Raw Foodist Freshman – Part 1
When I tell people that I try to mostly follow a raw food diet, they most often look at me as if I had just, that very instant, grown an extra head. Yeah, I thought that was pretty unconventional too until I took a class on raw food – aka living foods, cuisine (given by my mentor/guru/friend Ki Kosut of the Ki-Atsu Institute) about 10 months ago and got to understand the benefits and the practicalities of it all.
Note: By no means do I intend to give anyone a lecture on raw food. I will leave that to the experts. But the curiosity and interest in the subject is prompting me to write this, to share with you what it’s like, for a non-fanatical, bon vivant person like moi to take on this type of eating style.
First off, you must know that, in its simplest terms, raw foodism is a vegan diet, all about non-processed and non-cooked foods. Prepared foods, yes. Processed, not. Organic, much preferable. So, if you are an adamant carnivore, skip to the next article. Personally, I’ve never been a big meat eater. I remember, as a child, my family going out to eat at steakhouses (the standard for good dining in the 70’s) and I would invariably order the “filet de sole”. I can’t really take credit for how easily I can go vegetarian; I’ve just never been attracted to meat. Vegan is a harder thing for me. I love cheese and fish. Well, sushi, mostly.
Becoming a vegetarian was not really an ethical decision for me, although it has become that since I’ve adopted the practice. I will save you the rant on the reasons why one would consider becoming a vegetarian. If you are interested, the wonderful article HERE eloquently makes all the points. Have you read ? I read it in 2002 and don’t think I’ve entered a McDonald’s or Burger King since then. It also gave me a serious perspective on the appalling conditions in the slaughter houses. Isn’t it Rasputin that said that eating meat darkens the soul?
I got interested in learning more about raw foodism when I heard of its undeniable health benefits. Here’s what I love about the Raw Food regimen:
- Control of low blood sugar. In my case, the first immediate thing that I noticed was that it helped reduce (some days eliminate) my low blow sugar episodes. My family is grateful for that, i.e. not to have to deal with hypoglycemic mood swings!
- No meat, no wheat. Wheat makes me bloat. Think about it, we make glue with flour. I feel the wheat sticking to me. Seriously, I see my feet becoming pudgy as soon as I indulge in bread or pasta. That’s the first sign… No wheat in the raw food diet, so it saves me from that problem.
- Cravings, especially for carbs, disappear.
- Appetite is greatly reduced. My body seems to recognize that it is getting an abundance of nutrients and seeks nothing else. After a week or so of eating raw, I am never hungry and start eating smaller and smaller portions.
- It’s NOT as prohibitively expensive as the uninitiated say it is. I’m no longer buying expensive meat or fish or cheeses. I’m buying nuts & seeds (lots of nuts) and fresh fruit and vegetables. And agave nectar. And exotic herbs & spices. My grocery bill has practically stayed the same.
- For some, wine and sake being fermented foods, fit in the raw food diet. I first learned this from Matthew Kinney and Sarma Melngailis in their “Raw Food Real World” book. Bless their healthy little hearts!
- Energy. I definitely feel more focused and enthusiastic when I eat all raw. The difference is palpable.
- Weight loss. I lose about 5 lbs in the first week of “going back” to seriously eating raw. But since I am not maintaining a consistent raw food regimen, it’s been more of maintenance than weight loss benefit for me.
- So many fantastic food discoveries and fabulous recipes and delicious dishes (I will share sources in the next article). This goes WAY beyond green smoothies!
- It does not take as long to prepare a meal as unversed folk fear it does. It takes some planning (see below), but since there is no hot cooking involved, the meal prep is often LESS time consuming.
What is more complicated with a raw food regimen:
- You guessed it: kids. My 16 and 12 year old are not so receptive to some of the stranger food combinations and textures, although they have been open to tasting more and more new recipes. So we often need to prepare two variations of a meal for dinner, one for my husband and I and the other for the kids.
- Traveling. Staying vegetarian is not a problem, but staying vegan is more challenging, and eating raw is definitely harder. I hardly eat raw when I travel (I am not yet at the point of traveling with my VitaMix) PLUS the whole purpose of traveling is to experience new things, including new foods. So, I do!
- Challenge to maintain. I haven’t been able to maintain a consistent long term raw food diet. To me, that would mean 60 to 75% of my daily intake, all the time. Family, travel, holidays, business lunches, get-togethers have all been valid distractions for me. It’s not the temptation of eating cooked foods, but mostly the easy accessibility of these foods, the path of least resistance…
- Planning. You’ve got to be organized to eat raw well. That means planning ahead to have the right ingredients for the recipes that will require soaking, sprouting and dehydrating.
- I’ve been intimidated of sprouting. So have not tried it. Heard it’s real easy, but I’m just not there yet…
Even with all these minor hiccups, I persist. My husband and I PREFER eating raw. After all the periodic transgressions, we always return to raw, and every time we stick to it for a little bit longer. This way of eating will truly becomes a way of life before too long. The benefits are immediately noticeable and make the whole effort so gratifying. Oh, and so satisfying, in a most delicious way.
Stay tuned for part 2, next week when I will share my essential raw food starter books, websites and essential equipment.