Earlier this week I met Tanya Maher, a nutritionist, certified health coach and co-founder of one of London’s first organic raw food restaurants. She’s tiny and perfect and looks a good five years younger than her years.
The reason? Seven years ago she went raw. After switching her diet to start drinking green smoothies each morning, both Tanya and her husband noticed that they didn’t get ill (she had been one of those people, like me, who usually gets a cold or sniffle with each new season). And when her then-boyfriend phoned her from the office one day to say that he was the only one at work – everyone else was sick with Swine Flu – she had a lightbulb moment.
After a bit of research decided to introduce more raw foods and alkaline foods into her diet. Today she doesn’t eat meat or dairy, wheat or caffeine. Instead she loads up on veggies, fruit, juices and salads, as well as healthy grains, nuts and vitamins. “Disease cannot develop, live or survive in an alkaline environment. Every ache, itch and pain is telling you that your body is too acid,” says Tanya.
“I call myself a nutritarian,” explains Tanya who hasn’t been ill once sine she made the shift in her diet. “I look for foods that offer the most nutrients – I’m not against chocolate, I love it – and it’s packed with antioxidants and flavanoids, but I pick the best raw cacao.”
I was keen to learn more about the benefits of going alkaline and also what you can and can’t eat. “Pork is the most acidic meat,” says Tanya. “And cheese is very acid, especially blue cheese. Sugar… and coffee and tea – caffeine’s so acidic.”
I feel smug. I tell her I drink decaf. She frowns apologetically. It turns out the process of taking out the caffeine (the bleaching and treating of the beans) make it just as bad, just with a different cause. “But you can make coffee alkaline – just add a slice of lemon to your coffee.”
Lemon?! I would have thought that was acidic, after all it’s full of citric acid. Wrong. It turns out that things that might be acidic in their natural state can still have an alkalising affect on the body.
So fruit (all fruit) and veg are in – the greener the veg, as a general rule, the more alkaline it will be. Spinach is the number one alkaline food, followed by kale, broccoli, cucumber, avocado… spot the trend?
Keen to give it a go, I have been doing Tanya’s Raw Alkaline Cleanse for the last 48 hours. She promises it will be both juicy and raw and guaranteed to purify your body, skin and energy.
I was SO worried about being hungry and feeling weak, but actually that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Sure, I haven’t felt full, but equally my tummy has not rumbled once. Not once! And I have been so busy drinking a juice every hour or two, or snacking on some nuts or kale wheatgrass crackers, that I haven’t had time to feel like I’m missing out. And there’s a raw organic soup, veggie sticks and tahini, probiotics and lots of water mixed with Tanya’s pH booster powder. I have to keep checking the chart to know what to eat or drink when!
The juices – cold-pressed and organic – taste simply delicious, from the green breakfast juice to to a beetroot and berry lunch juice and an energising evening mango, carrot and orange juice. The soup is divine, even though it’s cold and raw. But the kale and wheatgrass crackers, filled with fibre to scrub out your insides? Vile. It was like eating silage. I actually couldn’t stomach the whole portion. And the pH water was like drinking pond water – thank goodness for the affirmation that you recite as you drink it “It is my divine right to be healthy”. I really had to tell myself that as I swigged it back!
But everything in the cleanse is there for a reason. Probiotics to increase your intestinal flora, chlorophyll to boost your pH levels from acid to alkaline, electrolytes to hydrate and calcium to nourish you.
I’ve just reached the end and I feel great. It’s got me hooked on cold pressed juice and I’m even planning to blend up my own morning green smoothie. Which, incidentally, is Tanya’s number one tip for making the change to raw, one smoothie at a time.
If you’re feeling sluggish, like your hormones might be out of whack, in pain, or worse – making the shift to alkaline might just be the first step to recovery.
READ THE RESULTS OF MY CLEANSE HERE.
Try Tanya’s Alkaline Cleanse for one, two or three days, from £65, this January. She is also planning to run the programme intermitantly through the year.
Learn more about going alkaline and raw at on Tanya’s website Better Raw, where you’ll also find recipes and can sign up to one of her Raw Workshops.