This is post is part of a continuing saga, be sure to read Part 1 Part 2 and Part 3 first!
So I’ve created quite the cliff hanger on this blog, leaving the story of “Becoming The FruitMonster” without closure for eight months now! Well out of considerable care for your curiosities, I will now attempt to finish telling the troublesome tale!
Ulcers Gone! Acid Rages On…
Last, I left you on a rather positive note. Having thrown off the shackles of pharmaceutical addiction and finding the courage to depart from the guidance of the medical professionals in my life, I had taken a homeopathic approach to healing my stomach ulcers. Which believe me, after years of stomach pain was no small victory! But despite my success managing my body’s tendency to develop inflamed stomach walls (I still take DGL Licorice daily as a preventative), I was still plagued with nearly constant acid reflux episodes.
For those of you who have had the unfortunate pleasure of experiencing an episode of acid reflux, you are quite aware of the absolute misery in can bring you. The sensation of pain or pressure in your chest, the feeling of your food re-entering your throat, aches in your back and shoulders… it is quite the uncomfortable and upsetting experience. It is particularly unfortunate when it occurs at night, where the tightness in your chest can lead to cold sweats and a night of tossing and turning in restless half-sleep.
For me, these symptoms seldom gave me pause. It seemed that no matter what I ate, when I ate it, how I ate it … it was bound to make a caustic encore that left me miserable. There were nearly three years of my life, where I could not eat ANYTHING without having some sort of reflux related complication showing up shortly thereafter. From the reflux, I started to get canker sores in my throat and mouth, which made eating, talking and sometimes even breathing painful. A year on, I began to notice that I felt resistance to swallowing food, as the food I ate encountered scarring and inflammation along the walls of my esophagus. A few months beyond that, I developed a cough and asthma-like periods of difficulty breathing, as my lung tissues grew agitated from reflux entering them through my trachea at night. I even noticed hoarseness in my voice in the mornings! All of this left me scared for my well-being, as it was clear that my situation was steadily getting worse with time!
A Photo of My Hiatal Hernia
It wasn’t too long after the breathing difficulties showed up that I was headed back to the…. you guessed it, doctor. But this time, I was not interested in their potions, I was motivated by a sincere need to know more about the state of my food pipe – was it permanently damaged? Had I developed Barrett’s esophagus or worse, cancer? To assuage my hypochondriac-hyped concerns, I was once again forced into a butt-less hospital gown, chemically rendered unconscious, gagged with a parascope and left to perform half-conscious, incredibly humorous, pirate imitations in the recovery room. Sigh… at least I hadn’t insulted the nurses this time around. The verdict? Chronic inflammation of the esophagus and a hiatal hernia. Ah ha, or should I say, A-hai-tal!
Hiatal Hernia Explanation
So, I Have a Hiatal Hernia
All lame jokes aside, this was an eureka moment for me, one where my perpetual reflux problems suddenly made sense. For those unaware, a hiatal hernia occurs when a portion of your stomach slips up through the space between your diaphragm and your esophagus. This herniation then prevents your lower-esophagul sphincter (LES) from closing properly, thereby allowing food to regurgitate from your churning stomach. So the reason for my reflux-related reprisals was a physical one, relating directly to this problem. Armed with this knowledge, I had a much clearer insight into my inadequate innards… although I hadn’t a clue what to do about!
Fortunately for me, at that time I had just begun dating my fiance Teddi, who has quite the interest in reading and, having seen my misery first hand, was also full of the energy needed to tackle my digestive dilemmas. So together, we began to take a full assessment of my internal health and research what to do about it. Our basic diagnosis of my problems: I digested my food slowly, I digested my food poorly, I had irritable bowel syndrome (i.e. morning routine: stand, stretch, run to toilet, take a messy poop), I was vulnerable to reflux because of my hiatal hernia, and in general, the processes governing my food breakdown, absorption and elimination were way out of whack.
