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Interview with Don Bennett
By Michele Martinez

Michele Martinez: Don, I loved your book and wanted to know how long have you been raw vegan and what led you to that path? Did you have any illnesses? Who introduced you to raw veganism?

Don Bennett: Thanks for those kind words about my book... As of 2011, I've been eating an all-uncooked, mostly fruit, some leafy greens, with occasional nuts and avocado for about 19 years. And I guess you can say that, unlike most people, I figured out for myself what I should be eating. I first started thinking about my health when I noticed some people in my immediate family living to over 100 years old, in reasonably good health, and they died of "natural causes" in their sleep, having a great quality of life, and I saw other people in my family getting seriously sick at around 65, and dying a very non-peaceful death, and not having the greatest quality of life in the last one-fifth of their life. This huge difference was not lost on me, and I wanted to know why this was, because I wanted the former. That is what got me thinking about my "future health". So at an early age I developed an appreciation of robust health, and came to value it enough to choose lifestyle practices that favored optimal health. I realized that without good health and a good quality of life, things couldn't be enjoyed to their fullest. There was an expression I heard as a teenager, "Even a billionaire is miserable with a toothache", and this stuck with me.

So I gave serious thought to the issue of what humans are designed to eat, because it was obvious that a lot of what I ate growing up was not natural – Ding-Dongs, donuts, Hawaiian Punch, pretzels, cookies, spare ribs, etc. – and in thinking about it, I didn't see how it could be natural for me to eat hamburgers since I couldn't imagine going up to a cow, killing it, and somehow eating it, and I didn't even know what was in a hot dog, although my Mom assured me when I was very young, that it wasn't made of dogs. I was always a very curious kid, questioning everything, so it was only natural that I'd now apply this to my entire way of living.

So first came being vegan, but I was still eating cooked food. One day while cooking something, I burned my hand on the stove, and that was an epiphany for me. As part of being ticked off that I burned myself, I came to the obvious observation that I shouldn't have to be cooking anything I ate; after all, humans didn't come into existence being able to master fire... I was thinking this as I was jumping up and down in pain. So right then and there I decided that I would never eat anything cooked again. Then I sat down and wondered what I WOULD eat. After realizing that there were plenty of things to eat, things that were delicious, and things that – up until that point – I thought of as only yummy snacks, I became a raw foodist, even though I didn't know of that term.

And I figured that no one else would be nutty enough to eat only uncooked fruits and vegetables, so I just accepted that I would be alone in this endeavor, but being a very individualistic person, who always marched to the beat of a different drummer, this didn't bother me. A few months later, when someone I bumped into found out I was eating this way, he said, "Oh, you're one of those hygienist people." I didn't know what he was referring to, but later on I discovered there was a group of people who ate just like I did, and they were having – of all things – a convention, and it was about 45 minutes from where I lived! Needless to say, I was overjoyed to find 90 people who ate, or were looking into eating, the diet I was eating.

As far as illnesses, I didn't have any that I knew of. I've since come to understand that almost all the diseases that plague our society today take decades to get to the point where they're noticeable. So owing to how I lived my life prior to adopting a raw food diet, and to the things I was exposed to, it is very likely that if I hadn't made the changes I made when I made them, I'd either be dealing with something serious now or in the very near future. So by making what can be described as an investment in my future health, I'm now reaping the rewards of that investment. Of course the improved quality of life I experienced after eating the healthiest of diets for a while, and paying attention to the other requirements of robust health, is another plus.

MM: What did you eat like before you became raw vegan? Was your transition easy? How long did it take? Any tips on how to make the transition easier?

DB: I grew up on a typical Western diet. And having a "fast" metabolism where I could eat far in excess of the amount of calories that I used without being overweight, I ate a lot of it! About the only thing I didn't consume was soda... never liked it. And as an adult, wasn't into coffee. There were the substitutions that are typical for some people, like switching from meat to fake meat products made from soy, then came soy ice cream years after I had stopped consuming dairy products because of what my research had shown me about how disastrous cow milk products were for my health. I then added a lot more fruits and veggies into my diet, and I stopped all the substitutions when I went all raw.

