Saturday, December 27, 2008

Our Daily Meds

"Why is my doctor smiling?" That is what I asked myself when several years ago I was told that my cholesterol was high. He had this odd smile as he told me he would write me a prescription. I said no thank you, I'll change my diet. Now I know why he was smiling. He was seeing dollar signs.

I've just finished reading the book Our Daily Meds by Melody Peterson. The investigative writer for The New York Times documents how the pharmaceutical industry wines, dines, and pays doctors to push their drugs. Is it no wonder my doctor didn't first suggest that I try eating a plant based diet, which when followed does eliminate high cholesterol and heart disease?

I could fill this blog with page after page of evidence describing the corruption rampant in the health care industry, but I won't. ( Read Peterson's book for that.) But I will tell you that if you continue to eat animal products and abuse your body, modern medicine will not save it and it most likely will ruin what is left of your life. You will end up on pills and while the wonderful advertisements on television paint a rosy picture and gloss over the side effects, you will pay the price.

Need a by-pass heart surgery? Did you know that when they open your blood vessels after closing them to do the operation, the broken off plaque goes to your brain and causes little stokes? Say good-bye to some of your memories, as much as 20 percent.

Right now in this country the pharmaceutical industry has so much money and power they pretty much call the shots in our hospitals and doctor's offices. "They decide how patients will be treated, and the doctors follow along." Peterson.

Disguised as educators, these drug salespeople market their pills to make as much money as they can. And doctors are to be blamed also for being corrupted by gifts and money. Prescription drugs are right behind heart disease, cancer, and diabetes and the leading cause of death in our country.

Why am I telling you this? Why do I want you to be afraid of prescription drugs? First of all, because it is the truth and you should know it. Secondly, I am telling you this so you will take your health into your own hands before it is too late. You do not want the operations and pills to fix what you have done to your body. Begin right now to take better care of it. Get serious. Don't wait till you become ill. It may be too late. Things are going to get much worse before they get better. Fear can be a good thing. Let it motivate you to eat better. I do not want to end up like both of my parents taking all the pills that they are on. My father can barely walk ten feet without becoming winded and my mom's memory gets worse every day. They each take about eight pills daily. These are the side-effects.

I am sorry for the poor health of my parents, but seeing how they live truly inspires me to eat a mostly raw vegan diet. It is good for me, the planet, and the economy (health care now costs more than housing, food, cars, anything according to Peterson). So, have your green smoothie today, a nice big salad, some veggies and a raw dip, okay, and even treat yourself to a nice stir-fried rice and veggie dinner.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Man, oh man, oh man! This is never easy! I would have given up long ago if it weren't that my life depended on it. Whoever said that going raw was easy should be exposed for fraud! If wanting all the old favorite foods isn't bad enough, how about going out to dinner with friends?

Christmas party at the restaurant begins with talk about raw food, everyone is interested in how we do it. That lasts for about 14.5 minutes...then...that changes to grilling steaks and the best way to cook venison. That conversation lasts a lot longer. The restaurant last night had very little that appealed to me that would have been healthy, so I compromised, I had a burger without the fries. My body is so sensitive these days that even just the burger made me wake up with heartburn (which is really stomach acids eating my esophagus) in the midle of the night.

So, dear friends, I have surrendered again. I know it is impossible for me to be 100 percent raw. I learned earlier this week that I just can't do it. I don't even think I can be 100 percent vegan. Now what do I do? This is what I have decided: I will eat all raw all vegan as long as I can all day long. Then, when I have had my green smoothie, my superfood smoothie, my salad, my veggies and dip, my nuts and seeds, if I am still hungry I will eat something to satisfy whatever craving there is. I am not going to resist the cravings any more.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman, the most intelligent person on the planet when it comes to nutrition, says that if you feed your body with nutritious food you will not crave the bad stuff. Well, so far, in my experience he is dead wrong! Yesterday, and everyday, I did feed my body the best foods out there, and I still have those cravings! The only thing I can think of is that it takes time. So, here is my plan: oh, I already said what my plan is, eat raw vegan all day as long as I can, then do what I must. I will try my best to be conscious and not be too naughty. We will see what happens.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Long-term Travel Lessons From Vietnam

Here are a couple of lessons I learned while traveling in Vietnam for nearly six weeks.

1. My small Tribest Travel blender works well for making fruit smoothies, but not for banana cacao superfood smoothies, so don't bother bringing superfoods. Do bring the cacao powder.

2. Do bring equipment and ingredients to make salad dressings, this is very important because olive oil, nutritional yeast, tahini (or sesame seeds), can be hard to find. Bring a salad dressing container.

3. Bring vegetable peeler, garlic press, juice squeezer, and small cheap knife, these all worked well.

For me I think it is impossible to be 100 percent raw away from home, unless I drastically change my eating habits, like going on a fast or juice feast. However, it is easy to be raw for breakfast with a fruit smoothie, and lunch with a good salad, then snack on fruit. Then for dinner a cooked meal, hopefully vegan. I think this is a reasonable and healthy approach that I can live with.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Reasonably Raw in Vietnam

Despite falling off the wagon yesterday, I have been reasonably raw since leaving home and coming to Vietnam. I brought along plenty of raw food for the plane trip (although the banana leather that I made sucked).

The good thing about southern Vietnam is that there are plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. I am stuffing myself with durian. I have pineapple, oranges, bananas, mangoes, and other fruits I don't know what they are called. For the most part I am eating fruit throughout the day and a big salad at lunch time. Then for dinner I do eat something cooked, rice and steamed veggies. (Okay, I have had a pizza.)

All in all, it is a lot harder to eat healthy foods here than at home. Just the work of washing lettuce in the hotel room or making a smoothie. The travel blender I brought works good but it is small. I suppose one could be raw and travel, but I don't have that kind of discipline. Besides, I would have missed the great Vietnamese party that I went to yesterday...

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Few Successes

Things have markedly improved since I began working on more substantial dinner alternatives. Two days this past week 100% raw. That was because I made an actual raw dish instead of trying to wing it. Another strong reason for succeeding was that I have emptied my house of cooked food options. So if I want to eat cooked food I have to actually leave the house. That really makes it easier to over come the after dinner munchies.

