Sunday, December 14, 2008

Great post by Karen Knowler - Eating Raw at Christmas

The picture left is of the raw food pizza I make in all my classes (and that everyone gets to eat too!). It's also the same pizza recipe that was once seen by six million viewers live on TV being sampled by Lorraine Kelly, and it's also the same meal that I have been known to eat as my main course Christmas Day!

Yes, pizza for Christmas lunch - quite a concept!

But of course there are no end of possibilities about what we could eat this Christmas Day, however, what my concern is, in this article, is Should *You* Be Eating Raw This Christmas? Read on to discover why my question is as layered as the festive trifle!

"A Raw Christmas".

Now what's the first thing you think about when you hear those words? Be honest!

If it sounds like music to your ears then that would suggest that to have a Raw Christmas this year is what's right for you, both at the below surface level and ideally in real life. If, on the other hand, it makes you think of isolation and standing out like a sore thumb from your companions, then it will be worth reading on. And if it sounds like something truly awful that really isn't on your agenda, then you're definitely in the wrong place (at least as far as this article goes) and I congratulate you on your clarity! Happy Christmas, now go and have your fun!!

So this article is really for those of you who *think* that you'd like to be raw, but at the moment are yo-yoing all over the place between being ruled by your heart, your head, your eyes, your beliefs, your worries, and your belly! Which I think, if I know you at all, beloved readers, is where most of you are going to be right now...

Let's start at the very beginning.

What is Christmas Dinner really all about?

Well, for may people it's seen as a time to feast and celebrate the birth of Jesus and all that goes with it, isn't it? But what it has become for most of us, is a yearly habit that typically involves spending lots of money on rich foods (and drinks) that we only eat once per year and sharing the experience with family or friends - often in large groups. Going on this basis, what we have here is therefore an environment where:

a) We are surrounded (usually) by un-likeminded people

b) We are surrounded by foods that we might not have eaten or might not want to eat (intellectually speaking) in our usual every day lives

c) We know that if we do not "partake" at least to 50% of the "deal", we are going to stand out big time and that might not feel good.

Bearing all of the above in mind, then add to this the fact that by our very (human) nature, we want to be included, part of the crowd, loved completely for who we are and to share in the communal Christmas "glow" that can come with that, is it any wonder that the temptation to not eat raw is going to be stronger than most of us can bear?

My purpose in writing this article today is not to advise, map out, coach or anything else of a "prescriptive" nature. No, not at all. Today I want to pass on to you the message that, if this all sounds like where you're at, then you are definitely not alone. In fact, even I, as I go into year 16 of being into raw foods, still had "issues" with eating raw at Christmas until as recently as last year, even when I was among my closest family. Yes, most of them (if not all), STILL think I'm "extreme", and yes, it did used to make me feel uncomfortable in their presence because of it, but what feels the most uncomfortable of all is what I'm about to share with you now, and this extends way beyond Christmas Day as will become clear as you read on...

It's All About The Energy
If I have learned anything about raw foods and eating habits over the past 15 years it is that energy is at the heart and soul of what food is about. Yes, we can wax lyrical about nutrition, enzymes and calories, or talk about what's "good", "bad", "healthy" and "unhealthy", but as far as I have come to see it, this hits the dartboard but it doesn't come even close to the bulls eye.

And the fact is this: When you take food in, you take in the energy that comes with it. All matter is comprised of energy - that means you, the chair you're sitting on, the table you're eating from and the food itself as well as everything else you can see right now. Therefore when you eat, your own personal energy will automatically shift accordingly; so when you eat "unhealthy" foods you will feel worse - your vital energy will dip, and when you eat "healthy" or "good" foods you will feel better, and ultimately even more energised.

The further you go with raw foods, the more of this energy you start to feel, and the more sensitive you become to it. You really "get" that you're not just what you eat, but your experience of life is, to a larger degree than many of us even realise, a reflection of what you eat too! This means that as soon as you eat something "unhealthy" or "bad" you know it. And I don't just mean in your mind and your heart, I mean that you feel it in your body also - you sense your own shift, often startlingly so!

And so what you learn, whether it's consciously or unconsciously, is that when you eat raw foods your energy increases (and to be clear I don't necessarily mean the "jump-up-and-down" kind of energy, but mostly your sensitivity and overall vital energy shifts) and when you eat cooked foods you feel your energy go down.

Translate this information into the Christmas Day scenario we discussed earlier and let's see what we have here if you choose to eat raw:

On the surface level you have the predictable comments, questions and quite possibly the sense of isolation/ difference that comes with that. Some people thrive on this, they love being different - which is obviously a bonus! - but most people don't, and I'm one of them! Now bear in mind, that all that's JUST on the surface level. On a deeper level, energetically speaking, when you eat your raw dinner and maybe have a juice, we have your energy rising, and it's rising fast. And likely it is starting to rise in an environment where everyone is laying chilled out on the sofa, with the obligatory glass of wine or sherry in hand, watching TV and/or aren't really doing all that much! And your energy continues to rise. And their energy continues to fall.

