Diet & Nutrition

Raw & Free ‘I love my new lifestyle’

The cookbook queen reveals how the power of plants helped her heal

Sophie Steevens used diet to reverse a serious autoimmune disease and went on to publish two successful cookbooks, Raw & Free and Simple Wholefoods. She has 124,000 followers on her Instagram account @rawandfree. She takes a moment to sit down with the Weekly to share her tips for a healthy life.

You reversed a serious auto-immune disease by eating a plant-based diet. How did you realise that changing your diet could help?

When I was first diagnosed with Graves’ disease, I did a lot of research and ultimately, I discovered that a whole-food, plant-based diet has the powerful potential to heal, mainly because it provides not only pure nourishment but it creates a really alkalising environment within the body. I started really slowly and about six months later, I had fully reversed this disease and had completely normal antibodies and thyroid function. It was when I took my eating to the next level of a high raw diet that I really noticed the impact it was having on my body and my health.

Tell us about your condition and how it affected your life?

It’s called Graves’ disease and it’s an autoimmune disease, which affects the thyroid gland. And it was heavy. At the time, I was about 27 and we were living in Bali. I was losing a lot of weight and my hair stopped growing, and just a lot of little subtle things were happening because of a hormone imbalance. I don’t really think that anyone with Graves’ disease can truly explain how you feel. You completely lose yourself – it’s like you become an entirely different person.

What is the best thing about being plant-based and on a high raw diet?

It just makes you feel clean and pure. And you also know that you’re positively impacting not only your health and longevity, but also the lives of animals and the environment. I guess it’s a win-win all round and it’s really delicious. I love this lifestyle.

Apart from diet, how else do you keep yourself healthy and active?

I focus on mindful movement. I’m not wanting to do anything like CrossFit or anything, but I do enjoy walking, running, Pilates and yoga. And I really want to learn to surf this summer with my family –

all my boys surf.

“It just makes you feel clean and pure,” says Sophie of the plant-based diet she and her family live on.

Have you explored any other lifestyle changes that have helped you?

I’ve been dabbling in meditation and that’s something I’d like to implement more into my daily routine. I’m definitely far from it at the moment. I’m also careful about what I put on my skin because it gets absorbed into your body. I’ve changed to all-natural skincare and household cleaning products, and things like that have helped as well.

What tips do you have for someone who is interested in going plant-based but not sure how?

I think the biggest thing you can do is get educated. The more knowledge you attain, the more empowered you’ll feel so that you can make this lifestyle change and make it sustainable. I put a lot of hours into reading about this diet. And the other thing is to just begin slowly so you don’t need to overwhelm yourself by making the switch overnight.

What advice do you have for others who may be coping with a serious illness?

Explore all options. Medically, I went down that path to keep me safe. I would switch to a wholefood, plant-based diet and really focus on alkalising your body, so even purchasing an alkaline acidic food chart and eating alkaline foods, such as raw fruits and vegetables as much as possible. Acidic-forming goods, which are a lot of processed foods, can create havoc on your body.

Goodness on a plate: Sophie loads up on alkaline foods.

How have your three sons, Eli, 16, Milo, 13, and Jai, four, adjusted to a plant-based diet?

They switched to a plant-based diet about nine years ago, so they haven’t eaten meat since then. At home, they are fully plant-based, but when they’re out and about with friends or staying with people and they’re offered something different, they will still eat it.

What is the one thing you do every day to help keep yourself well?

I eat lots of fruit. I always ensure I’m eating plenty each day. We have so many options here in summer.

Which is your treat recipe for when you feel like something indulgent?

My chunky shortbread toffee bars are so moreish and such an indulgent treat. The ginger slice from my first book is delicious as well.

When friends come over for dinner, what is your signature dish?

It’s a salad with harissa yoghurt, roast cauliflower, chickpeas, rocket and toasted almonds. Everybody loves that salad.


These views do not necessarily reflect those of the Weekly and do not constitute nutrition or medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional.

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