Some Observations on Fundamentalism, Rigidity,
and Rule-bound Thinking in Raw Foods Diets, 
and Particularly in Raw Vegetation and Animal 
Foods (RVAF) Diets

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I originally penned these thoughts, edited slightly for inclusion in this page, in early December 2001, after Dan, a frequent correspondent on an e-mail list group devoted to raw foods, wrote to the list a letter detailing his four years on the Primal Diet, and some recent adjustments he had made to his diet which were rather contrary to some of the basic fundamental principals of the Primal Diet.  Here is what I wrote: I want to thank Dan for writing his comprehensive and thorough letter.  I have met several people who have been on the Primal Diet for years (2.5 or more), and each one has had to modify it in some major way from that which was prescribed originally (and concurrently) by a Primal nutritionist.  To me this makes total sense, and is NOT an indictment of either the Primal Diet, nor more broadly, of a largely-raw, vegetation and animal foods (RVAF) diet.  Rather, to me, this is simply confirmation that we are all different, with somewhat different nutritional needs and biochemistry.  While I think that a formalized or "fundamentalist" (again, this term used descriptively and not pejoratively) diet such as the Primal Diet, Instincto (or Anopsology) or Natural Hygiene may serve as a convenient starting point, I personally believe that ultimately, each of us must learn to listen to our bodies and our intuition in deciding what foods to eat.  Ultimately, I believe, each of us must get well beyond using someone else as a guide, or using a prescriptive fundamentalist diet based upon rigid rules. While we may choose to occasionally use one person or another (e.g., first a Primal Diet consultant, and now Dr. Dulin, in Dan's case) temporarily as a consultant, we ultimately, I believe, must learn to trust God (also called Being of Spirit), our intuition and bodies.  

Further, I feel that the prescriptive fundamentalist mostly-raw diets, any of them, whether we are speaking of Primal Diet, Instincto/Anopsology, Wai's Acne/Cellulite Diet, Natural Hygiene, John Ray's Body Electronics Diet (which, interestingly, John Ray himself never adhered to, but prescribed freely to all who came his way), or any of 3 dozen others, are temporary wayposts from which we learn about our bodies and the foods nature has to offer.  This is one of many reasons why I never proselytize, preach, moralize or act as a missionary for raw foods diets or anything else.   I try to keep my Raw Paleo Diet website and my own tone on the raw foods e-mail lists rather light, and offer information for folks to consider only, rather than trying to convince anyone of anything, or convert anyone.  Further, to the irritation of some, I insist on throwing in some humor to lighten things up a bit and keep folks from taking me too seriously.  Why am I so low-key and "non-missionary" in my stance?  For the reasons iterated above, which are or were:

  • we are all different in biochemistry and needs
  • we each have different needs at different times
  • fundamentalist, rule-bound diets are only good for short-term efforts
  • one must learn to trust God, intuition and body
  • dietary consultants are useful TEMPORARY, SHORT-TERM consultants

plus the following personal reasons, which are, admittedly, simply my deep beliefs:

  • rigidity, preaching and too-heavy rules only serve to alienate the soul and spirit 
  • rigid or fanatical diets can produce fanatical people who are not much fun to be around
  • rigid, fundamentalist diets tend, if continued for long, to disempower people
  • my personal and related belief that too many rules disempower people
  • my personal belief that ultimately spirit and the God-force in us can transcend any diet or condition
  • lastly, my belief that: who am I to know what is best for another? At best, I might only suggest that they consider, and perhaps try something a bit different

I am fifty years old as of this writing.  Unlike some other folks (including Dan, the author of the e-mail referenced above) I have never experienced much of a calming effect from a RVAF diet, including the Primal Diet.  And that is fine. . . I was not looking for that effect!  However, when I cautiously added dairy to my RVAF diet after 8 months on the diet (largely raw-dairy-free till then, but for small amounts of aged raw cheese), I did find that to be a consistent soporific or deep sedative, to the point of needing a long nap daily, and feeling tired much of the rest of the day.  I quickly decided, guided by my intuition, that only some of the sedative effect was due to "healing" or "cleansing" (despite what my Primal consultant insisted), and that the majority of those effects as well as others were due to the varied hormones (natural) and related substances in milk, some of which are called "opiods", and which exhibit a sedative effect.  I further noticed that raw dairy seemed to vastly accelerate bacterial (no, not viral) "infections" in my body, sometimes to my amusement, sometimes to my pain and sometimes to my benefit as well.  I ultimately came to the point where I have chosen to eat raw dairy only occasionally, and only in the form of butter (with lemon, about once every two weeks) or a bit of aged raw cheese (yes, I cheat and eat a bit of raw ice cream once in a while!)

I started a RVAF diet on my own in April 2000, after having studied about a dozen RVAF systems and six raw vegan systems over the previous 10 years.  I started RVAF on my own, and never saw a RVAF consultant until I decided after 7 months, to visit a Primal Diet consultant.  For me, a strict Primal Diet has never worked well, but I have great respect for what it has done for some other folks, especially according to the Primal nutritionist whom I consulted.  However, my diet is largely RVAF (but not Primal), ranging anywhere from 99.9% RVAF down to 88.9131618% RVAF, depending upon the week.  

