too.  She did all kinds of blood tests & sent me to fertility specialists, etc. for genetic counseling... The blood tests indicated something that caused her to refer me to a rhematologist on a different island, causing my health insurance to pay for my flights there and back to see him.  He looked at my blood tests, asked me questions, looked at my skin, face, arms and hands and said that I had antiphospholipid antibody syndrome and said that my cardiolupins were probably what caused the miscarriages.  He said that it makes the blood tend to clot inside and causes miscarrages.  He said that they don't know what causes it, but that I probably have had it all my life and my son was lucky to be here.  Well, I figured that was it for kids then... and wondered if there was something I could do to get rid of it nutritionally...

He then went on to say that I should take an enteric coated baby aspirin daily - for the rest of my life!  I wasn't prepared for that - I'm one that's not taken drugs of any kind since college - even aspirin (unless I had a raging infection & then I'd reluctantly take antibotics -which only happened once or twice). He said there was a risk of heart attack, stroke and/or clots in my legs or other areas & that the aspirin was to thin the blood to prevent the clotting, basically trying to minimize the risk since he had no cure. I was a bit in shock ever since he said I should take aspirin daily for the rest of my life, so I didn't catch much after that.  Luckily I had brought my hubby with me so he could listen too. As we left he said that if I got pregnant again I should see him again right away and that he'd probably need to give me a stronger blood thinning drug... I decided that I didn't want to get pregnant again if I'd need drugs & also that I needed to do more research on it to see if the diagnosis & treatments were correct in terms of the medical knowledge.

My hubby and I did lots of research with my blood test results in front of us, found out more information about it and determined that the diagnosis was correct and the treatment was the standard one for my moderate case of it.  It also explains why I had the excessive bleeding when the placenta separated after my son's birth - even though the blood clots more inside, it tends to bleed more as well...

This was all happening in the year my mom's health suddenly took a more rapid decline and I was flying here and there with her for tests on Oahu, helping her around, etc. It eventually became and was diagnosed as lung cancer leading to her death a couple of weeks after my aunt died of cancer.  My dad's cancer flared up again causing him to do another round of chemo. while my favorite relative - my grandmother (his mom and my now dead aunt's mom) broke her hip and survived heart attacks and strokes while recovering.  Our son was having big problems in school and with the teachers hassling him ('cause he's smart but has trouble with reading and writing) and we were having problems with getting the administration to do anything about helping him out with his dyslexia.  Our neighbor broke into our garage & attacked my husband over wanting to park where we were in our shared driveway after threatening to kill my son months before, and many other things...

So needless to say I had a lot of stress in my life. I was not up to figuring out what to do with my antiphospholipid antibody syndrome for a while because there were so many other things I needed to attend to and our house was full to the brim with my mom's stuff while we were needing to get the rest of it out of the storage room that we couldn't afford to keep paying for since my mom died broke when we were broke too...

I was a bit depressed about not being able to birth any more kids without drugs and supposedly needing to take the aspirin.  I resisted taking the aspirin a bit by forgetting and all... I ended up not doing natural hygiene anymore and was eating eggs & toast for breakfast or cerial and soymilk instead of fruit by this time - as well as ice cream occasionally that wasn't even organic - with cow's milk, sugar, chocolate and all...  In our research we had found out that there was a risk of stroke either way for me - aspirin can cause strokes by making the blood too thin or something like that - it's due to a collapse of the blood vessels, rather than a clot... I didn't like taking the aspirin or how I got a weird feeling in my legs sometimes that was more noticable if I took it too close to going to sleep - so much so that I couldn't sleep from it becoming a bit painful.

My chiropractor told me that a fish oil suppliment he had was supposed to thin the blood without weakening the blood walls so I tried that for a while instead of the aspirin. The thing was - the fish oil gave me the same weird feeling in my legs that the aspirin did & I had to take 2 capsules 3 times a day vs. 1 small aspirin once a day, which was much less expensive... I decided to alternate them and skip days, eat more fish and learned to like salmon - although it had to be smoked.  There are some people from Alaska that come here to sell their frozen smoked salmon at the farmer's markets and on the side of the road, so I had a good supply of that. None of it felt right though.

I finally had a follow up appt. with a Dr. from the Internal Medicine department here about my antiphospholipid antibody syndrome and was able to ask more questions.  The rhematologist had taken some additional blood tests that we thought were to rule out lupus from our research & we wanted to know the results.  I asked him to take another set of blood tests to confirm that it wasn't just a temporary blood condition while pregnant.  It seemed to me that it would get worse when I was pregnant and/or between ovulation and menstration.  Before my last preganacy, I had noticed a weird hormonal thing for a while & thought it was early perimenopause treating it with Flax seed oil, which helped some. I thought the fish oil, fresh fish and flax seed oil might have helped or maybe it just became bad during pregnancy...

