Drumroll please… ta dah! Here it is –> the long awaited for 1st baby bump picture. :) We took this a little over a week ago. And, all I can say is… I’ve grown (in many places) since! I think I’m a little bigger everywhere – LOL – face, butt, belly, legs, you name it… it’s all good though because I’ve got my little monkey growing in me.
My weight gain is normal according to my midwife (I’ll introduce her to all of you in a future post soon – she’s wonderful). I haven’t been doing much exercise during this pregnancy, but that is going to change now. I’m committing to a 1-2 mile walk 4-6 days a week.
As of this writing, I’m about 15 weeks, 6 days along. I’m past the all-day-nausea (whew!) but I have had some headaches (on and off) during the past 10-12 days. At first I thought they were from allergies because many others had them, but they just didn’t feel like that. They feel hormonal, almost sick-like… hard to describe. My neck and upper back have been cracking a lot, too, so maybe my posture hasn’t been very good. I’ve heard that many women (naturally) find themselves hunching over a bit when they’re pregnant, in a protective way. I’ll work on reminding myself to sit up / stand up straight.
I recently had someone email me through facebook asking the following:
Hi Kristen. I am ready to do some kind of detox at the first of the year, but I can’t spend a ton of money on a “program.” I know there are natural ways that don’t cost an arm and a leg, but wanted to know if you could recommend one that you may have done before you were pregnant. I’m a big fan of yours and trust your opinions. Thank you so much.
As the new year approaches, I suspect this is something on many minds. The new year is a great time to start over, try something new, or intensify what you already do, and take your health to new levels.
So, I’ll get straight to my answer… There are many ways – for free (other than the cost of organic produce and equipment needed such as a juicer or blender). I’m only touching on them briefly in this post, but if you have specific questions about any of them, then feel free to post the question in the comments section. For great tools, books, and resources to help your health journey, visit here for links to my favorite products. Note* I’m not a doctor or nurse or medical professional of any type, so I have to tell you that you should consult one before embarking on any major diet changes… okay, now that that is out of the way… here are some ideas:
1) Go Vegan Cleanse
If you’re not already, then adhering to a delicious all vegan diet is a great place to start. By eschewing all animal products and by-products you’ll not only do your body a heap of good, but you’ll also make animals very happy, and help save our earth. Be careful though, it’s possible to eat a junk food vegan diet, and while that might help animals and the earth, it’s not going to do much for your health. Keep it clean, organic, and fresh! If you want tips and ideas for foods, let me know in the comments section. You can do this for 3 days, 5 days, a month, or the whole year. Just get started, take it day by day, and enjoy the awesome journey.
2) Go Raw Cleanse
If you’re already vegetarian or vegan, then step it up a notch and go RAW! Whoo hoo! Get ready for some major energy when you do that, too. By eating all of your vegan food fresh, and uncooked, you’re getting the most out of your food by way of nutrients and enzymes. As I wrote in the vegan section above, you can do this 3 days a week, or a week at a time, or heck, set yourself a goal for one month of all Raw. Don’t be surprised if you want to make a long term lifestyle out of it, most people do. You’ll be amazed at how awesome you feel.
3) Smoothie (Greens and Fruit) Cleanse
Want to go a little more hard core? Consume all of your meals in a liquid form with smoothies. This is a nice, gentle, and fun approach to cleaning our your digestive tract with blended foods. Basically you drink green smoothies all day (this can include blended salads, green smoothies, and even all fruit smoothies). Green smoothies are great because they’re EASY to make, you can store them for a couple of days at a time if you can only prep them a few days a week, they’re satiating with plenty of diverse options, and they’re totally delicious! You could start with going for 3 days and then seeing how you feel. Or, you could do it every other day, and eat raw vegan the opposite days to get started. You’ll need a blender (regular or high powered will work) for this plan – I’ve written about my favorite blenders here.