For the past two months (as of December 2001), I have found it important to eat cooked meat or fish at least two or three times per week -- this helps drastically to eliminate some heavy dizziness, light-headedness, mental confusion and fatigue which I experienced recurrently after about 10 months on the diet.  As most folks who have perused this site know, I also do take some supplements, primarily minerals (selenium, calcium/magnesium, boron, chromium, vanadium, vitamin C, vitamin, E, folic acid,  some antioxidants such as ALA (alpha lipoic acid), and then moderate quantities of the primeval hydrogen-antioxidants in two forms: MegaH and Reduced Water (or RW; either Electrolyzed Reduced Water (ERW) from a water ionizer, or RW from non-electrical "magic jugs" which I developed in my laboratory.)  I also drink at least 1/2 gallon of water daily, often more.  I now (past 7 months) eat far lower quantities of raw meat than the Primal Diet nutritionist whom I consulted had recommended, and I am enjoying my "diet" and my life far more.

I am not sharing this dietary information (above) to offer folks prescriptions for eating.  Nor am I writing this to persuade folks to leave the Primal Diet, if the reader happens to be someone for whom the diet works as prescribed.  Rather, I am sharing this information to illustrate how I have evolved my own diet over the almost 2 years I have been eating largely RVAF.  Indeed, while I personally view the Primal Diet and the other "really serious" RVAF diets as an excellent way for someone to start a RVAF diet, and I feel that such a diet is especially apropos for anyone who is facing a serious illness.   Indeed, the primary purpose of this essay is to help people to feel empowered to eventually learn to listen to their intuition and signals from their body as to what to eat.  So, I might suggest that someone start with the Primal Diet or another of the basic prescriptive RVAF diets, but that they then start evolving the diet on their own about five to six months later, based upon intuition and their body's guidance.  

Am I unilaterally biased against the more fundamentalist and rigid RVAF diets?  No, not at all.  As I noted above, they work for some folks, and if I were facing a life-threatening chronic disease, I would likely start with a somewhat regulated diet such as the Primal Diet, since it is more "intense".  However, for most folks, I would recommend that you perhaps start with one of the more tightly-regulated RVAF diets, if you so wish, and then gradually shift to listening more and more to your own body and intuition.   Or, you may choose to start your foray into RVAF eating the way I did: via a totally self-designed diet which evolved over the first 4 or 5 months of the diet, and which continues to evolve over two years later.  As I recall, I took about 2 or 3 months to gradually shift to an all-raw RVAF diet, which was steered not by any book or single source, but rather by my own sense of what my body needed and wanted.

While I had CFS and fibromyalgia, and moderate underweight prior to starting the RVAF diet, I did not have severe health problems.  I also had a few specific localized problems: among them that I was born a DES baby (please do not ask me what that is... . . . rather, look it up yourself on a search engine or in the Live-foods list archives!), and therefore had some urogenital problems as well.  Underweight aside, none of these problems have totally resolved due to the RVAF diet, but all have improved, often markedly.  The underweight condition improved markedly, allowing me to gain, at peak, 33 pounds above my old weight of 142 pounds (this on a 6' 3/4" frame!)  I also learned that my chronic swollen sinus and left eye (sinus pressure) were effectively eliminated so long as I avoided grains (yes, I can safely cheat and eat a bit of good bread or pasta once in awhile!) and certain nuts (yes, even if raw; possibly it was a cleansing).

Again: thank you, Dan, for sharing.  This is a perfect example of a primary purpose of the Live-foods list: to allow a forum for intelligent, compassionate exploration of how we are evolving our raw diets.  Thank you for taking the time to do so. 

Lastly, I wish to agree with Dan's conclusion, which apparently came from deep in his heart, that ultimately socializing is far more important than alienating everyone all the time.  Does this mean that I will eat foods that my body strongly (or even moderately) does not want, just to get along in a group? NO, not at all!  And in social situations, I often do persist in eating RVAF foods (including raw meats and raw fish), but I will also heartily eat any cooked foods offered which my body tells me will be fine for it.  For me, this usually includes:

  • cooked fish and shellfish
  • cooked meats
  • certain Mediterranean dishes such as babaghanoush or  hummus (but it's gotta be made with olive oil, and not canola!)
  • occasionally, small to moderate amounts of good bread or pasta (for some folks, this is a big NO-NO!  Ask your own body and respect it!  Mine tolerates it fine!)
  • cooked veggies
  • lastly, I never worry about small amounts of preservatives or chemicals (BHA, BHT, nitrates, sulfur dioxide, etc.) in a cooked food (e.g., Italian sausage), because I strongly feel that a small amount is likely not harmful and may even help my body learn to recognize the foreign substance (this is called "hormesis".)  Besides, I eat such things so rarely that any intake is minimal and not worth worrying about.
  • nuclear waste (only thorium and plutonium; uranium and the various radionuclides irritate me)  Ooops!  this last bullet may be a product of my scrambled mind!
Even when eating cooked foods, here are the foods I notice that I totally avoid, guided by body and intuition:
  • sweets (I might take a bite of a pastry twice a year, but no more than a bite)
  • fruit juices
  • sweet drinks
  • sodas
  • highly processed foods
  • anything made with junk oils or hydrogenated oils (this one is important for my body; it is very vocal about it!)
  • anything with cooked/heated dairy (this one is important for my body; it is very vocal about it!)
  • anything with more than 2 ppm of uranium or 20 ppm of lead 
  • any alcohol in amounts more than equivalent of one ounce of liquor per 5 days
What is the bottom line?  Well, I suspect that many folks, especially Americans, are looking for quick and easy answers in the area of diet, and they would prefer to be told exactly what to do by someone else.  I, on the other hand, recommend that we modern-day humans learn once again to trust our own bodies, and signals from our instinct and God (Being, Spirit) as to what to eat.  Ultimately, I believe, this will result in a broader, deeper and more flexible approach to diet, life and spirituality, and will yield greater health and vitality.

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