Public Comment

Healthy Living: My Perspective on Living Healthy

By Claire Risley
Tuesday July 24, 2007

My mom was a nurse with a great disdain for doctors. All she wanted us to be was “healthy, happy children.” She reinforced that by feeding us carrots and broccoli—a few cinnamon sticks thrown in—instead of candy for snacks.  

Not being much of a drinker, I wandered the earth with sugar as “my only vice.” Until the late ’70s and early ’80s when I ran into Michael Lesser, M.D., a friend, Michael Caditz, and the book Women Who Love Too Much. The book had a little diagram, showing how similar sugar and alcohol are as chemicals. When Dr. Lesser heard of my college senior year diet of ice cream cones, he declared, “Ice cream is grease and sugar, nothing more.” That information impressed me; I stopped the ice cream.  

That, and Michael Caditz’ experimentation with Pritikin and MacDougal diets, which said you need 10 percent protein, 10 percent fat, and 80 percent carbohydrates, started a trend in our dancing crowd that had me gradually deleting the sugar and fat from my diet.  

Historically, I am neglecting the salutary influence of Adele Davis and Frances Moore Lappe (cookbook writers with personal and planetary health emphases), which informed many of us on the East and Berkeley Coasts throughout the 70s. How many “Crusty Soybean Crowd Pleasers” did you make?  

I can document being up in Montana, having to milk cows at 6 a.m. before we went off to work in the Forest Service. The sight of their eyes, by which we found the cows at that dark hour and called them in, were too much for me. That was one of the deciding factors in becoming a vegetarian. Big, mournful cows’ eyes. I could relate to the Aurevedics.  

Wonderful Vegetarian Society affairs helped solidify an effort to become more vegetarian/vegan. Working with Dr. Lesser and his Nutrition and Vitamin Therapy book and his Orthomolecular Society meetings. Learning in nutrition flourished, especially around the Bay Area, in the eighties.  

Now we are blessed by the Elephant Pharm, the Ecovillage in Oakland, Feldenkrais, A Course in Miracles, dancing, listening to classical and other great music that flourishes around here. Now we can eat at the wonderful Ananda Fuera, Millennium, Café Gratitudes and Herbivores in San Francisco and Berkeley, the Long Life Vegi House on University, along with buying organic food from the larger stores here. We use City Car Share, and we have a smaller footprint by living simply.  

To friends who want it put simply, I say—Cut out the white stuff: White bread, white rice, bagels, yes, bagels, scones, and above all, red meat and potatoes. Must eat fruits and vegetables. Eat Oatmeal in the morning, and put fruit and nuts in it. Gogiberries are best. Eat fruit the first thing to get enzymes rolling. Putting sugar in your body first thing in the morning is tantamount to taking a screwdriver to your pancreas. Pancreatic cancer: six months of pain before demise. Do as the Europeans do: eat a larger lunch and a smaller dinner. Eat dinner before 7 p.m. if you want to A. Lose weight B. Get good sleep.  

Then go dancing! Take BART to the Symphony/Opera/Ballet, get a good walk up and down the BART stairs, and tread lightly going. Eat at Ananda Fuera or Absinthe: soup and quinoa salad and marinated beets, in a lovely courtyard garden.  

Don’t forget the endorphins! Breathe, listen and sing to music, and laugh a lot. Do something for peace.  






Healthy Living 

As part of an ongoing effort to print stories by East Bay residents, the Daily Planet invites readers to write about their experiences and perspectives on living healthy. Please e-mail your essays, no more than 800 words, to We will publish the best essays in upcoming issues.