‘I Feel More Empowered, Confident and Strong Than I’ve Ever Felt in My Entire Life.’
In 2013, Silpa Reddy went from struggling with polycystic ovary syndrome and its symptoms—pain in her ovaries, rosacea, loss of hair and chapped, bleeding lips, among them—to sharing the bill as guest speaker with Charles “Chuck” Schmidt Jr. at a high-energy, packed-house potluck on the first day of winter at the raw vegan café Arnold’s Way in Lansdale, Pennsylvania.
Silpa had arrived very quickly as a beam of light at the café. It doesn’t take long into a conversation to know this 24-year-old graduate student in biomedical engineering at Drexel University in Philadelphia has absorbed loads of information on a raw food diet like a sponge swallows water on a sopping-wet counter. This bright young lady already has a theory: “I do believe that the power of nutrition can, in some people, alter genetic expression through epigenetics and thus facilitate regulation by the body from a diseased state to a more normal state.”
A resident of the Philadelphia suburb North Wales, Pennsylvania, Silpa was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome when she was 16. A hormonal imbalance that can affect a woman’s fertility, this condition also caused Silpa not to have a period for several years unless on birth control medication.
In December 2011, Silpa discovered that animal and processed foods as well as fatty foods caused her ovaries pain. She resolved to give up several foods such as dairy products and processed foods and felt noticeable improvement but, once a week, still snuck these foods into her diet. These episodes produced brain fog, dizziness, nausea and fatigue in Silpa, whose gynecologist then suggested eliminating grains and foods with refined sugar.
After finding nut-based breakfasts left her lethargic and upping her coffee intake to two to three cups a day, Silpa soon learned about smoothies, thanks to the videos of YouTube star and former Arnold’s Way chef Megan Elizabeth. This discovery connected her to Arnold’s Way, where she met Megan Sherow, who triumphed over Stage 3 brain cancer on a fruit-based diet, and her mother, Maria, who praised The 80/10/10 Diet by Dr. Doug Graham.
“I immediately went home and read the book—I was hooked,” she said. “I jumped right in and began eating fruit. I felt so much better doing so.”
Silpa’s metamorphosis heightened when she enrolled in the 30-Day Raw Challenge in October at Arnold’s Way and stopped taking birth-control pills. She cut out salt, spices, sugar and limited intake of overt fats to three days a week. She experimented with some cooked vegan meals to gauge their effects. “I felt better than I’d ever felt in my entire life,” she said.
Lately, Silpa has found that eating a low-fat wholly raw food diet is the path for her after feeling “terrible” consuming cooked fare and high-fat gourmet raw food meals. “On the mornings after deviations from the 811 guidelines, I wake up and my body is practically screaming for fruit and water,” she said. “… I love being 100 percent 811 raw. There is simply a purity and lightness in living on this lifestyle.”
Silpa’s changes in diet have summoned changes in her mindset and character. “I had to detach from the notions of food as entertainment, culture-based or a means of distraction and instead view food as mere nourishment,” she said. “I feel that I basically rebuilt a new foundation for myself, since my previous way of living was on a cracked, weak foundation that probably couldn’t offer durable support. I feel more empowered, confident and strong than I’ve ever felt in my entire life.”
Silpa, whose favorite fruits are mangoes and bananas and greens, romaine lettuce and kale, credits Arnold Kauffman with helping her understand the power of nutrition and self-acceptance, the latter to manage physical and emotional abuse she suffered through most of her life.
“The support and new friends I made at Arnold’s Way, of course, helped me stay raw,” she said. “Documentaries (Earthlings; Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead; and Food Matters, among them) were recommended, and after watching these, I felt like a light switch was turned on. I was informed, aware and empowered.”
She also said she’s learned plenty from Freelee and Harley “Durianrider” Johnstone, especially on understanding calories. “I’m inexplicably grateful for their effort and transparency, and they really helped guide me and tweak my eating habits accordingly to optimize digestion,” she said, noting that lessons in food combining are key.
Silpa suggests transitioning raw fooders simply eat more fruit to curb cravings for unhealthful foods. She also recommends sleeping at least eight hours a day, breaking from technology at times and practicing healthful ways to manage stress and emotions.
“I would also advise that transitioning raw fooders start cultivating a compassionate and nonjudgmental attitude of awareness, reflection and introspection.”
Silpa, who supplements with only a Vitamin B12 capsule daily, launched a Pilates and calisthenics program once she enacted dietary change but found such bottomless energy she tacked on running to the mix of physical activity. Silpa ran her first 5K marathon in December. Now she’s training for a half-marathon in March.
Silpa’s transformation on a raw food diet has also given her a few other things. These are the return of her period, a clean bill of health in the form of medical tests, enhanced physical appearance and more energy.
“My hormonal blood work and ovarian ultrasounds finally came back normal, my rosacea has lessened with every month, my polycystic ovarian syndrome symptoms have diminished, my hair stopped falling out and has normalized in growth, my many skin and allergy problems have diminished and my vision has improved as well,” she said. “I have so much energy!”
Watch a Fruit-Powered Video of Silpa Sharing Her Raw Food Story
Discover Silpa’s Top 5 Tips for transitioning to a raw food diet.
Hungry for more? Check out Silpa’s Papaya Boats recipe!