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Gosia's story:

After one year of eating raw foods, I am addicted to them. Eating this way makes me feel so good that I do not want to stop. I compare my experience to banging one’s head against the wall. Only when one stops, they notice the difference. Eating cooked food was like banging my head against the wall. When I stopped, I experienced so many positive changes in the way I felt and looked, that at first I could not believe my luck. How is it possible that eating the way that by most of the society is considered to be freaky could make me feel so good? In time I came to realize that this freaky way of eating was in fact the most natural one! This took a lot of shifting in the belief system that I constructed during the 40 years of my existence.

For the first 25 years of my life I was an omnivore eating mostly cooked foods. Then, I discovered the macrobiotic diet. At that moment, I was overweight, constipated, unable to control my eating habits, bordering on bulimia and totally unhappy about the way I looked and felt. After a few months of following basic macrobiotic rules, I lost all the excess weight and felt great. Constipation was gone, my skin was clear and I thought that I found my ideal diet. My transition to the macrobiotic diet coincided with me becoming vegetarian. I lost the desire for eating meat. I continued to eat dairy and eggs, though.

Once, in the 80s, I decided to do a cleansing diet which consisted of only salads for about two weeks. This was my first experiment with a raw food diet. I felt great, but it did not occur to me that I could live like this forever. So although I experimented with raw food diet more, it has not become my lifestyle until much later. For the next 15 years I strongly believed that wholemeal cooked grains should be at least 50% of the daily food intake. I followed this rule and vegetarianism, with one exception, a couple of years in Greece, before I rented a room and had a chance to prepare my own meals. During that time I was spontaneously drawn to eating fruit as my staple, but again, I did not make a mental connection strong enough to make it a permanent shift. I have very fond memories of these fruity times in Greece, where fruit is just amazing. I ate tree-ripen figs, which were the best figs I have ever eaten in my life. I ate lots of grapes, as sweet as they can be, and amazingly refreshing melons. It was a standard there that the casual employer would provide you with meals. I requested to be fed with fruit only!

Gradually, I shifted away from my belief in the strict macrobiotic diet. 10 years ago I migrated to Australia with my 3-year-old son Odys. In Australia I befriended an Indian woman and learned some cooking from her. I bought a wok, a rice cooker, a pressure cooker and various spices. The Indian way of cooking became my favourite. I continued eating wholemeal grains. For example, I used brown rice only. This was my macrobiotic influence. Interestingly, over the years, somehow I lost the desire to eat eggs and dairy and my diet was getting closer to veganism, without me even knowing about that. In fact, I thought that veganism was too extreme!

4 years ago, my daughter Julia was born. At the end of my pregnancy I felt totally exhausted. I felt and looked awful. This was despite eating “healthy” vegetarian meals. I believed that the way I ate was important for the health of my baby, and so I was doing my best and avoided things that I knew were bad. My favourite dining place at that time was a vegan restaurant at a market, where we used to go every week. I remember going there 2 weeks prior to the birth and feeling awful. 3 years later I still did not feel my best. I hoped that this would change in time, but I seemed to have reached a point after which there was no further improvement. This was despite the fact that I was commuting to work on my bike every day.

Then, I learned about the raw food diet. I actually had heard about the raw food diet before, but thought it was too weird and not in line with what I believed then. This time, I read a story about Demi Moore and got interested in her diet. I know I know, an interest in media is not the greatest thing, but this time it led me to something good, didn’t it? I decided to try. Two weeks before my 40th birthday, I started eating lots of raw fruit and veggies. On that day, I looked at myself in the mirror with a hope that what I saw there, would change. After only two weeks, I could not believe what I saw! I was definitely noticing a remarkable transformation. That old looking, tired woman disappeared, I looked noticeably better, and that was just the beginning! My birthday was a happy birthday, indeed.

Since then, many more changes occurred. I observed an improvement in my eyesight; a cloud that I used to feel in my eyes has gone. When I brush my teeth, there is hardly any plaque there. There used to be heaps of that before. My dentist has noticed that my gums are in a better shape. My skin has a glow that it never had before (during my macrobiotic phase it was rather pale and matte). I do not feel lethargic during the day anymore. In the past I had to rely on coffees to keep me going at work and I don’t need that now. Exercise seems to have a much better effect on me now than before. My legs have lost that jelly-like look and I have begun to see some muscles there. My weight has shifted from 54 to 49 kg. My face looks much younger than a year ago and is not puffy anymore. My eyes are open and clear, my skin is clearer too. I stopped wearing foundation, because I don’t need it anymore! I believe that it will take perhaps another year or two before I observe the full benefits of this new lifestyle. My body is still transforming, so I am at the beginning of my raw journey really. I am turning away from cooked foods completely. This is because each experience of eating cooked foods brings these familiar unpleasant symptoms that I used to experience in the past. Why continue banging my head against the wall?

