You might know Kris Carr from the hit TLC documentary Crazy Sexy Cancer; when she was diagnosed with epithelioid hemangioendothelioma -- an extremely rare, and supposedly incurable, form of cancer -- she transformed her life through diet and healthy living. She'll be signing Crazy Sexy Diet, which she describes as the crazy sexy lifestyle "bible," tonight at the Tattered Cover, 2526 East Colfax Avenue, at 7:30 p.m.
We recently caught up with Carr to talk about the new book, integrative modes of treatment and how she wants her readers to view themselves:
Westword: Tell us about your journey through this topic.
Kris Carr: So the journey started in 2003 on Valentine's Day, when I was diagnosed with a very rare cancer with no cure. Because I couldn't do treatment options, I went about creating and investigating and experimenting and finding the best diet and lifestyle out there. I talk about it a lot in Crazy Sexy Cancer and my book of the same title, but really, Crazy Sexy Diet is the bible. It's an enormous resource filled with everything I've learned for people who are interested in getting well and staying well. We have an outstanding posse of contributors and doctors and wonderful smart people. I think the genesis started with sickness, and now it's turning into kind of a wellness revolution that I'm happily penning from my home in New York.
And that's when you started looking into alternative wellness modalities?
I prefer to call them "integrative," because "alternative" makes it seem so radical. I knew that I had to take charge of what I was eating, drinking and thinking, and what I put in my mouth has to be assimilated or eliminated. So it was a great place for me to start: Upgrade the diet first, give myself more energy, strengthen my immune sytem, rev my metabolism and really put myself on the fast track for good health. It was shocking to me what I learned; it was shocking that I didn't learn it younger in school, and there was so much confusion out there when I first attempted to teach myself these things. It was a terrifying world to navigate, really, but it was my only option. So I just put on my high heels and started kicking down doors and devouring everything I could.
And what were the conclusions you came to?
The Crazy Sexy diet and lifestyle -- and it's important to understand that it's a lifestyle -- is primarily anti-inflammatory. It focuses on plant foods and increasing the amount of alkaline foods we consume and decreasing acidic foods and foods that are part of our standard American diet. That's what the components are. I think the overall concept is that it's not just what you're eating, it's what's eating you. I really explore lifestyle practices and stress, how we're talking to ourselves, how we're treating ourselves, and how to correct that, because if you can't change the thinking, you can't change the eating. Ultimately, I don't want people to just be healthy; I want people to be happy.
Talk about the style and design used to put the book together. It's very playful and reads almost like a magazine.
It's the same style I used in my previous book, and I think that it's important to be visually stimulating -- and certainly my tone is entertaining. I think that medicine goes down better when it's wrapped in honey and pizzazz. I want it to feel like an unbelievably cozy scrapbook, like your best friend is talking to you and you have an intimate relationship with this book, because I want you to go back to it, not just put it on your shelf. This book is your buddy. I'm also a really visual person, I learn in pictures, so if I don't understand something scientifically, I make pictures. When I didn't understand amino acids, I had to literally draw it out and tell myself a really fun story to learn about amino acids.
What would you say to people who are concerned that the diet modifications you discuss in this book are too difficult?
The book is a lovefest. And I never criticize anybody for the choices that they make. I'm vegan, but I'm not suggesting that y'all have to go vegan. What I am suggesting is, we should reduce the amount of animal protein that we're consuming and fake and processed food that we're consuming, because they don't serve us. They're still gonna get dessert, pasta and so many of the foods they're used to; they're just going to get better versions of them. I think that ultimately, the important thing to remember is I'm not suggesting you need to go full-tilt boogie. You can lean into this, get your toe in and feel the benefits and choose to increase it as you go along. Crazy Sexy Diet gives you a compass. It's a home base. Are you gonna veer off? Heck, yeah, and I'll probably meet you there, but we know how to get back to "one." So if you're not feeling well, you're congested, you're constipated, you've been traveling too much, you're stressed -- you know where home is. You can take the little scenic roads and dance on tables, you're just going to come back to "one." I'm not going to bash you over your head and say, "You can't eat animals!" I'm going to say, "If you're eating a lot of them, you might want to reduce it, because it's not healthy for you." It's not about deprivation, it's about the health.
Talk about the 21-day cleanse you've included at the end of the book.
By the time you get to the cleanse, you have learned so much, so I trust you. What you're not going to get is a daily meal plan and me programming you like a robot. I'm going to show you what to do, teach you exactly how to do it, give you a lot of great sample recipes and steer you toward wonderful cookbooks, but what I'm really going to help you do is change your mind. In 21 days, I'm going to give your confidence an upgrade, I'm going to give your sense of self an injection of crazy sexy love. I'm going to talk about self-care tips, exercise, I'm going to remind you to take care of certain parts of your life that you're maybe neglecting. It is really an overall total upgrade, that's the 21 days, because if I just tell you exactly what to eat for 21 days and that's it, it's like, there's a beginning, middle and end, and then what are you going to do? More than likely, go back to the old way of living that got you into the problem in the first place. If I focus on shifting your thinking and how you care for yourself, then we're going to see some lasting change. The 21-day program is different.
It's interesting that you include self-love as part of what's essentially a book on nutrition.
It comes from what I need for me to stay on track personally, because if I'm making all this good food for myself but speaking down to myself, then I feel really bad, and it kind of feels like, what's the effort worth? I'm not worth it anyway, so why shouldn't I just eat fast food and Ho Hos and hope for the best and accept the worst? But if I put you in a place where you're worth it and you're making an energy deposit because you're a goddess doing amazing things on this planet ...
What can readers expect at the book signing?
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I love my signings to be more like classes. I want you to use me up -- that's why I'm there. We're going to talk about the basics, and then we'll open up for some questions, and I'm going to coach you because I want to help you. That's why I'm coming.
Direct people to two different websites: www.crazysexydiet.com has all the information about the book, and www.crazysexylife.com is my online magazine, which has a wealth of wellness resources and top writers.