Overcoming 49 years of “bad habits”
Judy Fleming has no qualms about admitting she was just like the typical North American woman years ago. Juggling motherhood and a career as a teacher and an office administrator, Fleming’s idea of a healthy meal was one that came out of a box and could be taken from freezer to oven to create a full meal with very little effort– after all, these pre-made meals did have all the elements from the Canada’s Food Guide in them, she says.
And so, when her health began to deteriorate in her 40s, she did what most women do – listened to and believed what her doctor was telling her, that body breakdown was normal, and that all the hormonal issues she experienced throughout her life, and the severe menopausal symptoms were just a natural part of aging as a woman. Until, almost serendipitously, she was introduced to the idea of eating raw food and real food, and came to understand the common sense of natural law that states “I am a living body, made of living cells so I have to nourish my body with living cells.”
“At 49, I was of a belief that my woman problems were something that I just had to learn to put up with, that every woman had gone through the same types of problems (with menopause, hormones and menstruation) so I figured it’d be the same for me, ” Fleming says.
“I was a typical woman, a baby boomer who just believed my doctor, but little did I know my doctor was lying to me.”
“Being an office administrator and busy with a family I did not do a lot of food preparation from scratch. We ate a lot of premade foods from the freezer section. We were the typical Canadian family. ”
But a 10-day intensive raw food diet changed her entire perspective of what real health meant, and the timing couldn`t have been better. Into her late 40s she had developed cancerous polyps in her uterus and her gynaecologist was urging her to undergo a complete hysterectomy.
Within her 10-day journey with complete vegan raw food and juicing her entire state of health turned around.
The migraines that she suffered from for over 20 years, and often six to seven per week, no longer occurred. All the menopausal symptoms subsided, her sciatica pain disappeared. She even lost eight pounds during that time. Everything had changed for her.
“Ì was not in a good mood a lot of the time. I don`t use the word often, but I was bitchy. I was so sick.”
Her bone mass density at age 46 was that of a woman in her 60s and severe pain in her sciatica left her immobolized and unable to even get off of a couch.
And it all changed for her when she decided to commit to the raw food journey. “Fifteen years ago I`d never heard of juicing. To me, juicing meant opening a can of apple juice. I have fabulous health compared to what I did years ago.”
It was 15 years ago, at the age of 49, after retiring from teaching, that she was looking for other employment and by chance someone had passed on her resume to Halleluja Acres, which was just starting operations in Canada. They had contacted her about the potential for a job as they were developing a diet and lifestyle centre in Canada. She went for an interview and was hired, which led her to a health minister training in the United States. It was there she was immersed into raw food diets and juicing. And she has continued this way of living to this day.
‘I decided to go 100 per cent vegan and about 85 per cent raw foods and juicing.”
“I’m not a raw foodist,” Fleming says. “I don’t feel in Canada you can be. It’s too cold for that. When the cold weather comes, I crave my soups. I keep a soup going all the time from October through April.”
At age 51 her doctor asked her to do a follow up on her bone density to see if it had changed. To her surprise, results showed she now had the bone mass of a woman in her mid 50s. The doctor asked her what she had been doing, and she mentioned the raw food diet approach and also pointed out that she had removed dairy products and meat completely from her diet. Again, at age 60 her bone density was measured, and this time it revealed she had the bone mass of a woman in her 40s.
“My bone mass density has improved because of my diet.”
To simplify and supplement juicing, throughout her day she drinks powdered veggie green juices as part of her raw food diet.
Going the raw food route is just common sense, she advocates. Raw foods contain much more nutrients than cooked foods and have enzymes that aid in digestion, so that one’s body is not robbed of enzymes, she says.
“Enzymes are supposed to be rebuilding my body. Every year your body rebuilds itself. If my enzymes are cointinually digesting food because I’m not eating raw food with enzymes, then what kind of job are they doing rebuilding me?”
“Most people eat way too much cooked food. If you’re eating cooked food for breakfast, lunch and supper then your body never gets finished with digestion.”
While increasing raw foods in one’s diet may sound like a daunting task, especially if one thinks they’ll be able to get other family members on board the raw food journey, Fleming advocates gradually adding more raw foods to one’s diet, and incorporating juicing.
“I started with a big raw salad for all of us, and no one was allowed cooked food until the salad was all gone.”
“Gradually with time I cut out meats two days a week for my son and husband (while I prepared my own vegan food). I did little things, like I stopped buying a chicken breast for each of them and just prepared food with one chicken breast. To this day I don’t even think they know they were eating less meat.”
In her years of creating cuisine with raw foods, as a health minister and director at Halleluja Acres, she has come to realize that preparing a complete raw food meal take much less time and effort than a full cooked meal, and it’s easier on the pocketbook too.
“Our grocery bill is about one third of our friends who eat the North American diet,” Fleming says.
It’s really a matter of attitude, Fleming surmises. Fifteen years ago her 10-day raw food journey commitment left her so convinced that she says she would never want to return to her old habits and ill health.
“We’ve been brainwashed to believe that we can eat anything we want, that it’s okay to eat processed food and junk,” Fleming says. “For me, it was 49 years of bad habits that I had to overcome.
“We put the wrong fuel in our bodies and then we pay for it through medical bills and health problems.”
“If we can eliminate some of the foods that aren’t good for us, then we would have a better life.
“If you`re not doing the right things then you have to start thinking about why you`re not doing the right things you need to do to be healthy.”
By Sari Huhtala, Publisher, Alive+Fit Magazine