If you've never eaten or even considered a raw food diet before, congratulations for even clicking on the link to this post. Americans are so committed to animal-based protein that just the words "raw food" make us shudder. We have such an aversion to vegetables that we come up with ways to hide them in other food. But before you totally turn your nose up at the idea, there’s a lot about a raw food diet that you might not know.
You probably know that a raw diet is made up of fresh, whole, unrefined, living, plant-based foods: fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, and seeds, which are consumed in their natural state, without cooking or steaming. Did you know that you can get enough protein and fat from nuts, seeds, vegetables, legumes, fruits and superfoods? Here are some other myths dispelled.
Myth #1: You need to eat raw foods 100% of the time to get the benefit of such a diet.
Not only is that not true, it’s not realistic. Most health coaches and dieticians agree that to get the most benefit from a raw diet, you should be eating 90-95% raw, but sometimes, it just isn’t possible to stick to that.
Right now, during the holidays, you are likely to be a guest in someone’s home. HOPEFULLY they will include healthy meal options without your having to ask (though if they don’t, you really should speak up, it’s OK to ask for what works best for you!), but chances are, very little of it is going to be raw. The truth is that ANY increase in raw foods is beneficial to your body. Eat an apple for breakfast, or a salad for lunch (without all the croutons and bacon bits!)! Find some way to keep raw food in your diet, even when it’s not convenient.
Myth #2: Everything you eat on a raw food diet will be cold.
Myth 1 segues perfectly into myth 2. Sometimes, when it’s cold outside, for example, you’re going to want to eat something warm, and you absolutely can! Food can be warmed to 118 degrees Fahrenheit without negatively affecting the nutritional value of it. In a dehydrator, or on a coffeemaker warming plate, you can achieve the perfect temperature without losing the vital nutrients.
Myth #3: The whole diet is raw fruits and vegetables.
This is the best myth of all because it’s absolutely not true! Other raw foods include seeds, nuts, nut milks, sprouted grains, seaweeds, juices, and even some processed foods like soy sauce, kimchi, miso, raw nut butters and cold-pressed raw oils.
A raw food diet will flush your system of toxins, support your immune system better and lower your blood pressure. Including superfoods like blueberries, almonds, kale and chia seeds will also help to boost your energy, and keep healthy fats, minerals and amino acids in your system, as well as being tasty!
Just because it’s raw, doesn’t mean it has to be a hard, crunchy carrot stick or head of lettuce. Smoothies, soups, and salads are easy to make and don't require you to spend hours and hours chopping and grating (I didn’t say there won’t be ANY chopping and grating, but that doesn’t have to be your sole activity for the day either). You can include additions like cacao and hemp oil in your diet, which will add flavor and variety as you’re converting your taste buds from the extremes of highly processed and animal-based foods to a raw food diet. I post tasty, raw food recipes all the time.
Nobody said you have to jump into it with both feet either. It is something you can work up to, with a plotted goal of incorporating more and more into your daily diet until you're eating raw 90-95% of the time. Nothing in a raw diet is going to taste like steak or pizza, but you know that stuff isn’t good for you. If you give a raw food diet a chance, you’ll find yourself feeling better, cleaner, more energetic and your mind will be clearer.