I have just got back from Italy where for 3 days solid I ate nothing but refined flour, refined sugar and fat. The only raw thing I had in those 3 days was a single ripe tomato (and a vat of Chianti, but I’m guessing that doesn’t really count…). I ate 6 different types of gelato – coffee, caramel, tiramisu, praline, hazelnut and black cherry – I had a whole pizza to myself and I sampled practically every single sugar filled delicacy Florence had to offer. I have been high as a kite, floating round the streets of this beautiful city on a cloud of white sugar and flour. I have basked in the Italian sun on the banks of the River Arno in a glorious haze of red wine, and in contrast to that I have walked at a pace of 70 mph after necking my first espresso in over two years. Wow. If there was something I wanted, I had it; and if you think I am crazy, think again. This was a very conscious decision to eat this way, and I don’t regret it for a second. As someone who eats a high raw diet, people always ask me “are you allowed this?” or “can you have that?’ to which I always reply “I can have anything I bloody well want! It’s just that I choose to eat this way”. But for an entire 3 days instead of my usual raw cuisine, I chose to eat pasta, gelato, pizza, biscotti, tiramisu, coffee, foccacia, arancini (which for those of you who don’t know are deep fried balls of white rice), and the most ridiculous selection of pastries and sweets of which I ate far too much of to even recount their names. Why did I do this?…
Because I wanted to; because I knew it would make me more happy letting my hair down and indulging myself than it would holding back and staying raw; because I wanted to remember what certain foods taste like; because I wanted to drench myself in Italian culture; because it was 3 days out of 2 years that I’d let myself eat like this; because there are no rules; because I want to re-create raw versions of some of these foods back home, especially THIS:
CANNOLI SICILIANI. This had to be the high light of our gastronomical trip. When I took my first bite it forced me to stand completely still and close my eyes right in the middle of the street. It is basically a heart attack on a plate but it’s oh so gooood. The deep fried pastry dough crumbles and cracks in your mouth when you bite into it and then gets engulfed in all the subtle orange flavoured fondant cream that’s packed inside it. You get covered in icing sugar whilst scoffing it, but that’s all part of the fun. It’s just everything you could ever possibly want from a dessert. And of course, it was purely for professional purposes that I had to taste one of these, as I will be re-creating a raw version of one of these soon!
The food I ate in Italy was simply sensational. It was a very special treat, and I savoured every single mouthful. After not going any where near these kinds of foods for so long, to actually allow myself to say, “Yes! I’ll have that one please! And that! And that!” felt so very liberating, it was wonderful! And so much fun…
Now for the million-dollar question – how did I feel eating these foods, and how do I feel now after getting back to England? For me, this is one of the main reasons I don’t regret eating all the foods I did over the last three days, because what it has done is reconfirm just how much I love eating raw foods, and how important they are in my life. After my first gelato the sugar rush I had was quite incredible. Wooooo!! The crash I had soon after was doubly amazing. DOOSH. I didn’t feel down, I just felt wiped (although the fact that I’d only had acouple of hours sleep prior to my early morning flight will have had something to do with this lethargy, too). But even though I was tired, I was definitely in food heaven. It all tasted ridiculously good. It genuinely should be illegal for those foods to taste that amazing. The coffee flavoured ice cream was to literally die for, and these soft and squidgy pistachio marzipan balls almost put me in a coma. There was no denying it; all this refined sugary food tasted out of this world. I was very, very happy as the sugar sent my serotonin levels sky high. But as the saying goes ‘what goes up must come down’, and up and down and up and down it went! After each eating session that was followed by the usual moans of desire, delirious laughter and bouncing off the walls came THE CrAsH. My brain felt foggy and all of a sudden I just felt pretty knackered. It wasn’t a terrible sensation; I just felt less ‘with it’. The more ‘crashes’ I had though, the more low in energy I became, and the more it affected my mood. I noticed I needed more control not to get wound up about things, and I felt myself feeling a bit self conscious, bizarrely… My arms start to ache a little. I had palpitations. The sides of my head hurt. My clarity of mind got chucked in the bin along with the empty pizza boxes, and after just 2 days of eating this way, my jeans started to feel tight (surprise, surprise…). My eyelids got slightly puffy, too. And then it happened; the one thing that was the bane of my life so long before I discovered raw foods – my skin broke out. It literally erupted! I haven’t seen my skin this bad for over 2 years. I didn’t want to complain, but inside I was absolutely gutted. I knew this might happen, and I was prepared for that, but it still didn’t make it any easier. I have worked so hard at keeping my skin clear as it was such a problem before, and all I do is eat a bit of white flour and sugar for a couple of days and I’m right back to where I was. Not fair!!! If you want photographic evidence, here it is:
What happens when I eat white pizza dough, pasta and sugar in just 3 days…
It says it all really, doesn’t it? My face is all swollen and puffy too – this is what you would call a classic ‘carb face’! Nice. And before you say the reason my skin broke out was simply because I’m not used to eating these foods; that isn’t the case. I suffered with bad skin for years, and when I eliminated all processed foods and caffeine, massively reduced my alcohol intake and started to eat a high raw diet, my skin transformed as if by magic. I had new skin I didn’t recognise as my own! It was clear, it glowed and it looked healthy. It is quite incredible how all that can disappear in a matter of days after simply enjoying some pizza, pasta, ice creams and coffee… It brought back lots of uncomfortable memories of how much I used to hate having bad skin. In a way though, I am grateful for this break out as it is clear evidence that my body does not want these foods, and I don’t think I’m alone in this. There are people out there that can eat what they want and still look great, granted, but what is going on inside their body? These foods not only affect your skin, but your mood, your energy levels, your liver function, your brain function and other ‘functions’ that are pretty important to us….!
So what is the next step? Well, I need to get back to some balance and rid myself of all the toxins I have been indulging in over these last few days. For me, that means a 2 week sugar free cleanse, which you can join me in doing it if you like! I will be eliminating all sugar, caffeine, alcohol, sweet fruits, white flour and animal products. I will be eating an abundance of blended and unblended raw foods along side some steamed organic vegetables, some soups and some gluten free sprouted breads. On top of this I will be drinking a lot of water and having green juice whenever I can (wallet permitting). I will be doing this on a budget so it won’t be the most varied cleanse, and I won’t have the luxury of taking things like probiotics, but just getting back to pure, whole foods will do me and my system the world of good. I can’t wait!!! I’m a bit nervous about the fact that I will probably have sugar cravings now as I have clearly ‘effed myself up by doing this, but I’m ready for it. Come back raw food, all is forgiven!!!
I have to say though, even though my skin broke out and I took on a bit of extra weight, I had the best time in Italy eating my way through the city of Florence. But now all I want to do is dive head first into a pool of green juice!!!
See you tomorrow for Day 1 of my Sugar Free Cleanse!