Ashley, 29, received holistic health coach training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and has been leading a raw vegan diet for two years based on Dr. Doug Graham‘s book The 80/10/10 Diet. “Healthy living isn’t just about the food you eat—primary ‘food’ is important, too, like finding a career you love, having fun, moving your body, relationships with loved ones, and connecting to your spiritual self,” Ashley says. “Love your life, love your food, love you!” Connect with Ashley on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest for recipes, tips and inspiration and by e-mail.
Brian’s note: I began 10 sentences with targeted words, presented in boldface below, that serve as conversation starters and asked Ashley to complete the thoughts in this condensed “interview.”
Celiac disease is the best thing to ever happen to me. I was diagnosed with celiac disease seven years ago. The first five years were challenging, but transitioning to a low-fat raw vegan diet has been life-changing. I was able to leave behind the life of constant questioning, worry and label-reading, making sure my food didn’t contain any wheat, oats, rye, barley or other sneakily labeled ingredients. Real food doesn’t have ingredients—they are ingredients! Eating gluten for someone with celiac is like taking a cheese grater to the villa in your small intestine, leading to malabsorption issues and worse conditions like stomach and small intestinal cancer. Eating a raw food diet has strengthened my immune system greatly. If I were to eat gluten now, I may still have an autoimmune reaction. What are the chances of that when you stick to fresh produce? I don’t have to worry about gluten or cross-contamination when I peel open a delicious ripe brown spotted banana—or 10! I am grateful to have been diagnosed with celiac as it taught me to read ingredients and question what I thought of as food, thus starting my health journey.
I got into raw food two years ago, immediately following an experiment eating a paleo diet. I had candida overgrowth and a naturopath doctor suggested I eat a diet high in proteins and fats with veggies and no fruit! Veggies are low in calories, so I consumed most of my calories from fatty foods like oils, avocados, nuts and seeds, nut butters and bacon. I became known as the bacon girl, as it was one of the meats I enjoyed at the time. I was wearing bacon earrings, pouring bacon fat on popcorn, and I was even bacon for Halloween one year. I thought it was all in fun until I wound up in the hospital with gallbladder attacks. There was talk about removing it, and I thought “No way!” I immediately did a ton of research and found that a low-fat diet would help. I already was dairy- and grain-free, not eating fruit for candida, and it worried me to cut out fats because all I would have left are vegetables!
That’s when I stumbled across Megan Elizabeth’s video on YouTube about candida and learned about The 80/10/10 Diet. As soon as I heard that I could eat all the bananas I wanted, I was sold! I ordered Dr. Doug Graham’s book that day and scheduled a consult with holistic nutritionist Whitney Froehlich from Grounded Nutrition, who coincidentally happened to be 80/10/10 herself. Thank you, universe! It all came together, and it took me two months to transition from bacon to bananas with her support. I haven’t had any gallbladder pain since and couldn’t be more grateful for Whitney and Megan. And guess what I was for Halloween the following year? A banana!
The most challenging part was finding balance and staying grounded. Eating such high-vibrational foods left me feeling light and airy as I was detoxing years of bad food choices. I wasn’t aware of methods like meditation, using essential oils and connecting with the earth to ground my energy and find balance. These methods have been essential in my mental, physical and spiritual growth.
Eating fruit makes sense to me. It’s what our bodies are designed to eat. Fruit is easy to digest, full of essential vitamins and minerals and so delicious! Nature’s candy!
My favorite meal of the day is every meal! I love the food I eat. That’s what makes it a successful lifestyle for me. I love waking up and making fresh-squeezed OJ or a big green smoothie. By lunch, I’m superexcited for a monomeal of mangos, a date-o-rade or monkey’s lunch. And thanks to my sweetie Chris Kendall’s 101 Frickin’ Rawsome Recipes, I’ve learned how to make zucchini noodles, stews and big salads in so many different ways that it never gets boring. I’m completely satiated living off of fruit and veggies!
For me, the leading benefits of a low-fat raw food diet are endless. Eating living foods gave me a new life. I have more energy than I thought possible, and I feel so vibrant, happy, clean and clear. My favorite benefit is how this diet has opened me up spiritually, strengthening my intuition and connecting me to my higher self and true purpose and passion for holistic living.
Recipes are a way to make it fun! Finding simple, well-combined recipes that you love will help you stay on track. There is a low-fat raw version of almost every traditional recipe out there, and once you clean out the salt and artificial flavorings from your diet, the natural flavors of fruits and veggies become more and more appealing. The simpler you keep the recipes, the better your meal will digest, and monomeals are best! I try to have at least one monomeal a day, eating only one fruit for either breakfast or lunch.
I tell coaching clients “Crowd out!” Try not to focus on cutting foods out, which can lead to feelings of deprivation and emotional eating. Instead, crowd them out by finding fruits and veggies you love to eat and eat lots of them! Focus on adding more living raw foods into your diet one snack or meal at a time. It’s equally important to find the things in life you enjoy besides food. Loving yourself and your career and having healthy relationships are essential to your health and happiness. In fact, when we are happy and doing the things we love, food becomes less of an issue.
I’m spreading the word about this diet to inspire others and show them that it’s fun, easy and enjoyable to eat a diet that’s predominantly fruits and vegetables! My wish is that everyone could feel as happy and healthy as I do.
My book will be coming out soon! I am so excited to share my first e-book with 30 of my favorite childhood recipes gone raw! All recipes you loved as a kid, from ice cream to mac n cheese, made from fresh fruits and veggies to add more living foods to your life. I also understand what it is like to live with an allergy (gluten), so I wanted to make tasty recipes that were free of the top allergens. Each and every recipe is raw, vegan and free of gluten, dairy, nuts, eggs, soy, oil, salt and processed sugars.
Watch Ashley in Action in a Popular Video
Discover Ashley’s Top 5 Tips for staying grounded!
Hungry for more? Check out Ashley’s Low Fat Raw Vegan Mac n Cheeze with Raw Ketchup recipe!