‘The Only Approach That Was a Good ‘Fit’ for Me Was the Low-Fat, Fruit-Based Raw Food Diet.’
In seeking help to overcome an eating disorder and manage Type 1 diabetes and epilepsy, Tasha Lee discovered a low-fat raw food diet made her feel marvelous—but it took some doing for her to become wholly raw and get all the nutrients her body needs. Now, this 36-year-old South Florida resident is continuing to feel improvements in health and promoting her recently released debut book, Healing Diabetes with Fruit: Ex-Type 2’s on a Fruit-Based Diet.
Tasha, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and epilepsy in her teen years, struggled with food on a “worse-than-standard” American diet and body image for 15 years.
“I would binge on massive amounts of junk food then try to ‘purge’ through various means, but mostly through excessive exercise,” she said. “I was obsessed with body image—seriously dissatisfied with my body—because I couldn’t stop bingeing on the things that were slowly killing me.”
Tasha said she prayed on how to “unselfishly nourish my body.” A friend sent her a newsletter with testimonials on healing from diabetes on a raw food diet. The same friend mentioned someone on a raw food diet had gotten off epilepsy medication.
“I read every raw food book available through my library system and just started trying out various approaches to raw food,” Tasha said. “… The only approach that was a good ‘fit’ for me was the low-fat, fruit-based raw food diet. I found this approach in my third year of attempting to eat ‘raw.’”
When Tasha went raw overnight, she struggled, as many do.
“I did quite a bit of ‘kicking and screaming’ during my transition,” she said. “I would binge on old favorite comfort foods and junk foods for weeks at a time because I was angry that I had to eat healthy raw foods when nobody else I knew really cared what they were putting into their bodies.”
Tasha’s struggle was rooted in her raw food diet, based on lots of nuts and dried fruits with some fresh fruits and vegetables. When she gave a low-fat, fruit-based raw food diet a go, she still struggled until she connected with others online—via forums, YouTube and Facebook—who cleared the hurdles and whose health was soaring.
Tasha launched her own YouTube channel to kick off her fourth year on a mostly raw food diet, focusing on living as a Type 1 diabetic on a fruit-based diet. Making videos enabled her to grow comfortable with a low-fat raw food diet. By her sixth year raw and third on a low-fat raw food diet, Tasha grew even more—steely in her resolve to stick to a wholly raw food diet.
“I had been profoundly impacted by Don Bennett’s books and could no longer justify eating anything cooked,” she said.
During this sixth year, Tasha created a Facebook group called Flat Belly Fruit and Veggie Challenge and “faithfully” logged her food intake and plans daily. “I was committed to do whatever it took to stay raw,” Tasha said. “This … group has been tremendously helpful for me, and I was beyond excited to complete my first year all-raw on a fruit-based diet.”
Now a few months into her seventh year on a raw food diet and fourth as a low-fat raw vegan, Tasha reports that she is “very comfortable and happy eating a raw food, fruit-based diet.” She counts moving to South Florida, where she loves the fruit selection, especially Florida mangos, from the Midwest three years ago as “one of the best decisions I have ever made for following the fruit-based diet.”
The benefits Tasha’s experienced on a low-fat raw food diet are staggering.
“I no longer have the frequent colds, sinus infections and headaches I used to have,” she said. “My periods are shorter and lighter, which is a definite plus. I no longer take epilepsy medication and no longer have the … low blood-sugar seizures I used to have. As a Type 1 diabetic, my insulin sensitivity is majorly improved, and my blood-sugar control is the best it has ever been (5.6 to 5.9 percent A1c readings).”
Tasha said she loves being “satisfied” on this diet, no longer craving desserts or sweets because she eats her fill from sweet fruits.
“I love that my spiritual sensitivity has skyrocketed, as has my empathy toward others,” she said. “I love to watch and be near animals now.
“I am drawn to be with people,” Tasha continued. “When I ‘cheated’ on cooked foods, I could see an immediate difference in my relationships—I wanted to be alone. I had a cloud over my mind, and I desired isolation. On fruit-based raw, my mind is clear, bright and happy. I feel like a kid and love to play like a kid.”
Tasha also said her relationship with her husband has improved. “We are both happier and laugh so much more,” she said. “My sex drive has definitely increased as well, which is a very good thing for our marriage.”
For all the good she experienced on a low-fat raw food diet, Tasha discovered, however, sagging energy in the form of chronic fatigue and exhaustion. “In my second month of fruit-based raw, my body totally broke down,” she said. “I was in bed for three days straight and couldn’t get up without trembling.”
Tasha learned that she was low in Vitamin B12 and deficient in Vitamin D. With supplementation, Vitamin B12 provided a quick boost in her, but rebuilding Tasha’s Vitamin D level took months until she felt “alive” again. For six months, she was “almost completely sedentary,” she said.
When Tasha’s exhaustion continued for another 12 months, someone suggested she might have a deficiency in essential fatty acids. Tasha had avoided consuming overt fats such as avocados, nuts and seeds for her first two years on a low-fat raw food diet. She began supplementing with EFAs, and her condition began improving right away and steadily improved. Tasha went from sleeping 12 or more hours a night to “feeling good with eight hours.”
Still, something was off. A viewer suggested Tasha might be low in iodine and its co-factors and suggested testing. Tasha enlisted the counseling help of Don Bennett, author of Avoiding Degenerative Disease and The Raw Food Diet and Other Healthy Habits: Your Questions Answered. Under Don’s supervision, Tasha performed the recommended testing, discovered an iodine deficiency and was prescribed a therapeutic iodine protocol by an iodine-literate thyroid specialist. Don has monitored Tasha’s unique health situation and interacted with the specialist to make adjustments to her protocol along the way.