In the middle of the week I had friends over for a raw dinner, Mark and Gerre, and Mike. It went better than I imagined. We had crackers and hummus dip, Thai curry soup, portabello steaks, lasagna, and chocolate deserts. Gerre's response to the lasagna was the same as mine when I originally had it at my daughter Gina's, the flavors explode in your mouth! (I'll post the recipe on youtube tomorrow.)

So, all in all, things are looking much better. And as a result I get the added benefit of sleeping better and feeling better. To make things even more exciting, my son-in-law Steven had me over to his house yesterday to taste his raw Cherry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. My god! It was unbelievable! Life does not get any better than this...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Successes and Struggles

I thought by now I'd have it a lot easier. I thought I'd be able to be raw more than I am, but it is so difficult getting from 80 or 90 percent raw to 100 percent. This is where I am at. I have a green smoothie for breakfast at mid-morning (mostly berries and greens). I have a superfood green smoothie for lunch (bananas, cacao, etc.). I have a big salad around 4 or 5 o'clock. This is the success part. I love it, I feel great. Very easy to do. But...after that it is mostly cooked foods.

The thing is, I'm not all that hungry. It feels more like habit or worse...addiction. Often I will have several pieces of whole wheat bread to satisfy my cravings. Or I will make whole wheat pasta. It gets worse if I have to go out to dinner. I need to make the effort to find something else to eat at night.

My biggest problem is what to have that is satisfying. The enjoyable recipes in all the raw food books are complicated and require too many ingredients and take too much time. The easy dishes are not that appealing. Maybe I'm being lazy. I know I am. I need to make another effort to get to the next level. I know I need to take that next step because I don't feel good about the cooked foods. I need to improve on that last 10 percent of my diet. There must be a better way and I am determined to find it!

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Change Process - Becoming Raw (Part Two)


You have decided that it is time to change. Contemplation has brought you to the point where enough is enough; you are committed to making changes in your life. Hold on, admit it, there is a little ambivalence, you are not totally sure you can do this, but you are ready to try.

Research shows that it is best to do a little planning, even develop a scheme for action, be clear in your mind what to expect and how to succeed. Before jumping into the raw food world, be prepared. Your consciousness is raised, you are emotionally involved, now you must remove any ambivalence so that your commitment will be firm.

You are at the intersection of contemplation and action. Plan how you will succeed. Read more books on raw food. Find out the pitfalls, explore interesting recipe books, stock up on delicious raw foods and spices. But most of all, be certain of your commitment.


As I said before, change is hard, very hard. If it were easy, everyone would be living wonderful lives—and most people are not. The most important concept and idea that you must get into your head is this—make eating healthily the most important thing in your life. Make change a priority. Think about all of the benefits and let them motivate you. Nothing is more important than your health, and making this change comes first.

Some of the steps of preparation and commitment involve going public (tell people your intentions). Nothing helps commitment like stepping out on a limb and exposing yourself. Prepare yourself mentally. I am a big fan of meditation and relaxation practices.

“It doesn't work to leap a twenty-foot chasm in two ten-foot jumps.”

American Proverb

Probably more than anything, I believe reading books provides more information about how to develop a plan of action than anything else. Just reading this book will make a major difference in your chances of success. Closely related to this are online articles and online discussion groups. I highly endorse the yahoo group rawfood. (Rawfood – Raw Food for Health and Happiness)


We have stopped denying that we have a problem with the foods we eat. We have learned that consuming more raw foods will make us and the planet healthier. We are sick and tired of being sick and tired. We have a plan to change what and how we eat. We are ready for action.

In the action stage we actually change our behavior. We change our surroundings and make the move. This is where we really have to be ready for problems. But, by having educated yourself about the stages of change, you will be better prepared to deal with the inevitable setbacks and frustrations.

“In order to change we must be sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

Author unknown

Remember, the action stage is only one stage in the process of changing and benefiting from a raw food diet. Also, our actions are only part of the process; we continue to change our levels of awareness, we involve our emotions, our thoughts, our self-images. Change is a cyclical means of becoming someone new.

The fact that you are aware of the dangers inherent in trying to change does not guarantee that you will be successful. In fact, I can guarantee that you will curse the day that you ever heard about raw foods. So, beware of taking the action step lightly, change costs; there is no easy way to improve your diet. That being said, here are several more processes that will help.


Countering is simply substituting healthy responses for poor behavior. It is also the most important tool in your change process toolbox. It does no good to give up eating animals and cooking most of your food if you do not have something to replace those behaviors. Countering is finding substitutes and healthy replacements. Here are a few countering techniques:

1. Relaxation and yoga, meditation and prayer.

2. Exercise. This is the most important thing you can do to succeed.

3. Active diversion. Find something else to do: read, walk, make love, etc.

4. Counterthinking. Change your way of thinking. Get positive.

5. Assertiveness. Don’t let other people keep you in your old way of eating.

Who would think that meditation and prayer would play a part in changing behavior? Certainly all of the people who have been helped by the 12-Step Programs. I am not sure what comes first, eating healthfully or a new interest in spirituality. Either way, the two seem to go hand in hand. Eating more raw food has improved my meditation practice and my meditation practice has helped me improve my eating habits. Maybe both help me to see things more clearly. Whatever it is, there seems to be a symbiotic relationship going on between these two aspects of my life.

Meditation is also an aid in counterthinking, as it gives you the tools to eliminate negative thoughts and replace them with positive. It is all about becoming more self-aware of who we are and what we are doing.

Exercise is essential to good health—physical and mental. (By the way, if trying to change your behavior makes you despair, research shows that vigorous exercise is the one thing that can be guaranteed to cure your depression.) I run five miles every morning before breakfast. I would not think of not running. I cannot imagine being healthy without a serious exercise program. Make it a top priority in your life.

Active diversion is simple: keep yourself busy, make your life interesting—otherwise you will eat poorly out of boredom. Watching television is not a good choice here.