My transition from the typical Western diet to a 100% raw food diet was over a long period of time, and it was all of my own creation and as such it was done because I wanted to do it, so it was easy. This is not to say that if you want your transition to happen ASAP that it will be difficult, quite the contrary. Today we know so much about how to have an effective and short transition, indeed where we used to go from a typical diet to a vegetarian diet to a vegan diet to a popular (gourmet) raw food diet to the healthiest of the raw food diets, today people can go from a typical unhealthy diet directly to the healthiest of diets, bypassing all the unnecessary intermediate steps. And if someone needs to improve their health ASAP, the shorter the transition, the better.

Some tips? 1. Every day of your transition, think about why you're doing this, because there may be days when your resolve is tested. 2. It's far easier to eliminate something completely than to try to get rid of it slowly, over time. 3. Make an "Always, Sometimes, Never" chart, and write in the Always area the foods that you will always eat from now on. In the Never area of the chart, put the foods that you've decided that you will never have again under any set of circumstances. And in the Sometimes area put the foods that you intend to eliminate from your diet eventually. Then work on moving items from the Sometimes area to the Never area. 4. Don't put all your mangoes in one basket, meaning, don't assume that any one health educator has 100% correct information. If the person you're following is 95% correct, and if you follow that person 100%, you'll be following some incorrect information. So if you encounter conflicting information, don't be bummed, treat it as opportunity to get at the reality of the situation.

MM: Do you have any family members that are raw vegan?

DB: Unfortunately, no. No matter how knowledgeable you become, no matter how much you improve your own health, sometimes the people most difficult to influence are your own family members and closest friends. But there are occasions where these folks will be your biggest supporters, and will come to embrace the healthful living habits you've discovered, especially if you teach by example and not by soap-box.

MM: What are your favorite recipes or fruits?

DB: Since the simpler I eat, the better I feel, my meals consist of foods the way I'd find them in the wild, so no recipes for me. I know that many people's first encounter with the raw food diet is with the "gourmet" version, which involves lots of recipes, which is what many people are used to. But if your reason for adopting a raw food diet is to create optimal health, a gourmet raw food diet will not get you there... indeed, some people actually increase the fat content of their diet when switching to a raw gourmet way of eating.

Whatever fruit I'm wanting when I'm hungry is my favorite fruit. But if my favorite fruit was the one that elicited the biggest yummy sounds, it would have to be durian, mamey pantin, papaya, white sapote, and mangoes. And I'm sure there are others I haven't tried yet.

MM: What is your exercise routine like? Why don't you worry about counting calories or "working out"?

DB: I am of the belief that we can be in the best physical shape from doing those activities that we're designed to do... activities that would be natural for us to do in Nature. I see people in gyms doing the most unnatural of movements... movements that have no correlation to anything we could do in Nature. I'm not saying that they don't get you "in shape", but is it the shape your body is designed to be in? With our diet, we make every effort to try to eat the foods that we're designed to eat, but then many of us go out and do just about every form of physical activity except what we're best suited for. And we know that to have the best health, we shouldn't be over-fat, but some people go to great lengths to be over-muscled. Sure, it's not good to be under-muscled, but neither is it good to have more muscle mass than you're designed to have. So I climb, walk, and run. But my running is not like what most runners do. I occasionally run as fast as I can for a very short distance, and doing so will keep this sprinting mechanism in good shape so I'll have it my whole life.

