Monday, January 24, 2011

Answers and Chocolate Cravings

Today I'm answering some questions that I've recently received. First, a reminder that I'm only speaking from my own personal experience, and according to the plan my homeopathic doctor has put me on. I get some really in depth emails from folks who are still confused, not knowing what to eat, and asking me - but the truth is, I don't know any better than they do. I'm still finding what works for me. I'll say it once again - if you are confused and struggling, consult some kind of holistic practitioner.

Do all your MAIN meals include protein? Do you ever eat just eat veggies by themselves?

Yes, all my main meals include protein. Usually eggs with breakfast, meat or fish with lunch and eggs or meat at dinner - always with veggies. Sometimes I eat veggies alone. I might have a salad, soup or veggies with a dip for a small meal. But for most of my meals I eat veg with protein. This will probably change when I start introducing sweet things again, like fruit, although I will have to make sure to keep enough protein that I don't crave sugar like I did before.

Are you allowed to eat lentils or legumes?

The word "allowed" really makes me cringe. It seems that our society is so terribly caught up in doing the "shoulds" that we don't listen to our own bodies - myself included. I have eaten a small amount of legumes lately. For example - I made split pea soup for guests last week and had a bowl. I ate hummus while out with friends yesterday, but before that I don't remember the last time I ate these foods. In my mind, the question is - how does it feel for YOU to eat these foods? For me it feels heavy so I keep it minimal.

What do you think of vega? And brown rice protein powder?

I've tried vega once and found the taste to be horrific. I've tried a few brown rice proteins and find that my body responds fine. I particularly like Epic Protein (Vanilla Lucuma), but am not currently consuming it while being off sugar.

What made me switch over from raw vegan? 

I'm still being asked this question occasionally- read my health story HERE, and a progress update HERE.

Am I eating too many fats? I eat avocado, eggs, cheese, yogurt, meat, and oils. 

First of all, I believe our bodies require healthy fats. Secondly, I think it really depends on YOU. I eat all the fats you mention, and I think I'm consuming too much fat at the moment, but I think the fat in combination with the protein is what's helping me stay off sugar, so I'm going with it for now.

What's a typical 3 day meal plan for you?

This is SO individual. Check THIS POST for what I have been eating daily. We all have different bodies which means we all have slightly different food requirements. Also, my diet changes subtly these days, so 3 days wouldn't necessarily provide the best overview. For example, one day I might eat some starchy things like yams, while the next day I may not eat any.

Chocolate Cravings

Today for the first time in ages, I'm craving cacao - and I'm rather annoyed by it since sticking to my new diet has been effortless for the most part. One day last week I had a minor sugar/cacao craving as a result of a liver cleanse remedy that Denyse had me on, so it was "to be expected". I rode it out, and sure enough it passed within a few hours.

I realized today that the craving is a result of my monthly friend, who just arrived. What's interesting is that in the past I ate so much cacao all the time, that I never noticed a difference during my period. Now that I'm so far removed from cacao, I can see that this isn't an emotional craving, but clearly a hormonal thing. In fact, I have been around chocolate quite a lot lately - pulling it out of the freezer for guests, sending off choccie packages to friends, and so on - so I am certainly past the "craving" stage.
Anyway, I battled it out for a while. I ate a colostrum/hemp milk/chia mix for breaky, salad with venison for lunch... but then I just couldn't hold any longer. I ate a small piece of raw chocolate before heading out the door to the gym. Yes, I could have walked away, but I decided to have a bit. I felt fine physically, and the craving went away. Plus, it doesn't mean that everything has to come undone just because I "broke my diet". I'm moving on.

Muscle and Fitness

Moving onto another point... the great weight debate, strength, and fitness. As I mentioned in another post, I have gained weight since adopting my new lifestyle. While I have my occasional freak outs about this, I can confidently say that some of it is muscle. I feel MUCH stronger now, and feel better in general. I have become stronger in my yoga practice, and have recently started working out at the gym for the first time in years. I'm going partly because it's minus a million here with 10 feet of snow on the ground which means no outside activity, and partly because I'm going to a bikini destination soon and want to trim down. An incredible surge of energy had me running on the treadmill the other day, and it felt great. My newfound strength has me walking on the treadmill a steep incline at a pretty fast pace - effortlessly.

