Food & Fitness

Raw Food for Mental Health: The “Living Healthy gets Personal” Edition

Yesterday, on Day 28 of the Raw Food Challenge, I ate:

– Smoothie with 1 1/2 frozen bananas, 1 1/2 cups cold water, big handful spinach, 1/2 tbsp cacao powder, cinnamon, contents of 1 probiotic capsule, 1 scoop calcium/magnesium powder, and 2 orange juice pulp ice cubes

– 3 eggplant pizzas (dehydrated eggplant chips that I topped with oregano, basil, tomato, spinach, and garlic before putting them back into the dehydrator for another hour), plus a few potato chips, some pumpkin seeds and sprouted lentils, and 3 chocolate balls

– Veggie medley (frozen snow peas, green beans, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, green peas, and corn that I thawed in warm water) with 1 mug mint tea

– Another smoothie with 2 cups cold water, 2 orange juice pulp ice cubes, 1 1/2 frozen bananas, 2 scoops calcium/magnesium powder, big handful spinach, cinnamon, and 1 tbsp cacao powder

– Salad with romaine lettuce, tomato, sprouted lentils, and cucumber and 2 mugs mint tea

– Some potato chips and pumpkin seeds, plus 1 apple and 1 mug mint tea

– 1 apple with cinnamon

Living Healthy in the Real World gets Personal

I must admit: when I chose to adopt a raw food diet during January, I had an ulterior motive.

My nutritionist Nicole (aka my food therapist) has been working with me the past few months to try to help me separate food from my emotional well-being. A couple years ago when I got my heart broken, I used food as a control mechanism and started veering down the disordered eating path. It was worsened when I jumped into another negative relationship (by-the-by, any time a girl goes to Italy with her boyfriend and returns on ex-status with him and is cheerful about it, that’s a good sign that the relationship was anything but healthy).

Thus I’ve been battling to sever the ties between my emotions and food for the past year. I was deliberately avoiding having close relationships with people so that I could try to sort out the issues on my own. I am quite happy to say that I managed to make incredible progress, to the point that although I am, ahem, slightly neurotic at times, I have become far less anxious about food than I used to be.

It just so happens that soon after I came to terms with my own issues with food, I met someone, and the happiness that has ensued from this super-positive relationship has somehow also contributed to helping a lot with my emotional issues regarding food. Win-win: I get an awesome, supportive boyfriend and clarity of mind out of it! It’s fantastic.

So what does this have to do with a raw food diet? Well, one of the nice things about eating raw is that there isn’t a lot of emphasis placed on food. Unless you want to make a fancy meal, it’s fairly easy to throw together a salad with veggies and some seeds for protein and just eat that. As much as I love to cook, I am concerned that some of my issues with food might be fueled because of the immensity of choice: there are so many different things to cook and eat, and I always want to try them all, which leads to anxiety or overeating. With raw food, you can’t really fall into that problem. De-emphasizing food and getting myself out of the kitchen has, I think, been a very good thing for me to do.

As you all know I have struggled with problems with sleeping for a long time, too. I have no idea if eating raw has had any impact at all on my sleeping patterns, but I was getting quite deep and nearly nightmare-free sleeps since the last week of December. My nightmares and waking up during the night, and having difficulty falling asleep in the first place, has returned within the past week or so, but overall I have been sleeping very well throughout this month. So I’m not sure if that’s stress-related or if the raw food was contributing to my deep sleeps.

Eating raw may have increased my consumption of calcium because of the dark leafy greens, seeds, and the calcium/magnesium powder that I’ve been taking. Nicole believes that there is a definite possibility that an insufficient amount of calcium in my diet may be associated with my amenorrhea, too. Amenorrhea is a good indicator that calcium is lacking and it is often a precursor to osteoporosis in female athletes. The idea that my bones could be brittle or could snap or break, or that they could weaken over time, is terrifying. Who would want that for their body? I am dutifully upping my intake of calcium to prevent loss of bone density.

Grateful for: Increasing strength of mind and body.

What does your way of eating remind you to be grateful for?


  1. Cammy@TippyToeDiet

    I’m so happy life is leveling out for you and that you’re finding your answers.

    My way of eating reminds me to be grateful for choice and abundance. Whenever I find myself getting irked about waiting for a table or becoming testy at the length of the line at the grocery store, I remind myself that millions upon millions of people don’t have the luxury of either of those things.

  2. Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman

    It’s good to hear your food issues are fading with this boyfriend and maybe with the help of the raw food diet. It takes so long to break the emotional bonds we’ve created with food, but it sounds like you’re on the right track.

    My sister has a lot of stomach issues, so she can barely eat anything without feeling pain and/or getting sick. Watching her stick to a diet of white bread bagels, pasta, and egg whites has changed the way I view food. Now I’m just happy I’m able to eat pretty much anything without feeling pain. It’s a luxury I never realized.

  3. Sagan Morrow

    Cammy- Absolutely. Life is pretty fantastic for us.

    Tracey- I’m sorry about your sister- but I guess sometimes it’s those kinds of things that we need to alert us to how we should be changing our attitudes towards nutrition (and health in general) to protect ourselves from disease. They can be good wake-up calls!

    Pink Panda- Admittedly, sometimes I thought A LOT about food during this month, about the things I couldn’t have… but at least there was no anxiety surrounding “gah there are too many options I want it all!”. I like the sheer simplicity of eating raw. It’s just when I wanted a sandwich that it became frustrating 😉

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  5. Lee C

    From “How’s Your Mental Well-being?” at

    At the chemical level, food is the brain’s primary link to its evolution and its ongoing physiology (i.e. how well it functions). It’s scientifically established that diet is correlated with (among other physiological aspects) the brain chemicals that influence mood and behavior. That is, diet notably influences the thought processes and emotional reactions that ultimately guide us on our path through life. Thus, if our diet is lacking, then at a minimum our brain is not functioning optimally.

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