The Great Grand Diet Trial Of 2011: May

April 30th, 2012 - filed under: The Food » Food Styles

When I took a break from blogging, I promised that I would finish writing this series. Better late than never!

In 2011 I set about on a journey to regain my health – a series of dietary experiments. You can read the backstory here. Prior to beginning these trials, I had used an elimination diet to clear up a systemic Candida infection. I was also healing my gut/digestion through the intensive application of probiotics via fermented foods and beverages, and it worked, because cultured food is magical!

The Test
In May, I went RAW.

The Theory
Longtime readers are probably aware of my love affair with raw foods. My first foray into the lifestyle was back in May of ’09, when I did a month-long all-raw stint. Now as part of my “diet trial”, I was jumping back in, exactly two years later to the day. How’s that for timing?! And as to the “why” of it, well, here’s an excerpt from something I wrote way back then:

“. . . it is believed that at high temperatures the natural enzymes – important in aiding digestion and absorption – begin to denature. According to Raw enthusiasts, the act of cooking food will essentially destroy it. Therefore, Raw cuisine will contain the most vitamins and minerals, and will be most effortlessly metabolized by the body. These two qualities collaborate to maximize the nutritional impact of whatever is eaten, while requiring as little work as possible for the body.”

Essentially, raw food is incredibly cleansing, rich in micronutrients and easy on digestion. After giving up sugar and wheat in February, practicing mindful eating in March, and going totally grain-free in April, “raw” just seemed like the natural next step; a perfect opportunity to truly “reset” my body.

Even more serendipitously, I was in full-on recipe development mode for Rawesomely Vegan, so it sort of made perfect sense to simply eat 100% raw. Again, such opportune timing.

The Results
Oh, how I   ♥   raw food! As expected, May was marvelous. This was actually an extremely (extremely) trying time in my life. I was attempting WAY too much, between mommying and blogging and writing a cookbook under a tight deadline. It was one of the most stressful periods of my life (undiagnosed postpartum anxiety, remember) and I really believe that the reason I got through it with my sanity intact, was because I was eating so damn well!

When I eat 100% raw, my mind is clear, I feel centered, and best of all I find that my body is full of energy. After I eat a raw meal I often have so much energy that I have to go out for a walk! That’s such a contrast to the food coma that most people experience post-mealtime.

So needless to say, my May trial was ace. My skin improved, my digestion continued get stronger, and I was able to stay up into the wee hours of the morning, working working working.

However, I did run into trouble with my blood sugar. I was still getting hit with semi-unpredictable spikes and crashes, from seemingly benign meals. On more than one occasion I ate something that sent me into a wild-eyed tailspin, hyper high (complete with euphoria) followed by an exhausted plummet into cranky-ville. And actually, it would be many months before I got that all that sorted out. In the meantime, however, I sure was enjoying the benefits of living life in the RAW. So much so, that when I got to the end of May I decided to just keep on truckin’ . . . but we’ll save that for the next installment.

Edited to link in the rest of the series:

Putting It All Together

  • littlemonster32

    Homegirl, I be eyein’ those raw pulp crackers and your *precious* tahini dip… I think it’s time I got myself a dehydrator.

    You little scientist, you! Can’t wait for June.

  • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan

    So happy to see you pop up in my reader again!
    I already can’t wait for your next installment. :)

  • Mat

    I am glad to see a new post here. :)

  • Scandifoodie

    I’ve missed you!!

    I eat 80% raw most days and that seems to work for me. During the warmer months it’s easy to eat raw, but in winter my body craves warmer foods. I still try to keep my diet mostly (70-80%) raw even in winter – fortunately winter in Sydney isn’t too cold!

    Hope you’ve been well Sayward, thanks for posting this!


  • Kim

    First, I’m SO glad to see you posting again! (Even if it’s just one!)

    I’m so happy that you found something that works for you. After experimenting with my diet for years, I believe that there is no one best diet for everyone. High-raw throws my body into total chaos and makes me feel miserable (and I’ve worked with professionals, so I know that it wasn’t all detox symptoms). I am glad to hear it works for you, though, and that you have the time and patience to stick to it. Awesome!

