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Raw Gourmet, Author And Educator Shares The Benefits Of Transitioning To Raw Foods

May 24, 2008
This interview is an excerpt from Kevin Gianni's The Healthiest Year of Your Life, which can be found at http://thehealthiestyearofyourlife.com. In this excerpt, Nomi Shannon shares her story of the benefits of transitioning to raw foods.

The Healthiest Year of Your Life with Nomi Shannon, raw gourmet, author and raw food educator.

Kevin: Why don't you just give us a little brief history of why you're here and then we'll move onto the real meat.

Nomi: Okay, back in the beginning I started my raw journey, so to speak, about 20 years ago. I had just moved to California and I found myself not feeling well for the gazillionth time in my life. I had sort of a litany of issues and I remember it was around Christmas time where a big table was set up in the back room with all kinds of cakes and Christmas stuff and I subsequently, many years later, found out I really can't eat wheat. I wasn't feeling well and not only vague but it was sort of like an intolerance that affected my entire digestive tract and really some of the words to go along with the description would be fibromyalgia, hypoglycemia, mood swings, really severe allergic sinusitis because I had moved from the East to the West Coast where there was pollen at all times, a lot of digestive problems, acid reflux, systemic candida, blah blah blah.

I went to a holistic doctor, Dr. Barney Meltzer. He was in Del Mar, California. One of the things he said to me is I want you to eat 50% of your food raw. And I said to him, the following sentence, which I've since heard 5000 times: How will I get enough protein? That's the first question and he kind of rolled his eyes and it's all I can do to keep from rolling my eyes. Really, Kevin, it was just simple for me to go 50% raw. I've always been kind of a good cook. People eat raw food in their daily life. They eat coleslaw, they eat salad, even if it's just lettuce and a slice of tomato on their McDonald burger or something. It's not like an alien entity. I just upped it. My hypoglycemia at that time was so bad, I don't know if this has ever happened to you but I used to fall asleep while I was driving. I could get in the car all alert and literally wink off and it's like a miracle that I didn't kill someone or get killed. And what I did for that is this doctor said just carry around a pocket full of almonds. Raw almonds and when you start to get that feeling, that sort of sleepy feeling, or even before that if you know it happens every hour or whatever, just chew slowly on a couple of almonds. I mean this literally almost overnight cured that situation. I'm not talking about your driving tired. I'm talking about, you think you're fine, then you get in the car and you start nodding off. That had to do with my combination of food and eating too many carbs and stuff like that too.

So anyways, it was pretty dramatic, just the 50% change and after a year of doing 50% I went to one of the several places in the country where you can go for a three week retreat where it's wheatgrass juice and buckwheat and sunflower sprouts, and lots of raw food, only raw food and classes and that was very profound for me. I lost some weight and everything was completely cleared up from that. Just like serendipity, within 6 months I was working at the world-renowned Hippocrates Health Institute. I'm talking 20 years ago now. I'm going to tell you, I was 44 years old when I started this journey and I just want to share with you that I'm going to be 65 years old in 2008 and I really feel like I should throw a big party and show people what 65 can look like and frankly, if I had started younger it would look even better.

Kevin: So why don't you talk a little bit about the Hippocrates Institute and we'll get into the meat of what raw food can do for you therapeutically.

Nomi: I'm glad you asked this Kevin because there's a lot of buzz about raw food, a lot of books, a lot of restaurants and there's a big stress on the gourmet, culinary aspects and I sometimes wonder if there aren't some people out there, whether they're chefs or whether they're teachers who really don't exactly understand or know that this came from a therapeutic point of view, a way to cleanse and heal yourself without necessarily having to get involved with the medical community.

And really I think my book is one of the very first books that introduced this whole kind of more gourmet and palatable subject. And there's nothing wrong at all with all the delicious things that are happening. It's just that I don't want to see people forget that it's grounded in something that's good for you, so really raw food is on a continuum or a spectrum, all the way from therapeutic up to gourmet.