My transformation has affected the rest of my family, naturally. My children, although not completely raw, are eating far more raw fruit and veggies than before and I do not buy them sweets anymore. Instead, I make raw cookies, ice-ream and pudding, which they love. Yesterday Julia asked me “Mum, I am hungry”. When I asked what it was that she wanted, “Grapes” was the answer. I am so happy about that. I do not want to force my children into my own belief system. I do talk to them a lot about healthy foods and junk foods, so they know very well what’s good for them and what’s not. However, the ultimate choice is theirs. I am happy to see that their taste is changing in a positive way. I am happy to see them choosing fruit over junk food spontaneously. The change in our eating patterns is reflected in the change of our expenditure. We used to spend about $100-$150 in the supermarket, a lot of it on processed foods, and about $50 in the market on fruit and veggies. These days it is the other way around!

There is a lot of debate amongst raw foodists about which way of eating raw foods is the best. Personally, I prefer a diet that includes a fair amount of fruit. I have found myself drawn to the concepts within the natural hygiene, but I am not there yet. As I said, I am at the beginning of my raw journey and have heaps to learn yet. I will write an update in a year or two and let you know about new things that I will have learned.


The 8th Anniversary Update:

This has been a fruitful journey. The never-ending evolution of my attitudes and ideas has meant though that I have always felt transforming, and therefore not ready to report on something as permanent as an update. But I now feel that I have a very clear perspective of my experiences and a sharp perception of the lessons I learned, which is a reason enough to pause. The journey continues of course, and so I would not want to say that I arrived while I am still evolving. Nevertheless, I have a sense of having grown enough to be able to look back and reflect on what I've experienced during the last 8 years of my adventures with raw foods.

My idealistic views of the raw food diet have changed. I used to believe that simply eating raw was perfect. Now I know that the quality of foods is crucial. Even eating the ultimate raw food diet, the fruit-based one, is not going to guarantee the optimum health, if the fruit is unripe or poor quality, such as it often may be the case in cooler, non-tropical climates, including in Hobart where I live. Obtaining quality foods has been a challenge and an inevitable outcome, a necessity, as living without fruit has become an impossible alternative. Physically impossible, as my body is no longer willing to exist without the level of hydration and vitality that no other diet can offer. After going raw in 2003, my diet has spontaneously progressed to fruit-centered raw diet fairly quickly in 2004.
The realization of the love for fruit came early. Since then, I could not settle at defining myself in any other way, but a fruitlover. I find this to be the only boundaries-free way of classifying myself, which is beyond any judgement, limitations and separation from other humans. Who does not love fruit?

The path I took was to follow the instincts of my body and learn from them, and they led me to where I am now. It was interesting, even amusing, to observe a 
spontaneous evolution of my various habits, with no effort on my part beyond being an attentive listener of my body signals. For example, I recall reading about someone not using any fat in their salads and wondering how on Earth they could posibly saciate their hunger with them, and then one day I realized that my desires changed and I no longer liked the fat in my salads either. Later, after some time, I prefered my salads without any dressing at all. These gradual changes were not a result of a conscious effort, but rather, a result of me responding to the desires of my body, which I was more and more capable of sensing. Another observation I made was that my appetites for various foods could change periodically. For example, I would have no desire for anything else but sweet fruit for weeks on end, and then one day I would feel like having some greens or nonsweet fruit. This sometimes led to funny situations when I developed some misconceptions of what my body wanted, until my body suddenly took a 180 degree turn. In time I realized that the mechanisms to satisfy my body needs are complex and unpredictable, and my body chooses what it needs in a way that one cannot classify in a simple way. So I decided not to settle on any patterns with my mind, because I know that my body might have a change of mind!

In 2006 I organized the First International Fruitlovers Online Summit. During that time, fruitlovers seemed a minority amongst raw foodists, which often needed to defend itself against the strange ideas that fruit eating was 'bad for you'. The purpose of the Summit was to increase the global awareness about the benefits of fruit-based diet. Fruitlovers community has grown since then. I met many beautiful people who inspired me. Many told me I inspired them. Inspiration is a two-way path. Being part of the community is what makes this journey really meaningful.