As an aside, many years ago I did gymnastics, then got into cheerleading, running, and light weight lifting. When I became vegan (upon turning 14) I lost my strength, and about 10 lbs (although I was at a fit, normal weight to begin with) so fast that I couldn't do some of my regular gymnastic moves anymore. At the time I didn't know what the heck was going on, and my coach/friends accused me of not eating and being anorexic, but now I see that it was my body's negative response to removing the animal protein from my diet. In fact, at one point my hair started thinning, I was tired all the time, skinny, and super pale. When it was recommended that I start eating meat again, I said "Absolutely NOT" and continued on for 13 years. I think my body adapted to some extent - but I've come to realize that it adapted trying to get as much sugar as possible, in the form of constant cravings.

I still believe that some people can thrive on a vegan diet, however, I am not one of them. If I could go back to being raw vegan and be completely balanced, I'd return to it in a heartbeat. I will always have a major passion for raw foods, and it will always be a part of my life.


  1. Thank you SO much for this post, you have no idea!

  2. I'm not gonna lie..I'm kind of jealous :)
    You seem to be really really sticking to your guns. When Denyse gave you specific meal ideas (lists) did you follow them exactly?
    She told me things to avoid (i.e bread, stevia, etc) and gave recommendations. But it was very little grains (maybe potato or brown rice) and no beans, etc.
    I have experienced horrible constipation the last 3 days (again). I'm anxious for tommorow morning because I desperately want a bowel movement (Its not just "not going"...its actually straining ; because the stool is "there" ...honestly Its quite bewildering).
    Nevertheless, I have literally forced myself to eat all day...I might end up with 1500 cals by end of night...I don't know what to do anymore. I honestly don't know what to eat for breakfast in the morning.
    i've been forcing myself to eat because I am super low weight (I'm 5 feet 1 and only 75 lbs). But the constipation is severe. My doctor simply thinks I am not eating enough; I had xray and barium swallow a long time ago and nothing showed up. Now though I'm wondering...I'm extremely bloated and the constipation is severe since its too the point of extreme discomfort. I really don't know what to eat :( I feel bad cause i"m eating by the clock versus anything else.
    I don't know if I should add in some beans or rice or oatmeal or gluten free brown rice bread maybe ??? Thoughts??
    I can't even exercise -- I simply don't have the energy and I feel so horrible from all the intestinal discomfort...for months (years) real exercise at all..walking is a chore.
    THoughts on adding oats or rice or legumes? better choice or optimal timing?
    That chia thing you mentioned sounds good...but I wonder how I would react to chia.
    I'm not sure if honey might help the constipation or what would.
    I do eat fruit and a ton more dairy than you. But I'm also quite heavy on avocado, veggies, oils, and meats (chicken, salmon, all kinds of fish, eggs).
    I'm frustrated and real sad about this :(
    I worry I might end up having to go to the hospital cause of all the gripping and squeezing pain in my ribs and abdomen...and that really worries me cause I'll likely be forced to eat stale bread and ensure and other crap food. Really not sure how to deal with this. I wish I had a magic fairy that could just type out an exact meal plan for me to follow and try for 2 or 3 days that will tame my body and my bowels and help me normally void , etc.
    I still don't know if I do the right thing by literally forcing in food (i.e. heavy salmon and veggies, etc)...i'm mesmerized!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your journey!! It is so inspirational to me, especially right now, as I am having health problems again and trying to decide what I want to do. I thank you so much for this post!!

  4. Thanks for sharing, in such a forthright and straightforward way, and handling all the critical questions with such grace and poise. I'm sure that the one piece of chocolate didn't 'break your diet:' my biggest lesson atm is that life simply isn't black and white.

    Congrats on your continued strength gains!

