a different kind of coffee break with Gerry and Ray Coffey
Disease-Free Living Through Fitness and Nutrition
Eating Without Heating
by Sergei and Valya Boutenko
Published in The Huntsville Times 11 Oct 2004
149 Pages, Paperback, $11.05 Paperback
Raw Family Publishing
Reviewed by Gerry Coffey
“Out of the mouth of babes…” is the verse that comes to mind when reading “Eating Without Heating,” the wisdom penned by two youths who emigrated with their family from Russia.
Valya, now 16, and Sergei, 17, were leaders in the Raw Food movement before femme fatale Demi Moore revealed to David Letterman her new, svelte figure was due to the Raw Food Diet. Among the other celebrities embracing the Raw Food Diet trend are Iron Man Dave Scott, tennis great, Martina Navratolova, and actors like Robin Williams and Woody Harrelson.
Far ahead of the crowd, Valya and Sergei were only 8 and 9 when their radical change to a Raw Food Diet began. It WAS NOT by choice! Mothers resort to desperate means when their children’s lives are at stake. Mom, Victoria, was desperate herself but self-loathing rendered her helpless. “I stopped weighing when I reached 300 lbs,” Victoria notes in the book’s prequel, “The Raw Family.” She also suffered from heart problems and depression and at times was suicidal. Husband, Igor, wasn’t much better. He’d endured nine surgeries for various ailments including debilitating arthritis, and doctors wanted to remove his thyroid gland.
Victoria was shocked into action when she awoke one morning to find 10 year-old Sergei unconscious on the bathroom floor. Sergei was diagnosed with Type I Juvenile Diabetes. Incurable, they were told. He would have to take insulin shots the rest of his life and suffer other agonizing consequences.
Victoria refused to accept the medical diagnosis and searched until she found the alternative that turned the entire family’s health around. The journey was not easy. Sergei was already rebellious, obese, had rotting teeth, was failing all subjects in school, and had been suspended for destructive behavior. Valya was overweight and had asthma so bad she could not sleep at night, and if she tried to run she felt like she would suffocate.
“I was failing every subject in third grade,” relates Valya as she and Sergei write their versions of their changeover. “I couldn’t read, so naturally I couldn’t write. Learning geography was out of the question…History? Who cares about a bunch of dead guys? I had a hard time concentrating and couldn’t remember anything. Fact:” Valya pointed out: “To learn, one must have the ability to remember.”
Valya also found it difficult to relate to others: “I couldn’t communicate with people. I was afraid to be sincere because I thought I was not good enough and no one would like me…When I went on raw foods, I became calmer and more sensitive to myself and others. I started enjoying deeper conversations.
“Back when I was nine years old, my sister and I would talk to each other about the day we turned 18,” recalls Sergei. “We would dream about what kind of food we would break the diet with: corndogs, pizza, nachos, and crab were just some of the foods we were going to order on that magical day.”
Their attitude changed dramatically along with improved health: “Before I ate raw food, I always wanted to be cool,” Sergei relates. “I wore baggy pants with trendy names and had flashy skateboards and other toys, but for some reason I wasn’t cool. The harder I tried, the less cool I was. When I started eating raw food, I hid it from my peers because I thought I would be even more un-cool. Later on, however, I found out that in their eyes eating raw food actually made me pretty cool. In fact, I noticed that a person doesn’t even have to be different to be cool. All one needs in order to be cool is sincerity.”
Valya now laughs when she remembers how frightened they’d get when their mom said she wanted to talk to them: “That was a bad sign!…Since we’ve gone on raw food, we frequently sit down and talk to each other for hours. …and I can walk up to anyone and start talking about any subject.”
And they do: Sergei went from the sullen, obese, failing student to attain the highest scholastic rank in his class that year. They were taking college classes when they were 13 and 14 and are now in their 3rd and 4th year. Following their parents’ lead, Sergei and Valya are frequent speakers at high schools, universities, and even world conferences. They also lead discussion groups and “Raw Teen Hikes” several times a year.
Hear about their saga and enjoy RAWSOME SANDWICHES AND DESSERT when Victoria and Igor Boutenko present a Raw Food Workshop called: “What’s Your (HEALTH) Problem???” Friday, 15 October at 5:30 p.m. at Decatur’s Wheeler Basin Regional Library Meeting Room.
Space is limited. For more information call: 256/350-2823.
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