Counting calories is a good thing to do when first adopting a mostly fruit diet, but without knowing how many calories you SHOULD be eating, calorie counting is meaningless. There is some advice that says that everyone should strive to eat X number of calories, with X being the same for everyone. While this is a simple approach, it is not a prudent approach in my opinion. We all may be designed to eat the same food, but we're not all designed to eat the same amount of food. I discuss this issue in detail at health101.org/art_calories . So the goal is to get to the point where your eating and activity is second nature, and you don't have to count the fuel value of what you eat or how many miles you walked. I contend that you should eat everyday (if you feel like eating), and you should be physically active everyday (if you feel like being active). Climbing works every muscle group in your body, and is the best all around activity. If you're going to run, run in a way that is least punishing on your body, meaning, allow your body's natural shock absorbers – your calf muscles – to function, and to do this, you need to land on the part of your foot that you would land on if you were running in place, which is not the heels. And choose how long you run with respect to your body, not by X number of miles or minutes. Run until your body says "enough for today". If you push beyond that, you're not doing right by your body. You may be all set, mentally, to run for 30 minutes, but on that day you feel like stopping after ten, and this is unsettling for some people. So try not setting any goals, try doing what your body wants.

MM: What do you think are the biggest mistakes raw fooders make? What advice would you give to them?

DB: Getting sold on doing something a certain way that is ultimately not in your body's best interest is a biggie. Many people can't put the time, energy, and effort into becoming self-taught, so they find a health educator they resonate with, and follow his or her advice and recommendations. And that's fine if all the information that this health educator is teaching is correct. But if it isn't, it can mean the difference between the best health possible and something less than the best health possible. And if that's the difference between not getting or getting a diagnosis of a serious disease 30 years from now, then it's obvious that we need to at least research enough to be able to find a few health educators who have, between them, correct information... human nature being what it is, it's hard to get a group of people to agree 100% on some things, and health educators are no exception.

Second biggest mistake is following the advice to "do whatever works for you". This is because you won't know what really works for you until you get into your senior years which is when you'll know if what you did worked for you or not. And this underscores the importance of acting on correct information today because you won't have access to a time machine to go back to 2011 to try something different if the plan you followed didn't work for you in the long run. And I'll also mention that you shouldn't base the lifestyle habits that you'll be doing for your entire life on short term improvements only. There are a lot of approaches and diets that can give you improved health, but improved health is not the same as the best health.

Another mistake is not paying equal attention to ALL the requirements of optimal health. We can get so focused on a diet that we don't look at food from the perspective of making sure we're getting all the nutrition we need. We get sold on the notion that if we simply eat the foods we're designed to eat, and we don't cook what we eat, and we eat enough of it, and we eat a variety of it, that we'll get enough of all the nutrients our body requires for optimal health. Sounds like a plan, but this plan worked when we lived where humans were designed to live, and when we ate from the wild. We're not living that way today, and we need to take that into consideration when we look at the subject of food.

And if equal attention isn't paid to ALL the other equally important requisites of robust health, it's more than likely that we won't achieve it. That's why I wrote my first book as an owner's manual for the human body. Sure, the chapter on diet is the biggest chapter in the whole book, but that's only because diet has the most conflicting information.

One more error people make is to follow the advice, "Listen to your body". This only works if your body's sensors are working correctly, and if you are able to correctly interpret what your body is saying so you don't draw the wrong conclusions. So sometimes you're better served by listening to your intellect than by just going on what you think your body is saying.

And lastly, many people simply don't give it enough time. As a society, we've been conditioned to expect quick results. This is part of modern medicine's paradigm. But this is not how the body works. It can take one year to heal the damage from every four years of abuse, with abuse comprising a non-health-enhancing diet, not enough activity, not enough sleep and sunshine, etc., not to mention things like alcohol and cigarette smoke consumption.

MM: What have been some of the biggest transformations and healings that you've seen over the years of working with clients who switch over to a raw diet and hygienic way of living?