4) Green Juice Cleanse
This is for the more ninja folks out there who want to go all the way with cleansing and renewal at an accelerated pace. Essentially, you only consume green juices all day (once in a while you can do an all fruit blend, but it’s recommended that you primarily guzzle down the green goodness). This is harder than a green smoothie fast so maybe you would want to start with just a couple of days and see how you feel. You can set up a program for yourself where you juice 3 days a week. Or, you can go truly hardcore and juice fast for a week or more at a time. Or, you could drink green juices one day, green smoothies the next and go back and forth, too. Keep in mind that on days where you only juice, you should aim for 4-5 quarts of juice a day. You’ll need a juicer for this plan, and I’ve written about my favorite juicers here.
You can do a mix of all of the above plans day by day, or you can go vegan for one week, then raw another week, then green smoothies another week, then graduate to green juices the final week. It’s important to: Be flexible. Have fun. Enjoy the journey. Give it a chance. Remember to watch how you’re body responds and make sure you get enough calories so you don’t lose your energy. Also(!), you might get a little sick in the form of detox (headache, flu like feelings with a snotty nose, skin eruptions, etc), so it’s really important to carve out some resting time for yourself.
5) You can try a program that my friend, Gena, is part of leading (it’s not free, but the price seems reasonable). The program has three levels. I’m not a huge fan of the first two levels, because they include animal products, but for the third level (Gena’s), she’s doing it all vegan! I have not gone through her program or seen specifics/results, so I can’t write about how good it is. But, Gena is an awesome coach, so I have high expectations. You can get more information here.
I planned this menu last night before I went to bed. Read here about why planning your daily food is a great idea and how it can help you stick to your healthy eating goals.
Organic Green Juice
I started the day by making 5 cups of green juice with my Hurom juicer. I drank 3 cups and stored the other 2 cups for later in the day. The juice had cucumber, celery, collard greens, lime, orange, and apple. It was fabulous! I tell ya… so many women say that they get constipated with pregnancy. I have to say… it’s not happening with me. I attribute it to my super healthy diet.
This bar wasn’t Raw, but it was vegan, macrobiotic, had non-gmo and organic ingredients, and was high protein. It was darn tasty, too, as it should be when one of the ingredients is organic brown rice syrup, huh? Lol
Organic Salad, Crunchy Buckwheat Biscuit, and Raw Sauerkraut
Oh… yum… this lunch was so awesome. I made a fresh salad with romaine lettuce and red bell peppers from our CSA, along with cucumbers. The dressing was refreshing – organic lemon juice, Raw olive oil, Himalayan crystal salt, black pepper, and dried Italian seasoning. Alongside the salad I had one of my Crunchy Buckwheat Biscuits and topped it with my homemade organic Raw sauerkraut. The juice of the sauerkraut seeped into the biscuit, making it a little soft in spots. SO GOOD!!! I promise to get the recipe to you very soon (maybe this week!). These biscuits are full of flavor and nutrition!
Green Juice – 2 cups
Here is where I had the rest of the green juice I made from this morning. I drank it while doing a little dance to Nelly’s Tilt Ya Head Back (featuring Christina Aguilera). I can’t help but get up and BOOGY DOWN! Seriously! :) I can’t wait to have this baby and dance around the house holding him/her. :)
Savory Veggies, Crunchy Buckwheat Biscuit, and Raw Sauerkraut
I made a batch of this popular marinade recipe of mine, and I’m topping the following vegetables with it: organic portobello mushroom, carrots, red bell pepper, and broccoli. I’ll have another Crunchy Buckwheat Biscuit topped with my Raw sauerkraut with it, too.
Frozen Organic Banana Protein Smoothie See recipe here.
I’m adding extra carob for this so it’s more dessert like. I sure do love RAW FOOD!!!!
Mmmm a day full of healthy, energizing, GREEN, nutrient dense, delicious, EASY, fun, texture filled, Raw, Vegan, Organic food!!!
