Raw Til 4 & How I Sent Myself to the Hospital

My video on the same topic is here:

On Minimalism & Veganism

Minimalism and veganism have a lot in common. I’d say they go hand in hand. I’ve been eating a strictly plant-based diet since 2007, with a brief period of including eggs and cheese while living in Spain in 2010. (If I had to do it again, I would just stay vegan.)

What attracts me to a plant-based lifestyle is that it reduces suffering, is good for my body, is good for the planet, and is delicious. 

What attracts me to a minimalist lifestyle is that it frees up my time and energy so that I can use it to do the things I love the most. 

Both lifestyle choices remove the unnecessary junk and allow me to benefit health wise, spiritually, emotionally, physically, and socially. 

A Raw Til 4 lifestyle is one style of eating a plant-based diet. It implies the following (taken from thebananagirl.com):

1. Only plant foods are allowed on this program. No animal products, no exceptions.

2. Raw fruits & greens (mainly fruits) must only be eaten till 4pm (or 2 hours prior to dinner time) every day then a high carb cooked dinner of high starch plant foods. No cooked food during the day.

3. 1000+ calories from fruit for breakfast and 1000+ from fruit for lunch is recommended for success, then a high carb cooked plant-food dinner. Aim for minimum 2500 calories per day for women, 3000 for men.

4. 10% or less of your calories should come from fat each day, please work that out at http://cronometer.com/. Aim for as close to 90/5/5 as possible in your calorie ratio: that's 90% of calories from carbohydrates and 5% of calories each from fats and proteins. Make 80% of calories from carbs your absolute minimum.

5. Stay hydrated! You should pee about 8-12 times per day, and your urine should be clear. Drink a liter of water when you wake up in the morning, and a liter of water about 30 minutes before each meal.

6. Fragmented sodium (salt) should be kept to an absolute minimum. Under 1000mgs a day and under 500mgs for maximum leanness and health. Use herbs, lemon juice, etc. wherever possible in place of salt.

7. Oil is not recommended on this program. Learn to cook (& eat) without it and you will gain wonderful health benefits. See our ingredients-not-supported list for more.

8. Food should be eaten whole and minimally processed wherever possible. Vegan junk foods are generally high in fat so are not recommended. Minimize such junk as much as possible for best results.

9. Eat organic wherever possible, it tastes much better and is better for the environment.

10. If possible, try to make one day per week a 100% raw day. This will help keep the focus on high raw, and will keep your system as clean and optimal as possible.

11. Approved sources of cooked carbs are potatoes, root veggies, rice, gluten-free pasta, high carb ancient grains. These should be your main dinner staples, with other wholesome plant-foods as sides.

12. No fruit after cooked food or fermentation and poor digestion will likely result. If you're still hungry after dinner (or craving sweets) you didn't eat enough fruit during the day. Eat more cooked dinner instead and then aim for more fruit the next day.

13. Big green smoothies are great for getting the calories in for breakfast/lunch. Bananas are a great fruit staple throughout the day. Other high calorie fruits like dates and mangoes make great staples too.

14. Unlimited calories every meal, no restriction. The idea is to get as much raw food in as possible before 4pm so the majority of your calories for the day should still come from fruit. Don't under eat on fruit during the day or 'save up' your calories for dinner time. This is about abundance at every meal.

15. Chickpeas, beans, lentils are not high carb choices so should be used as side dishes instead of main staples.

16. Move daily. Find an activity you love and make it your playful exercise. Exercise is critical to overall health and well-being; it stimulates your metabolism and gets everything flowing well. Plus it's great for our mood!

17. Make sure to get lots of rest, relaxation and good sleep. Learning to incorporate good rest, early nights, and regular sleeping patterns into your life will greatly improve your overall health.

18. Be sure to get some sun. Full body sunbathing is recommended. Get in your vitamin D and boost your sense of well-being.

19. If necessary, supplement B-12 with either shots or sublinguals. 40% of the population (vegan or not) are B12 deficient, and this can greatly reduce our health results.

20. Practice gratitude and peaceful emotions at meal time, and don't forget to cultivate a little self-love!

Ok, now on to what I did wrong and how I ended up in the hospital.

Back in early fall of 2013, I wanted to go fully raw to increase my overall health and energy. I quickly learned that a “Raw Til 4” lifestyle would be more affordable and more fun, allowing me to include pastas and rice in my evening meals.  

At the time, I was teaching preschool, keeping me out of the house for up to 12 hours each day. During this time out of the house, there was opportunity for maybe 3 or 4 bathroom breaks at the most. Because it’s no fun to have to pee while managing a classroom of 17 four year olds, I did not drink nearly enough water. I think I averaged a liter to a liter and a half a day. If I didn’t want to drink the water, I didn’t.