“I have now been doing therapeutic iodine supplementation under Don’s supervision for almost six months,” she said, adding that it takes as long as a year to normalize iodine levels. “Things are continuing to improve healthwise, but I still look forward to the day when I am ‘Superwoman’ like the other fruit eaters I see.”
Tasha’s exercise program has evolved, especially after recovering from exhaustion, linked to her nutritional deficiencies. Her favorite activities from years ago were soccer, triathlon and water sports but have shifted to walking, wearing Vibram FiveFingers footwear or flip-flops. She walks 1 to 4 miles a day, but usually 2 miles.
Tasha also engages in bodyweight resistance training once a week. “Sometimes, I work on gymnastics moves; sometimes, I climb trees; sometimes, I do playground workouts; sometimes, I do bodyweight exercises while walking through my neighborhood,” she said.
Recovery from physical exertion is simpler overall on a low-fat raw food diet, Tasha said. “I think I am stronger and more flexible than I have been in a very long time,” she said. “I definitely enjoy moving my body more now.”
Tasha consumes a high-calorie, fruit-rich meal for her first meal of each day. She also adds chia and hemp seed as well as the barley grass juice powder Just Barley. Freshly squeezed orange juice, blended with Medjool dates and Just Barley, is a regular meal for this Floridian during winter. Tasha’s second meal of the day is “usually whatever is ripe and needs to be eaten—melons, grapes, persimmons, peaches, cherries, sapodilla,” she said. “I try to eat a wide variety of fruits for health reasons.
Florida mango season is coming up soon, so I look forward to my heavenly four-mango meals,” she said. “If nothing is ripe, I fall back on bananas and dates as my staples.”
Tasha’s favorite fruits are Rainier cherries, Florida mangos, mamey sapote and fresh Deglet Noor dates. Her favorite nonsweet fruits are heirloom tomatoes and Kirby cucumbers.
Tasha’s third and final meal each day is usually a nonsweet fruit meal of cucumbers, red bell peppers, tomatoes or zucchini. She either makes recipes using these ingredients or makes monomeals of them.
Tasha notes that during her first two years of a low-fat raw food diet, she ate 1 to 3 pounds of greens—usually in smoothies or salads chopped in a food processor—a day. At the time, she was avoiding overt fats and still craved even more greens, tomatoes and salads, in general, “like crazy.” She attributes these cravings to being deficient in minerals.
“Those cravings went completely away once I began using Just Barley,” she said. “It apparently satisfied my body’s needs for minerals better than the greens I had been eating. I also felt much better, digestion-wise, without having to digest all those greens every day. It saved … precious nerve energy. Since I no longer desired greens at all, I stopped eating them. I occasionally eat a salad or some romaine hearts dipped in fresh guacamole, but that only ends up being about once or twice a month. I feel like a real ‘fruitarian’ now. I definitely like it much better this way, too.”
Tasha limits overt fats to about 2 tablespoons a day. Most days, this winds up being 1 tablespoon each of chia and hemp seed, she said. “If I eat a high-fat raw meal at a restaurant, I skip my fats for a few days till my blood sugars show that the fats have cleared out of my system,” she said. “I occasionally eat avocado or nuts as my fat but really try to stick with the chia and hemp (for omega-3 content) as much as possible.”
These days, Tasha supplements with Vitamins B12 and D as well as Just Barley, which serves as a multivitamin and mineral supplement. She also counts chia and hemp seed as a supplement, for essential fatty and amino acids, and takes iodine and its co-factors, following instructions by Bennett, who touts iodine as a missing link for many.
Because she’s a Type 1 diabetic, Tasha said she gets blood tests every three months.
Tasha, who’s well aware of the challenges transitioning raw fooders face, urged those new to a raw food diet to “get educated, seek and test information from a variety of sources and think for yourself,” she said. She also steers people to Bennett’s website, Health101.org.
Having been on a raw food path and the road to recovery for years, Tasha was inspired to write Healing Diabetes with Fruit: Ex-Type 2’s on a Fruit-Based Diet, a labor of love over about 18 months, after her jubilance to share word about the success stories of Type 2 diabetics on raw food diets was met with skepticism and even anger on the diabetes online forum she frequented.
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“I felt that maybe they just needed to see or read more testimonials to know healing really could happen,” she said. “The testimonials were treated with scorn, and all kinds of objections were raised. I finally realized that I was not getting through to anyone there and that if I wanted to help anyone, I needed to take a different approach. I had gotten a very good idea of the objections and questions regarding diabetes and plant-based and fruit-based diets. I just needed to find some real, live people who had healed their Type 2 diabetes.”
In her book, Tasha shines a light on individuals who reversed their diagnoses of Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. It’s her goal that readers will “lose their fear of fruit.” “After all, if Type 2 diabetics can heal eating a diet comprised mainly of fruit, why should anyone else be afraid of fruit carbs?”
Tasha said: “I feel it is a very complete ‘manual’ of sorts for anyone who wants to transition to a healthier diet of more raw fruits and vegetables. … I also hope that readers will be able to make a clear connection between lifestyle and health—choices that contribute to or help to prevent disease.”
Tasha, who said she is “enormously enjoying the life I live today,” loves blogging about her lifestyle journey at TashaLee.org and broadcasting videos on her YouTube channel, Tasha Lee (Fruitful Healthy Living). She also provides health coaching by donation. With her first book launched, more projects await. Tasha and her husband also aspire to own a home on land with lots of fruit trees to help people seeking a “getaway and some hands-on coaching” as they transition to a fruit-based lifestyle.
Watch Tasha in Action in a Popular Video
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Hungry for more? Check out Tasha’s Scrumptious Summer Salad recipe!