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.