Plant Blood (a.k.a. Green Juice) – 2 cups
celery, kale, cucumber, cabbage, and lemon
Green Smoothie – 3 cups
1 mango (are those a doozy to cut up, or what? with that pit and all you have to cut around!), fresh cut sunflower sprouts, fresh cut pea sprouts, and 1 frozen banana
Tropical Spicy Protein Smoothie – 3 cups
1.5 cups water, 2 frozen bananas, 1/2 cup mango (or more), 1/4 cup hemp seeds, 1/4 cup hemp protein powder, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne, dash vanilla extract
LOTS of Salad!
I’m crazy for romaine salads lately… like I eat 3 bowls in a row! Must be the Monkey growing in me, eh? The usual easy, simple combo: romaine, cucumber, red bell pepper, and topped with a dressing of lemon juice, raw olive oil, Himalayan crystal salt, and black pepper.
Dinner is not here yet, but here is my plan! Kale Salad and Crunchy Buckwheat Biscuits
Marinated kale salad topped with avocado, cucumber, red bell pepper. Crunchy Buckwheat Biscuits have a wonderful cheesy flavor (I use nutritional yeast – not raw, but everything else is). I dehydrated thoroughly where they’re a thick, crunchy biscuit. Yum! I will post the recipe soon!
Yum, I love prunes. Deliciously sweet and packed with antioxidants and nutrients.
Update: My kale salad at dinner was a bit different from what I posted above, and let me tell you… We LOVED it! My husband said three times, “Wow! This is soooo good!” I’ll post the exact recipe another day, but the ingredients were marinated kale, garlic, avocado, pineapple, and orange. I’m calling it Pineapple Orange Kale Salad.
I received the following email and decided it would make a great blog post. I suspect there are other people out there with similar Raw food struggles.
Hi Kristen, I love following your blog….. I was wondering if you could give me advice…. and your personal motivation and reasons for being raw…
I have a blender, I don’t have an expensive juicer or a dehydrator….and right now, I’m starting to become aware that I’m probably slightly caffeine/sugar dependant… I have an incredible sweet tooth…. and it seems that every time I try to start raw foodism, I fail….not so much by heating something…. (as I rarely cook my foods anyways), but mainly because I have a hard time staying away from already processed prepared foods, coffee, sugar and sweets.
I was therefore wondering if you would mind giving me some advice, on how to get started…. on how to find the real motivation to go raw…
And on how to adhere to a raw food lifestyle – on a student budget (without a juicer or dehydrator)…
What were some of your personal motivations for going raw? And what have been some of your personal benefits?
I know rationally that I will benefit from it….but every time I fail it’s because I self-sabotage myself by convincing myself that my current diet is ‘pretty healthy already’….
Any books you would recommend as good starters?
My Personal Motivations & Reasons for Going Raw:
For starters, I was looking for energy when I decided to go Raw. My research into the Raw diet showed people with tons of energy and that was something I wanted big time. I, too, was addicted (badly) to caffeine. Even though I considered myself “pretty healthy already” with my vegan diet, I was going to a coffee shop once, twice, and sometimes three times a day for a triple espresso shot soy cappuccino. I had a pretty good inclination that my adrenal glands were shot and I felt acidic internally. Every day I would wake up and my bones and joints ached until I moved around and had my morning (few) cups of coffee.
But, energy wasn’t all I was after. I wanted that GLOW! I wanted the smooth, soft, skin that was the result of Raw food’s anti-aging benefits. I was tired of my dull skin with it’s frequent break outs. I also suffered from migraine headaches and allergies. So, when I stumbled upon Raw, I was hooked. It just made sense! I loved that I was reading about people who felt amazing, knew they were eating the healthiest food in the world and so darn proud of it, had oodles of energy, and enjoyed gorgeous skin and nails (hair, too, but at the time, I was bleaching mine, so I figured that was a lost cause).
Eventually, I was so tired of not feeling great, of not feeling like I was at my peak unless I medicated myself with something like caffeine or pain pills. I was living a life of stimulated energy instead of Raw energy. I had no idea there was such a thing as Raw Energy. And, wow, what a difference that has made in my life! (I go into much more detail about this here on my website.)