Assertiveness is simply taking charge of your own life and not letting others get in the way. External pressures have a way of helping us to slip back into our old ways. I am sure that at first you will give in, but after a few times of being frustrated by the results, you will let your emotions give you the strength you need to assert what you want.

Environmental Control

Countering is an internal process; environmental control is external. Do you want to eat healthy food? Throw out the chips; remove all the food that you have chosen not to eat from your house. Replace the old recipe books with new ones on raw uncooking.

When we change our surroundings, we make it easier to change our actions. I find that if I have only healthy food in the house, I eat healthy food. If I eliminate junk food, at night if I have a craving for something processed and sugary, I will not get in my car to go out and buy something. Instead, if all I have is fruit, and if I’m really hungry and not just bored, I’ll eat that instead.

It is not cheating to modify your environment, it is smart planning. Why rely on willpower? Avoidance is perfectly acceptable when you are trying to change. If you were giving up alcohol would you keep beer in the refrigerator? Avoidance is not limited to objects; you can avoid people and places, too.


In the beginning we are really excited about raw foods and the changes in how we feel now that we are eating more healthily. It is an exciting time. We may be motivated by fear; we’ve had a health scare. We may be encouraged because we are losing weight fast. We might be experiencing renewed energy. Whatever it is, we are emotionally charged.

But the war is not won yet. We are only halfway there. To make change permanent we have to understand that this is a long-term effort. The changes we have made to our lifestyle need to be sustained, and it takes time for them to be firmly established. We need to build on what we started with.

First, realize that you will still be vulnerable. Habits take time to become ingrained. If you slip, do not beat yourself up, just start over again tomorrow.

Second, don’t forget to use the processes that got you here in the first place. Use all the strategies from contemplation to action. Keep up with the exercise, meeting with like-minded people, read, join a yahoo raw foods group, go to a festival or retreat.

Third, keep controlling your environment. Avoid people, places, and things that will make it easier to fall back into poor eating habits. This is not a sign of weakness, but one of intelligence.

Lastly, remind yourself every day, as I do, that this is the most important thing you can do for yourself. Health, energy, and fitness have to be worked at, they do not just happen. Let your mind help you. Cultivate consciousness.

Slips, Relapses, and Recycling

It is going to happen, you might as well be prepared. Most importantly, do not feel guilty, do not let others make you feel guilty; do not become discouraged. You have no idea how many times I have given in to my cravings. Do I feel bad? No. I looked at each slip as information, as a lesson in what was not working. The next day I tried something different. I have always had the attitude that my life is an experiment in living—healthy eating is no different. The only failure is to quit.

It certainly helps to think about what happened when you do slip up. Think about what you could have done differently. Learn from your mistakes. Understand that while trial and error will eventually get you there, it is not a very efficient way to change. Better to utilize the wisdom of those who have already made the change. That is why I am always reading what others have written about raw food. Besides learning new ideas, it is extremely motivating.

You should also understand that change, radical change as in becoming a raw food person, is more difficult than you expect in the beginning. You have a whole lifetime of being brainwashed to overcome. Willpower is not enough, you will need all of the processes discussed above and you will need them over and over again.


A word on termination—don’t worry about it. There will come a day when you do not have to think about how you are eating. It will be effortless. I do not know this in the world of raw food, but I do know it from changing other behaviors. Looking back on the changes that I have made in my life I can see the various stages and processes. I went through them without being aware of what I was doing—imagine how much easier it will be when we have a ready-made outline of the course ahead of time.

Personal Transformation

Change is not just a mechanical “do this and this will result” kind of thing. In other words, change is not a science, it is an art. Even more than that, change has a spiritual dimension—it is about personal growth and transformation. When the food that you eat causes less suffering for animals, less destruction of the planet, and more energy and health for you, it is not just your body that benefits. You will become a different person. I think your soul, the essence of who you are, will shine more and you and others will become aware of that.

I did my doctoral dissertation on personal transformation. After a year of research, writing, and reflecting, I discovered a few things about the process of change in human beings. Personal transformation is messy, it is mysterious, and it is multi-dimensional. As much as we like to think we are in control of our lives—we are not.

I found that while we cannot control the processes and events of our lives, we can chose to cooperate with them. We can surrender to the flow of life and the evolutionary forces at work on this planet. Change is chaotic and mysterious, paradoxical and transformational. But there are things that we can do, having more to do with attitude than with action.

We can learn to quiet our minds and become more aware—more aware of what is going on, on a deeper level. We can ask ourselves what is it that we are meant to be learning through this experience. We can surrender to the events and circumstances of our lives, changing what we can, accepting what we can’t. We can learn through our suffering. Pain is a wonderful motivator. I find that when I am in pain, I really try harder to be self-aware. All of this points to life and our life experiences as what really changes us. Are we really running our own lives?

The spiritual aspect of change is extremely significant.

“For most gulls, it is not flying that matters, but eating.
For this gull, though, it was not eating that mattered, but flight.”

-Richard Bach, from "Jonathan Livingston Seagull"

For Additional Reading on Change:

Changing for Good: A Revolutionary Six-stage Program for Overcoming Bad Habits and Moving Your Life Positively Forward. Prochaska, James O., Norcross, John C., and Diclemente, Carlo C. (1994). Harper Collins.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Change Process - Becoming Raw (Part One)

You think you want to become a raw vegan. You want to try eating more fruits and raw vegetables. You want to convince your friends and family that raw food will make them healthier. You want to change. You know your past failures.

It is not easy to change; if it were everyone would be just the way they want to be. Do you know anyone who is satisfied with who they are, who doesn’t want to change some aspect of themselves? Change is a lot of hard work and commitment. I am here to tell you that anything worth having, including excellent health, comes at a price. So don’t complain, just reach into your pocket and pull out your wallet. But, there is hope, and it can be made easier.

One of the biggest obstacles that we face when we want to make changes in our lives is to underestimate the difficulty in changing and not understanding the change process. This all too easily leads to frustration, pain, and the end of putting into place the changes we want to make. This does not need to happen.