The next step, was research. Together we read what amounted to a small library of books on diet, digestion and detoxification. Despite my feeling of ‘having tried everything’ and the adoption of a rather defeatist attitude on my part, Teddi managed to convince me to try a new round of ‘homeopathic’ healing. And boy is this little fuit-muncher glad he listened!
Toxins = Bad
A Detox Diet
First, Teddi had me complete a three week detox diet. We followed the book ‘Clean’ by Dr. Alejandro Junger, (recommended for those of you who have not tried a detox diet before!) wherein I ate a diet restricted to certain foods with liquid meals for dinner and breakfast. The idea was to eliminate all foods that contained toxins/irritants, so as to stop the damage that most of us perpetually inflict upon our bodies. With this damage stopped, we then lighten the load on our digestive system, allowing our digestive system to essentially ‘work in reverse‘ and pull all of the toxins stored within our cells out of our body, thereby, ‘detoxifying‘ us! Over the course of these three weeks, I radically transformed my body, purging all sorts of nasties, reducing inflammation and doing some serious healing. At the end of it, my irritable bowel symptoms were largely eliminated (pun intended)! I also decided to adopt a vegan lifestyle (almost two years ago now!), but my reflux and slow digestion problems remained. The detox certainly had left me much healthier, but it was not the sole solution!
During this detox diet, I had learned to make a few different green smoothie recipes, which comprised most of my morning and evening meals on the ‘Clean’ program. Teddi pointed out to me that drinking smoothies was a way to address two of my body’s principal problems: slow digestion and poor digestion. By making green smoothies, I essentially delivered myself a pre-chewed, ready to digest meal! By doing this, I was able to process food more quickly and to absorb it effectively. This realization led to my adoption of drinking green smoothies each day for breakfast instead of eating a bowl of cereal, etc. By doing this, I noticed that my reflux was much less bothersome in the mornings! The green smoothies also made me feel fantastic!
Raw Food, RAWR!
The next phase of Teddi’s healing experiments led us into the raw food movement (which is currently expanding rapidly around the world! hooray!) The basic premise of raw-food preparation, is that by not heating your eats above 104 F (40 C), the naturally occurring enzymes in the food are still functional. This preserves the ‘alive’ state of food, hence the ‘raw’ terminology. These digestive enzymes are extremely important because they break down the sugars, starches, proteins and fats that accompany them, making digestion of these items much easier on your body!
Otherwise, your inner systems (namely the pancreas) have to produce these enzymes from scratch. In doing so, a lot more energy is required and the rate of digestion is slowed. This is a particular problem for me, since my body was already producing too little of these digestive-juices! So I enthusiastically made the switch to a raw food oriented lifestyle. This meant a significant reduction of the processed foods I ate and a corresponding surge in the fresh produce I consumed! Instead of breads, fake vegan cheeses and meats, soy milk, chips, cooked veggies, etc, I shifted my diet over to one rich in nuts, fruits and veggies! I certainly felt healthier, and had fun eating some very creative meals (‘raw food’ is a lot of work!), but I still was suffering from slow digestion and bouts of reflux. Even after all this change! What was there left to do except….
Juicing, Not Just for Meatheads
A Juice Boost!
‘Buy a juicer!’, she suggested, fresh off another book and full of new ideas. Would you believe that The FruitMonster’s first response was ‘no way, they’re too expensive‘? Ha! Look at me now, a juice-a-holic with a fancy website! Well, long story short, she was right! Juicing was just what my body needed! My digestive tract was so tired, so beat up and so awful at doing its job, that it needed an extended period of some seriously sissy treatment. Not that juice is a ‘sissy’, it’s powerful! I use that term because juice is so easy to digest and absorb, entering the blood stream within minutes of being consumed. And with enough of it, your body hardly has to do any work to get the nutrients it needs. So what did I do? I bought the Omega Juicer she told me to buy and I juiced up a feast! Carrot Orange Juice, Green Grapefruit Juice, Plant Blood, they were all so delicious! And they made me feel fantastic! So for about 3-4 months I sought to replace one meal a day with 1-2 liters of fresh, raw juice. The results were fantastic, with little to no reflux bothering me post-juice-monster and noticeable healing taking place in my esophagus! And if you haven’t noticed, I’ve been hooked ever since!