    To the Anonymous commenter: I send love and sympathy: I have spent time at very low weights with severe constipation, afraid to eat, afraid not to eat. Can you use an enema to relieve it? It's not a good idea to get dependent on them, or to use them too often, and it's important to make sure you replenish good bacteria (probiotics, sauerkraut, etc) but if it's just 'stuck' and driving you crazy, an enema is a great way to cut through that, as a last resort.

    I'm happy to say that my issues in that regard are finally resolving: but it takes a long time. For me, it's been years since I was at my lowest weight. Hydration, lubrication (good oils), probiotics--all these should help. And I relate to the wish for the magic fairy: I never found one either, but have slowly slowly figured it out for myself.

  5. Anon: Please try some Natural Calm in water before bed, you should be 'going' by morning. I echo Ela in saying that good fats are your friend in this department. I find eating yogurt helps.

    Heathy!!!! I love you and am so glad you are hitting the gym and feeling fantastic. I am able to lift much heavier now with much less soreness. Yeah for Real Whole Foods! Dinner lately has been a giant salad of mostly carrots, red bell peppers etc with mac oil, lime and real salt. I find I sleep better on that than heavier stuff. Know thyself as you said so well :)
    aunty deb

  6. Anonymous: I am so sorry for what you are experiencing. It is terribly uncomfortable to be constipated and if you are consuming a lot of meat, fish, dairy, etc., you will only constipate yourself further. Have you tried a castor oil pack? Do you know what those are? I think Debbie is right in regard to the Magnesium. It's a sure thing for most. It seems to me that Heather's point about her food intake is that she is doing what is right for her and that is all. Your needs sound DRASTICALLY different and although I understand why you are seeking out Heather's advice (she is diligently working with someone and getting results) I would humbly like to just say that you should be careful about applying her strategies to your life. Are you working with someone every day who knows exactly what you are going through? are awesome! Good for you, deary. I especially like your attitude about "giving in to cacao" but just simply moving on after. This is what makes the difference for all those who are seekers of truth in actually finding it. When we are searching, we may digress or even venture off the path, but if we humbly admit we are only human after all, we can only get up and simply not look back and right ourselves once again. Slow and steady wins the race. Bravo!

  7. Heathy, I think that you are a true inspiration to follow what your body needs. I tried to do a raw vegan diet and I would do really well with it for awhile but then would find myself lacking energy and then when I added meat and eggs back into my diet, everything was back to normal. I thought that maybe I just didn't have the willpower or something but reading about your experience let's me know that I'm not alone. So thank you for sharing. I truly believe that you need to eat to live rather than to live to eat.

  8. gosh isnt it horrible that in our society weve been more trained to be dogmatic than just to listen to our bodies? the questions involving the word "allowed" and many people striving to stay on a vegan diet for moral reasons even though it clearly goes against their body's cries for help.

    you have such an interesting story, but im sure theres countless people that can relate to any chapter of it. your body craving all the sweets really makes sense that it would be its way of adapting. however we have to be thankful for each chapter of our lives, weather its bright or gloomy...who knows-if you hadnt had all those sweet cravings, would you have still master minded all those incredible raw desserts? thanks for being you!

  9. Thank you all soooo much for your comments! I appreciate it! Cheers to listening to our bodies and cultivating incredible health :)

  10. Heather, I so admire your open and honesty about this subject, and look forward to reading your blog posts. This is such a wonderful project you have undertaken, and I'm certain you are helping so many people by sharing your story! :)

  11. Heather thanks for your post.

    Anon- I have been there! I tried so many diets, doctors, naturopaths etc....
    I can't say what is causing your dilemma.
    I can say after a lifetime of searching, I have relief.
    I found the FODMAPS elimination diet. I discovered many foods I thought were good for my health, and constipation, were the main reason I had constipation. The F in FODMAPS stands for fructose. This is the biggest for me! It includes, apples (I ate two or more daily before) avocados, peaches, pears, dates, etc...and many veggies too. Goodgle FODMAPS.

    I also found meat was great for my colon! I do well only on organic grass fed meats.

    MSG is another issue for me. This flavor enhancer is in nearly every processed food. It is even in the foods that claim no MSG added.

