After I did my 3 week detox back in October I transitioned into the Body Ecology Diet, a book from Donna Gates I read almost 2 years ago on rebuilding gut health for optimal wellness. I regret I didn't try this sooner because my results were phenomenal. First let me give you the overview of what the diet entails:
1. Cut out all sugar. This means fruit, dates, goji berries, agave, coconut water and pretty much all the fun things that raw foodists love. It also means no foods that turn into sugar like: rice, potatoes, bread, alcohol, you know, the "bad" carbs. Sugar feeds bacteria/yeast/candida so you want to starve them out.
2. Eat an alkaline diet. Land and sea vegetables are alkaline so if you're a veggie lover like myself, you will enjoy this. Gates recommends 80% alkaline foods, 20% acidic foods which can be animal protein, tempeh, natto, beans and buckwheat. Alkaline seed grains are allowed like quinoa, millet and amarynth.
3. Eat probiotic rich foods. This can be cultured vegetables like sauerkraut and kimchi or fermented coconut water or milk kefir. Probiotics are okay but best taken with fermented foods. Eat/drink these foods soon as you wake up, with each meal and before bed. This will replenish your gut with good bacteria, help you to assimilate nutrients better and improve your overall immune system.
There's a lot more to it but that's the diet in a nutshell. It's a bit challenging to follow it perfectly, so I recommend taking one step at a time. Read the book, plan a strategy and go for it. There's a quiz to see if you would benefit from the diet and I didn't even score that high on it. I never thought I had a candida problem but after trying the diet it really was a bigger deal than I realized.
The first few days were tough without sugar. I missed fruit the most. I sipped on tea with stevia and made chia pudding with stevia and xylitol (it's allowed). After a week, the cravings subsided and I was feeling great. I followed it for 3 weeks almost perfectly. I had a wedding to attend each weekend so I let myself have a cheat meal once a week (mind you, I said cheat meal, not cheat day) but I still had awesome results. My face, back and chest were almost flawless, I had the flattest tummy ever and my energy level was at eleven. My husband was also amazed how great I looked in such a short amount of time. On top of that I had zero PMS and cramps that month. That's a first for me. The only problem was just at the peak of all of this we went to Costa Rica for 10 days. It was hot and I was craving my fruit smoothies. I figured what was the harm but by the end of the trip my skin was broken out again. So frustrating. We had Thanksgiving (four of them, actually) when we returned and then I had a quick NYC jaunt where some raw treats and coffee accidentally slipped into my mouth. I don't know how that happened. Seriously. Now it's back to square one.
What's great about the diet is that anyone can adapt to it. Whether you are raw, vegan or omnivore you can make it work. Some days I ate all raw but found it a bit heavy since I was getting most of my calories from fat. I started adding in cooked quinoa and baked and steamed vegetables and felt great. If you're an omnivore, you have many options and there are lots of great recipes listed in the back of the book. I found it all very satisfying. My typical meals were:
chia pudding with cinnamon and chopped nuts (this is my dessert too)
puffed millet cereal with almond milk
green energy soup (from my book)
leftover veggies from night before
a lot of the recipes in my book Going Raw were B.E.D. adaptable so I had soups, salads, and wraps. I ate tons of kale salads with avocado and dulse, tabbouli, zucchini hummus wraps
steamed/sauteed/baked veggies and squash
cooked quinoa and millet
|Quinoa with roasted beets, butternut squash and Brussels sprouts|
|Raw kale salad with hemp seeds, roasted butternut squash and millet|
With every savory meal I had a side of sauerkraut. In the mornings and evenings I sipped on fermented young Thai coconut kefir. My favorite brand is Inner Eco (plain). 100 billion colonizing probiotics per tablespoon! I use it as a starter to make my own coconut kefir (recipe in my book). Making my own helps save money as I drink about 1/2-1 cup per day.
For best results follow it for at least 3 months to a year. Yeah, that's a long time but Rome wasn't build in a day. It takes time to rebalance the body and gut. I did it for my acne but most people who go on it suffer from digestive problems, fatigue, headaches, depression, autism, cancer, food allergies, joint and muscle pain and menstrual irregularities. Even if you don't have any health issues, eating less sugar and more fermented foods is going to serve you better in the long run.
So now I'm back home for a while and back on the program. The problem I face is that I'm writing my next book and will have to bend the rules as I develop some of my recipes, especially the desserts. The diet has really influenced the direction of my recipes. I'm going to be using way less sugar and address the candida issue in my book. I haven't seen anyone talk about the sugar problem in the raw diet except Gabriel Cousins and I think it's one of the reasons many people don't thrive on all raw. I spoke with a few people at the Longevity Now Conference and learned that many women were having skin, weight and hormonal issues because of the sugar overload. I know Elaina Love is also doing a lot of sugar free recipes these days. Visit her site as well as Body Ecology to get more info and recipes.