For publicity photos, she posed nude. In them, her toned arms strategically cradle fresh fruits and vegetables. The pictures show a trim waist, slim hips, and enviably flat belly — but just a few years before they were taken, Diana Stobo weighed 247 pounds.
She had three kids, a concerned husband, and a cluster of medical conditions. One day, the effects of a bleeding ulcer brought her to an emergency room. "I left that hospital with another bottle of pills," Stobo said. "This was the pivotal moment in my life. I knew that something had to change."
Stobo drove directly to the library, seeking books on how to detox. "I was so swollen with toxic waste in my body that it literally blew me up," she remembers now. Her readings led Stobo to psychiatrist/nutritionist/acupuncturist/Ayurvedic practitioner/raw-food activist Gabriel Cousens' Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Arizona.
"Within ten days, I dropped ten pounds. I was waking up," she said. Decrying wheat, meat, dairy, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol — America's favorite foods — as "Know-No's," Stobo drew on her experience as a culinary artist who had spent years creating lavish cakes and party feasts at her Mill Valley home. Devising such creations as avocado-thickened carrot soup, date-topped apple "crisp," kale "colada," and yeast-dusted jicama "fries," she collected these in a book, Get Naked Fast! A Guide to Stripping Away the Foods That Weigh You Down.
"I was 100 percent raw for over a year, and I loved it," Stobo said. "But managing a unique lifestyle is not for everyone, and I didn't want to sit on an exclusive island that nobody could get to. I wanted there to be an easy pathway for others to eat for health, vibrancy, and beauty," so she advocates a 70 to 80 percent raw lifestyle. "Because there is no judgment, everyone is successful."
Although she likes to say that the body knows what it wants, she concedes that the body sometimes engages in doublespeak. "Cravings are not a need, but a dysfunction of the human system. Imagine an angel and a devil on each shoulder. The angel is your body, who knows the truth and whispers gently in your ear all that is good, while the devil is your cravings shouting dirty little words like 'dairy,' 'wheat,' 'meat,' 'sugar,' 'alcohol,' and 'caffeine.' We must give the angel a platform."
Demonstrating how to make curried Waldorf salad and cranberry-dressed kale salad, she'll join fellow raw-food chefs Jennifer Cornbleet, Heather Haxo Phillips, Café Gratitude's Gregory Manitsas, and others for Healthy Holiday Survival, an all-day raw-foods extravaganza at the First Congregational Church of Oakland (2501 Harrison St., Oakland) on Saturday, November 20.
Even a 70 percent raw-food diet can be spendy, given the price of nuts, seeds, avocados, organic produce, and food processors. "Who can put a price tag on health? I have a friend who always says raw food is 'cheaper than cancer.' It's a matter of priority," Stobo said. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., $120 ($30 for dinner only). RawBayArea.com