I feel like an addict who's going through withdraw.
I’ve spent three days on a completely raw, vegan, sugar free diet and all I want is a cheeseburger.
And a milkshake.
And I would seriously consider giving my left arm for a Starbuck's Chai Tea Latte. And my right one for a Chipotle burrito. It wouldn't even matter that I would no longer have arms to eat the burrito. I'd dive face first into that burrito and devour it like a champion in a pie eating contest.
I'm literally addicted. And when you give up an addiction, the first three days are the worst, right?
That's all bad food is to most of us: an addiction. We get addicted to the sweet high of fructose corn syrup (mmmmm, Sugar); to the excess fat in our burgers (mmmm, saturated fat); to all the processed packaged crap that fills the majority of the aisles in grocery stores.
But we're not just physically addicted, we're emotionally addicted as well.
Just think about it. What would Thanksgiving be without turkey and mashed potatoes? And how many times have you gone through a break up and immediately reached for that pint of your favorite ice cream? And when you hang out with friends, how often do you meet in a restaurant, catching up over dinner? So much of our experiences, traditions, and social norms revolve around food.
When you give that up, your body doesn't just go through physical grief, but emotional turmoil as well.
I have to admit, I have a hard time thinking about not having turkey on Thanksgiving. But that's how it works when you give something up. You mourn the loss in your life. You think about all the good times you had together. You think about how satisfying that McDonald's double cheeseburgers was after a night at the bar. How delicious that pizza and beer tasted during the championship basketball game. How these foods were always there to satisfy or comfort you in your time of need; in your time of want.
And then you get over it. You remember you have cancer. You remember why you committed to this lifestyle change. And you remind yourself that we are talking about your life. A life that you intend to live a lot longer than the 28 years you've had so far. And if you want to make it to your goal age of 94, you better start finding another way to satisfy those cravings and realize it's just fucking food.
The cravings actually weren't so bad the first couple of days. Since "checking in" to An Oasis of Healing, I had my meals delivered to me by a professional raw foods chef while I was busy with my other treatments. Honestly, there wasn't much time for the cravings. Or maybe I was too nervous about the unknown to worry about things like cravings. Either way, it helped make the transition to this new diet relatively painless. I actually thought this will be easy.
Oh how naive.
Then I had a free day. A day without my own chef to prepare my meals. A day where it was on me and only me to eat meals that had no meat or dairy or gluten or sugar (not even fruit sugar!). And once I found these rare, “un-American” foods, I couldn't even cook them above 115 degrees. (Is it even possible to be on a raw food diet in the Arizona summers? Your food gets hotter than that sitting outside in the farmers market stalls).
As much as I was looking forward to a free day from IVs and tests, my first one, day 3 on the diet, was tough. The treatment at Oasis includes all fresh green juices and meals Monday through Friday. Which means by the weekend, I'm the only one holding myself accountable (well me and Momma Bear who is also sticking to the diet).
On the weekends, it is so easy to cheat. And it would be a lie to say I didn't think about it. A lot. In fact, this is a pretty accurate example of what is continuously going on in my head:
But instead, I cut up another avocado and add it to another pile of greens. Then I start gnawing my arm just to remember the taste of flesh.
They say the third day is the worst, right?
But when you're life is on the line, you put down the chicken wings and decide to value your life more than a bunch of empty calories. Then you grab yourself a wheatgrass shot and cheers to your upcoming health. And then you pray that you have the willpower to stick to your commitment.
But if there's one thing I know about my stubborn, persistent self, it's that I have serious willpower.
When I was in middle school I became a vegetarian. At the time I told everyone it was because I loved animals too much and could no longer eat these innocent creatures. Also, I had a friend -- a much cooler friend – who was also a vegetarian. I guess I figured that I too could be just a little bit cooler if I became a vegetarian.
The reality is, I did love animals and I did have a desire to be cool, but the real reason I became a vegetarian? The hard truth? Momma Bear's pork chops (sorry mom!). I hated them and refused to eat them. And in the typical parent response, Momma Bear said to me, “If you want to get up from the table, than finish your dinner.” But I had made up my mind. I wasn’t going to eat these pork chops. And the only logical way out of it? To announce myself a vegetarian. So I did.
And I stayed one for TEN fucking years. Mainly because my whole family, sitting at the table, witnessing this act of teenage rebellion, all told me I wouldn't last a week. It wasn't until I graduated college that I finally felt I had proven myself and started eating meat again.
Cancer? That's a good fucking reason to prove my persistence and give up meat. And dairy. And sugar. And cooked foods. Because as much as I love that chipotle burrito, I'm pretty sure I love my life more.
Besides, I hear day four is a breeze.
(Not exactly a chipotle burrito, but surprisingly good zucchini alfredo)