So between my green smoothies, juicing and raw food oriented diet, you’d think I’d be set! Quick to digest, easy to process and absorb, low-impact on my hiatal hernia problem and pleasant for the poop chute! What else could you ask for? Well I still wasn’t pleased, the juicing, smoothies and raw-foods were great, but I was still, yes, still, not digesting my food quickly enough or well enough. Plus, I was losing weight, bottoming out at 136 lbs (61.5 kg) when I had weighed 155-160 lbs (71 kg) just a year earlier. This gives you some insight into just how seriously dysfunctional my body was! So what could possibly be left for me to do?
Well you’d be silly if you thought Teddi wouldn’t have read herself to the answer! Bookworming her way through Dr. Douglas Graham’s 80 10 10 Diet, she had found that last missing link, the one piece of the puzzle that remained.
My Big, Fat Mistake
MunchReport in the Days of Excessive Fat!
The problem was the fats. Even after I first launched this fruit-focused website, I was getting nearly 15-25% of my calories from fat just by eating a few handfuls of nuts each day! My green smoothies were full of avocados, nut butters and almonds and my meals were accompanied by cashews, pistachios, pine nuts and even more almonds. No wonder my digestion was still lethargic, with reflux still plaguing me! All those fats meant my food-factory was slowed to a lipid-glazed crawl! Well no more! Sure enough, as I cut out the almonds from my smoothies, and ceased to cram my cranium full of nut-glory, a magical ‘lightness’ overcame my body. Food moved through my stomach on a completely truncated timescale, the reflux was noticeably reduced and I felt FANTASTIC…wait, excuse me… FRUITASTIC! It was amazing, the fats were the final element to remove!
By removing the nuts completely and reducing the number of avocados I was eating, my digestion sped up dramatically. It no longer took several hours for my stomach to grumble after a hearty green smoothie meal, I was instead hungry for another smoothie just a few hours later! The effects of cutting out the fats from my fruit based meals was awesome as well, with my stomach churning through my fruitmonstering sessions in half the time it took before! And all this meant a substantial reduction in the number of reflux episodes I experienced, allowing my esophagus to do som much needed healing! I felt like a new man! But the benefits didn’t end there! My energy levels went up, my emotions were steadier, my mind was clearer and I started gaining back some of the weight I had lost!
I am The FruitMonster
Gimme All Yo Fruit!
Needless to say, my success with this new ‘fruit diet’, left me quite excited! After nearly six years of reflux, poor digestion and all the misery that came along with it, I had finally found a meaningful medicine – a low fat diet based on fruits and leafy greens, consumed in giant green smoothies, large volumes of raw juices and sweet-fingered fruitmonstering sessions!
Armed with all the things I’d learned along the way and having been through all the worry, stress, frustration and anxiety associated with acid reflux, ulcers, gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome and lethargic intestines – I was overcome with an intense need to spread the juicy details of my newfound lifestyle in order to bring relief to a world full of people who are suffering from diet driven diseases. It was this compassion, this sincere interest in helping others, that completed my transformation into The FruitMonster. As a result, I’ve created this website, somehow finding myself repeatedly full of fruit-fueled motivation to spend hours upon hours conjuring up blog entries, smoothie recipes and juice ideas for your consumption. (If you want to repay my efforts, go make a green smoothie and then let me know how delicious it was ).
So now I’ve told the tale, spread the story, espoused the epic… it certainly took me long enough! And now that I’ve finished FruitMonster story time, I can get back to blogging endlessly about the benefits of being a fruitmonster! Rawr!