DB: I'll start with my experience: I acquired a condition known as tinnitus, ringing in the ear, when a large truck backfired a few feet from me. It was a sudden, very loud explosion. The ear damage was evident to the neurologist, and very annoying to me to have this warbling dual tone whistling in my ear 24/7, especially when you consider that I love peace and quiet. I was told that it could go away, but after six years I was told that having it for that long, with no diminishment, it would never go away. And every specialist I spoke with said the same thing... it will never go away if you've had it this long. Oh well, at least that truck didn't run me over. But after ten years, I woke up one morning and noticed that it was gone! So something deemed as incurable was indeed resolvable. I went back to the neurologist who had assured me that it would never go away, and rather than take my word for it, he re-tested me and to his amazement, he saw that it was indeed gone. The fact that it was gone was a woo-whooo! moment for me, but when I realized the process that had occurred, it was even a greater delight. The reason why some people who have tinnitus take it to the grave with them is because tinnitus is not life-threatening, and the body can only devote so much nerve energy to healing on any particular day, so tinnitus is at the bottom of the list, and cancer cells are at the top. And since I had been involved in an industry where I worked with a chemical that was later found to be carcinogenic, my body had probably been working on beating back that advancing cancer, and only when it was finished with that, and any other serious conditions caused by my previously unhealthy lifestyle, it turned its attention to the non-life-threatening stuff, and dealt with the tinnitus. Yes indeed, an even bigger woo-whooo! moment.

I've seen what some would call amazing improvements and disease resolutions with people I've counseled over the years, and with people whom my colleagues have counseled. But they are not really amazing accomplishments when you think about it. It's just the body doing what it's designed to do when you let it, when you stop doing the things that caused the problem in the first place and burden the body's ability to heal itself, and start doing the things that supports your body's healing efforts. What's REALLY amazing is that the human body can be abused with cigarettes, booze, non-human food, no exercise, not enough sleep, and toxins and poisons, and exist for 62 years! But 62 is half of our species' genetically determined lifespan, so 75 is nothing to be proud of.

Personally, I've seen many conditions resolve themselves when the person adheres to all the requirements of healthful living, conditions such as type 2 diabetes, asthma, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, skin conditions, syndromes such as chronic fatigue and AIDS, mental illnesses, coronary artery disease, and even Parkinson's. Conditions that are labeled "incurable" are indeed just that, they can't be cured by modern medicine, only managed. But they are certainly resolvable. The reason this is not common knowledge is that the former is a multi-trillion dollar industry, and the latter makes no dollars, although it makes a lot of sense. :)

MM: Who inspires you and why?

DB: I'm heartened by the very young people I see who "get it". They're not even out of high school yet, and they understand the value of good health, and they value it to the point of not caring what their peers think about their "weird" lifestyle practices. Without these young people, human civilization may not have a chance owing to the direction of the current trends. We need more Cappi Osbornes and Robert Kornackis in the world.

MM: Why do you like Natural Hygiene over other paradigms out there? How has it worked for you? Can you explain it in a nutshell for those new to it?

DB: I'm going to take this opportunity to mention a word of caution when it comes to labels. Just as "fruitarian" means different things to different people, "Natural Hygiene" (NH) can have different definitions too. If you go to Wikipedia, which is normally a great resource, it'll say that NH is, "a school of medical thought" which it isn't. As with all labels and definitions that are outside of law, there is no arbiter who keeps things consistent, so to paraphrase a Latin expression, let the reader be aware.

Here's my definition of NH which appears in my new book: "Natural Hygiene is that branch of biology which investigates and applies the conditions upon which life and health depend, and the means by which health is rebuilt and maintained when it has been lost or impaired; it is the study of 'the science of health'".

"Natural Hygiene may be further defined as being the science and art of restoring and preserving health by those substances and influences that have a normal relation to life: healthy food, pure water, sunlight, rest, sleep, relaxation, physical activity, play, comfortable environment, and positive social relationships; it is the scientific application of the principles of Nature in the preservation and restoration of health. Natural Hygiene covers the total needs of humans, and not merely a few of their requirements. It is neither a practice of medicine, a healing art, nor a system of therapeutics. It offers no cures, does not pretend to cure, and in fact strives to dispel the popular notion of cures. Instead, Natural Hygiene emphasizes that adherence to its principles, which are based on the Laws of Nature, permits the body to heal itself."