There is another event that I should mention here, as it affected me rather greatly, negatively at the start, but positively in the long term. In 2007, I suffered a painful back injury. I continued to work full time, despite the fact that standing or walking for longer than several minutes was very painful, and I resorted to painkillers so that I could work. Every day, after work, I would stay in bed, and did not do anything around the house, as I could not even sweep the floor. This went on for many months and I admit that this was a long and depressing period in my life. I felt very lonely in my aching body. But I recovered from this. Two years later I started doing some basic gardening, and after that, gradually, started exercising again. I have not got back on my bike, as Hobart is a hilly town and biking in the hills could put pressure on my back. Instead, I took up swimming, which become an activity that I enjoy very much, and bellydancing, which became my passion! Finding time for exercise is a challenge, as I am a busy researcher and a lecturer, but exercise is an essential part of my life and I make an organized effort to find that time. I could not be without being active as much as I could not without my fruit.

Being critical of my experiences became an important aspect of my journey, when I realized the value of free exploration in the context of raw foods. This is not something that is widely discussed on the raw forums, because there is really no culture of self-exploration that would support
questioning raw foodism on most forums. Typically, forums are run by individuals who are interested in a particular focus there, in line with their personal beliefs and interests, and so comments that question the status quo may be censored or removed. At the same time, forums are a popular platform at which regular discussions are held, and so when truly open discussions are not possible, this lack of free exploration can lead to a very one-dimensional perception. Moreover, as being less than what is assumed to be perfect, is something that is often looked down upon at, this can create an atmosphere where an individual may be afraid to admit to being 'less than'. So it became important for me to give myself enough space and freedom for making personal decisions away from such dynamics. I did not want my mind to control my diet out of fear of being less than the (non-existing) ideal. Instead, I wanted my drives to be the joy, curiosity, and openness to evolving. Eventually, the concept of "being my own guru", which is what I made up my mind about right from the beginning, before I created this website, proved to be more important to me than I originally aniticipated.

During my journey I encountered people who turned away from raw foods and shared how liberating it was for them. I can understand that, since the above mentioned dynamics, if one lets them, can potentially lead to unhealthy, controlling, cult-like mechanisms. I also met people who came back to raw foods to start over again, saying how they missed the amazing results of being raw. I can understand that too, as I allowed myself some space for experiments, and observed sometimes astounding results, including a full range of various sensory signals, all sending the same message of discomfort. And so, even though I do not live in the tropics and finding good quality fruit can be an issue at times, going back to cooked would not be an easier alternative for me, because my body is quite vocal about its needs and it would be rather hard for me to ignore it. It would be difficult for me to go back to cooked. I just love the iressistable juiciness of the fruit and would miss it too much! I also feel incredibly on fruit. My health is thriving.

What about the visible outcomes? In 2009 I had a reunion with my friends in Poland, some of whom I had not seen for over 20 years.
Many of my friends commented that I have not changed, or that I looked radiant, and questioned me about my "fruit and salads" diet. I was told I did not need to advertise it as it was enough for them to see me to believe the results. Some of my more adventurous friends embarked on their own experiments with this way of living, either by adding more fruit and veggies into their diet, or by trying the raw food diet altogether. Just today, a few moments ago, I got a message from another of my friends trying this, which filled me with joy. When people mistake me for someone much younger, I tend to think that it must be the diet, because this certainly was not happenning 8 years ago. Deep in my heart, I am quite a child, completely and innocently amazed with the world, ready to explore it and ask questions, just as I was when I first saw the colony of ants and stared at it for hours as a toddler (until my mum concerned about what I was doing called me from the kitchen window). So I see it as a blessing which gives me an excuse to be as playful as I like.

I am not perfect. I am as fragile as any human and simply live my life. Fruit truly nourishes me and gives me the energy to live, and I am sharing my story with you so that you too have a chance to experience health and radiance that is within reach. There is really nothing extraordinary about this. Perhaps humans forgot about simple things in life, and lost some of the sparkle as the result of it. We have the ability to hydrate our bodies and bring that sparkle back. You have this ability. All it takes is to try the simple, raw foods and listen intensely to your body. All the best in your journey!

Sweet fruity regards,
(July 2011)

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Copyright © Dr Gosia O'Reilly. All Rights Reserved.
Acknowledgements: Maura (logo).
Quotes on raw foods by fellow raw foodists.
Other quotes from The Quote Garden.
Photos: Free Stock Photos