Peter's Model Railroading - About the Web Site - About Health

In a way this page has nothing to do with model railroading and shares my philosophical ideas. However, in a way this has a lot to do with my involvement in the hobby of model railroading; it gives me the energy to do what I do.

What Started My Journey?

When my (then) mother-in-law passed away from cancer in the early 2000s, my (then) wife and I started to ask the question, "Are we all doomed to die of cancer or one of the other deadly diseases?".

I started to study health in great depths. No matter how I approached this topic in my research, I always seemed to come back to the fact that to have a reasonable chance at avoiding these diseases, we should be eating raw fruits and vegetables. There are other aspects of life that also affect one's health, such as significantly reducing (or preferably eliminating) persistent sources of stress in one's life, having a healthy, happy attitude toward life and other people, and seeking to be outdoors as much as possible. My spiritual journey (covered in another page) has been a tremendous help with these.

The Real Change

So, after several months of reading books, finding some information online (there wasn't much on the Web back then), and talking with some local individuals, we decided to take the plunge. Since I run my business from home, I could afford to be flexible in my day-to-day activities, so I decided to make the radical dietary change in February 2003. We had our usually fried foods for dinner one night (we always ate the normal Standard American Diet, SAD, before this), and the next day we decided to go all raw, drinking nothing but juiced fruits and vegetables for a week. I would absolutely not recommend going that route! I was reasonably healthy and strong, but this took me down. The first couple of days I did nothing but go to the bathroom all day. This started the basic cleansing of the more recent dietary intake. Then, after a few days of that, the next several weeks of continuing this diet (although switching to solid fruits and vegetables) allows the body to start releasing other toxins that it holds. However, as these toxins are released, some are re-absorbed back into the blood stream, so you will experience symptoms similar to when those were originally ingested into the body (drinking water during this time is important to cut down on the re-absorption). I remember one night waking up with massive pains in my stomach, which lasted for several hours. My wife was thinking about calling 911, but I insisted that it was just cleansing reactions that I needed to work through. That is indeed what it was and I was OK again later the next day.

I ate nothing but raw fruits and vegetables, and drank some water and made some herbal teas. I did that for an entire year. I lost about 65lbs. Everybody thought I was too skinny. Many people then introduce the fear concept of "being an anorexic", but that wasn't true, because I loved to eat and I had no mental issues related to eating. I just shed a bunch of unnecessary weight. I felt lighter. However, the dietary change did require buying all new clothes, and introduced me to the awkward situations of socializing with other people when activities involved food.

I did notice that there were some things that I couldn't do anymore. For example, I always mowed the yard around our single-family home, but after this dietary change I sometimes couldn't mow both the front and the back yard in one session; I had to split it up over two days (as discussed further down this page, this was because I needed to go further with this diet, but I didn't do that at the time). On the positive side, I did notice that I became more interested in spiritual topics (see my other page on this web site).

Becoming Less "Radical"

After my divorce and re-marrying, my new wife insisted that I eat more like her, so I essentially changed from being a raw foodist to becoming a quasi-vegetarian. I essentially ate everything except for meat. I tried to keep dairy products to a minimum, and I did eat fish (once or twice a month), but no red or white meats at all. From about April 2004 to August 2012 I ate that way, including when we went to restaurants and were at family get-togethers. Classifying myself as a vegetarian became a lot more accepted during this time period (vegetarianism was still an "odd" thing back in 2003).

Renewed Lifestyle Change

However, I started noticing my weight gain again. I also started feeling aches and pains in certain parts of my body. I was now in my late 40s, so I was starting to be concerned. So, in August 2012, I decided to change over to a raw-food-only diet again. This time the transition was much easier, because I had already been watching what I was eating. I also took a much more gradual approach. I ate fruit for breakfast, a salad for lunch, fruit for snacks, and sometimes another salad for dinner. I started eliminating one food item each week that I didn't consider to be "raw". For example, I ate a couple of pieces of chocolate as a "dessert" after lunch. One week I simply didn't buy a chocolate bar at the grocery store. By the end of the week, when it was time to go to the grocery store, I realized that I didn't miss it! So, then I didn't buy it again. I did that with other things, such as frozen, organic meals, and the glass of wine I had every night after dinner. Sometimes I would buy the item again when I missed having it, but I quickly found out that I had lost the taste for it. So, that actually made the transition easier.