"It should also be noted that there are no substitutes for some of the above requirements, like sleep and physical activity, and this is lucky because we have a lot of control over things like sleep and exercise. But other requirements like sunshine (for D), vitamin B12, and nutritious food, may be hard to come by in our modern environment for various reasons. And when this is the case, this is when the science and art of restoring and preserving health looks to "non-natural" practices in order to provide what we need for optimal health, and doing so is not a violation of healthful living; on the contrary, it is allowing us to be as healthy as we can be in today's unnatural environment… it comes under the heading of doing the best we can under the circumstances."

The above mentions the Laws of Nature, and here's what is also mentioned in the book about that... and keep in mind that a "maxim" is simply an unwritten truism: "The Natural Laws of Health: Laws which so necessarily agree with the nature and state of human beings, that without observing their maxims, the highest vitality and happiness of a person can never be created or maintained. Knowledge of the Natural Laws of Health may be attained merely by the light of reason (by a mind unencumbered by harmful sociological programming), and from the facts, and of their essential agreeableness with the constitution of human nature (physiology, anatomy, biology)."

There is some contention with those who practice NH in a strict fashion where they say that only natural practices are considered to be part of NH. But, to me, this overlooks the fact that we're not living in our natural biological "eco-niche". When you take a canine out of its natural environment, and domesticate them, they are not as healthy as their living-in-the-wild counterparts. You have only to look at all the animal hospitals, veterinarians, and services that will mail your pet's medications to you to realize what happens when you take an animal out if its natural environment and make no accommodations for this. Well, humans are now domesticated in the sense that we don't eat from where we were designed to eat, the quality of the foods we eat are not what they'd be in nature, we don't get the kind of physical activity that is appropriate for a human being (indeed we get too much or not enough), and we're way more stressed than we would have been in the wild, even though that might be difficult to imagine. So unless allowances are made for this, we simply cannot be as healthy as our genetics allow us to be. Strict adherents to NH don't recognize this because of the human trait of free-will and our ability to filter reality through our personal preferences and sociologically induced biases.

Since I basically figured out the tenets of NH for myself, and since they comport with Nature – of which I'm a big fan – I love it because it allows me to navigate this very unnatural environment that I currently live in with the least amount of harm. And since it's a reality-based approach, and being that my body exists in reality, it's a great philosophy to live with.

MM: Sleep is a neglected component of those trying to get healthy. Can you explain the importance of sleep and how it fits into the overall picture of weight-loss and the regaining of health?

DB: You are so right, most people are woefully under-slept. Think of it this way, when your cell phone runs out of power, it can't function until it is charged back up. We're no different. When we think of the word "energy" many people think of the energy that comes from food, measured in calories. But there is a second form of energy that doesn't get as much press, but is more vital than caloric energy on a day-to-day basis, and this is your nervous system energy, or "nerve energy" for short. It's electrical in nature, and it doesn't come from food... you replenish it from deep, Phase 4 sleep. And sufficient nerve energy is critical for effective healing and maintenance, so when you are chronically under-slept because you go to sleep too late but can't "sleep-in" because the alarm goes off and you've got to get up, you are short-changing the recharging of your batteries, and healing and health will suffer. Notice, I don't say "may suffer". This is not a theory. When college students were recruited for sleep deprivation research, they were given paper cuts and prevented from getting any Phase 4 sleep – the deepest phase of sleep. And guess what, the paper cuts did not heal. In the control group, who also got paper cuts but were allowed to sleep soundly, their cuts healed just fine.

There are certain things that interfere with you getting a good night's sleep, and one of them is eating close to bedtime. And I am amazed that there are raw fruit diet health educators who advocate going to sleep with a full belly – in an effort to get in enough calories for the day. This is an example of focusing on one aspect of health – diet – and not considering the other equally important requirements of health, in this case, restorative sleep.

The connection between the management of your ideal weight and sound sleep is a little involved, but it goes something like this:

Growth hormone is released during deep sleep.

Rebuilding of muscle mass is dependent on growth hormone.

The ability to convert consumed calories into muscle requires growth hormone.

In the absence of enough growth hormone, these calories become fat, and muscle building is curtailed.

What all this means is, if you don't get enough restorative sleep, it can be difficult to maintain a proper body fat content, and to be appropriately muscled... both of which affect how you look in a mirror.