  • OddSock

    Yay! So happy to see a new Bonzai post! I totally understand that high-energy feeling you described when eating raw- in summer I tend to eat pretty much exclusively raw (living in the UK makes raw pretty much impossible in Winter!) and it makes me feel so energetic and happy! I hope all’s well with you and the little man, and I’ll look forward to the June post!

  • Donna C

    I didn’t know about Rawesomly Vegan……so you are not the author, but contributed the recipes? I’m going to have to get it!

  • Erin Katterhenry

    This is relatively embarrassing but yesterday I reread your last post… I may still be grieving life without Bonzai. Thank you for finishing this series. You are so incredibly inspiring! I hope you are doing well.


  • Jemma

    Great to see a post on the blog again!

  • Rachel @ Rachel in Veganland

    Hey Sayward! I’m constantly checking the blog to see if you’ve put up these posts! Miss Bonzai more than I can possibly say and re-read old posts all of the time!!! Just wanted to say that you inspire me in so many ways and that I love your work! Also, so glad to get to hear about your raw experiences! It’s something I always try to incorporate into my diet and I’ve always loved seeing your raw posts and dishes!

  • Natsmithillustrations

    i got goosebumps and teary eyed when i saw your newest blog entry:) mainly cause i was SO excited to see a new post!!! i miss bonzai and loved this follow up article. you are such an inspiration. and as a mommy, its nice to see im not the only one losing my mind sometimes! haha THANK YOU!!

  • Moira

    Thank you, Sayward, for continuing on with this series! I am benefiting from it immensely and can’t wait to read the next “chapters”… particularly your A-ha! moments. So so so excited to see this post!!

  • Sonja

    so happy to see a new post here! Love this series! Hope you and your cute family are fine!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you Erin, I am still grieving too! If you’re embarrassed then I should be too – I also go back and reread old posts. =D

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you! I’m the same way, my raw ebbs and flows with the season. Just seems right, ya know?

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thanks Sonja, we are doing very fine! =D

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thanks for saying that Moira, it’s nice to hear that people are still benefitting from this series. It actually helps me writing it, too, because it all took place a year ago and it’s great to read my notes and be reminded (because it’s easy to drift off track . . . )

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Awww! That makes me so happy. I miss BA too! I miss writing for you guys and I miss the community. Hopefully some day I’ll be back for reals (at a better, more realistic pace). That’s definitely the end goal. =)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you Rachel! I miss you all too, so much. It’s great to hear form you!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Great to post agains! ;-)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    It’s a compilation of recipes from various authors. I contributed heavily both in recipes and in writing.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I couldn’t agree more! I’m not a raw “true believer” who thinks all-raw is all-right for everyone. I’ve seen myself that different folks do better with different foods (that’s definitely part of what this diet trial was about discovering).

    My husband, for example, doesn’t digest raw veggies very well. He finally had to tell me “Honey, if you want me to eat my veggies, you’re going to have to start cooking them.” Ha!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you Maria! Sounds like your approach to raw is very like my own. But I must admit I’m jealous of your Sydney experience. I’ve seen your food pics on Instagram and it looks like heaven there!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thanks Mat!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thank lady, hope all is well with you! Those fruity coconut butters you’ve been posting have had my drooling all over my keyboard! =)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I have a batch of both in my kitchen right now! Dehydrators are so fun, you should totally do it. =D

  • Sarah C

    Great to “see” you back again, even if just sporadically! We miss you! And thanks for this diet trial – I’m really curious to see what each of the steps is and what worked for you, because I think I seriously need to do my own diet trial! Hope you and your family are well.

  • Tabitha

    Missed Bonzai! I love keeping up with you on facebook and twitter, but it’s just not the same.

  • Emma

    I feel like I’ve checked you blog everyday anticipating your return! :) Thanks for being awesome and a huge inspiration and motivator for me. I could spend hours re-reading all of your posts. You make me want a precious little vegan baby, and I’m only 19! Too soon, I know. I’m ecstatic your back.

