Intro to a Raw Foods Diet
Eating a fully raw diet is what my body thrives best on. Even more so when I consume fresh, local, in season fruits and vegetables. So I am here to share with you some information regarding eating a raw food diet and answer some common and frequently asked questions.
What does eating a raw food diet mean?
It means consuming fresh, whole, unprocessed, unrefined, natural, plant-based foods that have not been cooked. This includes fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, nuts and seeds.
Foods that have been dehydrated and have not been exposed to temperatures above 115 degrees Fahrenheit are still considered to be raw. However, dehydrated foods have been stripped of its water content, so although it is raw, it is not exactly a complete ‘whole’ food.
Are there different types of raw food diets?
Even within the raw food diets, there is a huge spectrum. On a basic sense, one end of the spectrum, people may consume most of their calories through fats, such as through nuts, seeds and avocados. This in comparison to consuming most of their calories through carbohydrates, such as from primarily fruits. Others may consume a complete fruitarian diet which is also a raw food diet, except as the name suggest they only consume primarily fruits, as well as nuts and seeds. Then there are juicers/juice cleansers that strictly consume juice for a period of time, usually a short period of time such as a few weeks to a couple of months. And then there’s everything else in between.
Which raw food diet is the best?
For me personally, I thrive best when eating around 60-80% carbohydrates, 10-20% protein, and 10-20% fat. There are days where I eat primarily fruit throughout the day, and other days I may consume slightly more fats, and then there are other days where I would incorporate more dehydrated foods, especially when whole fresh fruits are limited. I do not believe there is a single specific diet that works for every person. However, I do believe introducing more raw foods into your diet on a daily basis is beneficial for everyone. There is no right or wrong per se, it is all about balance, listening to your body and finding what best works for you.
Why is incorporating raw foods beneficial?
One of the biggest benefit is the removal of all the toxins and processed foods that have been packed with preservatives, artificial ingredients and other unnecessary ingredients providing us with little to no nutrition. When foods are cooked, many of the nutrients have been diminished or destroyed, whereas raw foods contains nearly all the vitamins and minerals needed in the most optimal ratio for our bodies. The amount of fibre in a raw foods diet is also extremely beneficial for not only our digestive system but can impact every other system in our bodies. For example, providing us with bulk that help remove waste and toxins we acquire as well as keeping us full for longer and not spiking our blood sugar levels.
Isn’t it a lot of sugar?
It is mind-blowing how people avoid bananas and dates because of its high sugar content. Although it is true that these fruit are high in sugar, however these sugars are simple carbohydrates which is easy for our bodies to digest, requiring less digestive energy. Our bodies simply know what to do with these foods. It is also a whole food, meaning it contains a natural nutritional balanced profile of vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein and fat! Even more so, it will not spike your blood sugar levels as much as many of the refined sugars you may find in many other products such as flours, breads, pastries, and other snacks. These sugars have been processed, and stripped of much of its nutrition.
What about the protein?
Most people in developed countries overestimate the amount of protein that they need and consume. Excess in protein consumption can result in more acidic conditions in the body which in turn can lead to further health issues. This is because alkaline minerals are taken from our bloodstream and bones in order to balance and combat the high acidity. It surprises people to know there is enough protein found just from raw fruits and vegetables.
I have also written more about protein HERE!
Can anyone follow a raw food diet?
For the most part, everyone CAN follow a raw food diet. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to due to the scarcity of fresh, whole raw, good quality fruits and vegetables available, or if they are diagnosed with certain illnesses or other health concerns that may not thrive best on a raw foods diet. It is not impossible though, I have read for example about people who have reversed type II diabetes, and even able to sustain on a type I diabetes while on a raw foods diet.
The word diet is not my favourite, because of all the negative connotations associated with the word. As a result, I like to think of eating raw foods as a lifestyle, because is more than just the foods you are consuming, but about how you decide to live your life, your perspectives, and can immensely impact how you are mentally, physically and emotionally as well.
How do I start?
The best way to start for most people is to slowly incorporate more raw foods into your meals. Whether that is starting your morning with a raw juice or smoothie instead of toast or granola; or incorporating more raw salads during lunch and dinner. By including more raw foods into your diet, it will automatically decrease the amount of cooked foods you consume on a daily basis. Simply, increase the ratio of raw vs cooked foods you eat over time!
As you continue to add more raw foods into your diet, try eating one raw meal a day, and then build up to eating fully raw to one day, two days, a week and so on. Remember to be patient! Any change, especially in your lifestyle requires time, effort and motivation. I suggest making small realistic goals and make small changes over time.
Another thing I suggest is to do research and ask lots of questions. There are definitely sources that are biased and not factual so it is important to find reputable sources and do research not only online but through books, journals, documentaries, etc.
One last thing is to refer to my past post “Maintaining a vegan lifestyle” because it can also relate and be helpful when introducing a raw foods diet.
Why do so many people fail?
People can fail for many different reasons. One may be that they underestimated the amount of raw foods is needed to equate to the same amount of cooked foods. When I first started eating raw, I counted all my calories to make sure I was eating enough and that I was receiving enough nutrients. Additionally as mentioned, changing your diet requires time to adjust. Your body first needs to detox and remove all the toxins it has accumulated over time. This alone can produce unwanted symptoms that some people may fail to overcome and end up reverting back to their old habits and diet.
Therefore, it is important to do your research, to take it slow, and document your experience. It is a journey that requires learning, time and effort. Just don’t give up! It is your health, we only get one body, it is so worth it if you ask me.
Where can I learn more about a raw foods diet?
- Fully Raw Kristina – She has been one of the biggest inspirations and educators for me personally in this whole fully raw foods realm.
- The Raw Advantage – I have had the pleasure and meeting the fellow Canadian Chris who oozes of positivity and energetic vibes.
- 80/10/10 Diet – I own the book and have followed a 80/10/10 diet in the past and it has worked well for me. Since then I tend to listen more to my own body and if I want to eat more fat I will do so and won’t restrict myself. Nevertheless it is still a great resource.
- The Best of Raw Food – Many helpful recipes, links and additional information on this site.
- Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead – A story of how a man changed his life from introducing juicing, and his journey on promoting this lifestyle.
As the title of the post suggest, this is just an introduction. There is much more that can be discussed, so if you have any additional question feel free to ask. Or please check out the sources I have listed for you.
One last thing I want to share is that the longest I have been raw has been one month and it was during the winter. Looking back I don’t really know how I was able to do it, maybe it wasn’t as cold that month at the time? Nevertheless, I felt amazing. If I had access to an abundance of fresh and local fruits and vegetables year-round I think I would be fully raw for longer periods of time and be fully raw more often. Unfortunately this is not the case. As I have mentioned, incorporating more fully raw foods into your everyday diet is HIGHLY beneficial, no matter who you are or where you live. So, plesae give it a try and do it for your health and wellbeing, do it for the animals, do it for the environment… please just do it. I believe in you!