MM: What are the biggest energy drainers and how do we avoid them?

DB: Stress and strong negative emotions are huge users of nerve energy. This is why, when you look at all aspects of health, you need to also consider the Mind-Body connection... how your emotional state affects your physical health. You could be eating the healthiest diet for a human being, but if you're not dealing with stress and negative emotions, it is physiologically impossible to be as healthy as you're capable of being. The good news is, because of the counterpart to the Mind-Body Connection, the Body-Mind Connection, as you get healthier physiologically, there will be less stress to manage, and your temperament will tend to lean towards the positive, which will help you deal with potentially stressful situations. This doesn't mean that you'll be immune to stress, so you've still got to be on the lookout for potential stressors.

Another energy drainer is trying to convince the unconvinceable of the benefits of your new healthier way of living. With some people, it's like trying to teach a cat to sing... it's only going to frustrate both you and the cat. Save your energy for those who are open to it and want to hear more about it.

Another energy drainer is being over-active. We know full-well that being under-active is not health-promoting. And we can usually recognize those who are under-active on sight, but it's harder to define what over-active looks like. Indeed, many people who you might think are "great physical specimens", are actually over-doing it to some degree. And it goes without saying that if you're burning more calories than you need to in order to be in appropriate shape for a human being, this is seen as a burden on the body. And part of adhering to NH principles is to eliminate as best as possible any burdens on the body. So why live in such a way as to require more nerve energy replenishment and more calories than you would need if you were living more in concert with your bio-physiological requirements. It's good to have functional flexibility, but if you want to be a ballerina or an Olympic athlete, you'll need to be hyper-flexible, meaning more flexibility than a normal human being. So if you consciously decide that you want to have a level of activity that can be described as "athlete active", you'll need to accommodate that lifestyle accordingly, but, on balance, all things considered, it won't be in your body's best interest from an optimal health perspective. I get a lot of grief on this one from those who believe that you can't be "too active" or "too muscular", but a belief in something doesn't make it so... just think about all those who firmly believed that the sun revolved around the earth.

MM: What do you feel has kept you looking so young and fit?

DB: First of all, bless your heart for saying so. I'd have to say that the main thing has been putting my health at the top of my internal list of priorities. Once I did that, and once I came to realize the value of robust health, I was able to drop unhealthy lifestyle practices like a hot potato – which I also dropped. :) And I was also able to adopt new habits which were very non-mainstream but were also very health-enhancing. So taking my health seriously – which we're not taught to do in Western society – is what allowed me to persevere through all the tedious research and to deal with the comments and jibes of my friends and family. I could also answer that question by simply saying that it was the discovery, understanding, adopting, and following of Nature's Laws that allowed me to regain some of my lost youth and vitality. My only regret is that I didn't discover it earlier than I did. But I'm thankful that I did, otherwise today I might be dealing with some serious issues.

MM: How do you deal with social situations? Do you ever eat out at restaurants? If so, what do you eat? What do you eat when you are at a friend's house?

DB: Over the years as my lifestyle has changed, I've lost some friends, but they were the friends I "needed losing" and I made new ones on the way, like you. And these new friends are the very people I like to socialize with. Obviously when we all get together, there's no weird looks when I crack open a durian or eat one banana after another. But I still have "pre-raw" friends, those who were and are my real friends, and accept me for who I am. And when we get together, we all eat whatever we want to eat, just as when you and I and our other friends get together. If I'm going to a friend's house, the host/hostess will usually have fruit there for me. Sometimes I bring food with me if that's more comfortable for the host/hostess. Even when I go to raw food potlucks, often the only thing I can eat is the thing I brought, because I don't eat recipes, and I certainly don't eat 30 different recipes at one sitting, not out of a philosophy, but because I feel far better if I eat a mono meal – a meal of just one item.

