After a lifetime of poor eating habits had left Carol Alt with chronic headaches, sinusitis, and stomach ailments, the supermodel discovered the raw food diet. In a matter of days it started healing her body and relationship to food. Now, 20 years later she’s still a passionate advocate for the raw food lifestyle. In Easy Sexy Raw—her third book about raw foods—Alt serves up tips and tricks for preparing raw foods along with 130 easy recipes. Here, Alt writes about how raw foods helped her go from listless and sugar-addicted to energized, healthy and happy. —BBL Editor
Raw: Before and After
I know what you’re thinking: You’re Carol Alt, you’re genetically blessed, but what about me? Well, I may be model-tall, but believe me, I’m not naturally model-thin. In fact, my life before going raw was fairly miserable. My diet was so bad for so long that my health and weight were spiraling out of control. I had horrible blood sugar swings. And I’m not kidding, I’d literally gain weight if I ate one baked potato. I had to starve myself to maintain my weight, and in starving myself, I got the health issues that went along with not properly nourishing the body. General malaise, heartburn, sinus infections, stomach acid, headaches, chronic tiredness, colds, flu, asthma, and worse—I had them all. Genetically blessed? I wish. It was a nightmare before I went raw.
As a model I wouldn’t eat all day until I “rewarded” myself with a brownie sundae—obviously I was sugar addicted.
It was such a hardship to sit at dinners where I couldn’t eat anything because I thought that salads were “fattening”; even olive oil seemed fattening. (Cooked olive oil is more fattening than cold-pressed olive oil eaten in the right amount—but who knew?) I would pick at lunch in the studio, but not eat dinner. I started becoming antisocial because it was just easier not to be around food or people eating.
Even when I thought I was eating the right things, I wasn’t getting the right results. When I wasn’t doing the starving all day–brownie sundae at night routine, I would follow a strict regimen of what I believed was healthy food in controlled portions. I subsisted on boring foods that I assumed I was supposed to eat, like pasta or boiled chicken breast with steamed vegetables or the above-mentioned baked potato. While this was a step up from starving myself, these sparse meals would leave me distinctly unsatisfied.
Like many of you, I grew up in the age of convenience foods; canned food, TV dinners, and frozen pizza were the norm at our table. I didn’t even realize that broccoli was green until I started modeling—I always knew it as something gray and mushy and a little scary. I’d never seen a crudité in my life, and I didn’t even know what raw fish looked like; my mother would broil it until it was tough like the leather in your shoes. No offense to Mom. She did make the best spaghetti, and I used to stand by the pot and dip bagels in the sauce as it was cooking. I thought steak was tough and tasteless, so I would dress it with bottled Caesar dressing; I didn’t know the problem was that it was always overcooked until it was dry and stiff. When I was a teenager, store-bought ice cream was my afternoon treat and, alas, I worked at a bakery—need I say more about my diet growing up?
Everyone transitions to raw in his or her own way—I went cold turkey, but then again, not everyone is as type A as I am. Gradual and steady may seem boring, but it just might be the best way for you to ease yourself in. Keeping some of the healthier cooked food choices in your diet for a while may ensure that you don’t cleanse too quickly and help to minimize detox symptoms. And when it’s not all or nothing, there’s no guilt, and you can’t “fall off,” can you?
That said, my diet was so bad and my body so depleted that I was really ready for the switch. Detoxing was a step up for me. I started to get results within three days. You heard me, three days! After three days, my sinus infections went away. After a month, my energy picked up and my bloat went away, as did the symptoms the Park Avenue doctor missed. People started reacting differently to me; I was walking around with a huge grin on my face—I couldn’t help it. The weird thing is that I did not even realize how bad I had been feeling until I started to feel good!
Great things began to happen to me because I was radiating positive energy. My body realized it was getting good food, and it was now calling for it big time. I started eating 100 percent raw foods like a crazy woman for the first month—without gaining weight! My body was cleaning and healing itself while stocking up on minerals and nutrients. Then suddenly my body said, “Okay, Carol, I get it, you’re going to feed me real food as a rule now.” I finally was nourished to the point that my eating slowed down.
Now that I’m eating raw, instead of getting stressed out about food, I’m happy to eat. I never feel guilty about what I eat. I never get that fat thigh–big butt feeling when I get up from the table. And I never need to pick. I had a big realization: Food is not entertainment, it is not a luxury. It is a necessity. But it should not control me; I should control it, and I should make that necessity enjoyable along the way!
So if I can save one person from the road I traveled and help them to become healthy and happy—and feed them marvelous food along the way— it’s all worth it.