Have you started hearing about the Raw Food Diet? It’s gaining popularity and buzz, not just as a diet to lose weight, but a diet for a long and healthy life. A raw food diet means consuming food in its natural, unprocessed form.
Processing and cooking food can take so much of the basic nutritional value away.
The raw food diet means eating unprocessed, uncooked, organic, whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, dried fruits, seaweeds, etc. It means a diet that is at least 75% uncooked!
Cooking also alters the chemistry of foods, often making them harder to digest. High fiber, high water content fresh produce abolishes constipation of the bowels, cells and circulatory system. Obstructions are cleared and blood flow increases to each and every cell in the body. Enhanced blood flow is significant for two reasons: blood delivers nutrients and oxygen to living cells, and carries away their toxic metabolites.
Obesity is at an epidemic level in this country. But in reality, our bodies are hungry, even though we may feel full. When you start giving your body the nutrients it craves, overeating will cease. Eating raw foods is a boost to your metabolism as well. It takes a little more energy to digest raw foods, but it’s a healthy process. Rather than spending energy to rid itself of toxins produced by cooking food, the body uses its energy to feed every cell, sending vitamins, fluids, enzymes and oxygen to make your body the efficient machine it was intended to be.
You’ll naturally stop overeating, because your body and brain will no longer be starving for the nutrients they need. A starving brain will trigger the thoughts that make you overeat. The brain and the rest of your body don’t need quantity; they need quality.
Is there a difference between vegetarian and raw food diets? A raw foodist is a vegetarian, but one who generally is not going to cook his vegetables or fruits. A vegetarian is someone who simply doesn’t eat meat, fish or poultry, but only consumes vegetables, pasta, and rice. A vegetarian might eat meatless spaghetti sauce or order onion rings in a restaurant.
There are different categories of vegetarians, like vegans, or fruitarians, and raw foodist is a category of vegetarianism. We haven’t seen anything about sushi being considered a raw food, but it is. Raw food, though, generally means eating raw, uncooked fruits, vegetables, dried fruits, seaweeds, etc.
But to be a raw food purist means raw broccoli, not steamed. To a vegetarian, someone committed to not eat meat or fish or animal products, steamed vegetables are just as good. A vegetarian might consume dairy or egg products; however a vegan will not consume any animal products at all. And a raw foodist is a vegan who consumes only uncooked, unprocessed raw foods. Proponents of the raw diet believe that enzymes are the life force of a food and that every food contains its own perfect mix. These enzymes help us digest foods completely, without relying on our body to produce its own cocktail of digestive enzymes.
Does moving to a raw foods diet mean never eating hot food again? No, it doesn’t. Sometimes you want something hot. Hot food has always signified comfort for many of us. And on a cold, rainy day, carrot sticks or wheatgrass juice probably won’t cut it for most of us. Most raw food, like our bodies, is very perishable. When raw foods are exposed to temperatures above 118 degrees, they start to rapidly break down, just as our bodies would if we had a fever that high. One of the constituents of foods which can break down are enzymes. Enzymes help us digest our food. Enzymes are proteins though, and they have a very specific 3-dimensional structure in space. Once they are heated much above 118 degrees, this structure can change. Once enzymes are exposed to heat, they are no longer able to provide the function for which they were designed.
But you certainly can steam and blanch foods if you want your food at least warm. Use a food thermometer and cook them no higher than 118 degrees Fahrenheit. Up to this temperature, you won’t be doing too much damage to the enzymes in food.
Are you interested in a raw food diet, but don’t think you can do it all the time?
You don’t have to, certainly not to start. Many of us are conditioned to think of food as reward and comfort. We look forward to the end of the day, having dinner with our families, or going out to dinner with friends.
Try eating raw foods throughout the day. If you go to work every day, take carrots, apples, grapes or dried fruit with you to munch on. If you usually go out to lunch during the day, try to go places where you can get a salad. If you pack a lunch, include sprouts and fruit with it. Steamed brown rice and vegetables and a little fruit might not sound very interesting, but it’s a good energy lunch. If you’re like many people, those fast food lunches make you want to crawl under your desk and take a nap in the afternoon! They make you sluggish and tired. A lighter lunch of raw foods can keep you energized throughout the day.
The business culture is different these days, and there’s less of a routine than there used to be with a morning “coffee break” and then “lunch hour” and an afternoon “break.” That routine doesn’t work for a lot of people any more, but you can still get hungry during the day.
By taking a variety of raw foods with you to work, you can munch periodically during the day. Sometimes it’s better to eat to avoid getting hungry. If we let ourselves go too long until we get ravenous, that’s when it’s easier to make poor food choices. Eating raw foods periodically throughout the day also keeps your metabolism humming along, and keeps your blood sugar at steady levels.
Fortunately for those of us newly interested in eating organic and raw foods, there are lots of products out there. Many grocery stores now feature sprouts and other living foods in the produce aisle. Of course, if they don’t, there’s nothing easier to grow for yourself than sprouts!
Cabbage – High in Vitamin C; important for healthy cell function
Shitake mushrooms – contain essential fatty acids and antioxidants to support a healthy immune system
Kale – Rich in fiber and helps reduce calorie intake with less hunger. We like that!
Barley – Loaded with niacin, fiber and iron and is important for healthy blood sugar.
You don’t have to give up all the foods you’re used to eating to become more healthy and to start eating raw, organic and live foods.
You know the best place to start changing your life and your diet?
It’s at the grocery store, of course. Even if you’re at a good weight and pretty healthy, take a tip from dieters. Go shopping with a list and don’t go to the grocery store hungry. Make sure this shopping trip you can resist those Oreos and potato chips.
Clean out your refrigerator and your cabinets. Throw out the half-empty bags of snack foods. Put any microwaveable foods in a dark bag and stash them somewhere in the back of the freezer. Out of sight, out of mind.
Do stock up on dried fruits and nuts for snacking. Transform your kitchen from a processed food haven to a healthy kitchen. Invest in a good juicer. Clean out those crisper drawers to get them ready for an influx of new organic and raw foods.
Load up on fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. If you can’t give up meat and fish, consider getting super fresh tuna that you can just sear and serve with sesame seeds and a small amount of soy sauce.
Make eating this way fun. Invest in those big, white square dishes that are good for serving sushi. It’s easier to arrange small portions of different foods that way. And getting new white dishes will be symbolic of this new, purer way of eating. Get some good chopsticks so you can take your time eating. This could be really fun!
Go to a bookstore and get a cookbook or a food book so you can learn about eating raw foods. Buy a big vase and a bunch of sunflowers to symbolize letting the sun shine into your diet.
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- If You Eat Raw Foods, Will You Lose Weight? (socyberty.com)
- The Raw Food Detox Diet (everydayhealth.com)
- Raw food diet tied to problems but not benefits (sfgate.com)