What I mean by that is you can talk about water-fasting, for example, or juice fasting where, with water fasting you are resting and it's best to be supervised and you are literally only drinking water. What happens when you do that is, after a few days the energy that your body normally uses to digest, assimilate and eliminate is going into healing. It can be very profound. Then you can do carrot juice combinations and there's lots of people who have stories to tell about that like Reverend George Malcolm or Dr. Lorraine Day both of whom are pretty important people in the raw food movement because they both had a really serious cancer and they feel that they were able to become well by juice fasting. Then you can get into, and this is what a lot of the retreats do, they have some juices but they also have good simple raw food. You again have that cleansing, de-toxifying factor. Then there's your everyday raw food, somewhere in the middle between this kind of severe and simple raw food, somewhere between that and the really gourmet, multi-nuts, all kinds of sauces, is your everyday, at home, how to eat raw food because a lot of people are really committed to being anywhere from 50% to 100% raw. They do see a health difference. Really depending on who you are and where you're coming from is where you're going to be on that continuum. If you for example, have a cancer you want to be on the more therapeutic end of it.

Kevin: Let me ask you this. What is kind of an ideal balance, say throughout a year, of therapeutic to gourmet? I mean, is there a percentage? 50% therapeutic? 10% gourmet? The rest in between? What do you think is ideal?

Nomi: If only I could answer it because each of us is so unique. If there were one exactly right way to eat, let's say in this case because I have a book, The Raw Gourmet and I'm considered to be an exact, if there was just one right way to eat raw food I'd be a gazilionaire. The reason there isn't is that because each of us is so unique. Some people can eat almost all fruit with a little bit of green. Many other people, they just can't. That's just all there is to it. People do get confused. They go, I don't know who to listen to, I read this book, this says that or this person they said that, and the reason for that confusion is, people kind of want to be told what to do.

I mean, we grew up in awe of the medical community and our parents before us did, and they go, well the doctor said to take this pill, the doctor said to do this, do that. And people have given away their power in terms of their health. I'm faced with people constantly asking me what should I eat and how shall I do it. Gee, I wish I could answer that for you but I'm going to have to toss that right back in your lap and you are going to have to experiment. It's all experiential. It's just not a religion or a philosophy. It's what you eat. You have to do it to know. If eating a certain way works for you I can almost guarantee it's not going to work for your wife, or your spouse or your kids or your brother. So it's an impossible question to answer. How much plain and simple and how much really gourmet can one person take in.

One big common mistake though, so that people learn, like from the Ann Wigmore books or from going to one of the therapeutic kind of places, Hippocrates is one of them, and they're pretty gourmet, but there's also a place in California and a place in Texas called Optimum Health Institute. A place in Michigan called Michigan Creative Health Institute and the food is very very simple. People think that's the way you eat forever but that's really what they're really presenting is the cleansing and the healing. You can't usually eat that way forever because it's not going to be enough calories in there for you or even enough variety. So it's a learning process. Fortunately or unfortunately each person really has to learn for themselves. certainly help people do it, in consultations, but it isn't an easy question.

Kevin: What do you think are some of the best ways or most efficient ways to experiment on yourself when when you're doing this?

Nomi: I think that whatever you decide, from reading or taking a class or whatever, is what you want to do, I think you need to try it out and as the days and weeks go by, see how you feel. If you're losing too much weight or not losing enough weight or if the initial uncomfortable feeling, which can happen when you cleansing and de-toxifying, tummy aches, head aches, aren't going away, you need to revisit. One person can eat two avocados a day, another should only eat two a week, that kind of thing. I do think that a lot of people, my peers, who are writers and teachers in the community, have a tendency to if something works for them to then instruct that that's how you do. But I've learned from long experience there simply is no one right way. I'll give you an example. I had an employee come to my house several years ago. We each made smoothies for ourselves. Mine was -- I'll give you my favorite Green Smoothie. She used some sort of nut milk and some nuts and a few other things, some different fruits. I want to tell you I would have been sick for three days if I had made that for myself. It was just too rich, too filled with multiple nuts. This was a woman who was way thinner than I am. That's what she needed. She knew what she needed. I would have been nauseous initially and felt ill for, so it's really that is why people are confused. They read something, it won't work for them. That's the thing: there is no one guru.
About the Author
To read the rest of this transcript as well as access The Healthiest Year of Life experts just like Nomi Shannon please click here! Kevin Gianni is an internationally recognized health advocate, author & film consultant. He has helped thousands of people take control of their own health naturally. For more information visit raw food diets and holistic nutrition.
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