I have included this chapter on change so that you may find it easier to implement what you have learned in this book and be able to share your new insights with others in a more thoughtful and intelligent way. Attaining a healthy, energetic body, saving our planet, and reducing the suffering of other sentient beings is a sacred and noble undertaking; it deserves a serious and well-planned attempt. I hope to increase your chances of success by sharing with you my research on the change process; together we will explore the stages and processes of change.

The Stages of Change

There has been a great deal of research committed to the understanding of how people are able to successfully change their behavior. Much of the study in this area is focused on behavior involving drug abuse, smoking, and mental health. But the lessons learned there are fully applicable to changing eating patterns. In this chapter I draw from the work of James O. Prochaska, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Rhode Island. His book, Changing For Good, describes one of the most successful programs for implementing personal change ever developed.

“Things do not change; we change.”

Henry David Thoreau

In the raw food world, Victoria Boutenko says that we should go cold turkey to change our diet. And David Wolfe likes to encourage raw food progress by suggesting that we do it “little by little”; and that we should focus on adding raw food into our diets and not to be concerned with giving foods up. Who is to say which way is best?

We need to take into consideration that change is seldom a linear process, most of the time it is cyclical, spiral, and circular. If you are a “normal” human being, you will most likely take two steps forward and one step back. Sometimes you may take two steps back and one step forward. That is the way we learn and grow. There is no sense in fighting it, but it does help a lot if you are aware that relapse and setbacks are common and that you expect your journey to health to be a spiral one.

We become who we want to be by working, consciously or unconsciously, on life problems and finding their solutions. Change happens through a series of stages. The reason that understanding the stages of change is important is that each stage requires a different tool, demands a different approach. Each stage of change has its own process of change, as we will see shortly.

The six clearly-defined stages of change are: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, and termination. We will be discussing each stage and its corresponding process shortly. Some of the processes that match certain stages of change are: consciousness-raising, social liberation, emotional arousal, self-reevaluation, commitment, countering, and environmental control. What I want to stress now is that by understanding each stage, by determining where we are (or where someone whom we want to help make changes is), we can match the appropriate efforts and processes to work through that stage to the next one and eventually reach our goal of healthful eating.

The experiences at each stage are predictable for all people. Each stage has its own task to be completed before moving on to the next. Warning! It is possible to get stuck in one stage. However, if we understand the stages and processes useful in each one, we will move through more quickly and easily. You will experience less guilt, shame, anxiety, and pain.


The precontemplation stage is characterized by denial. There is no problem as far as one who is in precontemplation is concerned. The food they eat, what it does to them, the environment, the suffering caused, is not even on their radar screens. Total oblivion. A person in the precontemplation stage will deny having a problem, even if it is brought into their awareness. If they do not totally deny the problem they will at least minimize it. “I eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and have only chicken and fish for protein. What more can I do?”

When I was told that my cholesterol was 242, I first wondered how that could be. My doctor said that if I couldn’t get it down by eating better I’d have to take medication. I said I already am eating better. (This was before I started eating raw.) Then I went online to satisfy myself that 242 wasn’t all that bad after all and it was just the drug companies trying to sell more drugs. It wasn’t until my blood pressure became hypertensive that I finally admitted to myself that I had a problem.

“It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.”


Besides resistance, precontemplators are often demoralized. Since there is no possibility for change, they feel hopeless. “How can one live on just raw food? Where will I get my protein? What is the use in living without the enjoyment of a good steak, or lobster, or hamburger?”

Most people, when approached with the proposition that a raw food diet would be good for them, and the planet as well, will be in this stage. (You, the reader, are most likely not. If you are reading this book you and have gotten this far, you are at least at the contemplation stage.) What to do?

There are two processes of change that work for helping the person in the precontemplation stage—consciousness-raising and social liberation. (Yikes, what the heck is social liberation?) The goal of consciousness-raising is to increase information about the self and the problem. The goal of social liberation is to increase social alternatives to the old ways of living and eating.


You have discovered the joy of raw food and the health that comes with it. You want to share this with friends and family. Heck, you want to save the planet. Why not? So, how do you do this? First, assume that everyone you meet is a precontemplator—at least as far as raw food goes.

In psychology we talk about making the unconscious conscious. Mental health is all about this and increasing awareness. (It is no coincidence that meditation practices and spiritual development also center around consciousness-raising. I strongly believe that our eating habits affect our spirituality.) When we increase the level of awareness, we are bringing new information to ourselves and others, increasing the possibility of making better choices regarding what needs to be changed.

"Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have—and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up."

— James Belasco and Ralph Stayer, Flight of the Buffalo

In short, in this stage we are increasing knowledge about nutrition, the differences between cooked food and raw food, the health benefits, the joy of eating raw food (and all the available options); we become informed or we inform others. This is the goal.

The first step in change at this level is to bring into awareness the defenses of precontemplation—denial, minimization, rationalization, projection, and internalization. The second step is to simply provide information about what happens when we eat the Standard American Diet and what happens when we begin eating more and more raw food.

That being said, it is essential not to rush anyone, including yourself, toward action. The research on successful change makes it clear that change must proceed through the stages. A raised consciousness about raw food does not mean we are ready to change. It means we may be ready to think about change. So let’s be patient with ourselves.

Social Liberation

Part of sharing the newfound joys of raw food involves sharing the alternatives that are available. The idea of just eating raw food sounds so utterly boring. I remember meeting my first raw food person while I was away at a colloquium beginning my Ph. D. studies. I thought, “What in the world is there for him to possibly eat?” Eating raw was the last thing that I wanted to do.

However, several years later, along comes my daughter Gina. She was the first person to tell me about the benefits (consciousness-raising) of raw food and the first person to invite me to a raw potluck dinner party (social liberation). Gina made me a number of tasty raw food treats. At the potluck dinner I was able to experience and enjoy foods that were totally satisfying and were every bit as tasty as the old cooked foods I was so used to eating.

Besides the excellent food at these raw dinners, I enjoyed talking to other people about their experiences. Being part of a small community like this also makes starting out on the raw journey seem not so crazy. Talking to my daughter nearly every day about some aspect of being raw helps to keep me motivated.