By now, the Internet, and especially YouTube, was full of people promoting raw-food diets. So, I spent quite a bit of time researching the topic again. In October 2012 I came across the concept of being a "fruitarian". This was a new term for me, so I started studying it. As with anything else, when you do a general search for that term you find people with all sorts of definitions for that term. My eventual definition was to eat nothing but what is flagged as a biological "fruit", eating it only in its raw state. Some big promoters of this diet eat a large salad for dinner, which, in my mind is just being a raw-foodist, not a fruitarian. However, to each their own, I say. I figured I'd try the fruitarian diet for 30 days and see how that affected me. I further reduced what I was buying at the grocery store each week, such as eliminating frozen organic fruit for making smoothies that I made each day. Instead I bought various berries, bananas (lots of bananas!), watermelon, honeydew, grapes, grapefruit, oranges, dates, seeds, nuts, etc. I eventually cut out the daily salad as well; I just didn't care for the taste anymore.

In August 2012 I didn't weigh as much as I did in February 2003 when I changed my diet back then, but I still started to loose weight, especially when I started eating nothing but fruit. Of course I got all the usual comments and other fearful reactions from people, such as "Where do you get your protein?", "You are hyped-up on sugar!", "You are too skinny!", "You aren't getting all the nutrition!", etc. This is the hardest part of the diet. I felt like an oddball-out anyway with this kind of dietary lifestyle, and getting "negative" commentary from those around you makes it that much harder. However, I stuck with it. Now, several years later, I am still eating like that, and I am very happy, healthy, and obviously still alive. Yes, fruit contains protein and fats; no, fruit doesn't contain simple sugars (there is no "sugar-high"); yes, fruit contains all the nutrients our bodies need.

Positive Changes

What are some of the things that I noticed right away? First off, I ate like a fruitarian for a couple of months (into late 2012), when all of a sudden one day I realized that I was only going to try this diet for 30 days! Oops! I was enjoying this so much that I completely forgot about my goal! In other words, this diet felt natural to me. Every once in a while I would eat a salad and I just didn't care for it. Heavier foods, such as the ones at restaurants, I couldn't eat anymore, so I had to be very selective.

People were asking me about how much stress eating like this in our western society must place on me. Actually, that did bother me in the 2003-2004 period, but now it doesn't bother me at all. Basically, my philosophy is this: When it is time to eat, I eat the healthiest food I can get my hands on at the time. At home, that means fruits. At family gatherings, that usually means fruit and veggie snacks, maybe some nuts and seeds. At a restaurant that means fruit (if available), a salad (rarely), or some cooked food that doesn't contain meat of any kind, including fish. Odd as it may seem, I usually don't eat a salad at a restaurant, because they use pre-packaged lettuce and veggies for those and they usually don't taste good. In other words, salads at a restaurant is usually not really worth eating. There was one restaurant my parents took us to in Calgary, Alberta that had lots of fruit on their menu. I chose the one that was all fruit, and I absolutely loved it. That is the only restaurant I've found that catered toward people like myself. So, by slightly adjusting my philosophy, I can still participate in human socialization, yet not compromise my health in the process. Our bodies are much more capable than people realize to handle the occasional "bad" things; it is just a matter of what do you feed yourself on a consistent basis that affects your overall health.

The main positive aspect of this diet is the tremendous amount of energy I have all day long. During the "hardship" times I would think about giving up and just going back to the "easier", less confrontational diet, but then I thought about how I felt back then; sluggish, tired, needing to take naps, not sleeping well, feeling moody some times, etc. It just wasn't worth giving up. Nowadays I sleep soundly. I have no need nor feel the urge to take a nap. I am full of energy all day long, even when I am hungry. I no longer feel lazy. When there is a task to be done, which in the past I didn't feel like doing and so I rationalized it away in my mind, I now just do it. I am full of energy, but I am not hyper. I just have a steady level of energy all day long. It is not at all like a sugar-high, and there is no "crash" afterwards.

The aches and pains I was starting to experience largely went away.

Life has become "easier". Things that used to bother me, simply don't anymore; I don't even notice them, or if I do, it is along the lines of "Hey, look, that thing that that person does used to annoy the crap out of me, and now it triggers no emotional reaction within me!". Cool!

I never feel bloated, nor am I constipated after eating a meal. Bathroom visits are simple and easy, and above all, regular. After I eat, I feel a renewed level of energy, whereas on the Standard American Diet, most people feel like they need to take a nap, or feel sluggish after lunch. I never do, unless I don't eat fruits.

Back in 2003 I had already started going gray in my hair. This gradually progressed over the years. However, when I switched to an all-fruit diet, this reversed. When I have my hair cut, there used to be a lot of gray hair falling to the floor; now it is mostly black hair again. There is even some black hair returning to my beard, which was almost completely gray already.

All in Moderation

I do not do compromise very easily, unless I consider it worthwhile. So, my definition of a "fruitarian" diet is one where I eat only fruits and nothing else. I had to do some research online to find out what is a fruit and what isn't. Some people consider tomatoes, for example, a vegetable. My definition of a fruit is anything a plant produces that is intended for it to be able to reproduce with, and that will not kill the plant to remove it. In biological terms, a fruit contains seeds within it (a strawberry is the exception, because it is the only fruit that carries its seeds on the outside of the fruit). So, tomato, avocado, cucumber, bell pepper, and even okra, are generally considered vegetables but are actually fruits. There are some 450 identified fruits on the planet, so variety is not an issue.