How I Started with Raw
When I first started, I made it a gradual process. I started by adding more salads to my diet and simple fresh fruit and veggies. I found that it was great, yet it wasn’t making it easy for me to transition to a more (or all) Raw diet. So, I changed my plan of attack. Instead of having days where I had part cooked, part Raw foods, I decided to pick one day a week where I went all Raw. That was something I could easily do, and it was inspiring. I felt so great on those days that it wasn’t long until I wanted to incorporate more days into my diet like that. Before I knew it, I was going 3 days a week 100% Raw, and then 4 days, and so on… until I was all Raw. It was awesome and everything it promised to be for me.
After a long time of being all Raw, I started to have a little cooked vegan food from time to time. I found that when I did that, however, it was a slippery slope. What would start as a simple, wholesome organic vegan meal of lentils, brown rice, and steamed veggies turned into all that plus vegan cookies! Then, I found that it would throw me from my game for a few days at a time. But! What I discovered was that every time that happened, I found more resolve to get back to Raw. I didn’t beat myself up for it either. I didn’t stress. I knew deep down the right way. I was actually excited that my body was telling me to get back to Raw. It knew what was best for me. Over time, even though I’d have a little cooked food (or even a treat like a vegan cookie or decaf soy cappuccino), I wasn’t doing it very often, and the slippery slope was not so slippery anymore. I came up with many tips and tricks for helping me stay motivated and on my path (I detail many in my book, Kristen’s Raw).
The next period of my diet found me doing more Raw (usually 100%) and that was wonderful. My body needed it and I craved it. There were periods where my body wanted a lower fat Raw diet and times when my body thrived with higher fat Raw foods. I listened and paid attention to the changes my body was going through. I became more confident in my choices and I was learning more about my body all the time, so I found that when I introduced some cooked foods again, I actually did fine. This opened some new doors for me. I found that I could enjoy a High Raw diet at times. In fact, I felt pretty great with it. My body is so used to Raw now, and loves it so much, that I don’t go for long with cooked foods in my diet, and/or I don’t let too many in. My body quickly starts craving the fresh organic goodness that only the Raw vegan diet can provide.
My Basic Take-Home Points:
1) I listen to my body and I don’t presume that just because I thrive with a certain Raw vegan diet at one time doesn’t mean I won’t want to change it up a bit with another variation of Raw vegan another time.
2) I am flexible and don’t stress about it. In fact, I have fun with it!
3) My body naturally self-corrects and always directs me back to Raw. It knows what’s best.
Overall, it’s all about making better choices. There is a continuum on which you’ll find yourself. On one end of the continuum you have the typical SAD (Standard American Diet) eater and on the opposite end you have the 100% Organic Raw Vegan Foodist. All along this spectrum you have rungs, or steps, like along a ladder. With each rung or step being better than the last. It’s not expected to go all the way to the top at first, because that is too hard for most people. But there are always ways to make small improvements. For example, if you’re eating processed bread right now, then switching to a brand such as Genesis Sprouted Grain Bread is that next step along the spectrum of health. It’s better than what you were doing previously. Then, not much longer after that you might find yourself making your own bread from sprouted flax and chia seeds, which would be the ultimate choice for your health. However, each step takes you higher or further along the spectrum, and you’ll feel better and better as a result. Or, if you consume cow’s milk, you can move up on the ladder of health by switching to organic vegan soy, rice, hemp, or almond milk. Then, you can set your eyes on the next step and switch to Raw nut and seed milks like Creamy Dreamy Hemp Milk.
For some people, the only way to start the Raw diet is by jumping in with both feet 100%. Some people need a gradual entrance. They’re both great… you just have to find what’s right for you. One of the best ways for staying motivated is with community and education. The community can be found online (join Raw forums, read Raw blogs, and blog yourself!) and through meetups (check meetup.com for local groups), and the education comes from DVDs, books, classes, magazines, etc. I’m constantly putting all of those things in front of me. And, every time I pick up a book or magazine, or read someone’s blog about what they’re doing with Raw food, I’m excited and inspired! My cells start salivating for green juice, salads, and Raw lasagna, etc.
