I am rounding out day six of a weeklong raw diet. You probably stopped reading after you saw that sentence. You probably were like, "Last week, Sophie wrote an entire entry about yoga. I tried to forgive her for that. But now this? She should buy some Kabbalah beads and move to Los Angeles already."
But if you haven't stopped reading (maybe because you interpreted the word "raw" to mean "RAUGHHAHGH," as in the sound a T-Rex makes), here is what this diet entails: You can't eat anything that has been heated up over 115 degrees Fahrenheit. People who are into this diet (hippies and self-proclaimed warlocks, mostly) say that at 115 degrees, food becomes toxic and evil. People who are doctors say that there's no evidence for that. Now you have probably stopped reading.
But if you haven't stopped reading (maybe because you are curious about bearing witness to one girl's slow decline into mental decay), here is why I like to adopt this diet for a week at a time every once in a while: I just eat better. There are lots of things that you end up cutting out with a raw diet. Animal products are out. Trans fats and fried foods are out. Sugar's out. Also, you don't have to use the oven or the stove, which is nice when the weather gets sticky and hot, and you can make most of your meals in a blender, which is nice if you want to know what it's like to cook for a baby or an old person.
Food is my addictive substance of choice. Maybe I shouldn't put it that way because that makes it sound like I don't understand that people need food in order to live. I should say that overeating is an addictive habit for me, and since it's pretty much socially acceptable, there's little impetus for me to kick it. I am generally a slave to the following self-destructive thought cycle: "I feel bad about myself because I am not good enough. I should work harder. I'm not working hard enough! I feel sad and bad. You know what would make me feel better? FRITOS. Fritos and jelly beans. Fritos and jelly beans and a whole pie. I will eat those things. [Pause to eat.] I am feeling happy! [Pause to eat more.] I can't believe I ate ALL THOSE THINGS. I'm BAD. I feel bad about myself because I am not good enough." Forever and ever until the end of time.
That's how addictive cycles work. They can work like that with drugs, alcohol, sex, television -- anything you depend on in excess to relieve your self-loathing. For me, food is the most prominent one, and for a while, I was in a tailspin so out-of-control that I was under-the-covers-binge-eating every day for at least a month.
For me, the raw diet just means that I have a few rules in place that help me not feel sick when I start to eat my feelings. Raw foods taste good, if you know how to make them. Spiralized zucchini with mashed up cashews and salt is a nice stand-in for a pasta dinner; collard leaves make excellent tortillas, and you can wrap up anything in them. All those foods are good for you, and they can also be hard to bring yourself to crave when you just inhaled all the cheese fries. (Just, you know, ALL the cheese fries.)
But as I was raw dieting this week, I still found myself in that 3:00 moment where I wanted to eat myself into sedation. On a raw diet, that meant handfuls of kale from the bag and dried cherries and clementine oranges. All that stuff is fine in moderation, but it'll make you sick if you eat too much of it.
So the rule becomes that you have to practice a diet like this one alongside some serious self-love strategies. You're supposed to eat food when you're hungry. That requires being able to differentiate between need and desire-to-crush-the-screaming-voice-inside-your-head-telling-you-you're-not-good-enough. (I don't know if all those hyphens were really necessary, I just wanted that to be one conceptual compound word. You understand.)
That's hard, and I'm trying to be patient with myself. I just dehydrated a bunch of coconut meat, which tastes like HEAVEN IN YOUR MOUTH. (Sentences like these might be why I hate myself so much -- "I just dehydrated a bunch of coconut meat" is the perfect indicator of a person who would not survive in the wild. But oh well. I did. And it tastes GREAT.) I want to eat it all at one time, but not because I'm hungry -- I want to eat it because it tastes like God's intestines. There's this numbing pleasure that comes with that, and I crave it, because it lets me push reality away for a little while.
That's OK sometimes. But most of the time, reality deserves my attention. What I really mean by that is that I deserve my attention and compassion. When I'm really here with myself, feeling ok about whatever happens or doesn't happen, and refusing to blame myself for the areas in which I believe I am falling short, it's easier to eat healthy amounts of food.
In the meantime, I have learned that my love of Juan's Flying Burritos supersedes all my typical other addictive habits. I literally don't ever not want to it. I want to eat it when I am asleep. I want to eat it when I am meditating. I want to eat it when I am doing yoga. I want to eat it all the time. Do they put cocaine in it? Probably. I will be going there on Wednesday, probably the minute it opens.