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When the body starts the cleansing process ... it really does clean house!
When we start to eat better and take care of our bodies, our bodies respond by beginning a cleansing process that literally involves the old cells being discarded to make room for new and higher grade tissue. Dr. Bass calls this phase "catabolism" - where the body is eliminating and breaking down old, lower grade tissue. This is why in the beginning stages of a raw food lifestyle one typically loses a lot of weight. When I first became raw, I lost an incredible amount of weight (50 pounds). At my height (5ft 8") I looked quite thin at 90 pounds! I had people asking me all the time whether I was anorexic. This was very frustrating as I was eating pounds and pounds of raw food daily, had high amounts of energy and never felt better! I persevered despite the negative comments because I truly believed in what I was doing.
During this initial phase, one often experiences "detox symptoms". Some examples are:
fever and/or colds
the skin may break out
there may be a short interval of bowel sluggishness
feelings of tiredness and weakness
disinclination to exercise
nervousness, irritability or negativity ("food blues" or withdrawal)
These are just a few. You may or may not experience all of these.
If one continues on with the raw food lifestyle - has the patience and courage to keep going - the weight eventually remains stable as the amount of tissue being discarded daily matches that being created. Dr. Bass calls this the "stabilization" phase. I recall this stage quite vividly. I was weighing myself daily at this point (as I was so worried that I would not stop losing weight). Then all of a sudden the weight stopped coming off. I stabilized. Eating the very same amount of foods, I simply stabilized. Also, at this time, the detox symptoms start to lessen.
The second phase is followed by a period where the body literally begins to build up - what Dr. Bass calls "anabolism". Interestingly, as one stays on the program longer and longer, they begin to eat less and less. This is because as the body becomes cleaner and cleaner, the digestive system becomes stronger and more efficient. Consequently, it takes much less to do the very same job. I recall this quite vividly also. Suddenly my very strong hunger pangs dissipated. I now felt very satisfied and content on much less food. And, while eating less, I was gaining weight! This was truly proof for me of the magnificence of this incredible diet. The weight continues to increase until it reaches the individual's perfect or natural weight. For me that is about 125 to 128 pounds. As soon as I hit this weight, that was it, I stopped gaining. Eating the very same food, my body just levelled out.
In later years when I began to have children, it was interesting to see how my body responded on the raw food diet. Basically, I would put on about 20 lbs for each raw pregnancy. This weight came off - with ease - within the first month post-pardom in every case. I did not change what I was eating before, during or after pregnancy. My body took care of itself. This was quite amazing to see!
In order to reach this state of equilibrium, one must go through the detox phase. It is unavoidable. However, it can be minimized by taking things one step at a time. Unlike I (who became raw over night), you could eliminate the unhealthy foods one at a time, spread across months, to make it easier on your body. In the end, the detox symptoms will be more manageable. For example, one could eliminate food as follows:
Processed food, "junk/fake" food, sugar (for 3 months)
Meat (for 3 months)
Fish (for 3 months)
Dairy (for 3 months)
This is a 12 month elimination diet that brings you to a vegan way of living, but still not raw. You could continue to live this way and still experience a decent level of health as the above foods are so highly toxic to the body. But, if you choose to take your health to the next level, you would then eliminate as follows:
Cooked carbohydrates (3 months)
Beans and lentils (3 months) (optional)
Cooked vegetables (3 months) (optional)
What is left after you make the above eliminations? Raw fruit, raw vegetables, raw green leaves and herbs, raw nuts, raw seeds, raw cold-pressed oils (olive, flax, hemp, coconut), high quality sea salt (Celtic), raw cold-packed honey and some fermented foods like apple cider vinegar. I also consume organic dried spices and herbs (which add great flavour to food) and very occasionally I consume dehydrated foods, and very rarely cooked vegetables (usually in social situations when there are limited options).
When you get to this point, your body will begin to build and you will feel great! It is a slow process, but very exciting indeed. It's been quite a learning experience for me - one that I have to share so that all can experience the level of health that I do.
So, don't get discouraged by detox - embrace it and know that you are on the right path and going in the right direction. As Dr. Bass says, "We must learn to obey the laws of Nature. We must learn to eat simple pure and natural foods, properly prepared and combined, and our bodies in return will cast off all the poisons we have taken in during our lives."
Peace and patience.