Guest Blogger: Meet Gena and her real approach to raw food

Hi everyone.  I am VERY excited to have Gena (pronounced Jen-na) as a guest blogger.  I have been blessed to meet a couple amazing people through my , and Gena is one of them.   She is gorgeous, smart, city-wise, a great deal finder, and she introduced me to Girl Talk! Not only that, she is a FABULOUS writer. (No picture yet because the girl doesn’t own a digital camera, but we are going out to dinner on Friday, so I may be sneaky :).)

While I tend to stay pretty mainstream on my blog (which is quite true to my lifestyle), there are a few things I have been wanting to touch on and the raw food lifestyle is one of them.  While eating raw food may seem bizarre to some, eating pizza, chicken ceasar salads, aspartame-filled yogurts, processed breakfast bars, and bacon eggwiches may seem equally strange to others.  However, I am not hating on any lifestyle or promoting changing your diet if it is working for you. I just like to explore and open the door to new perspectives, ones that might even give you tips to receiving an even higher level of health and well-being.  While I am not raw and I certainly have vices of my own, often times I feel like that SAD is an all to appropriate acronym for the Standard American Diet.  Have a lost you? Maybe you have never even heard of raw food. Or maybe one of the many bloggers that love larabars and like experimenting with raw macaroons.  Either way, you are in luck, this is a great  Raw Food 101.

When I met  Gena, she was just getting into the raw lifestyle, since then she has progressed to pretty much 100% raw and is loving it. I figured she would be the perfect  person to talk about and to introduce raw food–from the perspective of a real girl, with a real life.  And by the way, THIS GIRL GLOWS! During times when I was quite into raw I felt and looked my best, and reading Gena’s post today really inspired me to incorporate even more raw, natural  food into my diet.  But this post isn’t about me!  If you have any questions, please leave a comment or send me an email( and we will get back to you.

So here is part one, covering Gena’s transition to raw and the changes that came with it, as well as common misperceptions about raw foodism.  Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow, Gena will answer common FAQs including what she eats, how  and if she cheats, costs, dining out, going on dates, business dining and more.

Without further ado, Gena!

Hello! Thanks to all of you for welcoming me onto the site, and a huge thank you to Melissa for inviting me to write something. I’ve admired her blog (almost as much as I admire her!) for a long time, and it’s an honor to make a contribution.


Melissa has asked me to say a few words about my raw lifestyle here on the blog. To clarify quickly: a raw diet can mean lots of things, but to most people it means that food is not heated above 117 degrees. This means no broiling, boiling, nuking, baking, searing, grilling, etc. Many raw foodists will eat lightly steamed vegetables at times (I do) but many choose not to. On average, I usually eat 95 to 100% raw each day, with the exception of steamed veggies or root veggies, dark chocolate, and tea. A lot of people ask me if raw diets are the same as vegan diets. The answer is, nope. Many raw foodists eat raw fish and dairy. I don’t; I was a vegan before I discovered raw food, and even when I don’t eat 100% raw, I eat 100% vegan.


Many people who have switched to a living foods diet did so consciously, motivated by the desire to reverse illness, obesity, or depression. My path to raw foods was much more unexpected and organic, though the benefits I’ve experienced are no less dramatic. I had been a vegan for a while, and I had heard a lot about the supposed cure-all of raw living: a promise of boundless energy, bright eyes, clear, glowing skin, seamless digestion, and freedom from the common cold, among other things. I was curious, but doubtful. Forgive me, fellow raw foodists, but I just didn’t see enough scientific basis at the time to support all the buzz. The fundamental premise of a raw diet—that heating food about 117 degrees kills not only the natural enzymes in the food, but many of the nutrients as well—made sense. But how many studies had REALLY been done? And what about counter claims? Raw foodists say that preserving enzymes in food means that those same enzymes later go on to help in digestion. But don’t many doctors claim that cooking food is what makes it easier to digest? If raw food were as much of a panacea as people say, wouldn’t more people do it?


Still, I couldn’t help but be curious. Few communities of people are more energetic, committed, or passionate as raw foodists, and I was inspired by what I saw on the websites We Like It Raw and Give it to Me Raw (fantastic resources, for anyone who is curious). If these guys were so enthusiastic, I thought, there had to be some truth to it all. So I decided to experiment. I figured I would eat mostly raw for as long as I felt like—just to see if I noticed a difference.


And boy, did I ever. Sometimes the proof is in the pudding, as they say; I still don’t know if I could argue raw living with a team of scientists, but within two weeks of eating raw, I had twice as much energy, bouts of euphoria, limitless stamina at the gym, more even-keeled moods, and rosy, glowing skin. I was shocked. What I had dismissed as a lot of hoopla was turning out to be true—more than I ever could have imagined. And even more shocking was my own capacity to feel fulfilled and happy eating raw foods. I had imagined it would be hard, if not impossible, to go without cooked grains, hot soups, and toasted bread. Incredibly, it wasn’t. I had never told myself I couldn’t have those things if I wanted—it was an experiment—but I was shocked by my sudden lack of desire for them. In fact, I had never felt quite so nourished, satisfied, and happy with my diet.