We reach the contemplation stage when we realize that we have a problem. In some way we become aware that maybe the food we are eating is not all that healthy. The evidence is too strong to deny, or minimize, or rationalize away. We may have a health crisis. Or, we might see something positive that awakens us. For me, seeing my daughter and son-in-law after they had been on a raw diet for one month, made me stop and think—they were literally glowing! (Even today, the sight of my daughter looking so healthy and beautiful makes me smile and thank God for the raw food movement.)

Openness is the essence of contemplation. We become curious. However, while we may want to change, there remains resistance and ambivalence—fear of the unknown. There is a sense of wishing we could change, but not quite enough motivation to change. Sometimes we try to change prematurely, and that can lead to failure and guilt.

The key to contemplation is that the contemplator begins to acknowledge that there is a problem. Faced with the facts of my high blood pressure, I had to admit that something was not right. It is in the admitting process that the emotions kick in, and that is the necessary requirement to begin work in this stage. This leads us to the next process of change—emotional arousal.

Emotional Arousal

Emotional arousal is the impetus to push along the change process. It is the motivating force, the fuel that gets us ready to prepare and then take action. For many people, coming face to face with a health crisis jump-starts our interest in raw food. Nothing gets you emotionally aroused liked pain, the fear of death, or even just looking fat. The loss of youthful energy can inspire people to consider making changes in their lives.

Be the change you want to see in the world.

Mahatma Gandhi

Fear is not often a good motivator—it is easily dismissed by our defenses—so I do not recommend focusing on that. Instead, become involved emotionally with the positive side of changing your diet. The thought of losing weight, fitting into better looking clothes and, having more energy can be inspiring. I like to think about not supporting the meat and dairy industries, reducing the suffering of animals, polluting the planet less. The feel of my clothes and a slimmer body motivate me still.

In a sense, emotional arousal is consciousness-raising but on a deeper, more personal level. At this stage it might be good to watch movies and documentaries about the effects of an animal-based diet or the benefits of eating raw food. Even better, go to a raw food festival. Emotional arousal comes with whatever motivates you. Consciousness-raising will only take you so far; if you remain at the intellectual level you will never take action. Learn how to become motivated.


Self-reevaluation also involves the emotions and deep personal feelings. It involves an honest look at the life you are living and determining if how you are living corresponds to your personal values. Self-reevaluation is a time for asking tough questions. Do I really want to contribute to the suffering of animals? Is that the kind of person I am? Do I really want to contribute to the unnecessary waste of natural resources and the harming of this planet? Is eating so much cooked food worth an early death, or a life with barely enough energy to get by?

“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.”

--W. Edwards Deming

If we are in the contemplative stage we will use this time to consider the pros and cons of making the change. What is the cost of change? Some of the cons of increasing the consumption of raw food are: having to learn new ways of preparing meals, dealing with temptations at restaurants, not eating all of the foods we have grown up loving and, having to think about and plan meals in advance.

What, then, are the benefits and rewards of change? Some of the pros are: having more energy, a better physical appearance, clearer thinking, less pain from disease or worry about getting an illness. These are all ideas that arise in the contemplative stage of change. Considering these tough questions will prepare one for the time of action that is coming.

But more than looking at the pros and cons, we take stock of ourselves and honestly examine who we are and if we living in accordance with our values. This need not involve beating ourselves up for what we have been doing. Instead, we can look at the future and how we can make our lives better. We think about the consequences of eating differently.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


“Brainwashing: The application of a concentrated means of persuasion, such as an advertising campaign or repeated suggestion, in order to develop a specific belief or motivation.”

The American Heritage Dictionary

Brainwashed is a strong, emotionally charged word. But it is appropriate when we consider our beliefs about food. Ever since the 1940’s, when Danish scientists discovered a link between the consumption of animal products and disease, there has been a concerted effort on the part of the food industry to brainwash the American people.

The American Meat Institute, the National Dairy Council, the National Dairy Promotion Board, the Cattlemen’s Beef Association, among others, spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year with the express purpose of increasing the demand for animal products. They do this in incredibly devious ways.

“For modern animal agriculture, the less the consumer knows about what’s happening before the meat hits the plate, the better…”

Peter Cheeke, professor of animal science

The obvious advertising that we see on television and in newsprint is only the tip of the iceberg. The hideousness of the work being done to convince you and me to eat more animals is executed behind the scenes, in the committees that make up the reports that make advertising more convincing and make the truth about what is healthy to eat and what is not more confusing.

Here is one area in how this brainwashing works: An Act of Congress created the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in 1863. NAS created IOM (Institute of Medicine), which has the role of advising the government on issues of health. A part of the IOM is the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB), which makes recommendations concerning food, nutrition, and health. Since 1940 the FNB has been establishing principles and guidelines for adequate nutrition and the relationship between food and health.

The Food and Nutrition Board publishes highly respected findings telling the American people what is good to eat and what is not. They have been doing this since before many of us were born. We grew up with their published reports informing everything and everyone about nutrition.

Just for fun I googled several of the current members of the board. I started with the board chairman, pediatrician Dr. Dennis M. Bier. This is what I found in his conflict of interest statement for the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Dr. Bier consults for ConAgra Foods (they produce many brands of processed foods and meat products), Mars (the candy people), and McDonald’s (you know who they are).

The previous chairman was a paid consultant for the National Dairy Council, Nestle, and Dannon. He is now a senior executive for a large food corporation. You might suspect that this is a payoff for his good work their agenda.

Next down the line, I looked up vice-chair Michael Doyle. According to Integrity in Science, he has received numerous grants from the American Meat Institute and is a paid consultant of Kraft Foods.

Jim Riviere is a paid consultant for numerous drug companies. Fergus Clydesdale receives funding from Kraft and owns stock in several food companies. Six of the eleven members have direct ties to the dairy industry.

While government scientists cannot receive personal compensation from the food industry, these academics serving on the FNB board can. Conflicts of interest abound. And these are the people given the responsibility to “render authoritative judgment on the relationships among food intake, nutrition, and health.”