Most of the time my friends will choose a restaurant where everyone can get something to eat, and this includes me. Think about it, if one of the gang is "allergic" to fish, the organizer of the outing will not pick a seafood restaurant. But when going to an eatery where there are friends of my friends, and one of THEM picked the place, and there is absolutely nothing there I can eat – like at a Chinese restaurant – I bring my own food with me, keep it on my lap because most restaurants frown on "outside food", and everyone is happy. And if someone engages me in conversation as to why I'm eating only cherry tomatoes, to avoid the "no talking about religion, politics... or diet" at the table, I'll simply say, "doctor's orders", and that ends that. And sometimes, quite honestly, I'll go but won't eat anything. The restaurant doesn't mind this, and if I'm asked why I'm not eating, I might say "I'm not hungry" if I feel like getting people to think, or I might simply say that I'm fasting because of blood tests tomorrow. Yes, a white lie, but on balance it's for the best. Besides, I'm there for the camaraderie and not the food.

MM: Other than raw food, what are some of your other hobbies?

DB: Well, I don't consider my eating habits a hobby really, at least not after 19 years, and now that I think of it, I don't have any hobbies per se. I love waterfalls, I love being out in Nature, I enjoy hanging out with like-minded folks, I love listening to music, love feeling the sun on my body... very simple stuff. What occupies the rest of my awake time is my health practice which includes writing, counseling, mentoring, lecturing, and teaching. You could say that this is a hobby because it's fun, but it's also my vocation... it's what I've chosen as my "purpose in life".

MM: Tell us about your "mobile home"?

DB: Becoming substantially healthier gives you more clarity of thought, and combined with a greater peace of mind, this allows you to really think about what you're doing instead of just doing things as they've always been done and how everyone else does them. So when it came time to relocate, where I would have – pre-raw – considered my options of buying or renting, now my thinking wasn't confined to the "usual". I thought about what I didn't like about relocating – the looking for the appropriate roof-over-my-head, the packing, the moving, the uprooting, and all that goes along with it. I thought how nice it would be if the inevitable relocating was simpler, less complicated, easier to do. My first thought was buying a van and outfitting it with a sink, bathroom, desk, bed etc., and then I remembered that these things were already made, and they were called RVs. So I researched and found the one that was the right size, and most importantly, one that I could buy for cash so there was no mortgage/loan payment. And – like my healthier lifestyle – my only regret was that I didn't do this a lot sooner. It's very freeing, gives you lots of options that you don't have when living in a brick 'n mortar structure, and when you think about it, it's more like I would have lived eons ago... roaming rather than living in one set place. Plus, it makes living a raw lifestyle a lot easier; wherever I go I have all my food with me because my kitchen is always with me, and when you eat a high water content and high bulk diet, it's very convenient to have a bathroom with you wherever you are. And it really makes you think about the concept of "stuff" and what you really need to have on hand. And when you think about that great phrase that you'll no doubt bump into when traversing the raw food arena, "The simpler thy meals the healthier thy life" I've found that this applies to life as well... "The simpler thy life the happier thy life." I'm not saying I wouldn't live in a traditional house ever again, indeed when I find the woman who I'll be spending the rest of my life with, she may not want to live full-time in an RV, but until then, I'm a happy camper, literally!

MM: In your book, you are quite vocal about being angry about the disinformation being purposely propagated by the medical and food industries out there to confuse the public about what generates true good health. What would you like to see to change this situation? Teaching nutrition in schools? More truth in labeling? How can we change this situation?

DB: Well it's true that this does frost my cookies – I really don't get "angry" anymore like I used to. And it is very disheartening. And just because I understand that this behavior is probably the result of our leaving paradise and our natural diet eons ago, it doesn't make it any easier to take. I am of the opinion that the only thing that can change how the people are being taken advantage of, for the sake of profit, at the expense of their health, is for the people themselves to change. The industries that exist today due to their discovery of how to push people's buttons and take advantage of our natural desire for things like sweetness, and the industries that have exploded because of all the ill-health that has resulted from those other industries, will not go away because they suddenly get a change of heart and realize that what they're doing is wrong. We have only to look at the tobacco industry to realize this. So for cigarette smokers to no longer be affected by that industry, it's up to the individual to stop smoking. Think about it, if every smoker stopped smoking, there'd be no more cigarette industry. But there's only so much that the tobacco industry can do to keep its tenuous hold on its customers, but there is sooooo much that the meat and dairy and pharma industries can do to maintain their grip on society, and they do it. And this is why I do what I do... I don't like seeing good people being taken advantage of at the expense of their health. So I try and help rid the world of these vitality sucking industries one person at a time. And I'm thrilled that some of the people I reach and teach will themselves one day become health educators. It's a race, and one that I hope the good guys will win.

