Kale chips, anyone? Cashew cheese? Or how about a fruitarian ten-banana smoothie?!
Yes, I said TEN bananas.
“Living foods” is the latest craze. There are more raw food cook books, cafes and juice bars popping up every day and more people than ever seem to be aware that it’s important to include raw fruits and vegetables in their diet.
I was first introduced to the idea of a raw lifestyle a few years ago, sitting in front of YouTube, innocently sipping a tea.
I was watching a video on B12 (doing research, you know) and I just loved the man making it. Not only was he hilarious, he also seemed brilliant, passionate and ….. incredibly healthy. After clicking to more of his videos I discovered he was actually a raw vegan. And not just any “raw” vegan – he specifically followed “The 80 10 10 Diet”, developed by Dr Douglas Graham. (This is where my ten-banana smoothie reference comes from!)
Already my mind was blown, hang on, are you saying there’s more than one “raw food” diet?
I thought worked like this: “is it raw? I’ll eat it. Is it cooked? So long.”
Oh, if only it were that simple.
Turns out there many varieties of raw food diets, all of which have pioneers or “experts” representing why their approach is best. They have different ideas about fat percentage, use of animal products (seriously!), supplementation, super foods, and for a newbie: it can be very daunting!
After reading some books and watching too many YouTube videos, I managed to come out the other side, not put off at all, but oddly drawn to this lifestyle.
Could I actually try being a raw foodist?
Is that crazy? Do I have to move into a cabin on top of a mountain and meditate all day? Am I still allowed to blog in coffee shops if I’m a raw foodist? Am I still allowed to buy shampoo or do I have to make it out of coconut oil or something?
I was daunted, but couldn’t deny my instincts. I wanted to try this!
But I didn’t go running out to immediately buy a dehydrator, I simply began increasing the amount of fruit I was eating and ALWAYS making a giant salad to accompany my family’s dinner. I saw this as a simple start, nothing overwhelming or scary.
Slowly, my tastes began to change. I genuinely didn’t predict this, but the more the raw food I ate, the more I craved it. Gradually my non-raw food became less exciting and I found myself looking forward to simple sliced tomato with raw tahini or a basic sliced cucumber topped with dates. These foods became more appealing to me than a brownie! How mad is that? And I wasn’t even following a raw food diet! I was still having social dinners with friends, drinking coffee, but feeling these changes.
My raw “experiment” became the experiment that never ended! I tried to just listen to my body and eat what I was craving and that became (not all the time!) mostly raw fruits and vegetables. The benefits of bursting energy, delicious food and the peaceful sleep couldn’t be denied and I was loving all of it!
Including some cooked food in my life is what works for me right now (I’m a little too keen on my social dinners out and eating free food in my hospitality job!), but I love eating raw and am sure we can all benefit from more in our lives! If you think you want to increase your raw intake, here’s some things I’d suggest to anyone starting from scratch:
Firstly – do research but don’t get confused by those who make lots of money selling supplements and protein powders. Good, wholesome fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds are what your body needs. If you are concerned about soil depletion, non-organic produce or personal deficiencies, then of course look into supplementation, but make sure you are always logical. Some people make lots of money selling miracle elixir raw cacao tonic!
Utilise cronometer.com, which is an online resource that tracks your nutrition and calories. The biggest mistake people can make trying raw foods is that they do not eat ENOUGH. If you want to eat raw food – get comfortable with eating a lot more than you’re used to. It’s very easy to end up calorie deficient, feeling low energy and reaching for the nearest chocolate bar. I’m a freak, so I quite enjoy sitting down at the end of the day and filling in my Cronometer!
The most obvious thing I can tell you is to place your emphasis on fruits and vegetables. That’s what your body wants and will give you the biggest nutrient bang for your buck. Some people get calories in by downing an entire jar of almond butter and that is just not logical. Almond butter is delicious, but maybe have it as an addition to raw veggie sticks instead of eating it out of the jar with a spoon. Unless you’re going through a break-up, that’s a different matter.
Raw food diets tend to divide on whether you get the majority of calories from fats or from fruit (carbohydrates). I found carbohydrates were hands-down the better choice for me, but others will prefer a high fat diet. I recommend doing research and looking at the long-term followers of that diet. Here, on Chic Vegan, the divine Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram (who follows the “80 10 10 Diet”) gave an interview (click HERE to read) on her health and lifestyle that is worth reading. She is quite inspiring!
Perhaps start with breakfast? And make it fun, never stressful. Try a lovely banana, date and cinnamon smoothie to start your day (my favourite) and see how you feel? If that doesn’t float your boat, there are lots of smoothie recipes to look at, or better yet – just eat fruit! What’s your favourite fruit? Pick whichever it is and have as much as you like for breakfast. You just ate a raw meal!
Raw foods are healing, healthy and incredibly beneficial. I love eating raw, but am logical to a fault and totally believe in the power of potatoes, cooked vegetables, quinoa and other “non raw” foods. Listen to your body, listen to your logic and do what sounds right to you.
Also, you should know – I’m writing this blog drinking a naughty coffee in my favourite café! We’re all human!