If you’re reading Melissa’s blog, there’s a good chance that you’re a healthy, active person with an interest in general well-being. What eating raw has proven to me is that well-being isn’t only about what achieve with your body in terms of fitness; it’s about what you put in your body (and what you don’t). The foods that people like to advertise as “healthy” or diet-friendly (protein bars, “light” yogurts sweetened with aspartame, frozen meals, low-carb breads) simply aren’t; they’re too processed to do our bodies any good. There are plenty of bloggers out there who have debunked some of the myths behind the diet industry and advocated whole foods (Melissa is one, Kath is another, my friend Lindsey is another), and I don’t need to say more than these ladies have. But I will say that eating raw is a great way to see the truth of their arguments, since you’ll be truly limited to whole foods—no packaged anything. Period.


When I explain to people that I’m a high-raw vegan, the immediate response is fear, snickering, and/or confusion. The assumption, I think, is that I’m going to be a Birkenstock-clad, dreadlock adorned, hippie who composts in her apartment. I’m not.  I’m (relatively) normal 26 year old. I have a demanding job, friends, some semblance of a social life. I eat out sparingly, but that’s because it’s expensive, not because I’m prohibited by my diet. I have business lunches. I travel. I don’t smoke or drink, but I sure used to (a pack a day), and I don’t get bothered by friends who do. Eating raw hasn’t confined me; it’s only opened my eyes to the energy and well-being  possible in my own life.

Since I started eating raw four and a half months ago, I’ve seen my IBS (which had plagued me since my teens) all but disappear. I’ve stopped having seasonal allergies. I no longer have menstrual cramps. I respond to stress less acutely than before; I’ll always be a workaholic, but ups and downs at work just don’t bother me as much as they used to, and I find that I have more energy at my job than I did before. I’ve deepened my yoga practice and my workout regimen. I’ve met some extraordinary individuals in the raw foods community. I’ve also begun to clear out almost two decades of toxins from cooked foods, soy products (which always impaired my digestion), nicotine, and refined sugar from my body—a process that still continues and that I hope will deepen as I continue my raw lifestyle.

 Here is a taste of what is to come tomorrow:

So now, the big question: how do I stay raw and have a normal life at the same time? Isn’t it expensive? Do I miss things? Is it hard when I eat out? What about dates? Holidays? Do I “cheat”? These are all good questions. And here are my answers…

If you can’t wait for more, here are some of my favorite raw websites:

Karen Knowler the Raw Food Coach  and her fab blog

We Like it Raw  and their quickies

Gone Raw

Go Raw Chicago  (this is an awesome post for salad lovers)

The Raw Model


Ani Phyo

Oh, if you missed my first guest blogger, see Special Guest with Tips to Becoming a Super Athlete!

19 responses to “Guest Blogger: Meet Gena and her real approach to raw food

  1. I enjoyed reading this – Nice job :)

    Kristen’s Raw

  2. this was a delight to read! :)
    I was wondering if you had any restaurant suggestions in Chelsea? or close to it. I am going to NYC next week to attend the Martha Stewart show, and was wondering about any good restaurants close by. Thanks so much!

  3. AMAZING!! Gena is definitely a wonderful individual, and I’m inspired by the story.

    **Just as a heads up: I will not be able to comment on blogs as often now, during this semester, due to work overload (I’m stressed already) – PLEASE know that I’m still loyally reading, but just won’t have time to comment. I hope you understand!!

  4. VG! I always understand. Gena is amazing!

    Oh, and while I emailed daily goods directly, here are my recommendations in case anyone was interested:




    Bar Stuzzichini


    La Bottega

    Del Posto



    La Luncheonette

    Eleven Madison Park




  5. Great guest post. I loved reading Gena’s story. The proof IS in the raw pudding! Thanks for the mention Gena :)
    ~Lenette (was

  6. Great post! I loved reading about Gena’s approach to raw food, especially since I also follow a high-raw vegan diet

  7. Thanks Gena! I am very intrigued by raw food and am looking forward to learning more. I especially like hearing that you had more energy. I think the image is that people who eat raw are weak and feeble and obviously that is not the case!

  8. Very interesting! I loved reading this. It’s always great to hear about how life can improve so much just by changing your diet. :)

  9. Hi Melissa!

    Thank you SO much for the sweet shout out. I’m looking forward to reading part II manana!

  10. Great post Gena!

    I laughed out loud at this:

    “When I explain to people that I’m a high-raw vegan, the immediate response is fear, snickering, and/or confusion. The assumption, I think, is that I’m going to be a Birkenstock-clad, dreadlock adorned, hippie who composts in her apartment. ”


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  12. Thank you guys so much! You made my day, especially since I admire your blogs so deeply — Liz, Paulina, HangryPants — thank you!!

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  19. Hey, my name is Gena also (pronounced Jenna) and I just loved reading your story! I have been curious about the raw food diet for a few weeks now, and it seems as though no matter how many books I read on it, I was very skeptical about how it would affect me. But your story really convinced me that it works, and I think you have cleared all of my doubts! I could relate — I used to smoke a pack a day myself. I really need to clean my system, and what better way to do so than with raw, natural food — the way it was meant for human beings!

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