“Although sponsorship by food companies is ubiquitous among academics and practitioners in the fields of nutrition, food, and agriculture, our community has paid scant attention to the conflicts of interest that might arise from this. Like drug and tobacco companies, food companies often sponsor academic work (and in fact many drug and tobacco companies own food companies).”

Marion Nestle, Dept. of Food and Nutrition, NYU

It was this committee that in its most recent report made recommendations stating that for good health adults should get 45% to 65% of their calories from carbohydrates, 20% to 35% from fat, and 10% to 35% from protein. They also said that it was okay to consume up to 25% of total calories from added sugars found in soft drinks, candy, pastries, and other sweets. We are told that by following these guidelines we will minimize the risk for chronic disease.

That means that you could have a bowl of Fruit Loops and a Snickers bar for breakfast, a cheeseburger for lunch, and pizza and soda for dinner, and still be within the FNB guidelines. Essentially, they’re telling you to eat whatever you want.

“My eight-year-old stepson, upon finding out that I don't eat meat or anything coming from an animal, told me that I will never develop any muscles because muscles come from animals.”

Kirsten, Internet e-mail posting

The FNB and committee members affect how people eat in a variety of ways. They establish the Food Pyramid. They influence the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs, the Food Stamp Program, and the Women, Infants and Children Supplemental Feeding Program. Approximately thirty-five million Americans are provided food by government programs based on what the Food and Nutrition Board recommends. In addition, what we eat in hospitals and nursing homes is determined by FNB.

The brainwashing doesn’t stop there. The food industry has its hands in many other important avenues of influence. Nutrition journals take money from the food industry and companies through corporate sponsorships. The food companies also sponsor nutrition conferences and the publication of academic papers. Sponsored papers are not even subjected to peer-review.

The Dairy Council and the National Cattleman’s Beef Association sponsor research sessions. Travel funds, gifts, and meals are used to gain influence and interest in products being sold.

Associations themselves cooperate. The American Heart Association receives money from Kellogg’s, and then gives its seal of approval on foods like Frosted Flakes, Fruity Marshmallow Krispies, and Pop-Tarts. The American Dietetic Association receives significant funding from McDonald’s, Kellogg’s, and other food companies.

The entire system of official information about food is under the control of the food industry. Is there any wonder why in America cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity have become epidemics? And if that doesn’t kill you, the health care system will (the third leading cause of death in the US). We are being brainwashed into eating foods that are killing us, and the food industry profits from our illness. At the same time big medicine is kept in business. They have major incentives to keep their mouths shut; otherwise they would be out of work.

The human mind is an interesting thing. It is capable of believing whatever it wants to. We select what we want to see and hear and believe. We want to believe that the big steak we are about to eat is good for us, providing us with protein. If it isn’t the steak, well then, the chicken, or the fish. Hey, pizza is a health food; after all it contains all the food groups.

You will never hear the food experts on the Today Show or Good Morning America tell you the truth about nutrition. Why? Because if they did, their sponsors would stop advertising with them. Even here the food industry manipulates the truth. The only place we find real research answers is where there is no influence from money—books and unsponsored Internet sites.

It is my hope that after reading this you will open your mind to some new possibilities. Just being aware of how you have been lied to and used all of these years will free you from much of the misinformation that you have been fed. Now we will get to ideas that are not being forced upon you so that someone, somewhere can make a buck. Let’s get at the raw truth.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Ann Wigmore and the Hippocrates Health Program

This is a chapter from my soon to be published book. Ann Wigmore was one of the founders of the raw food movement.

“Let food be your medicine and let medicine be your food.”

Hippocrates of Cos

At midlife in the 1950’s Ann Wigmore was a mess. Suffering from gangrene in her legs after a car accident and colon cancer as well, she needed help. Doctors wanted to amputate her legs. She wanted an alternative. Born in Lithuania, and raised partly by her grandmother, she remembered how her grandmother treated wounded soldiers returning from World War I with herbs and weeds.
Ann experimented with various grasses and live foods and eventually healed herself of both the gangrene and the cancer. Not satisfied with overcoming her illnesses, she began research into improving her health. This led her to creating the Hippocrates Health Institute with the help of Viktoras Kulvinskas in Boston in 1958.
Guided by the saying of Hippocrates, “Let food be your medicine,” Ann went to work using living foods such as sprouts, juices made from weeds and grass, and fermentation. Wheatgrass became the major element because it was the easiest and cheapest to grow.
Wigmore died in a fire at her institute at the age of 83. Her work continues through institutes such as the Ann Wigmore National Health Institute in Puerto Rico, the Ann Wigmore Foundation in New Mexico, and the Hippocrates Health Institute, which she founded and is currently under the direction of Brian Clement in West Palm Beach, Florida.

The Hippocrates Health Program

The Hippocrates approach has developed over the years but has primarily remained faithful to Wigmore’s original research. Enzymes found in living foods are the cornerstone of a healthful diet. Since enzymes are destroyed when food is heated to over 117 degrees, raw uncooked foods are essential.
Vegetables play a key role also, more so than fruits in this program. Young vegetables such as baby greens and sprouts are highly recommended. Sprouts are grown from beans, grains, and seeds. The sprouts are used in salads and juices. To get the most out of fruits and vegetables without stressing the digestive system, juicing is often utilized, especially when fasting.
The juice most associated with Ann Wigmore is wheatgrass juice. Chlorophyll, which is considered the blood of the plant and has characteristics of human blood, can be acquired in concentrated quantities through juicing various grasses; grass grown from wheatberries being the best.
Fermented foods were part of the Hippocrates program under Wigmore’s direction, although they have fallen out of favor recently. Rejuvelac, a fermented drink made of wheatberry, is still widely consumed.
Besides this selection of foods, the Hippocrates program includes ideas regarding the proper combining of foods in a meal and cleansing. Eating certain foods together can cause digestion problems and nutrients not to be absorbed properly. Cleansing is needed to rid the body of toxins acquired through years of eating the standard American diet.


