By Rebecca Drew
THIS GRANDMA of four credits her RAW FOOD lifestyle for keeping her young and means she no longer fears getting older after 11 years of following the diet.
Raw food chef, Heather Hill (56) from Uxbridge, Ontario, Canada, has always had a lifelong passion for all things health and fitness and trained to be a nurse in the eighties to pursue this and help others stay healthy. But when Heather met her husband, Ken, after graduating they were married four months later and started their family.
Heather is a mum to three grownup daughters and whilst her children were young found she had the spare time to research natural health for increasing quality of life and longevity.
When she was 30, Heather became a vegetarian in 2008 and then switched to a raw food diet in 2016, which involves only eating raw food that isn’t heated or processed above 46-degrees which means the natural enzymes and nutrients aren’t destroyed and the body can break the food down more easily.
Since going raw, Heather has more energy, fewer aches and pains, feels happier within herself and no longer fears getting older. Heather’s healthy regime also enables her to have the energy to exercise every day with yoga, Pilates, hiking, swimming and cycling among her favourites.
One of the biggest misconceptions that people have of the raw food diet is that it involves only eating salads but this is something that Heather is keen to disprove as she enjoys burgers, pizzas, sandwiches, wraps, quiches and chilli, which she shares on Instagram under the handle @rawgrandma.
“I learnt about the power of enzymes back in the mid-nineties when I read a booklet called ‘Don’t Dine without Enzymes.’ Years later my youngest daughter picked up David Wolfe’s book ‘Eating for Beauty.’ This is when it really came together and made so much sense. We increased the amount of raw living foods at that point, around 12 years ago,” said Heather.
“I became raw in 2008. I was at that time a raw vegetarian and not raw vegan. I consumed raw milk, cheese, Kefir and yogurt until my journey led me towards raw veganism is 2016. I have never looked back.
“The raw food diet means, eating raw food not heated and processed above 46C (115F). This keeps the enzymes and other nutrients intact and makes it much easier for the body to use.
“When we heat our food above this temperature it kills the food enzymes and our body now needs to use its own precious enzymes to breakdown nutrients to be used for growth, repair other body functions.
“It just made sense to me. Knowing each time I ate cooked food I used my own enzymes and energy to break it down. We do not have an endless supply of these little powerhouses, so by eating raw, it keeps the food intact which means they can be used for other important jobs in the body.
“One big misconception people have is that we eat only salads and celery sticks. Truth is, there are so many things that can be enjoyed on a raw food diet. Burgers, pizza, sandwiches, wraps, quiche and chilli just to name a few. And they are so flavourful.
“I’d say don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. You can only know for sure once you have walked the walk and felt the difference.
“I have so much energy. Far fewer aches and pains. Weight is stabilised. My skin is clearer. For the most part, I have a wonderful sense of well-being and joy.
“I feel younger, more energetic and stronger. I no longer experience unstable sugar issues either.”
At first, Heather found it difficult to manage her comfort food cravings but found raw food alternatives. Her favourite dish to prepare now is raw food pizza.
“Some of the hardest things about moving over to this lifestyle were the cravings for comfort foods. Adopting a few raw food favourites has really helped with this. I would allow myself an exception now and then if the craving was intense but then go right back on the path afterwards,” she said.
“I found that allowing for these exceptions not only had me keeping peace with myself but reminded me just how bad I felt eating that way.
“My favourite food to prepare is likely raw pizza. Each one can be different from the other depending on what you have available in the kitchen to use.
“The look is appealing and it’s a family pleaser. We often will make smaller pizzas and let the family top them with their own favourite toppings. I also absolutely love making desserts. These are colourful and incredibly delicious.”
Typically, Heather will start her day with fresh fruit for breakfast and lunch with fruity snacks throughout the day to satisfy her hunger, for dinner, Heather enjoys a raw food meal of chilli, quiche and salad or sweet potato crackers with cashew cheese.
Finally, Heather shared her words of advice to others.
“To me, the raw food diet has given me new life, energy and hope. Age no longer is something I dread or fear. I wish that for everyone. Aging should not hurt. I feel this lifestyle offers that hope,” she said.
“I would say to start with one meal at a time and add as you are ready. Fresh ripe fruit is one of the most nutritiously rich foods to easily add. Eating fruit on its own is best also as it does digest at a faster pace.
“Preparing certain foods in advance is also a great idea. I keep prepared foods like pizza crusts, wrappers, quiche, onion bread, crackers and some sauces ready for use in my freezer. This saves loads of time and is so convenient.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/rawgrandma