There are several ways one can look at things philosophically. As I got further into this diet, I really liked the concept of eating something that didn't require the killing of something else, such as an animal or a plant. I am not an environmentalist; I have just developed my own way of interacting with my surroundings, and I have always enjoyed doing the least amount of damage. Since I haven't eaten any meat since 2003, eating meat of any kind is a non-issue for me. However, the concept of being a vegetarian still allows the eating of vegetables. My problem is that to be able to eat a carrot, the whole plant has to be killed. Eating lettuce, broccoli, and celery generally means that the whole plant has to be killed. Cooking fruits or vegetables to me makes no sense, because you are destroying the nutrition of the plant. Similarly, but to a somewhat lesser extent, freezing fruits and vegetables also reduces its nutritional content. So, for my consistent dietary intake, I prefer plant-based items that don't require the killing of a plant, i.e. fruit.

That all seems "radical" and far-out. Well, yes, compared to how most westerners eat. But not compared to what Chimpanzees, Gorillas, and Orangutans eat, which are our closest biological siblings. It is just that we westerners have drifted so far from what should be our ideal diet. Fruits are sweet, tasty, and easily harvested. They are a natural fit for us.

Some Issues

Even though I have been eating this way for several years now, there are still a few issues that I have to deal with. A very dominant one is that the quality of fruit available in our western society is quite poor. This means that I have to eat quite a bit. Fruit is expensive, because, unlike meats and other "foods", its growing is not subsidized by the federal government, so it costs what it actually costs (in other words, our tax dollars aren't used to pay farmers to grow things even if they can't sell it or have to sell it for less than what it costs them - a prime example is corn). Organically-grown fruit can be very expensive, and can still be of marginal quality.

The issue is quite simple. Once a fruit is picked, it spoils relatively quickly, because it is meant to be eaten when harvested. If it is grown far from the store where you purchase that fruit, it may be several days from when it was picked to when it arrives at your local store. If it then isn't bought quickly, it spoils, and the store has to throw away the fruit that it has just bought. So, over the decades, the stores and the farmers came up with this idea of picking the fruit early, so that it just appears to be ripe when it reaches the store. That helps out the store, but it doesn't help out the customers. The full nutritional value of the fruit was never allowed to go into the fruit by the plant. The fruit is therefore of limited nutritional value. Some fruits, such as bananas, can continue to ripen after they have been picked, but a lot of fruit doesn't. Also, less-than-ethical companies got involved in this process and thought that they could do better than Nature, and started messing with the chemical make-up of the plant, so that it produces fruits that last longer, etc. These are known as Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). It is generally well-known that those GMO products are of lesser quality and may even be the root causes of some cancers and other detrimental diseases. Who, in their right mind, when trying to be healthy, would eat something that was concocted in a chemical lab by some company that has extremely low moral standards, and whose main reason for existing is not providing health for the end customer but rather insane profits for their stake-holders?!

So, people who are serious about this dietary lifestyle, fairly quickly realize that when you walk into one of the local giant groceries stores, there is actually very little real food that they sell that you can eat. As weird as this sounds to most people, it is true. There have been times when I went to the grocery store and was afraid that there wasn't much of anything for me to eat for the next several days or so. How's that for a mind-altering experience! Yes, fear of starvation is one of those things that you have to learn to overcome and deal with (as well as many other things that you will experience when you go to this dietary lifestyle).

So, the solution is that you need to eat the fruit close to where it is grown. Some people choose to move to the tropics, at least part of the year, to be close to the trees that produce the fruit that they enjoy eating. My idea is to grow my own fruit. In past years I have done that, but currently I am not. It is my plan to once again do so when I move. I have also tried the idea of getting the food from local farmers, but the problem there is two-fold. One, most people don't eat much fruit, so there is relatively little demand for it, so farmers usually only grow vegetables. Second, only certain types of fruit could potentially be grown in the area where you live, due to its climate. So, going to local "farmers markets" is actually quite futile, because most of the stuff they sell is vegetables, or the fruit that they do sell, is exactly same that you get at your local grocery store (they all get it from the same distributor in the area).

Therefore, to get the nutrition I need, I try to eat as many fruits as are in season and that look ripe. It takes a while to learn how to pick good fruits in the local store, and, yes, there are times when I come home with a rotten mango, etc. Very frustrating and expensive, but that is part of the learning process. Currently, I supplement my fruit intake with cooked rice and an occasional baked potato. These last two will be removed from my diet as soon as I can start to grow my own fruits.

Some Philosophical Thoughts

Some Handy References