By Abby Weingarten
Beth Pratt's home page: www.deliciouslyfit.com
Permission to reprint article from Beth Pratt
Catalysts for self-change can come in many forms.Mine was food. For years, it was my addiction, my ultimate safety. Even in kindergarten, I would hide Halloween candy under my bed and sneak it out by nightlight. I'd
forage through my friends' cabinets and scarf down whatever pops and puffs of sugared cereal I'd find on the shelves.
By the time I could drive, it was McDonald's and I all the way. It tasted good. And I was hungry. I was always so hungry. Hungry for something, and never full, no matter how many double cheeseburgers I could fit in one sitting. I was tired, depressed, and just sick.
It wasn't alcohol. It wasn't illegal drugs. I didn't need ID to do it. I didn't even have to reach a certain age.
But I could treat my body like a trash bin with no repercussions. So I took full advantage.
No one teaches us in school that this is wrong, that it affects every facet of our psyches, to the point where we literally prove that old maxim: You are what you eat.
I needed help. I couldn't do it alone.
The more labels I read and the more opposing facts I downloaded, the more I yearned for a logical filter. I'd start a diet regimen only to discover, through my own skeptical research, how unhealthy it was. Search after Google search brought me to the raw food movement.
The little I knew about this was from a "Sex and the City" episode, in which the girls head to the Manhattan restaurant
Raw, where one of the show's characters, Miranda Hobbes, describes a cold summer vegetable soup as "a lawn in a bowl."
I was quick to assume raw foodists were monklike renegades who lived off wheatgrass shots and barley smoothies.
Then I met Beth Pratt, who debunked all those myths and helped me reshape my eating habits.
In a culture of quick fixes -- get in, get out, pop a pill, starve, purge, put the weight back on, listen to the audiobook, watch the infomercial and buy more products -- her mentoring stood out. It was almost unfathomable that a real person could come to your house, teach you how to prepare meals, retrain your muscles and map out your lifetime goals.
"I've always been a truth-seeker, wanting to help people cut through the fat," Pratt said. "I've been on every supplement there is. I've tried Suzanne Somers' diet. I've tried Atkins. And what upsets me with the fitness field is that there's so much conflicting information out there. People don't know what to do anymore."
Pratt is a chef and teacher certified by Living on Live Food with a background
in structural and postural therapy. At San Diego State University, she majored in athletic training and exercise physiology and was an anatomical functionalist at the Egoscue Clinic in Del Mar, Calif.
For more than 14 years, through her holistic-focused company BFiT Biomechanics
Fitness Therapy, she offered nutritional consultations and assessments throughout Boston, Scottsdale, Ariz., Las Vegas and San Diego.
In May, she moved to Sarasota, changed her business title to Deliciously Fit, and began holding raw classes at Whole Foods Market and her Bradenton home.
I enrolled in her "2-Week Fitness & Raw Challenge," in which she took me grocery shopping, introduced me to decadent recipes, improved my body's alignment and showed me the art of dining well.
"I've always been on the 'why' path. I was always trying to get fit and healthy and be the best I could be," Pratt said. "It's challenging to say, 'Where can I take it? What's that top level?'"
Learning to change
Simply put, going raw is going back to Earth's natural resources: nuts, fruits, sea and land vegetables, sprouted grains, beans and legumes (though some diets include raw meat, eggs and unpasteurized milk). Alone, these
ingredients sound unappetizing and bland, and they often are. But creative combinations yield mouthwatering results.
"Getting down to the basics of fruits and vegetables and what comes from nature, you find out what's real," Pratt said. "Just eating an apple is boring to me. You can do so much else with it, and that's what makes it exciting."
Consider a chocolate mousse made of avocado, almond butter, dates, almond milk, cacao powder and agave nectar. Or a torte made of raisins, walnuts, dates and fresh lemon juice.
A common question about the raw food diet is: Where are the protein and calcium sources? Almonds are rich in both, as are sesame and sunflower seeds, raw carob, Brazil nuts and green leafy vegetables.
"We are programmed to believe that the only source of protein is from animals," Pratt noted, "but actually, plant-source foods contain a good amount of protein and calcium that is actually easier for the body to
utilize and digest."
When food is cooked above 118 F, essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals and enzymes are lost, raw food advocates say. Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, begin to deteriorate at that temperature and are completely destroyed at 160 F.
Raw protein is considered to be more digestible by the human body because the amino acids and digestive enzymes are intact; heavily cooked foods are devoid of these enzymes, making them more likely to sit in the colon and increase the risk of disease.
Victoria Boutenko's book "Green for Life" explains that, because plants contain chlorophyll, which is similar in composition to human blood, humans are more able to process it. The amino acids in animal proteins are not
as readily available to the bloodstream. In her book "Living on Live Food," Alissa Cohen, one of the main
proponents of the raw diet, explains:
"It can take years for our bodies to begin to break down from the dietary abuse we have heaped upon them. Our youth can cover a host of progressive, diet-related problems, which, when they do surface years later, we simply
assume that they are part of the 'aging process.' It doesn't have to be that way!"
In every diet I attempted, something was always forbidden. Switching to raw, from my perspective, was more about indulgence than abstention.
"For so many years in fitness, it was about what you can't have," Pratt said. "Now I can eat as much as I want of this, without any guilt, and it's healthy for me!"
Feeding my soul
There was something far deeper than food in this for me. When I learned to be aware of everything I put into my body, I found myself more conscious of everything in my life. The environment seemed to matter more. Spirituality made sense. The less toxic I was on the inside, the less irritable I felt. I didn't have to physically recover from my meals or the self-inflicted effects of junk bingeing. But I had to truly look at myself and figure out, "Why do I really need this?" and "What void am I filling?" And then, I could move on.
"I think, sometimes people don't really want to take on the challenge. They would rather take it in a pill or a drink," Pratt said. "I made a conscious decision that I'm not going to talk anybody into anything anymore. People that come to me have to be people that are ready to hear this information."
I was ready.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
By Abby Weingarten