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Concern about a 16 year old's raw veganism. Help me prove them wrong.

edited November 2011 in New to Raw

First off, just some background information is that I'm 16 years old, have been vegan for almost a year, and have been adapting the raw food lifestyle for the past two weeks, maybe a little more. My doctor and my nutritionist are both against me being a raw vegan for reasons that don't sound very valid. My doctor said, "I'd rather you wait until you're 18 because you can hepatitis." That makes no sense! Anyone can get hepatitis, and I know enough about hepatitis from health class to know that raw, vegan food does not cause any of the types of hepatitis. My nutritionist is very nasty and says, "People who are raw vegans are nuts! You're going to need b-12 shots for the rest of your life." Or I could just buy a raw B-12 supplement. Also after looking more into it, I could develop a b-12 deficiency from just being vegan since I never really consumed fortified cereals or grains. I'm sure she has other reasons, but I'm also sure she hasn't studied raw veganism extensively for there has never been a real scientific raw study according to what I've read. Too close-minded to let me try it too. My mom just agrees with whatever someone with a degree says because they CAN'T be morons.

Anyway, the point of this is that I'm wondering if anyone here can recommend some books or valid websites for me on raw veganism. The book I took out was very focused on beauty and weight loss, and no one listens to me that I'm doing this for a spiritual/health reason, not for some superficial reason. I will embrace that positive benefits that come along though. Since I am addicted to how good I feel already, I don't want to have to stop my devotion to this philosophy, so any help will be much appreciated.

P.S. It kind of sounds like I'm saying I just plunged into this raw veganism thing without any prior knowledge about health. My best friend is a raw vegan, however, she lives thousands of miles away from me now unfortunately. She has been encouraging me, but I would like more support from adults. I have been very interested in health concerns since I was 13, and this is no exception.

Comments

  • I don't think you need to prove them wrong, as in have them admit you're right. Because that almost certainly won't happen. Try to let knowing the truth for yourself be enough, and have compassion for people who are too blind to change. But I do recommend these books if you haven't read them already:

    Fred Bisci - Your Healthy Journey

    Victoria Boutenko - Green For Life

    Colin Campbell - The China Study

    T. C. Fry - Your Natural Diet

  • Those are all really good recommendations eecho. Another thing that may help is make sure that you do your research and when they say What about protein...boom, you have an answer "I can get protein from raw x, y and z....what about calcium...I can get calcium from x, y and z". The more confidence you show in your choices, hopefully the more they will respect you for them. I have had many conversations like this with my former doctor, whom I no longer go to cus I'm pretty much done with most conventional medicine. I wrote my facts on index cards and would whip 'em out as soon as he got on my case...he pretty much left me alone after he saw that I had done my research, I had thought out my decision and was determined and focused. Most doctors have had 4 hours or less in nutritional education...and these are at top schools! University of Michigan just upped theirs to (gasp) 6 hours! So, unless they do their own research are not really in the know on education. They pretty much get taught how to cover up the symptoms with drugs or cut something out with surgery. Anyway, way long post short...do your research, read as many books as you can and be confident in your choices, it will go along way to helping you in your journey.

    A couple sites that I really like are naturalnews.com ; mercola.com (although he isn't raw or vegan, he has really good info on his site) and drbenim.com

  • Becoming Vegan is not really raw-based, but it's a good book for nutrition info.

    I have never seen an omnivore with a more nutrient-rich diet than I, so I have to laugh when they try to give me advice.

  • I like something I read on Allisa Cohen's sight, and I rearranged it to suite me. SO, now I have a speech planned for my SIL...."I have seen you cram garbage down your throat for decades, including diet pepsi, cigerettes even after having breast cancer/chemo, part of your lung remove for valley fever, and yet I have never asked you if you are getting enough calcium". Ok., it's something I dream of saying, but you get the jist. people have no problem eating chocolate cake when they are sick, but oh, you go without meat...well, ya know. it's a religion in of itself. Read, get the info, and if this doesn't work, your young, you can rearrange as you go.

    I have a saying "Life is not only a summation of choices, but a process of illimination"

    Emily

  • Not trying to be nosey, but why are you doctor and nutritionist concerned? Are you losing a lot of weight? Sick a lot? I don't mean this in a bad way, just wondering if there is a reason that your diet has come into question.

    Maybe Mom's just concerned and brought it up to them? Do you have a history of eating disorders? You mention that you have a nutritionialist is why I ask. Usually most people don't have a nutritionialist unless there is a reason (unlike normally having a family doctor).

    I guess I'm wondering if there is more to your background that is important to your situation.

    Many vegans sites are now encouraging vegans to use a B-12 supplement. That doesn't mean being vegan is unhealthy. But, you don't need shots. (Most doctors recommend that all their patients take a vitamin supplement anyways, so you taking a B-12 supplement shouldn't be that earthshattering to your nutritionalist.

    Non vegans and nonvegetarians can be B-12 deficient too.

    I'm not disagreeing that your doctor and nutritionalist sound a bit off. If it were me (I'm almost 40 yrs old so I can pick my own doctors since I pay the bill, and am blessed with darn good medical insurance) I would probably get a different doctor and nutritionalist. They don't sound very helpful and willing to work with you.

    That said, if you are having under weight or other medical issues, they may have a reason to be concerned about your diet. That doesn't mean you can't be a vegan or follow a raw diet. It may just mean you need to make some adjustments.

    Just some thoughts. If you just have a bit of a worried Mom, then please excuse my ramblings.

    The best "proof" that the way you are eating is healthy is if you are healthy. If you are "failing to thrive," don't focus your time trying to prove that raw vegan is healthy. Look to see what you can adjust so that you thrive. That's the real proof.

    Good luck.

  • There are many ways to maintain healthy levels of B12 as a raw vegan. Eat plenty of Sea Vegetables! For example, 1/3 cup of raw dulse contains 23% of your daily requirement! They also contain iodine, potassium, iron, the list goes on and on. Some types are very high in calcium, too! Read labels, ask question, do your research! The only way to prove this lifestyle is the best is to become informed and healthy. If they are concerned with any vitamin or mineral deficiency, ask for a blood test. That will give your doctor all the proof he needs.

    Good luck!

  • I would definitely recommend one of Victoria Boutenko's books. She has done a lot of research and she really knows a lot about nutrition on a vegan diet.

  • Thank you all for your replies.

    Sisterbecky, yes I did have an eating disorder, but I have been in recovery since June of last year. I had anorexia nervosa, and I was very underweight at one point, and two months into recovery, I switched to a vegan diet. Everyone advised me against it because they feared I would relapse very quickly, and they knew if I did that I would have to be put in the hospital again. I have lost a few pounds eating as a raw vegan, but just around 5 pounds, and I've been making sure I don't go out of my weight range. Honestly, just within a day of eating as a raw vegan, I've had better body image than ever (I have BDD). I don't think that raw veganism would make me relapse, but instead I feel it will make my recovery even more of a success story.

  • vegankid, I can completly relate with you. When I was a teenager I also suffered from anorexia, then recovered until I was about 23, when I began to exercise compulsivly and binge. Now I'm 29 and I've been raw for 4 months and feel so much better. I'm still have issues with compuslive exercise but I binge a lot less now. I've also lost a few pounds but I am at a very healthy weight, so I'm not worried about being underweight. I feel like since becoming raw my body image has also gotten better. It has also helped me eat foods that I used to find "scary", like avocadoes and lots of fruit. I am now really enjoying eating instead of being anxious about it.

  • I'm glad I can relate to you. : )

    The same is happening with me. I'm less obsessive about my body image, and I just eat when I'm hungry.

  • i wonder how many other anorexia kids really just want to be raw vegans? it's something i didn't expect to hear.. Not that they hate food. it's almost like a rejection of what they know shouldn't be in your body anyway. Just to an extreme. and when brought into balance, with raw food gives the body what it needs, so it is happy, so you are happy. and then you feel good about yourself. I haven't ever had an eating disorder. but i have had self esteem issues pretty much my whole life. 4 months into raw, and i have to say it's the first time in my life, I really like myself. My body is happy. my teeth&gums are happy. I'm happy. I've naturalized to a great weight, that i can carry well on my body, and when I look at myself in the mirror, I look healthy. Somehow there seems to be more life in me than there was before raw. It would be so great to give this to more people in the world. who knows you know maybe recovering anorexic and bulimic set up websites to draw some people to raw food that might just try it. And that would recover if they just tried it long enough. It's so inspiring to hear your stories, and see how great it is for another person to be healed in body mind & spirit. namaste

  • This is a very interesting topic to me.

    I am intrigued by eating disorders, how they originate, and what they represent. Though never clinically diagnosed, I do identify as someone with a mild eating disorder. For many years, I disguised my erratic and unhealthy eating habits with the excuse of IBS, made very believable to myself because of the many symptoms I suffered because of food. However, I believe that I manifested the IBS because of my eating disorder - it allowed me to control what went into my body, and to a certain extent, what came out. Fortunately, I found alternative healing therapies and I was able to heal myself of my IBS. Since then, my 'eating disorder' has gently laid itself to rest. Not to say I am without body image issues, but they are nowhere near what they used to be.

    I sometimes wonder if certain people turn to raw veganism as a way to disguise their eating disorder. There is one woman I know who eats very little actual food - she lives on green juices and smoothies, and sea vegetables such as E3Live and chlorella. She is very thin, almost child-like with no curves on her body at all, and her clothes hang from her hips and shoulder. She claims to be healthier than the rest of us, and maybe she is, but I question her motives for having a raw lifestyle.

    On the flip side of things, I have heard of people who turn to raw veganism to MANAGE their eating disorder. Once they begin supplying their body with all the nutrients it has been craving for years, sometimes even decades, their health, mental capacity, and everything else improves. Life always looks brighter when our body is optimally nourished, and that is when true healing can occur.

    Each of us finds raw veganism for our own reasons, and hopefully each of us is able to learn, grow, and heal with raw veganism!

  • This is out of this topic, but Furtune, how did you cure your IBS?? I would really like to know your approach. It is so hard to figure out what to eat or not to help to heal the instestines heal recuperate. I would really like to hear about your experience, if you want to share it.

  • Well rawlizard, unfortunately there isn't one answer for everyone. Each of us is biochemically unique, and we all have different nutritional needs based on our diet, health history, allergies, even based on what our parents did (or didn't do) while we were in utero! It is very important for each person to do their own health investigating, to understand why their body is acting the way it is, and what may be playing a role in their symptoms (whether dietary, environmental, etc).

    That being said, there are lots of ways to address IBS symptoms while investigating the cause. Obviously, a whole, organic, raw foods diet is ideal for healing, and juicing is the best way to take advantage of all those nutrients without taxing the digestive system with too much fiber. Aloe vera gel is very healing to the stomach and digestive tract, and can be added to smoothies, juices, or taken alone. Turmeric and ginger both have anti-inflammatory effects, and ginger can be soothing on stomach tissue. Peppermint is also soothing on stomach tissue. There are also many herbs and homeopathic remedies to address IBS symptoms.

    IBS is a 'waste-basket diagnosis', classifiable only by its symptoms (somewhat like chronic fatigue syndrome) - in other words, if a Dr. can't figure out what it is, then throw it in the waste basket with everything else and call it IBS! Many people with IBS symptoms will receive colonoscopies or other medical procedures on the advice of their Dr, but the results of these tests are very often inconclusive. Sometimes Crohn's or colitis will be discovered, but if there is no physiological damage or change to tissues, then it is usually diagnosed as IBS. IBS symptoms can include diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, and many other symptoms. Some people experience both diarrhea and constipation, and many go back and forth between the two.

