“When they find out she’s a … grandmother who flourishes on 4~hours of sleep a night, got through menopause without any
symptoms and hasn’t been sick in nearly 40 years, it’s the
antagonists who eventually fall silent.”
~ Chicago Tribune Magazine
Irony is something well-known to Karyn Calabrese. She is a 68-year-old grandmother who, without surgery or botox, looks nearly a generation younger. An advocate for veganism and raw foods, who once modeled for McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Chun King and Budweiser,a nutrition expert with no formal education who often attracts doctors to her classes. Not to mention the owner of a holistic day spa, and three vegan restaurants in the heart of Chicago, a city better known for thick steaks and stuffed deep-dish pizza than nuts and berries.
None of it phases Calabrese, a holistic teacher whose program of healthy eating and regular detoxification (e.g., fasting, cleansing) has advocates raving about its benefits, which include better mental focus, physical health and skin tone. While counting among her clients and restaurant regulars are celebrities as Lady Gaga, Tasha Smith, John Cusack, Angela Bassette, Orlando Jones, Boy George, Stevie Wonder, DelroyLindo, Steve Harvey and Beyoncé, emphasizes that her approach to health works for everyone. “Our bodies know intuitively what they’re supposed to eat, but we’ve trained them in another way since birth,” she says. “If you start giving the body what it’s meant to have, the results will be miraculous.”
Her four-week cleansing/detox program has its share of “miracles.” One HIV-positive client came to class with a T-cell count of only 50; by the end it increased to 350 and he went off nausea medication. An 85-year-old diabetic had a toe that hadn’t healed in five months and was going to be amputated; by the end of the program, it had healed. “It’s a regular occurrence for cholesterol and blood pressure to come into balance,” says Calabrese. Those who choose an “optimal” route not only forego meat and dairy, but eat only raw foods for the month. “I know that sounds dramatic and drastic, but this is why people get dramatic and drastic results.” Calabrese insists she’s not against people having the occasional steak and detoxing afterward), nor does she set out to turn clients into strict vegetarians or vegans. Her goal is to simply show people the first steps.