So not only do we have your energy as raw as ever (which can be tricky even in normal everyday situations), but we have their energy dipping even lower at the same time. The gap widens even further. Big Difference.

Now what happens is that naturally you either want to go outside and burn up some of that energy (and you might if only it wasn't so damn cold!), or you want to put your energy into something productive or inspiring like fiddling with your favourite new toy, enjoying more enlightened conversations, or, quite frankly, being at home (or alone) doing what you want to do!

This becomes the reality. And whether this is conscious or not, it becomes clear pretty quickly to us now as to why it feels so tough.

So is it any wonder that the temptation to just go with the flow (now we have a better understanding of what this really means, right?!), just for this one day of the year, is one that's too hard to resist? No, not at all! And, as I said a few moments ago, I am definitely not here to tell you what to do and I won't, but what I am here to do is to help you see the reality of the situation more clearly so that you can drop any guilt that may be plaguing you, either now in the lead up, or on the actual day, and know this:

"When you dabble with raw foods you are playing at being an advanced alchemist. You can change your state in ways that others don't, and also don't understand. Trying to do this among those people is possible but not always pleasurable. When you fully get this, you can base your decision on a positive understanding of the situation and your own needs and values, rather than seeing yourself as a failure or a hypocrite.. which is completely inaccurate."

So... as I said at the beginning, this article may not be relevant to all of you, but I have a very strong feeling it will be relevant to most of you, which is why I wrote it. For my part, the year before last I took my own raw Christmas Dinner and let my parents know ahead of time that this would be the case. They were fine with it, but still I had the questions "Does that really fill you up?" and more... However, I did have game plan! I arrived at 10am and left at 3pm! This was manageable : ) And then I drove back home and did what I wanted to do - things on my terms, and followed where my energy most wanted to go (which actually translated into a lovely walk in the fresh air, playing with Luke and rolling around on the floor tickling, cuddling and laughing!). But I can tell you that there have been MANY times in my past, and my recent past too, where I have really felt this "energy gap" so massively that I have realised absolutely two things: The reality of "energy" among foods and people (and the multitudes of ways that all this can show up), and the importance of environment. Where you place yourself is absolutely key - and this comes up again and again in all fields of personal development, not just with food, and it also comes up with just about every client I work with, all of whom are usually in the wrong place, quite literally, for where their energy is trying to go.

So, if you are fortunate to be able to control your environment this Christmas and to shape your day and surroundings to the way you would like them, and eat raw, then a big hurrah for you! I expect nothing less than post-Xmas reports of "I had such a great day" and lots of smiles! But, on the other hand, if you are like me - and many thousands of other raw foodies around the globe who are doing the family thing this year - then please, be compassionate with yourself and recognise that this is the one day where things are different in so many ways (and as we have seen, not always the obvious ones) and do what you need to do - without guilt. Come from a place of knowledge and you come from a place of power.

One day is one day, and in coming weeks I'll be sharing with you some great ideas for how you can get rid of whatever you took in over the Christmas period and start 2009 all shiny and new which is I think where you'd like to be, right?

For the short term however, think energy and think compassion and hopefully this will be enough to help you make your decision, which, as always, you are entirely free to change depending on what actually happens on the day! Either way, have fun and watch how this energy thing works! It will stand you in good stead not just for Christmas, but for the rest of your entire food-conscious life.

© 2008 Karen Knowler
Karen Knowler, The Raw Food Coach publishes "Successfully Raw" - a free weekly eZine for raw food lovers everywhere. If you're ready to look good, feel great and create a raw life you love get your FREE tips, tools and recipes now at

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Blueberries 'reverse memory loss'

Blueberries 'reverse memory loss'

Eating blueberries can reverse memory loss and may have implications in the treatment of diseases like Alzheimer's, University of Reading scientists claim.

Scientists found adding foods like blueberries to a regular diet, resulted in improvements in memory.

The foods, known as flavonoids, were historically believed to act as antioxidants in human bodies.

But the study indicates they also activate the part of the brain which controls learning and memory.

Dr Jeremy Spencer, from the department of food biosciences at the university, said: "Scientists have known of the potential health benefits of diets rich in fresh fruits for a long time.

"Our research provides scientific evidence to show that blueberries are good for you and supports the idea that a diet-based approach could potentially be used to increase memory capacity.

"We will be taking these findings to the next level by investigating the effects of diets rich in flavonoids on individuals suffering from cognitive impairment and possibly Alzheimer's disease."

The research has been published in the Free Radical Biology and Medicine journal.
Story from BBC NEWS: