What was I thinking?
I hadn’t even heard of ‘Dry July’ until a friend of mine suggested that we meet for a date. She said she wasn’t going to be able to drink though because she was having a month off.
I thought that sounded like a good idea and that I’d go dry too. The idea of giving up something for a month appealed to me a little bit so I thought what else can I give up for a month. I decided that coffee could go, and an idea that I’ve been toying with ever since I became a vegan was eating raw food. I thought if I gave myself a limited time, I wouldn’t feel committed to it forever, and it might be an idea to give it a whirl.
So I set out on my dry-raw-caffeine-free July and when I met my friend at the pub for our ‘drinks’ on day three, she immediately broke down and that was the end of her Dry July.
I suppose it needs to be said that I’m a moderate drinker. I actually self medicate with alcohol. I have fibromyalgia and often in the evening I’m in a lot of pain and my body is very tense from a day of pushing away the aches, so I tend to have a glass of wine – occasionally I’ll have two, not every night of the week but it’s probably three or four at least.
I was sensible enough to realise that I was going to have to prepare for this, I wasn’t going be able to wake up on July 1 and just do it.
So… I got a really big jar and I filled it with rolled oats (which technically aren’t raw) nuts, sesame seeds, hempseeds, LSA, chia and so on. This became a bit of a raw food minestrone for me. Whenever the jar started to get a bit empty, I would add whatever was at hand, some pinenuts, cashews, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and each week when I went shopping I’d buy a few of the supplies to have ready to top up the jar. This jar became the basis of at least two meals a day.
What I would do for breakfast is get a container and smear the bottom of it with either tahini or peanut butter. I would add a thick layer from the jar, then I would put in a lot of fruit, usually a banana, some berries and something citrus. I would add the juice of a lemon or lime to go over the lot, and about a teaspoon or so of maple syrup (which probably isn’t actually raw, though in theory, it is).
I’d put the lid on the container and I would give it a good shake. I often did this the night before so by the time the morning came, it was like a beautiful breakfast cake.
I’m used to eating a lot of greens. Being a vegan, salads and vegetables make up a very big part of my diet. I then add things like tempeh, or tofu or falafel to ‘beef’* it up.
Going without the coffee only seemed to register for the first two or three days. My morning ritual is usually a large decaf with rice milk – and love it as I do, rice milk isn’t conducive to losing weight, which is something I need to do.
So with the craving for coffee out of the way, all that was left was alcohol and a nice thick tempeh steak to get over.
An interesting thing was, I was so busy craving hot buttered toast and potato scallops that within two or three days I had forgotten about alcohol as well.
My focus became making yummy meals that were raw. I gave my big jar mix a good work out!
To be honest, after most meals I was left pretty unsatisfied, the food was tasty enough, it just didn’t feel like it was filling me enough. So about halfway through the month I added olives to the mix which helped a lot. I found that if I added extra avocado then that seemed to make me feel a little bit more full.
Most meals contained citrus to give the food a zing.
I was still craving ‘buttered’ toast though, and when I say butter, I mean coconut Nuttelex. Considering that craving, the only thing I could come up with was that I was craving salt. I was getting salt with the olives but maybe not enough so I started adding a little bit of salt to the meals and that helped a bit.
One night, about three weeks in, I was relaxing watching a video and just out of the blue like a bolt of lightning I had this incredible craving for something sugary. Now my breakfast ‘cake’ was certainly sweet with the berries and a teaspoon of maple syrup but generally speaking, I wasn’t getting a lot of sugar, and certainly not processed sugar – (ignore maple syrup).
I’m not one of these people who crave sweet things, I’m more a pizza and hot chips sort of girl. So it was interesting that the sugar craving came out of the blue like that.
Within the space of about three minutes, the craving became an obsession to the point where I was actually feeling uncomfortable and thought there was no way I was going to be able to sleep. So I found myself a square of chocolate and ate it and instantly the craving disappeared – rabid obsession, gone!
That was an interesting occurrence.
I didn’t eat a lot of commercial raw things, I went once to a café and got a raw slice because I was there with friends and everybody was eating so I purchased something to eat to feel part of the gang– it was very nice. But I didn’t make a habit of that.
At home it was very easy to stick to, but to be honest going out wasn’t all that easy. We had several family celebrations during the month where it was very difficult to explain to the elders in my life that, no I didn’t want to order from the menu, I was only eating raw food this month (which in their mind equated to salad).
It was an interesting month. With the craving for alcohol and coffee left behind by July 3-4, it still did require a fair bit of organisation to go raw. I’d say out of the 90 to 95 odd meals that you have in a 31 day month, I probably had 85 of those meals raw.
How did I feel? I felt great! I felt ‘lighter’ in my abdominal area – certainly the blocked-up feeling that I sometimes have, disappeared.
I won’t go into details of the activities in the water closet, suffice to say that things were a little bit different.
As far as my fibromyalgia goes, self-medicating with alcohol quite often is what helps me to relax enough to go to sleep. I did have quite a few restless nights, and I did have to find other ways to relax before I slept. They were not always successful.
I asked my sister Rachel about this eating regime. She’s a dietician and she’s usually got some comments about what I’m consuming. She actually thought it was a good idea if I could manage to do it two or three days a week ongoing; it would be very healthy for me.
I have to say that now we are a week into August, I have had a couple of drinks but I certainly haven’t gone back to the one or two drinks (or three or four, or five days a week) that had been my habit. And I have to say that I’ve actually been craving raw food and have made sure that I’m getting at least one meal, usually two a day, with salad and the contents of my big jar. Certainly, breakfast has changed. Apart from the fact that my partner loves to cook porridge, when I’ve been making my own breakfast I’ve definitely been going for raw food.
The jar is a keeper and so is the coffee exit. I’ll save my caffeine fix for a professionally brewed cuppa once or twice a week.
As to my weight, I don’t know. I gave up being a slave to the scales a long time ago so I can’t say if I have officially lost any kilos. I suspect I have, my clothes feel better.
Would I recommend the raw food diet? I actually would. I’d say if I had someone else prepping my food, I could do it almost full time. Apart from the pain issue, I do like a drink, but I am going to try to keep that more social than ‘medical’.
My advice? Get yourself a big jar…
At one stage towards the end of the month as I was driving into town and got pulled over by the police for a breathalyser.
The cop asked me had I been drinking and I responded that no I hadn’t because I was doing Dry July. He looked at me like I had two heads and said he’d never heard of it. I explained what it was and he sort of shrugged then he asked me the official question ‘Have you had a drink today?’ to which I responded ‘No I haven’t had anything since June 30.’
I continued into town to have my swim and when I was travelling home on the same road two hours later, (straight out of the pool wrapped in nothing but a towel and one on my hair), the same group of police were in the same spot and I was pulled over and asked the same question again.
‘Have you been drinking today?’ To which I responded ‘No I’m doing Dry July.’ This new cop again looked at me like I had two heads and I explained what it was and he said, ‘That sounds like something for people who drink too much.’
I said to him ‘I probably do’.
*No cows were eaten in the making of these meals.