Raw Parenting Creates Healthy Children
By Karen Ranzi
In May 1990, our second child was born. The birth was very difficult and there were complications. The main complication was shoulder distosia. My son’s head had already made its entrance into the world, but the midwives became exasperated at their attempts to release his large shoulders, and frantically gave me an episiotomy to help give birth to my child.
Just prior to this pregnancy, I changed from a vegetarian (lacto-ovo) to a vegan diet. I ate mainly whole grains, beans, oils, tofu, seaweeds, and cooked vegetables with some processed foods, such as whole grain pastas, breads and rice cakes. I ate a minimum of raw fruits and vegetables, feeling at the time that raw foods were not that important and not as healthy as the protein from cooked grains and beans.
For a number of years I studied nutrition and healthy cooking, attending the Vegetarian Summerfest in Rhode Island, reading numerous books on health and disease, and taking classes at the Natural Gourmet Cookery School in New York City. I thought my diet during pregnancy was impeccably healthy and was extremely surprised by the difficult birth of my son and the problems that followed. If I had studied a healthy raw food lifestyle, I would have learned that a healthy woman should not gain more than about 12% in weight inclusive of baby’s weight. There is a physiological basis for a maternal weight gain of not more than about 20 lbs. An overfed mother often gives birth to an overweight baby, with all the complications often involved in childbirth. The norm of weight for the human baby should be in the 6 to 7 lb. range, and then the childbirth should be quick and easy with no complications. I gained 35 lbs. during pregnancy and my son weighed 8lbs.14oz.
My son’s difficult birth was only the beginning of our problems. At five weeks old, he became very ill with a barking croupy cough and was filled with mucus. We ended up at the hospital for 4 scary days, in which time my son almost died. The doctors turned him over onto his stomach and hit his back while mucus poured out of his nose and mouth. I have never been more frightened in my life. For the next few years our son Marco exhibited asthmatic symptoms and had constant ear and throat infections and fevers. We tried many allopathic and alternative doctors for help: pediatricians, allergists, homeopaths, osteopaths, chiropractors, naturopaths, but to no avail. Many nights I ran to the bathroom with my son so that he could breathe in the steaming shower water for relief as he coughed and cried. I slept with him on top of me for fear that I would lose him at night.
The doctors diagnosed Marco’s condition as “Chronic Allergic Rhinitis” with asthmatic symptoms. I was eating cooked grains and beans as well as a lot of processed whole grain foods while nursing. When Marco began to eat solids between ages 1 and 2, I fed him the same, not realizing that this could be a large part of the problem. I wrote letters and called specialists all over the country for advice regarding Marco’s condition. At this point, I felt stuck and I began to reflect upon my own life. Vegetarianism was not strange to me because I lived in a house with a lifelong vegetarian father. His mother had been very ill with asthma and emphysema in her early 30’s when the doctors gave her only six months to live. She transitioned to a vegetarian and then a predominantly raw food diet, which cured her illnesses. She lived another 45 to 50 years. When I was a ten-year-old child, I recall her explaining why it is crucial to eat a diet primarily of raw, uncooked foods which come directly from nature to us. I grew up with my father and my grandmother eating mostly raw fruits and salads, but I had always suppressed that valuable knowledge until my son was ill and I had nowhere to turn. Suddenly, the experiences of my grandmother made an incredible amount of sense to me and I began to search out people who were living healthfully on a raw food diet. I eventually found a group in New York City called “Coalition on Health Reeducation” (COHR), led by Matthew Grace, where I found a support group and access to a wealth of information.
Very soon I became a 100% raw foodist and I transitioned my children to the raw food diet. That was 13 years ago. My son was between three and four years old at the time. In under a year, my son’s symptoms of chronic allergic rhinitis and asthma had completely vanished and the ear and throat infections disappeared forever. As my two children, Gabriela and Marco, grew up on the raw food diet, they became very aware of their bodies. When either of them felt any sign of illness or detoxification, from fever to coughing or pain or mucus, they knew instinctively what to do. My daughter would drink water and go to bed, sometimes for a couple of days. My son would drink diluted orange juice and do the same. They had the information they needed to guide them with their own health. Gabriela and Marco also recovered more quickly whenever they didn’t feel well, which was rare.
I believe that parents deserve the right to raise their children in the way they feel will be most nutritionally, mentally and emotionally beneficial to them. Where I live, neighbors disagreed with my decision to nurse my children until they decided to wean, but I knew in my heart that long-term nursing and bonding would be best for them. Many disagreed with the Raw Parenting Lifestyle until they observed all the benefits before their eyes.
It is very important to involve children in creating fun raw food recipes and in playing raw food restaurant. Our children sometimes prepared elaborate raw food meals as the chefs, and my husband and I would be the customers, paying them for their special dishes. Our kitchen has always been very colorful, filled with big baskets and beautiful colored bowls of luscious, appealing fruits. In February 2000, Gabriela and Marco were interviewed for Nicolodeon News on the topic of “Highlighting Vegetarian Children.” The producers were surprised that the children were raw foodists. They showed great interest in our lifestyle, and filmed Marco and Gabriela creating raw food meals, which were broadcast nationally.
It is imperative that children see this lifestyle as a healthy and fun way to live. Parents need to talk to their children about other youths who triumphed over disease through the most natural diet, the raw food diet. In the United States, we spend trillions of dollars yearly on doctors, nurses, hospitals and medications. We have a very ill country, laden with many diseases. Children need to understand that they can avoid these diseases and they can have a long happy life free of these tragedies.
Dr. Herbert Shelton, who has written many wonderful books on Natural Hygiene, once said, “The sufferings of mothers during pregnancy and delivery are consequences of wrong ways of life. The inability of women to breast feed their babies is also a result of the wrong mode of living. The processed and refined foods of the American diet fail to supply the materials needed for proper development and growth of the embryo and fetus and, after the birth, for the production of an abundant supply of wholesome milk.”
Our children deserve to grow up to be healthy, vibrant examples of what is truly their life’s potential. As parents, it is our responsibility to teach them about the superior foods and give them tender loving care throughout their growing years. We will be teaching them that it is alright to be different, and that what is best for them is to listen to their bodies and to heed the laws of nature.
*A diet consisting of mainly uncooked fruits, greens and vegetables supplemented with whole grains and lightly steamed vegetables could work well for children and adults not able or willing to maintain a 100% raw food diet. However, young children often have difficulty digesting the complex carbohydrates of cooked starch in the diet.
I did want to thank the editors for posting Karen Ranzi’s article about raw parenting… there is very little out there about the subject and as a result of her article, I was able to email her and am setting up a phone consultation. Thanks for the site!
Wonderful article; you should have her write more. Raw parenting is a hard topic to find info on, and I thank you for having what you have on the subject.
Keep up the good work with the Raw Foods section of Veggie Baby. These articles are extremely motivating and helpful for the few of us out there. It feels great to read about the triumphs of others!!
Loved it! Wish you would have her write more articles! It is so HARD to find much information out there on raising raw children. Thank you so much for printing this.