Probably the best reason for wanting to eat raw foods is the enzymes. Cooking food above approximately 117 degrees kills the enzymes in the food. According to the Hippocrates theory, people are given only a certain amount of enzymes at birth. We lose enzymes when our bodies fight illness, disease, and stress. A deficiency in enzymes brings about many kinds of health issues such as heart disease and certain cancers.
By eating raw foods we are able to replenish enzymes and rebuild our bodies. Wigmore called enzymes the body’s labor force. Enzymes are the life energy that is metabolism at work. The faster one uses up one’s enzyme supply, the faster one dies.
Wigmore wrote that enzymes were the key to the Hippocrates Diet. By predigesting and breaking down foods in the stomach, nutrients are more readily absorbed and utilized by the body. Then the digestive system does not have to work so hard, making more energy available for living and protection from illness.
When a person eats a primarily raw diet, he or she is making it easier on themselves to cleanse, repair, and rebuild their bodies. And enzymes are the reason. By not cooking food above 117 degrees you preserve the enzymes, which are needed for good health.


When you think of Ann Wigmore, you have to think wheatgrass. Most of us do not know the major role that grass has and still does play in the development of life on this planet. The grain that we make bread from comes from the seeds of grass. And, of course, so many animals survive on grass. Grasses have been used for centuries as medicine in Eastern and Western cultures. Chlorophyll is the key ingredient in grass that makes it so valuable.
Chlorophyll helps to oxygenate blood. Diets high in fat and protein cause blood to be depleted of oxygen. This in turn causes people to have less energy, poor digestion, and weaker immune systems. It may also cause cancer.
Exercise certainly is important to get oxygen into the blood. But foods too can help. Raw fruits, vegetables, juices, and sprouts contain chlorophyll, which is nearly identical to human blood in the sense that it carries oxygen.
Wigmore discovered that one of the best sources of chlorophyll was wheatgrass juice. (Wheatgrass itself is too fibrous to eat.) Agricultural chemist Charles Schnabel did the original research back in the 1930’s. He dried the grass and sold it in cans. According to Wigmore’s writings, the chlorophyll in wheatgrass is good for cleansing the blood, internal organs, and the digestive system. It also lowers blood pressure by dilating arteries. The red blood cell count is increased, and metabolism is stimulated.
Wheatgrass chlorophyll is concentrated with vitamins, minerals, and living enzymes. Wigmore used it to treat ulcers and colitis, cleanse the colon, and strengthen the immune system. She also used other grasses and seeds to extract chlorophyll from plants.
Brian Clement, the current director of the Hippocrates Institute, writes that wheatgrass chlorophyll cleanses the body of toxins and suppresses bacterial growth. Wheatgrass juice is not very stable and should be consumed shortly after preparation. Also, because it is so strong it may cause nausea or indigestion.


Another key contribution that Ann Wigmore made to a better understanding towards the components of a healthier diet is that sprouts are a source of super nutrition. According to her theory, enzymes reach their peak activity between the second and seventh day after sprouting.
Historically, sprouts have been used in various cultures to heal many illnesses. The Chinese discovered them thousands of years ago. Sprouts contain significant levels of amino acids (the building blocks of protein), high levels of vitamins and minerals, and when included with other foods make them more nutritious.

“Being eaten whilst extremely young, “alive” and rapidly developing, sprouts have been acclaimed as the “most enzyme-rich food on the planet”. Estimates suggest there can be up to 100 times more enzymes in sprouts than in fruit and vegetables, depending on the particular type of enzyme and the variety of seed being sprouted. The period of greatest enzyme activity in sprouts is generally between germination and 7 days of age.”
Isabell Shipard, Naturopath

The germination of seeds, grains, nuts, and legumes, is a simple first step in the sprouting process that anyone could easily incorporate into their eating habits. Seeds contain metabolic inhibitors that protect it while in its dormant state. These inhibitors make the seeds less useable by the human body. Soaking, which begins the germination process, removes the inhibitors and the seed begins to grow. At this point starches become sugars, proteins become amino acids, and fats become soluble fatty acids.
I soak various nuts and seeds, and I can tell you that they taste much better after soaking. The only thing is that they turn moldy quicker when traveling if you don’t keep them refrigerated.
The best thing about sprouts is that they can be grown at home cheaply and easily. There are even automatic sprouters available making this facet of building a healthy diet quite painless.


While other people are more famous for promoting the value of drinking fruit and vegetable juices, Wigmore was one of the first to actually include juicing in her diet. Wheatgrass was not the only thing that she extracted juice from.
Besides juicing fruits, vegetables and sprouts make an important contribution to the Hippocrates diet. Sprouts are considered the ultimate living food to juice because they are the most alive of all living foods. Vegetables are added for flavor.
The benefit in juicing is that vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, and sugars can be consumed without putting a lot of stress on the digestive system. Juicing also adds electrolytes and oxygen to the blood. Juices make the perfect drink to have when fasting. Juicing is one way to supplement your diet without using supplements made in a chemistry lab.

Fruits and Vegetables

The Hippocrates Health Program places a much greater emphasis on vegetables than on fruits. In fact, vegetables make up the largest part of the diet. It is recommended that large salads be eaten. What I mean by large salads is that, according to Wigmore, it should take a half hour to eat!
Besides the obvious benefit of vitamins, minerals, and protein, vegetables provide the natural fiber needed to exercise the colon and remove waste from our systems. Baby greens are probably the best of all vegetables to eat.
Sea vegetables play an important role in the Hippocrates diet. Because they are grown in the ocean, they are able to make minerals and trace elements available to humans which are not available from land-grown plants. Dulse, kelp, nori, wakame, and others should be eaten daily. A couple of tablespoons would be enough. Dulse and kelp can be used to replace salt in your diet.
If you follow the Hippocrates plan you will not be eating a lot of fruit; only two to five pieces a day are recommended. However, Wigmore does recommend fruit, especially bananas, to lose weight. My understanding is that while the emphasis is placed on eating vegetables, significant consumption of fruit isn’t discouraged.


Grind up half a cup of sprouted wheatberries, put them in a couple of jars full of water, cover with cheesecloth, and let it sit for three or four days and you have Rejuvelac. Ann Wigmore recommended that eight to sixteen ounces of this fermented beverage be consumed every day. Wigmore felt that fermented foods were good for the colon. This, however, has fallen out of favor at the Institute today, although Rejuvelac is still popular among many raw fooders.