    IBS has many root causes, as individual as the people who have IBS. Poor diet is often to blame, as packaged, processed, artificial, and 'empty' foods put a strain on the digestive system, and often 'wear it out'. The intestines have within them many living organisms (flora) that work to regulate digestion, but those intestinal flora can be destroyed through the use of anti-biotics, birth control pill, poor diet, excessive alcohol consumption, environmental toxins, and many other things. When intestinal flora becomes imbalanced, the digestive system ceases to work efficiently. 'Bad' organisms (such as candida or yeast) may flourish in the digestive tract and cause distress (diarrhea, constipation, bloating), and sometimes they even travel to other parts of the body causing many symptoms like headaches, brain fog, irritability, weight gain, insomnia, allergies, etc.

    A lack of fiber, water, essential fatty acids, and micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals can also be the direct cause of IBS. Keeping a food and symptom diary (minimum 7-10 days) can be helpful in determining what and when symptoms occur, and following an elimination diet is helpful for finding food sensitivities and allergies.

    Stress management plays a vital role in IBS, and is perhaps the most mis-diagnosed of all the IBS symptoms. Most people don't realize that stress directly affects health: when you are in a stressful situation, your body responds with various bio-chemicals that have various effects on the body. These bio-chemicals initiate, influence, and terminate many body processes, such as breathing, digestion, sleeping patterns, etc. If there is a constant disruption in these body processes due to constant stress, nutritional deficiencies can occur and digestion will suffer. Also, during times of stress the body redirects blood and energy from the internal organs to the the more external organs (to aid with faster movement and thought). Hence, digestion becomes impaired. Yoga, exercise, meditation, reiki, and many other healing modalities can be very helpful with both stress management and IBS.

    IBS can also be influenced by heavy metal toxicity, food allergies, eating disorders, and it can often occur as a symptom of other diseases. IBS is complex, and at the same time, its 'cure' is often simple. For many people a dietary and lifestyle improvement can immediately reverse all symptoms of IBS. It did for me.

    I suffered from terrible bouts of diarrhea that left me unable to eat anything but bread, potato chips, and tuna. (There may have been more foods that were 'safe', but I was not into exploring or discovering at that point.) All vegetables, fruits, dairy products, and basically everything else gave me diarrhea. And often, immediate diarrhea. This obviously was very physically uncomfortable and often painful, but it also put a strain on my social life - explaining to friends or worse yet, a date, that such-and-such event is off limits because it's around meal time, or because it involves food that isn't 'safe' and may cause diarrhea is not a fun experience. I was often afraid to leave my house for fear of needing to use the washroom and not being near one - many times I avoided social events because of this. Stress and anxiety played very big roles in my IBS. I became a hermit, too embarrassed to talk to anyone about it, and hence my symptoms only worsened. Also, because I ate so little, so infrequently, I suffered from bad headaches, low energy, and dizziness, all of which I now know is directly related to imbalanced blood sugar levels. I regularly took acetaminophen and ibuprofen for my headaches, but they gradually stopped working as my body built a tolerance to them.

    At the time, I was smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee. Emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically, I was not stable, which was partly due to the IBS, but also because of unresolved personal issues. I didn't know it at the time, but I was very depressed during most of my IBS stretch.

    At 22 years old, I had a colonoscopy which showed no damage to my intestines, so I was given an IBS diagnosis. I sat across from the Dr. and asked him what I could do - just because there was no 'reason' for my symptoms didn't make them go away! He told me to avoid the foods that irritated me. Yes, that's all the advice he gave me (other than a quick 'quit smoking' as well). Avoid it all? Fruits, vegetables, grains, all of it??? Even at 22 years old with absolutely no medical training or science background, I knew that was not the answer.

