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July 15, 2000

Give your body a break - chuck out your cooker

BY JENNAI COX

ALONGSIDE the proliferation of food in the West have come less appetising developments: less nutritious meals and an increasing rise in diet-related diseases. Brought up to believe that by way of cravings our bodies tell us what to eat, how come we are apparently so out of touch with what we need to thrive?

Susie Miller and Karen Knowler, co-authors of Feel-good Food, believe they have the answer. In eating what is essentially an unsuitable and often nutrition-free diet, our bodies become so clogged with debris that we are no longer able to distinguish our true dietary needs from those associated with emotion, social pressures or addiction. We are eating for every other reason but our health.

Both former junk-food and chocolate lovers, the two women found dietary salvation in turning gradually to eating nothing but raw food. Miller founded the support network for raw foodists that Knowler now runs and together they argue that by relearning how to eat according to our intuition, we instinctively eat a diet high in fresh, raw food better suited to our lifestyles, budgets, environment and wellbeing.

Neither demand an immediate cessation in consumption of fried chips and crusty white bread or even the use of will-power. By explaining how gradually to wean ourselves off less nutritious foods and what to expect as the change inside our body takes place, Miller and Knowler hope to persuade by demonstration that eating raw is right.

Having explained how and why the human body is built for a raw-food diet - we chew rather than rip our food, an indication of a mouth not designed for the demands of eating meat - the authors show readers how to change their habits by explaining what happens if they do not.

The squeamish should look away now. The colon, for example, becomes so full of matter it can neither use nor eliminate that over time its passage reduces from 6.5cm to just a few millimetres, leading to constipation. No surprise then that the UK has the highest incidence of bowel cancer in the world, with 20,000 cases reported each year.

Promising an increase in confidence, self-esteem as well as a healthier digestive system, chapter three explains how to reawaken our inbuilt "knowing" of which foods are best. Though the word is never used, this is done by choosing from a pick and mix of meditations: while sitting quietly, they suggest listening to soothing music, writing down personal thoughts or drawing or painting to express feelings.

Within two months of regular daily practice we should, without even trying, be turning naturally to fruit instead of pizza when hungry and analysing how we feel after either.

But we can also expect and must allow for lapses, the results of which can be as marked as the body's detoxification as the diet is changed.

Many find they are so exhausted and nauseous after returning to more processed food that they are soon back on to a diet which is expelling toxins, leaving them with better skin, brighter eyes and much more energy. Odour-free excreta and perspiration are other side-effects as, for some women, are shorter, pain-free periods.

Useful advice on living on such a diet in the real world, such as coping with weddings, eating out and holidays take up most of chapter five and, following another section on raising and nurturing children on raw food, the authors conclude with a guide to what to buy, how and where.

Food should be selected on the basis of its rich, dark colour and chosen after pinching and smelling, and equipment, including dehydrators which warm food without killing essential enzymes needed by the body, is available for those who wish to experiment.

The book ends with recipe suggestions, including some for sweets such as fudge and apple pie, a reading list and some useful contacts. Along with the accolades from fellow raw foodists it is a book with enough to inspire even the most sceptical to at least give this elementary way of eating a try.

Feel Good FoodFeel-good Food - A Guide to Intuitive Eating, by Susie Miller and Karen Knowler (The Women's Press, 8.99). For information on a raw-food diet, contact The FRESH Network: 0870 800 7070.

Order the book from Amazon.co.uk here.

 

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