Cleansing and Fasting

It often happens that when people begin eating a mostly raw food diet, in the beginning, they go through a cleansing period and feel sick instead of better. This is the cleaning stage. As the body rids itself of toxins many symptoms of illness arise. This is just the discomfort of a lot of accumulated waste leaving your system.
Wigmore recommended watermelon and watermelon juice for breakfast, Rejuvelac or juices between meals, fruit, and two large salads a day, in addition to supplementing the diet with wheatgrass juice, sea vegetables, and green drinks made of sprouts and vegetables. Rest, walking, and stretching, were also included.
Cleansing the colon is a big part of the Hippocrates program. The colon is the primary organ of solid waste disposal for the body. Years of eating foods that shouldn’t have been eaten leave it clogged up and in poor shape to extract vital nutrients. In addition, most people have little healthy bacteria and lots of the bad kind due to taking antibiotics by prescription or consumed in the meat that we eat.
Besides eating raw foods, Wigmore was a big fan of enemas, wheatgrass implants, and colonics. In some parts of the raw food movement this has been taken to the extreme and it appears that some people even get addicted to them. I don’t know how, but to hear them talk about it, well, let’s not go there.
Fasting, while not originally recommended by Wigmore, is part of the Hippocrates program today. A fast of one day a week on juices and purified water is part of the detoxification process. Rather than fast on just water, which will release massive amounts of toxins from their stored places in the body, a fruit and vegetable juice fast slows the process down, making the faster more comfortable and in a less weakened state.

Food Combining

A healthy diet is not only about what you eat, it also involves when you eat it. Most of us eat more than one food at a time. Eating certain foods together, known as food combining, can cause the digestive process to become derailed, and then we will not absorb all the nutrients that we could from what we are eating.
One objective of the Hippocrates diet is to allow foods to be quickly and easily utilized by the body and then eliminated. An understanding of proper food combining will help this to happen. It is not enough to eat living foods; they have to be eaten in a health-promoting combination.
Foods entering the body have to be digested to release their nutrients. Two aspects of digestion are affected by how those foods are combined. One is that protein foods entering the stomach require acidic juices to be digested, while starchy foods need alkaline juices. When both kinds of foods enter the stomach together, they tend to cancel out each other’s digestive juices.
The other aspect of digestion is that different foods digest at different rates. If a food that digests at a faster rate comes in after one that digests at a slower rate, the faster food will not digest properly, causing digestion to slow down and poor absorption of nutrients.
Proper food combining includes the following guidelines:
1. Mono meals are the best. This means eating only one food at a sitting. Watermelon for breakfast makes a great cleansing mono meal.
2. All melons, because they are digested so much faster than any other food, should always be eaten alone.
3. Fruits come in three categories: acid, subacid, and sweet. They have different amounts of sugar and water and are digested at different rates. Subacid fruits can be eaten with acidic or sweet, but acidic and sweet should not be eaten together.
4. Don’t mix fruits and vegetables.
5. Don’t mix starches with proteins.
6. Don’t drink with a meal.
7. Eat raw foods before cooked.

Some of this may sound familiar to you if you have ever read Fit For Life by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond. The Diamonds popularized the idea of proper food combining back in 1985. Food combining is also a part of the Natural Hygiene approach to raw foods.

The Three Phases

Part of the Hippocrates Health Program today includes the concept that becoming a living-foods vegan is a twenty-one-year journey. It is holistic in the sense that the program involves the body, mind, and spirit.
Phase one answers the question: what am I made of? During the first seven years you rebuild and energize your body. Physical changes include more strength and flexibility, a better digestive system, proper weight, and excellent health.
Phase two concerns the mind and answers the question: who am I? After achieving a more comfortable physical presence, the practitioner works for the next seven years toward better emotional health. Once physical problems have been overcome, a person can then work on the mental aspect. Some, including myself, would argue that the mental should come before or at least at the same time.
The third phase asks the question: Why am I here? This is the spiritual phase, and now that mind and body are healthy, one can begin a spiritual journey. Again, it could be questioned whether it is necessary to wait fourteen years before considering spirituality and health. I believe that Brian Clement developed the concept of the three phases and I am not sure that Ann Wigmore supported the idea.

The Best of Ann Wigmore and the Hippocrates Health Program

Ann Wigmore has to be appreciated for being a pioneer herald of raw foods and living enzymes. I know intuitively that raw is better than cooked, but why? It’s the enzymes. Knowing this makes it a little easier to…digest.
Germinate seeds and get greater nutrition from them. It’s simple and quick. Grow your own sprouts. Ann Wigmore’s focus on the benefits of sprouts is something that most people overlook. It makes sense to germinate and sprout seeds right in our own homes. Sprouts are a living food at its peak.
While I can’t say that wheatgrass juice is something everyone should be drinking, I do applaud Wigmore for calling attention to the benefits of chlorophyll. The consumption of green leafy plants cannot be emphasized enough.
Lastly, and possibly most important, is the benefit of drinking vegetable juice. I had been a big juicing fan back in the 1980’s thanks to The Juiceman, Jay Kordich, but I stopped juicing a number of years ago. I got tired of drinking five-pound bags of carrots every day. But Wigmore explains why we should juice all kinds of vegetables as a healthy supplement to eating them. I also very much like the idea of fasting one day a week on juices to give the digestive system a rest.

Further Reading:
The Hippocrates Diet and Health Program. Ann Wigmore. 1984. Avery. (This book is an excellent introduction to Ann Wigmore’s philosophy of health. It also contains instructions for growing sprouts, gardening indoors, and many of her own recipes.)

Living Foods for Optimum Health: Your Complete Guide to the Healing Power of Raw Foods. Brian R. Clement with Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. 1998. Three Rivers Press. (Brian Clement has been the director of the Hippocrates Institute for more than twenty-five years. This book contains the most current thoughts and teachings of the Hippocrates approach to raw foods.)