    Slowly, over the course of about a year, I began making changes to my life. First I quit drinking coffee, and my symptoms immediately improved. Then I quit smoking, and same thing. I accepted help from a friend who was very knowledgeable on health and wellness, and on her recommendation I began taking L-glutamine (for intestinal healing), essential fatty acids (for lubrication of tissues and easier passing of stool), and probiotics (to repopulate compromised intestinal flora). Shortly after this, I joined a gym and got in (better) shape. It's also worth mentioning that around this time, I met my life partner and fell head-over-heels in love.

    As my symptoms lessened, my diet improved. I began experimenting with eating different foods, eventually whole foods, and I also learned which ones to eliminate (greasy foods, dairy, creamy foods, overly-spicy foods, etc). I stopped taking medications for my headaches, my energy levels skyrocketed, I lost weight, my skin cleared up, and I was just generally a happier, healthier person.

    Perhaps the most important thing that happened to me was that I STARTED TO LOVE MYSELF. I started to care about myself in a way that I never had, in a way that many people never do. I started to see value in myself where before, I had seen none. In every sense of the word, I was 'healing' myself.

    Many years later, here I am, 100% IBS-free. It took years of trial and error, and it was definitely not cheap, easy, or fun, but I am so thankful that I took my health into my own hands and healed myself. It's a continuing journey, but ultimately, we are the only ones who can heal ourselves.

  • What a story. It's amazing how diet can solve what doctors can't. Unfortunately for me, I already live a very healthy life, and although my symptoms have improved over the years, I still have bad episodes. At the beginning it started with acid reflux, and later I developed intestinal issues. After taking antiacid medication for a while I realized that it was not the real solution to the problem. medications didn't work anyways. I knew I could not tolerate sugar, or grains, but my doctor kept telling me that neither of these were causing my hartburn. Of course, I proved him wrong after I changed my diet a couple of years ago. I felt much better after I stop eating thoses two things. Over the last few months I have increasinlgy becoming more raw, and now I'am at about 90%. Even some raw foods (usually sugary) make my digestive system upset. At this point I think I really need a juice fast. I haven't tried it before because I'm afraid to loose too much weight. Somebody in a different topic recommended mixing up days of juice fast with days of 100% raw. I think I am going to give it a try and see what happens. Thank you so much for your comments; I will be definetly adding some more aloe vera juice in my morning smoothies. I also have to find a good source of omega 3, because I can't stand flax seeds. Hemp seeds perhaps??

  • Yes hemp seeds are a good source of omega 3, as are some sea vegetables and chia seeds.

    From the little bit you told me, I would not suggest a juice fast at this point. It sounds as if your body may benefit from some rebuilding instead of cleansing. Juices can be high in sugar since there is no fiber to slow down absorption, which may exacerbate symptoms. Try keeping a food and symptom diary for a few days - track everything you eat and drink and how you feel immediately after eating it, and later on (if anything comes up). Then you can see patterns and how different foods may be affecting you. You may also want to investigate food allergies, as they can often cause heartburn.

    If you are regularly having heartburn, then it may be due to insufficient digestive enzymes in your stomach. Antacids actually promote heartburn - they 'calm' the digestive juices by neutralizing them. When food is eaten and there are insufficient amounts of digestive enzymes, foods can start to ferment in the stomach and produce heart burn, gas, discomfort, etc. Of course raw foods contain lots of living enzymes to help with digestion, but if digestion is compromised by the use of antacids, it may take some rebuilding. Apple cider vinegar and digestive enzymes in supplement form can be helpful for some people.

    Best of luck!

  • Annnd (as if I haven't typed enough)....an answer for vegan kid!

    Rainbow Green Live-Food Cuisine is a great recipe book and reference guide for raw food and nutrition.

    Dreena Burton is not raw but she is very knowledgeable about vegan nutrition.

    You can also kindly direct concerned friends and family members to biology and biochemistry textbooks, so they can find out for themselves how every single cell of our bodies is fueled by the nutrition found in raw foods. That is my favourite part of the raw lifestyle and philosophy - I can't argue with nature!

