The End of the Raw Food Healing Challenge

I am responsible for the creation of my health. I, therefore, participated at some level in the creation of this illness.

Well, I made it.

Last week I completed one full month of eating (mostly) raw in the 28-Day Raw Food Healing Challenge.

It’s certainly been an interesting time – full of challenges and setbacks, but also significant personal growth and understanding.

How I feel

Although I’m a practical gal, a part of me thought after only a month I would experience some sort of Eureka ‘I’m cured!’ moment. Of course, that didn’t happen.

I will say that I’ve noticed a huge difference in my digestion after eating raw for four weeks, as compared to when I eat cooked food all the time. Usually after meals I experience some degree of bloating, stomach churning, indigestion and gas. With raw food, that rarely happened – unless I ate too much of it!

One thing I’ve realized is how I don’t eat mindfully, which has contributed to my digestive distress in the past. For example, I’ll often settle on the couch after supper to watch TV or a movie with my husband. Then I snack away on cashews or dried fruit and before I know it half the bag is gone and I’m left with a stomachache that makes it difficult to sleep.

Now, I’m paying far more attention to whether I’m actually hungry, or if I’m eating for some other reason. I give my stomach time to relax and digest – and that makes a huge difference.

The Highlights

Meal planning. I’ve never done any meal planning before and now I see how beneficial it is. Although I altered the plans slightly after I visited the hospital, for the most part I wasn’t standing in front of the fridge trying to cobble a meal together at the last minute. I shopped with a grocery list and when mealtimes arrived, plenty of healthy ingredients I needed were already in the fridge.

Raw food is easy. Raw food always seemed so mystical and magical to me. In reality, it’s super simple, and far easier than cooking or baking in many ways. And I appreciate not being a slave to the stove, especially when it’s warm out.

Salad isn’t so bad. I’ve always hated salad. But salad doesn’t have to be boring – there are plenty of ways to make it more interesting. You just need a little imagination. And preparing a salad without thinking you’re going to hate it helps, too.

Green smoothies are awesome. I start each day with one of these. Historically, I have never been on board with the green smoothies. Don’t get me wrong – I love my greens, I just didn’t have a hankering to drink them. After experimenting with different recipes, I found a few combinations that taste great and now, I can’t imagine giving them up.

The Challenges

The small bowel obstruction. My visit to the hospital was a huge blow, both physically and mentally. It disrupted my digestion, my energy levels, my positive outlook, my schoolwork and my blogging. Now, I’m feeling much better. The best I can do is move forward and hope that it never happens again.

Chewing. My small bowel obstruction was a very difficult, but effective, lesson in the importance of chewing my food. The obstruction was completely and utterly a mechanical issue – a chunk of food was too big to pass through my intestines, so it got stuck. Chewing is important, folks. It’s the first link in a sequence of events and if chewing isn’t done properly, nothing else will happen as it should, either.

Patience. I want to be off medication now. I want to be cured of Crohn’s now. Um, it doesn’t magically happen that way because that’s what I want. And that’s a difficult realization. It took me a long time to get where I am, and it will take me a long time to get where I want to be.  But I know that I’m doing all the right things that will lead me to healing.

Adjusting expectations. I had big plans for this blog during the challenge. Lots of mouth-watering,  spectacular recipes I wanted to experiment with and share with you (like these raw ice cream sandwiches, or this raw veggie quiche). And because of my post-hospital diet, I didn’t have the opportunity to make them. I guess that’s something to look forward to…

Where do I go from here?

So, do I feel comfortable enough to eliminate my medication?

To be honest, I don’t. Not right now. My experience at the hospital has shaken me and it was a wake-up call that more work needs to be done.

But I’m definitely on my way to dropping the meds. I feel like I need a few more weeks of solid time to continue healing before I begin tapering off my pills.

I’m going to keep this raw food diet up for the next month and I am confident that I will be ready to eliminate medication in August.

In the coming month, I need to make some important changes to my supplement regime. For the last umpteen years, I have been taking extra nutrients to support my deficiencies (calcium, iron, multivitamins, etc).

But with my imperfect gut, how much of these nutrients am I truly absorbing? Probably not very much.

What I need is to supplement with products that will heal my digestive tract, so I can get the full benefits of what I’m consuming.

Thank you for your support

I would like to genuinely thank each and every one of you for reading about my raw food challenge. Thank you for your kind words of support and for sharing your ideas, tips and suggestions. I sincerely hope that you were able to learn from my experiences, too, and can apply some nugget of what you’ve read to your own lives.

I do hope you’ll keep reading this blog and contributing your thoughts.

Of course, I owe a great big thank you to my nutritionist Jennifer Trecartin, who was the mastermind behind this whole challenge! She was utterly generous with her time, her delicious recipes, her knowledge and her concern. (And she was liberal with the Twitter links, too).

My journey to healing isn’t done. I’m just at the beginning of the trip.

Missed a post in the raw food challenge? Check out the archives here.


6 Responses to The End of the Raw Food Healing Challenge

  1. Julie July 5, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

    You go girl! I’m so proud of you, Sondi.

  2. India-leigh@aveganobsession July 6, 2011 at 12:33 am #

    You should be very proud of yourself, the majority of people don’t take the initiative to get well. Like you say, it takes time. A month is a great boost to the process and our bodies take time to adjust. That adjustment takes energy, so now your body will utilise the extra energy to bring harmony. I expect the changes will last a lifetime though. Your readers will appreciate your commitment to yourself. It is strange that we live in a society where being good to yourself is a challenge! Thanks for sharing.

    • Sondi Bruner July 6, 2011 at 8:42 am #

      Thanks so much – I’ve definitely made some changes that I can continue well into the future. And it’s definitely challenging to be good to yourself in our culture, which is crammed full of convenience foods, refined products and heavily processed ingredients that definitely do not promote healing.

  3. Stefanie Schmidt November 8, 2011 at 8:42 pm #

    I just came across your blog through a pinterest post and I am SO happy I did! It sounds like we are in a very similar position! I was diagnosed with crohn’s 8 months ago(after suffering with it for years) and i’m currentely on Remicade. I am trying to get off of the remicade b/c I have been told that I can not become pregnant while on the medication. I went to a naturopath 2 months ago and have been on a very strict diet ever since. I would love to chat with you about your journey with raw foods and how you got through it. Nobody can truly relate unless they have been through something similar. I am looking forward to trying out your recipes, you have such a great site!

    • Sondi Bruner November 8, 2011 at 10:54 pm #

      Thank you! I hope you find lots of useful information here. It seems like you are on the right track working with a naturopath to manage your symptoms. It can take awhile to find a diet that works for you and everyone is different! I’d recommend keeping an open mind about all of your options and, most of all, be patient! I’d be happy to answer any questions you have.