For Hal and Barbara Reid, being healthy is all about eating green and sometimes, well, being orange. The green comes from the mainly plant-based diet the Reids have followed for the past 12 years. As for the good to be orange part, keep reading.
The Reids’ journey to this colorful way of being healthy began with that ultimate wake-up call—a cancer diagnosis.
“In 1999, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer,” says Hal, a well-known Ocala architect who was 65 at the time. “I knew I didn’t want to have surgery, so I looked into other treatment options. A friend had had a radioactive seed implant in the prostate and seemed to be pleased with the outcome. I decided to go that route.”
But a conversation with a nurse during a pre-op hospital visit changed Hal’s mind. When he asked about collateral radiation damage to the colon or bladder, Hal didn’t like the answer.
“When the nurse told me that there was a 20 to 30 percent probability of colon or bladder damage, I thought this was unacceptable,” he says. “I decided I needed to keep searching for other treatment options.”
As fate would have it, Hal found what he was looking for in his living room. While watching Pat Robertson’s 700 Club television show, Hal saw an interview with a man who had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer. The man told the story of how he had chosen to follow and was having good results with the Hallelujah Diet, a mostly raw plant-based diet designed by Dr. George Malkmus. A Baptist minister, Dr. Malkmus created the diet after watching his mother die of colon cancer and then later being diagnosed with the same disease himself in 1976.
“This intrigued me, and I decided to research the Hallelujah Diet,” says Hal. “By adhering to a raw-food diet, and with no medical intervention, Dr. Malkmus’ cancer disappeared in less than a year. And since then, thousands of others have regained their health by following the Hallelujah Diet. Using food to be healthy made sense to me.”
Healing through nutrition made so much sense that Hal and Barbara went to the Shelby, North Carolina-based Hallelujah Acres to study with Dr. Malkmus. Doing so would change not only how they viewed food and ate but their lives as well.
The Reids, who met while both were attending the University of Florida, began their business careers and raised their family of four children in Ocala. Hal established the architecture firm of Hal Thomas Reid Associates, which designed and built such projects as the Ocala/Marion County Chamber of Commerce, the original Ocala/Marion County Library, Concord Square, The Cascades and several downtown banks. Barbara owned Adventure Travel of Ocala for 17 years and has been a real estate agent with Foxfire Realty for 23 years.
“The kitchen was always the heart of our home,” says Barbara, a thoughtful woman who listens carefully before answering any question. “I thought I was feeding my family in a healthy way. We ate mostly chicken and fish, vegetables and fruits. We also had low-fat dairy, beans and, occasionally, dessert. But we soon learned we weren’t eating a healthy, healing diet at all.”
It’s a diet that the Reids now know as the Standard American Diet, which they say has a very telling acronym of SAD. The Reids describe SAD as being “comprised mainly of manufactured and processed food-like things that have very little, if any, nutritional value.” Add to that, they say, an overconsumption of animal products, including dairy, and it’s no wonder Americans are suffering from a plethora of major chronic diseases.
For the Reids, enter the Hallelujah Diet. Consisting of 85 percent raw plant foods and 15 percent cooked plant foods, the Hallelujah Diet is definitely an alternative to SAD. A key component is also the daily consumption of freshly made carrot juice mixed with a barley powder supplement, particularly as part of the recovery from a major health issue such as cancer. And, yes, here’s where the being orange part comes in.
“Because I wanted to recover from my prostate cancer, I did the recovery diet right away,” says Hal. “I started drinking two quarts of carrot juice mixed with barley powder a day. From all the beta carotene from the carrots in my system, I turned orange. But it’s good to be orange because this means the nutrients are flooding your body and your cells, rebuilding your immune system.”
Barbara also began following the Hallelujah Diet but took a more moderate approach to the carrot juice, opting to drink only one quart a day. Hal and Barbara were soon convinced of the healthy benefits of the changes in their diet.
“I had suffered from arthritis for 20 years and had poor vision for years,” says Barbara. “Within a year of being on the plant-based diet, my arthritis pain vanished and my vision greatly improved.”
For Hal, it was the answer to his cancer diagnosis.
“The diet saved my life,” says Hal, who is now a healthy 77. “My six-month checkups with my urologist just kept getting better and better. After a year or so, my urologist said he wished all his patients were as healthy as I was.”
Hal admits that the very strict recovery diet was too difficult for him to maintain long term. He has since made some personal revisions, although maintaining the core of the plant-based diet.
“After my recovery from cancer, I still drink the carrot juice but just less of it,” he says. “I will also occasionally eat a piece of fish but still eat lots of raw and cooked vegetables.”
Barbara, 73, and who like Hal looks decades younger, agrees that many people find it difficult to stick to the strict 85 percent raw and 15 percent cooked plant foods. But if, along with drinking the carrot juice, a person will at least “eat a large raw salad every day, they will do themselves a lot of good.”
Since embarking on the Hallelujah Diet, the Reids have continued to educate themselves about healthy nutrition in the ensuing 12 years. In addition to the Hallelujah Diet, they’ve studied other plant-based diets, including the McDougall Diet and the Esselstyn Heart Healthy Diet. In 2009, the Reids began holding Wellness Meetings, a free six-week course in healthy eating and being healthier, in their home. In 2011, Hal earned his certification in nutrition from Cornell University through an online course designed by Dr. Colin Campbell, the author of The China Study. Campbell’s book is a comprehensive look at man and his diet around the world; its conclusion is that a plant-based diet is the healthiest.
“Only by word-of-mouth referrals, we’ve had more than 100 people participate in our wellness meetings,” says Barbara. “People want to be healthy, but they just don’t know how or where to turn to anymore. What we’re trying to do is pass on what we’ve learned, and then each person can decide for themselves what to do with that knowledge. And we always tell people to discuss everything with their primary physician.”