Raw Tools in the Kitchen: Only Have a Blender?
Having only a blender is no problem! You don’t need a juicer to be a Raw foodie, or a dehydrator for that matter. Those are just excuses for some people. With a blender, you can make smoothies, soups, salad dressings, pates, ice cream, mousse, even nut butters (with a high powered blender). You can even make juice! Just blend the fresh produce with some water and strain it with a nut milk bag (or a cheaper paint straining bag from a hardware store).
A dehydrator is fun and I use mine all the time, but it’s definitely not necessary. For starters, you can buy many things at health food stores that are made in a dehydrator. They’re not always cheap, but I’m just sayin’… they’re available as very convenient treats and snacks.
Sugar & Caffeine Addicted? No Problem!
Being addicted to those things really sucks. I know! But, it’s not hard to get off them. You just need a plan! My first tip is Green Smoothies. Getting more greens into your diet will help alkalize your body, which will help you fight the acid addiction. Don’t give up and be consistent with it. Having fresh fruit is also great for those sugar cravings. Because fruit is filled with natural sugars, fiber, and nutrients, you’ll find yourself satiated right away. Having them with greens is great, like with green smoothies, because the greens add lots of minerals, but I’m also a fan of fresh fruit on its own. Heck, I just polished off two organic persimmons before writing this blog post.
Another great tip for fighting sugar addictions is with fermented foods like Raw, organic, unpasteurized sauerkraut and kim chi. These are well reputed for helping with sugar problems. And, they’re so delicious! I make my own at home, but I didn’t always (you can buy it at health food stores). Here is a blog post (with video) detailing how to make it.
Your transition doesn’t have to be overnight, just start somewhere. And, you don’t have to eliminate your caffeine or sugar right away. Do it in stages. Look at your current diet and set up a plan for cutting it out, bit by bit. And, reward yourself when you hit those milestones!
Being Lazy?… Stop It!
There is no excuse for not making a green smoothie when you’re feeling too lazy to make something and wanting to open up a box of processed crap. Green smoothies are so freakin’ easy. And, you know what? If for some crazy reason that is even asking too much on some days, then just make sure you have bananas, oranges, persimmons (seasonal), dates, carrot / celery sticks (washed, trimmed, and ready to eat), apples, watermelon (seasonal), etc… all ready to grab whenever you get hungry. IT DOESN’T GET EASIER THAN THAT!
Candidly, if you can’t handle whipping up a green smoothie or peeling a banana, then you probably just don’t want it enough. And for that, I don’t have much advice beyond forcing yourself to try it for awhile and seeing how much better you feel. Obviously, something turned you onto this path; you just need to get back and focus on that. Do some soul searching and decide if you’re indeed ready to take control of your health. The good news is that it’s really easy. And, the better news is that it gets easier and easier, partly from practice, but mostly from just developing habits, a routine, and a little confidence. You’ll find yourself getting into your own groove and building upon each successful day you have. It’s an awesome feeling!
We all have our own personal motivations for turning to Raw. And, most people who do turn to it stick with it, at least to some degree, if not all the way. It’s as though they’ve seen the light and they know it’s the right thing to do. Even when they come and go… the key is that they keep coming back. The Raw vegan lifestyle rocks. It’s worth it! It’s awesome! It’s addictive!
I’ve written a book (available as an ebook as well) that covers these topics in great detail, Kristen’s Raw: The EASY Way to Get Started and Succeed at the Raw Food Vegan Diet & Lifestyle. It’s the perfect way to help you start on the Raw vegan path. You can get more details and purchase it here.
I should add that it also makes a great gift!
And, here are some related blog posts that are chock-full of good tips and information.
I’ve just whipped myself up into a motivated frenzy writing this post, so I’m off to make some organic green juice. :)