  • Hi vegankid, well I am nearly 40 now and have been a raw foodie for about a month.. But when I was 15 I became a veggie.. My parents were mortified, use to hide meat in my meals and my father use to offer me money just to eat the stuff!! Back then I thought they were such a pain.. Why couldn't they understand me!! But the truth is they are just worried.. You need to show them that this isn't about being obsessed with food but that you are building your body back up to recover from it's ordeal.. Eat healthy and prove to them that you know what you are doing.. Find out the foods you need to enable your body to grow as well as stay healthy as you are still young. Enjoy your life girlie :o)

  • Oh and I heard that coconut oil is great for bloaty tums

  • This is an amazing book "The Live Food Factor" by Susan Schenck. Website:http://www.4livefoodfactorfriends.com/. She was anorexic and then bulimic. Covers EVERYTHING about the raw life and all the bad stuff about a SAD (Standard American Diet) diet. It can be ordered from her wesite. Good luck!

  • I knew there was more to your story when you mentioned a nutritionist :) Most 16 year old girls have nutritionists because they have/had an eating disorder.

    What confuses me is that your nutritionist and doctor are so against it. I hear time and time again how the Raw Foods lifestyle is used as an aid to recovery. What it does is allows people who are mortified of food feel like they are taking very little in while at the same time packing a powerfully rich nutrient intake. This then allows them to gain weight SLOWLY , as to not shock the crap out their system and for them to get used to the changes.

    I once like sooo many other females suffered from eating disorders. Primarily in the bingeing/Purging area with bouts of anorexia. Then just went to a straight up hard core addiction to meth. The drug problem ended (on its own I might add) nearly 7 years ago but the bingeing and purging lasted until my (very) late 20's. I never saw help for it which is why it lasted so long in my opinion but I have no complaints. I got over it myself, when I was ready. Raw foods has really helped me in that area for the simple fact that I just feel amazing being on this lifestyle. Even if I feel I am a bit to chubby for my own liking I dont have the overwhelming urge to go throw up in the bathroom. I can honestly say that I never will again. Only because I know how good I can feel and I NEVER want to feel that crappy about myself again. It's horrible. Thats a great thing with getting older.... you care less about all that garbage and have a better understanding of yourself!

    Anyways...thats a total rant! I guess I was just shocked to hear that they were against it. I didnt notice where you were located so I wonder if your doctors are hip to natural health care. I know up in Seattle they were educated on more natural lifestyles so it didnt feel impossible to talk them. My optometrist was glad to hear I was on a raw diet. I went in for a consultation to see if I could qualify for lasik surgery and he had to reply with a big fat no. Because of my lifestyle (at the time I was raw for 5 months) my eye site was actually RAPIDLY improving. He said they were improving to quickly to qualify and that the surgery would probably have to be re-done later. Craziness.

    People above have mentioned some great ideas so my only advice is just saying 'knowledge is power' Educate yourself as much as possible. It will most likely take a long while to change their opinion though. It's not something people understand so they judge. I know some people have followed this lifestyle for decades but the reality is that it is a new trend...just like vegetarianism and veganism. I went vegetarian 16 years ago and vegan 7 years ago. People still dont understand the concept of Vegan.

    I hate that it is a trend....a diet....a fad. To me, and to so many others it is a belief, possibly the closest thing we have to religion and some people use it as a means to lose a couple pounds so they can then go back to eating shitty foods when they have accomplished their 5lb weight loss. I want people to find this lifestyle for the right reasons and not because the latest hollywood actress used it to lose some weight before a role. When people find it for the right reasons they will stay on it for the right reasons. Hopefully those reasons are to be a healthier more conscious being.

    So I guess I am saying is just make sure your doing this for the right reason... educate yourself on nutrition and the raw lifestyle in general and you will have passion and knowledge at your disposal. People will see that the lifestyle works good for you, you are at a healthy weight and that you no longer have E.D tendencies. It will be your actions and your health that will prove them wrong in the end...it may just take some time.

    Good luck...sorry I rambled so much!

    Cheers and good health.

    http://www.myrawconsciousness.blogspot.com

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