Hal adds, “People have to understand that there is no quick fix to being sick. Being healthier takes education and commitment over the long term. But knowledge empowers you and gives you hope.”
When Ocala resident Jim Batts began attending Wellness Meetings with the Reids in July 2010, he had just about given up hope. After dealing with debilitating bladder and kidney cancer treatments for nearly five years, Jim had decided he was done.
“The treatments were very painful, and the side effects were just awful,” says Jim, who was 66 when first diagnosed with bladder cancer. “My quality of life was not very good. I finally decided to stop the treatments and just let nature take its course.”
Then, his wife Mary Ann heard of the Reids and their wellness meetings. Without her husband knowing and not wanting to raise his hopes, she went to a meeting to check it out.
“Mary Ann liked what she heard at the first meeting and encouraged me to take the six-week course,” says Jim. “I figured I had nothing to lose at that point and decided to go. Almost right away, something clicked. What I was hearing and learning about healthy eating made a lot of sense.”
Jim started eating healthier, focusing on vegetables and eliminating red meat. He tried the carrot juice, but just couldn’t handle the taste. So he improvised, adding the barley supplement to a small amount of orange juice. Soon he found himself feeling better, stronger, and happier.
“All my symptoms started to slowly go away,” says Jim. “My energy returned, and I began being able to sleep through the night again. And that was something I hadn’t been able to do in years.”
In June 2011, Jim underwent extensive CT scans of his bladder and kidneys. When the doctor studied his past cancer history and reviewed the CT scan results, he had good news for Jim.
“The doctor looked at me and smiled,” recalls Jim, who’s now 71. “He said there was no sign of cancer. And he said ‘whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.’”
Today, Jim and Mary Ann, who both eat at least one big salad a day, are once again enjoying an active lifestyle. The two like to walk, bowl, square dance and travel, including recent trips to Alaska and Hawaii.
“I know that for me, changing the way I ate saved me,” says Jim. “It gave me back my quality of life.”
The Reids stop short of describing healthy eating as a miracle producer, instead citing their lives as an example. Both remain healthy, active in their careers, walk two miles at least five times a week and maintain a plant-based diet. And, yes, they still drink freshly made carrot juice.
“We just want to share our story and the knowledge we’ve gained over the years,” says Hal, who to this day has no reason to take any prescription drugs. “We know what a difference doing something as simple as eating real food has made in our lives.”
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Editor’s Note: The information included in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always discuss your health concerns with your personal physician.
Hal’s “Gotta Have” Carrot Juice
(Makes 32 ounces)
4 pounds of carrots
2-3 celery stalks
1 Granny Smith apple
Hal and Barbara Reid drink 16 ounces of freshly made carrot juice a day for health maintenance. If you’re sick and trying to boost your immune system, the Reids recommend up to 2 quarts a day. Expect to turn orange, though!
“I use an 8003 Omega juicer,” says Hal. “It will juice both hard and leafy vegetables, and that’s not something all juicers will do. And remember blenders and Vitamixers are not juicers.”
Hal uses “organic California carrots because they’re sweeter than regular carrots.” And if you’re serious about juicing, then he says “it’s more economical to buy a 25-pound bag at a time.” According to Hal, it takes about one pound of carrots, about 4 to 5 large carrots, to make 8 ounces of carrot juice. In addition to adding celery and an apple, Hal will sometimes toss in a beet.
“We make 32 ounces at a time and store the juice in four 8-ounce Mason jars,” says Hal. “The juice doesn’t oxidize as rapidly in the jars as it would in a pitcher. We store them in the refrigerator and each drink two jars a day. The juice will lose about 10 percent of the nutrients a day. If you freeze the juice, it’ll only lose about one percent of the nutrients a month.”
Another key tip Hal shares is to “drink the carrot juice on an empty stomach to best absorb the nutrients.”
The Bigger, The Better
“If a person does nothing else but eat a big salad, and I do mean a big salad, every day at lunch instead of eating what they normally would eat,” says Barbara, “you’ll soon notice how much better you feel.”
Barbara uses an OXO brand salad spinner and makes enough salad for three days at a time. At the heart of her big salads are green or red lettuces like Romaine and spinach. Barbara advises against using iceberg lettuce because it has little nutritional value.
“I wash the lettuce and spin them twice to get them really dry,” says Barbara. “Then I put the lettuce back in the spinner bowl to keep it crisp and fresh until ready to eat. I also place other washed and dried vegetables on top of the lettuce in the spinner until I’m ready to make a daily salad.”
Barbara’s daily salad begins with 2 to 3 cups of the lettuce greens. Next, she’ll add her choice of raw or cooked veggies, maybe fruit, optional garnishes and a little homemade salad dressing.
“You can add whole wheat bread or crackers and you have a great, healthy lunch,” says Barbara.
Big Salad Stuff
Green/Red Lettuces: Romaine, spinach, etc.
Raw Veggies: Broccoli, cauliflower, sweet onions, cucumber, radishes, sugar snap peas, snow peas, zucchini, yellow squash, turnips, carrots, red/green cabbage, red/green peppers, mushrooms.
Fruits: Apples, nectarines slices or tomatoes.
Cooked Options: White potatoes, penne pasta, beans (black, kidney, navy), green beans, artichokes, beets.
Garnishes (1-2 tablespoons): Greek or Spanish olives, grated Feta or Parmesan cheese, raisins, chopped walnuts or peanuts, crumbled corn chips.
Basic Salad Dressing: 1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice, 1 generous teaspoon of Bragg Liquid Aminos, 1 scant teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil (skip if you have any heart problems). Place all ingredients in small jar with lid, shake thoroughly and drizzle half on salad and refrigerate remainder for next salad.