My diet kind of looked like this:

Breakfast: 8-10 banana smoothie with dates & other fruits + .5 L water

Lunch: 8-10 banana smoothie with greens + .5 L water

Dinner: small salad if I felt like making one + bag of pasta/heaps of rice with some veggies + some sort of low fat home made sauce

I kept my fat low and my protein low. I felt amazing. I had energy all day to work with the children in a calm and happy way. Because working with four year olds is like a work out in itself, I didn’t really incorporate any extra exercise.

Despite feeling amazing energy wise, I had very severe chin acne. I had so many pimples on my chin that my mom told me the parents at my school were going to think I had an infection and woudn't want me caring for their children. I didn’t know what to do! A dermatologist put me on a topical antibiotic. That didn’t work. I juiced carrots everyday because of the high levels of vitamin A, which is supposed to help clear up skin. That actually did work, but it was just another bandaid. When I stopped juicing, the acne came back.

A Turn for the Worse

In early November I noticed my belly starting to grow. I knew that some people on Raw Til 4 gain weight initially as their body goes through a detox period. I thought, “Ok, I’m getting a little fat.” But I still felt had tons of energy and trusted that it would go away eventually.

One day in November I was at work and something inside of me felt wrong. There were sharp pains anytime I moved suddenly. I told my boss and she kindly let me leave to go to the ER. 

Upon arriving at the ER I thought I could be suffering from appendicitis or something. The hospital did some tests and concluded I had “ileus,” or a week’s worth of stool in my intestines. How fun!

They also would say, “So what’s going on with your chin?” And I would say, “You tell me!” And they would say, “I dunno.”

They admitted me and gave me laxatives. I spent two days in the hospital clearing out my system and drinking clear liquids. They had me on an IV to help keep me hydrated. They let me choose a solid food on the third day and waited for me to pass it. I chose salad. It passed. They let me leave, sending me on my way with a recommendation to get some Miralax and follow up with the gastroenterologist.

I soon went to the gastroenterologist who told me I would take Miralax “forever, for now.” 

The general consensus of the people at the hospital and the GI was that I could have shocked my system with so much pasta and rice and if I had been eating more fat, I might not have had a problem. However, they didn't know how I could fix it, only how to treat the symptoms.

A bit scared, and a bit lazy, I went back to the typical vegan diet I ate before attempting Raw Til 4. This included some fruit, veggies, greens, beans, tofu, and hummus. Anything vegan, really. I also took the Miralax for months since my intestines were still not doing their job on their own, I didn’t know what the heck to do, and I didn’t want to be backed up.

I soon learned that when I ate fruits and veggies, my bowels worked okay. It was when I ate things like bread, pasta, rice, tofu, beans, or seitan that I needed the help. So I started avoiding all of those foods, but found it very difficult, and pretty much went back to eating whatever I wanted (all plant-based).

Since then, I’ve seen a few doctors and a different GI. They all have different views on the situation and have recommended different expensive tests, some which hardly seemed related to the issue. I have decided to go a different route, one more in line with what Arnold from Arnold's Way in Pennsylvania speaks of with me in the video below. (I actually went in to apply for a job working there, but he had already hired someone. Either way, he wanted to make a video about my and George's experiences.)


How I Am Working On It

To heal my digestive system, I am implementing ALL of the Raw Til 4 principles in full force.

I quit my preschool job. (For health reasons and other.) My new job gives me more freedom to drink water and go when I need to go! :) 

I recently just did a 6 day banana island “cleanse” in an attempt to “reset” my digestive system. I have been eating 1500-2000 total calories of fruit for breakfast and lunch and eating cooked sweet potatoes and greens for dinner. I have also been slowly incorporating other cooked veggies into my night time meals. The other night I even had some Vietnamese noodle soup and so far so good!

I am aiming for 80% calories from carbs, 10% or less from fat, 10% or less from protein.

I have been drinking at least 2 liters of water per day and have been doing at least 10 minutes of more vigorous exercise every morning. Today I did 30! My face was beat red and I was a sweaty mess. It was so good. 

I’m still searching for my perfect workout routine. I just need to find something I actually like doing. Like a sport or something. 

I am hoping that I can slowly incorporate smaller quantities of cooked starch like pasta, rice, and noodles into my diet as my digestive system heals. I really enjoy those types of foods. 

I notice as my constipation clears, my acne heals. Different online sources say that the chin and the around the mouth area are related to the liver, colon, intestines, hormonal issues, etc. I think the toxins were looking for a way out, since they couldn’t exit the body in the typical way. The clearer my bowels, the clearer my skin. Please forgive the crudeness. 

I hope to see even more improvement in my digestion and skin as I eat simple plant-based meals, exercise, and drink plenty of water. 

Have you tried Raw Til 4? If so, what has your experience been?