MM: What other elements in our lives contribute to good health besides a good diet? What would happen if we neglected those and just ate raw food?

DB: Like I said above, it is physiologically impossible to have the best health and the best odds of never getting a diagnosis of something serious if you're not paying equal attention to all the other equally important requirements of robust health. Sure, if you switch from a health-damaging diet to the healthiest of the health-enhancing diets there will be a health improvement appropriate to the lifestyle improvement, but if the difference between an improvement and optimal health is the difference between getting and not getting a diagnosis of a life-threatening illness, well, if you truly value your future health, you'll take a wholistic approach to health creation. This is the very reason I wrote my first book, so that the natural tendency of people to look at and work at dietary modification wouldn't preclude them from achieving robust health because of the single-mindedness that the diet industry operates within. Even within the raw food world, there are so many books that just address diet, and when I noticed this, I felt I had to write that book.

MM: What advice would you give to someone struggling with emotional eating?

DB: Get support! Very few people are strong enough to deal with this on their own and be successful. Even if it's just a raw food buddy, find someone who can be there for you when your emotions become so uncomfortable that you dull them by overeating.

Also, become educated as to why this happens. There are many neural networks in your brain, all vying for control of your behavior. One of them is your rational, intellectual side, but it can't help you if it isn't armed with what it runs on... information. Your emotional neural network has plenty to run on, so in order for the neural net that you want winning out over the other ones to be victorious, you need to empower it.

Then there are the physiological aspects that affect how powerful your emotional side is... or rather how weak your rational side is. If you're dehydrated, you're likely to get weepy, wishy-washy, etc. and your emotional side gets to be in control, and it knows where the Hagen-Daz ice cream is. If you're under-slept, same story; your rational neural net needs more nerve energy to be in control than does the more base emotional part of you. And often, if you're feeling down, some vigorous physical activity is just the ticket for lifting your spirits. You may not feel like going out for a spirited walk, and this is where your support network comes in handy... someone can usually convince you to get your butt in gear and get outside even if it's over the phone. And make sure you're eating enough food and getting enough nutrients – one does not necessarily guarantee the other in our modern society unfortunately because of the way our food is grown.

And on the psychological side, get introspective and try and determine if there's something going on in your life that's making it difficult to stay in a positive frame of mind. Dealing with this while trying to make a major paradigm shift in how you live your life just makes it harder to do both. So resolve it, or put it on the back burner for now. Your only other choice is to put off making lifestyle improvements, and on balance, that may not be the better choice.

MM: Anything else you would like to add that we haven't covered?

Let's see, be an aware consumer of health information and seek this information as a researcher and not as a student, don't subscribe to "do whatever works for you", have not only an open mind but an active desire for the truth even though the heavens may fall, think for yourself, seek and stay connected with like-minded folks, be concerned about finding the right path and don't worry so much about how slow or fast you're going, expect a few "two steps forward and one step back, treat any falls off the wagon as a learning experience and not as a failure, look for opportunities to give yourself a pat on the back and conversely don't beat up on yourself when your emotional neural net gets temporary control of your behavior, remember that there are nutrients your body requires that are not meant to come from food, and be thankful that you've found the keys to achieving the level of health that is your birthright, and once you've got it all under your belt and it's as easy as falling off a log, consider sharing this with those who can benefit from it.


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"Hi there, I just read your interview with Michele Martinez, and really feel like you are a voice of sanity in this raw natural hygiene world." – Carol