Falling off the wagon. A dismal failure speaks out.

Yesterday was my eighth day on the 100% raw food diet, and all was going well. I was extremely proud of myself, things were moving along briskly. Suddenly, one hundred days didn’t seem like all that big of a mountain to climb, to be honest. I mean, it’s three months without eating anything cooked – big deal. Psychologically, I was more than up to it.

But then yesterday it all went south. I lapsed. I knowingly and willingly ate a bowl of potato and leek soup. And now I’m riddled with shame (as should the chef be who made it; it was horrible).

As a result, today feels like day one again and I’m a bit upset.

When I subjected myself to the two-week Master Cleanser in January (see movie: Fast and Very Loose), the side-effects were almost instantaneous – lethargy, weakness, zits, wooziness, vomiting, and so on. But the raw food conversion isn’t like that. It doesn’t act as quickly. Rather, it creeps up on you, leaving you not exactly sure whether the bad things you’re feeling are just your body rejoicing at being fed food it can actually digest and thrive on for once – vegetables, nuts, fruits, seeds, sprouts – or whether you’re seriously sickening for something.

The aches and pains, for instance, are pretty constant, they just keep moving around, the way they do when you have flu coming on. And napping is a problem, in the sense that you’ll sit down in a comfy chair and immediately fall unconscious for an hour – something I never do. It’s like suffering from mild narcolepsy and could be dangerous. To combat it, I’ve taken to standing around vacantly a lot.

Then there’s the phlegm. Oh, and of course you’re running to the bathroom three or four times a day, generating more flying debris than Mount St. Helens.

But I’ve elected to see all this as a positive. A sign that things are about to get better (“better” in this context would be that I poop something the size of a hillside only twice a day, for instance). So while friends have been sitting around me digging into steaks and salmon and ice cream and stuffed zucchini (sometimes on the same plate – pigs!), I’ve remained stoic and strong, jauntily picking at my salad and making “Mmmmm, I don’t think I could ever get enough of this stuff, quite honestly” noises, trying to sound like I mean it.

For eight days.

Then yesterday it all went wrong.

Every month I have a consultation with a life coach. You don’t need to be told any more than this. Other than perhaps to know that my life and career stalled roughly three years ago, and paying to see a life coach has done very little to change that. But you know how it is; you become attached to people, and as we’ve slowly become friends over time so the appointment has become a fixture that I find hard to miss. Therefore I have life coaching even when I don’t need it, which is to say every four weeks. That’s when the two of us meet for lunch at her hotel in Beverly Hills and discuss what I laughingly call “my future”.

Well, yesterday, I arrived forty minutes early, and the waiter brought a menu.

Naturally, I began frisking it for something that a strict raw food vegan could eat, and was shocked to find that there was nothing. Nothing at all. Even the vegetarian dishes were cooked. Which was a double disappointment because I was so hungry. Another side-effect of being on this diet.

So that was it. Faced with eating nothing or lapsing, I lapsed. I ordered a hot soup, with the rationale in my head that it was no worse than having a hot beverage – cuz that’s all soup is, a beverage that won’t fit in a cup, right?

But I knew, my stomach knew, and my conscience knew, that this was no beverage. It was scrumptiously tasty, and packed with cream and chicken stock and god knows what else – stuff I shouldn’t be eating. Plus it was cooked. So any enzymes that might have survived when it was pasteurized at the factory and shipped out, were surely dead by now, meaning there was no nutritional value in it at all.

Yet I ate it. Actually, I didn’t just “eat” it, I shoveled it in. Gorged on it. Almost vacuumed it out of the bowl and into my mouth like a starving orphan. And when it was gone and I felt sick with remorse – natch – I sat staring in despair at the bowl as if I’d just taken a draft of poison to kill myself then had second thoughts.

Worse, I now had to cover my tracks, the way bent accountants do. I had the waiter whisk it away before my life coach arrived, so that I could brag loftily about my 100 days of eating nothing but 100% raw food without embroidering the story with unnecessary details, such as the fact that the whole thing was a sham and I’d folded at the first sign of temptation.

So what can I tell you? I fell off the wagon for a day.

After the life-coaching session (my future is just as bleak as always, it turns out), I came home, ate a salad – “Yum, what’s better than this? Nothing.” – didn’t tell my partner what had happened, and continued as if all was well. But it wasn’t well. It’s like stealing a cookie when you’re a kid: nobody knows it, but that doesn’t matter – you know it, and that’s enough to stir the gods of karma into action.

This morning, I was feeling gloomy enough to consider turning myself into the raw police, only I have a day packed with broadcasting things to muscle through, and that might be counterproductive.

The reason for not lapsing is in all the books, and it’s no different to why an alcoholic shouldn’t lapse. One drink and you start the cycle all over again, that’s all. Well, the same goes for food. Have one hot meal and, by golly, you want another one right away. Which is precisely how I feel as I sit here.

Indeed, if it weren’t for this massive – huge, enormous – barrier of shame  standing between me and a bacon sandwich right now, I’d quit this thing, be a guy who very proudly goes around telling  people that he survived the eight-day 100% Raw Food Challenge, and leave it at that.


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1 Comment

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One response to “Falling off the wagon. A dismal failure speaks out.

  1. Big changes are not easily accomplished. I too am phasing myself into the raw food diet and on my slow path in, I didn’t just stumble, I fell flat on my face. A few weeks back, I had a nice breakfast of oatmeal and a nice sized organic chicken sandwich for lunch (remember, I am phasing into the raw food diet, not already there at this point). A few hours after lunch, I was craving soda or something sweet badly. I tried not to grab the soda from upstairs at work and succeeded.

    But the hunger again got the best of me. I searched for something, anything, in the fridge. To my (unfortunate) delight there was cupcakes with mountains of frosting on top. At first I resisted, maybe for 20 minutes, but I broke down. I took out two cupcakes, cut the tops off and devoured the icing. I felt better, but only for a few seconds. I felt horrible. I had been doing so good for so long and ruined the whole thing. I began to feel ill, physically and mentally. I felt like I was going to throw up and actually hoped I would to purge the sugar from my body. I refuse to do it intentionally. I spent the rest of the day with a horrible headache and seeling as if I would vomit at any moment.

    I understand how you are feeling, but the only step from here is forward. The road to recovery, ultimately, includes relapse. Again, no part of any lifestyle change is easy, especially ones that deal with food. I wish you the best in your endeavors!


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