  • jill

    I’m so happy to see you’re sort of around…hopefully enjoying all your newfound free time.

    I wonder what a day or two of raw menu was like for you? I like lots of raw food, but the time involved overwhelms me, which then makes me feel crappy–I realize there’s simple things like fruit, but for a whole day, I need more–crackers, dips, etc.

  • Selina

    Yay!! All of my stalking paid off! I have missed this blog so much and I have been soo intrigued by how the Great Grand Diet Trial will wind up…bought Rawesomely Vegan for my nook and have been slowly trying out the recipes, but where I live it has still been SO. COLD. and with no fresh seasonal veggies as of yet that it’s been hard to get motivated to eat more Raw. Plus, all I can think of these days is my upcoming trip to Paris, which may be among the least vegan-friendly cities in the world BUT according to HappyCow there are still over 60 restaurants, bakeries, and coops right in the city that will accommodate me! :) (I’m super glad to see that I’m not the only one who has been faithfully checking this blog and rereading old posts, too, haha!)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I’ve showed some of my raw days when I do my What I Ate Wednesday posts. You just have to go back a year or so. YOu can look through the tag “WIAW” or click on “the food” and scroll down under “foodstyles”. Here are a few samples:

  • Rachel@MyNaturallyFrugalFamily

    Such encouraging words to read “next installment.” Oh how I miss Bonzai, however I am hoping that life is coming to a new normal for you and that you are enjoying your time with your beautiful family.

  • erosan

    Ok, confesion time, I read your new post the very same day you published it… and I wanted to comment, even if to tease you about your “return”. But I just could not find any words. It is AWESOME to see a new post in bonzai (I still check it almost every week, hoping to find you decided to post something), but at the same time it sort of makes the previous post feel more real…

    Oh well, I really really hope you are doing great, I’ll think good thoughts for you, Damian and Waits. Do send a tweet from time to time (at least) and you’ve got my mail… if you ever come to the peninsula, you know my offer still holds true.

  • Ladies Holiday

    Yay to have some bonzai back…hope life is good and eagerly look forward to hearing about your blood sugar management. ~Deirdre

  • Kavitas2

    Hey, I’ve actually just recently discovered your blog and have been enjoying reading it. My heart goes out to you with the whole post- partum anxiety issue. I know just being a mother is hard enough without having to deal with something like that ( I have two little ones). I’m an acupuncturist and I don’t know if you are familiar at all with Chinese medicine but post-partum anxiety is treatable with acupuncture and Chinese herbs. I just recently treated someone for it with excellent results. I hate to see that someone is suffering when it is unnecessary. I’d be happy to talk to you more about it if you wanted to know more. I know that Chinese herbs helped me immensely to regain my strength and get back to ” normal” after my births.
    Janet 828-687-8747

  • Leslie

    This is pretty much a ditto of what EVERYONE has commented on so far….we love and miss you soooooo much!! Did not have a chance to see you when we were in Portland last month but we will be back again in late June. Hope life is as amazing as you are!!

  • Timidity Voice

    This is so awesome. I’ve been a vegan for a year now, but I have not been eating very healthy. I hope to go raw soon, so thank you for the inspiration :)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    HI Janet, thank you so much for the generous offer. My Dad is actually an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist, so I definitely know and love Chinese Medicine! I think it’s such a powerful healing tool – I just started seeing a naturopath who also uses Chinese Medicine. I’m a believer! =D

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Hi erosan! I’ve missed you and it’s so great to hear from you! Hope all is well in your world especially with that adorable little dude of yours. He must be getting so big now!

    I am still dreaming and scheming a trip down there, and believe me, you will be the first to know. =)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Yay Selina, I’m so happy to hear you got Rawesomely Vegan! But I hear ya, it’s been hard to eat much raw food here, too. I’m soooo excited for Farmer’s Market season warm days and fresh produce and all that raw deliciousness. Bring it on!

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