The tests revealed that I didn't have lupus, but also that the antiphospholipid antibody syndrome had gotten worse, not better.  This is something that I discovered was too true shortly afterwards when I had a simple fall & got a major hematoma in my hand disabling it for a couple of months.  My life stresses were still building and I had been only able to resolve a few of them - the one with my son's school finally got so bad that I kind of had a nervous breakdown of sorts one night - at least that's what my hubby and son thought.  I'd have to say that it was about the lowest point in my life so far. I was still working and doing my responsibilities anyway, and probably nobody but my hubby and son noticed, but they know me... and saw me at night...

Our son had broken his arm while playing in the park so badly that he had to have two pins put into the length of both of his left forearm's bones and had nerve damage so that he wasn't able to play his saxaphone anymore (due to not being able to lift his fingers).  The school wouldn't even let us switch his elective band class to art for the rest of the year - even though the doctor didn't know if the nerves would ever heal properly or not (said they *might* recover) - they wanted him to just sit there during the band class instead; they weren't even addressing the small amount of academic needs even they had recognized in his IEP; his science teacher was picking on him in class and his PE teacher was assigning him in-class essays since he couldn't play basketball; he was simultaniously bored with the content and overworked and stressed out with the busywork in his classes...and the year before the Science/Math and SPED teachers were all picking on him in class - it took all year to get it straightened out for the last 2 weeks of school, it was all starting to happen again... only this time the higher ups at the district and state level that had helped us the previous year were out of office and were replaced with people worse than the school admin. on this sort of thing...

Anyway, I decided to homeschool him and forget about dealing with the school and administration even though we were struggling financially, my hubby didn't have any income at the time, my business was the only income we had and I (being the more academically patient of the two of us)had to do the teaching... It was one of those times when you just know what you have to do, even though it doesn't seem like the wisest choice. I just had to do it and live with whatever the consequences were...'cause I couldn't live with the way it was anymore, you know? This was a major turning point for my stress level. I cut back my hours anyway and somehow the perfect job for my hubby turned up - within days.  Whew!  He was perfect for it and it was perfect for him and it made enough to allow me to cut back my clients enough to homeschool well.  I was feeling back to my regular self within a few days of this choice.

Our son blossomed and thrived while homeschooling and I found some great methods of teaching him that worked miraculously for his reading abilities.  He made tremendous strides in his schooling the rest of the school year while homeschooling(including the increase of his reading level to reading better adult level material than he had been doing with the 3rd grade level material he was struggling with when we took him out of school mid-year and winning awards at both the regional and state science fairs for a science project he needed to read esoteric college graduate level scientific material as part of the research).  We did lots of therapy, exercises and things which helped him recover full use of his arm and fingers.  He started eating better from this too because he had home meals rather than school lunches. It definitely felt like the right choice and I was feeling much better about lots of stuff.

We decided to adopt a traditional school year for our official schooling time, so both he and I have had a summer break.  I increased my client work a bit and worked on clearing out more of my mom's stuff, but was mainly working on my health - which was what I 'tagged' my summer time for.  Right before the end of the school year I realized that since I wasn't planning on having any more kids and that the raw food eating wasn't the problem anyway, that I was free to do raw food again.  I started working towards it again & then found this board and Dr. D.'s site, which just made my progress spring forward and I went 100% much quicker and easier than I had planned.  It's been great!  I feel the healthiest I've ever felt in my life overall (yet not quite as physically capable as I was at one point yet).  I can't wait to see how good it'll get! :-)

What's that saying? It's always darkest before the dawn? Things get worse before they get better? Dunno... never was into that kind of stuff, but it does fit...

Update - August 2003

Well, I found out that I haven't exactly been following the 80/10/10 recommendations of Dr. Doug Graham because I misunderstood them. I thought the recommendation of 80% of calories from carbohydrates, 10% from protein and 10% or less from fat was only counting the overt fats in that 10% or less ratio. It turns out that it applies to all fats, so I wasn't keeping my fats down to 10% or less - was more like 20% or less... Oh well, I've had lots of progress this way so far. I'll be trying to lower the fat even further in the future, we'll see how well I do... ;-)

Update - June 2005

My story and update are included in my testimonial, published in Dr. Graham's book, The 80/10/10 Diet: Balancing Your Health, Your Weight, and Your Life, One Luscious Bite at a Time. I've excerpted it here. It's a great book and program. There are loads of other great testimonials in there too. My books have been delayed, but will still come out soon - hopefully the first in e-book format by the end of 2007.

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