    Research MSG, and it's side-effects. It causes nerve damage, and it was damaging the nerves in my colon.

    I do not buy processed foods. I do buy frozen whole organic fruits, and veggies. I am gluten free too.

    If anything I offered helps, I am so blessed.

    For MSG check out Here you will find a complete list of ingredients that contain MSG.

    Heather! I hear you on strength! I am stronger now than I have been in 10 years! That is after two months of incorporating meat/eggs at every meal!!!! I can do real push-ups again! :)

  12. Anon: I do eat fruits...but I just don't feel I can exclude them now. You see, my weight is alarmingly low. I just cannot afford to lose weight. Do you eat animal products all day long?

    I don't mind eating animal products at all. But I worry because EVERY day I eat 2+ whole eggs, 2 portions of 4-6 oz fish-meat-poultry (whatever), 2-4 servings of dairy (i.e. 1.5 cups yogurt, cheese, whey protein), etc.

    So, when other people say they eat animal proteins...that is great...but then they say what they eat and they are not eating it at EVERY meal AND snack EVERY day (like I do).
    Like I might have yogurt at breakfast, 2+ eggs for snack, chicken (4 oz) at lunch), cheese at a snack, another 4-5 oz of some fish at dinner, then another serving of dairy (near a cup) at night. In addition to everything else (I eat a lot of fat, fruit, veggies, avocado, oils, potatoes, squash, etc). In addition I am eating nuts , though a naturopath recommended I not eat them , only really keep them to a minimum. I feel like I can't afford to avoid them because I really need to gain weight.

    Its hard because I cannot afford to lose I am trying to balance clearing my gut out...with gaining weight. It seems like a contradiction. :(

    I feel stuffed all the time...seriously all the time. Some I eat up to 4 eggs a day.
    i worry I overdo the dairy...but its just that sometimes another heavy hunk of meat seems so hard for my tiny body to, a creamy yogurt with whey protein is far more appetitzing...

    The yogurts I eat are liberte greek yogurt, goat yogurt, sometimes their organic non-fat or 2.5 fat one...I don't have raw yogurt...I worry they mess with my tummy. But sometimes I just try not to make things worse.

    I odn't eat processed stuff, so theres no way I get MSG. I just can't figure out how to clear my gut from bacterial overgrowth, gain weight, and not feel so full.
    I literally force food, which seems wrong...but when I don't force it and my calories go low, my weight dips down. I worry I'll end up in a hospital on ensure or bakers bread, etc...its just ...hard to deal with!
    I wish I could find someone who went through something similar. Each day I continue to chug forward...but its weird to feel like I'm constantly eating and still have more to eat. I wish I didn't feel so full all the time.

  13. Hey Anon (last comment)
    I am also following Denyse's advice having made an appointment after talking to Heather a bit.
    She has me on practically the same plan and I am eating the same as you.
    I had the same negative thoughts at first and was really confused because even though I was craving those high protein foods for balancing I just wasn't moving my bowels and was becoming like a stuffed balloon.
    I can't sayt this is the right thing to do but I stuffed my face at xmas as it was a stressfull time for me and I literally HAD to have a colonic or I would have that helped for me.
    Also what helped me move my bowels and allowed me to eat larger quantities (which I needed to do to put on weight...and I have put on about 8 kgs of solid muscle and a bit of fat) was getting these special probiotic drinks from Body Ecology. And that calm me down knowing I had something to soothe my gut and would let me continue with the protocol.

    Hope that helps :)

  14. 100% Raw vegan is not healthy. A whole foods plant-based diet is the best(vegan). Eating from 70-80% raw fruits and vegetables is a good idea.

    - Watch Forks Over Knives documentary
    - Read worlds largest study of epidemiology, The China Study
    - Read Thrive by vegan triathlon winner Brendan Brazier
    - Watch Mr. Universe body building award winner, Billy Simmonds, videos.

    The key is balance in anything. A lot of people go raw, it doesn't work, so they go back to eating meat. That is not balance, rather an extreme approach. I hope you all find what works for you. <3