For the majority of people, the best and most realistic way to make long term dietary and lifestyle changes that they feel good about, is to make smaller changes that can be incorporated into daily life in a more gentle and supportive way. Then at a certain point down the road, you will be ready and willing to make more changes that will lead you even closer to your goal. I refer to this as transition and for many reasons it is usually the smartest approach to upgrading your diet to include more fresh fruits and vegetables, or in fact to make your diet or your lifestyle healthier in any way. You can take a deep breath out now if you thought you would have to dive into an extreme new way of eating to get great results!
The good news is that it's much safer, gentler and kinder to transition slowly away from what you are doing now to more supportive ways of eating and living. If you jump in too quickly to a highly alkaline diet such as the raw food diet, without consideration of your current health and all the toxicity you are carrying in your body from years of eating processed and unnatural foods, pollution, negative thoughts, smoking, drinking, etc, you run the risk of overwhelming your body’s intelligent detoxification systems. Instead of releasing all the toxicity your improved diet has awakened, it simply re-circulates in your blood stream and re-settles in your tissues achieving nothing! Plus you will likely feel unwell or experience unpleasant symptoms as all the toxic waste is stirred up but not able to be fully released from the body via the elimination organs.
Let’s also not forget the emotional aspect of change, particularly when it comes to food. As I’m sure you are well aware, emotions play a starring role in decisions around food for the vast majority of the population. If you make small changes to your diet consistently, allowing yourself time to integrate the changes into your routine and become comfortable with them, you will give your emotional and physical body the opportunity to shake each other’s hand and sign a peace treaty agreeing to move forward together in harmony. It’s a much nicer approach than all-out war, don’t you think? The emotional aspect of change is often the most challenging!
Here’s the other thing: often when someone jumps into a healthy diet very quickly, they tend to overeat on the densest healthy foods such as big bags of nuts, dried fruits, whole grains, beans, oils and gourmet raw foods to try to replicate the heaviness of the foods they ate previously. While these foods have a place in a healthy diet, over-consuming them is only going to burden the digestive system even more, and it certainly won’t support the reasons you probably got into eating better in the first place, such as for energy, weight release, lightness, to heal symptoms, etc.
By slowly making changes and transitioning at a pace right for you, it is more likely you will avoid overeating, feeling deprived or restricted, or experiencing unpleasant symptoms. You will be giving yourself the best chance to let go of physiological and emotional attachments so that when you do make a change, it feels wonderful and sticks with you!
So, what are some examples of how you might transition yourself?
Well if you currently eat steak and vegetables for dinner, try a huge raw salad with a side of organic wild fish and some steamed vegetables. If you eat spaghetti with pasta sauce from a jar, try zucchini pasta or even spelt or buckwheat pasta with a high quality tomato sauce made without poor quality oils, refined sugars, salt, colors or flavors (or make your own).
If you eat a raw food diet, trade up your raw nut, seed and dried fruit meal combos for a big hearty avocado salad with a raw vegetable side that is mostly water containing fruits and vegetables such as a filling raw soup, a cauliflower tabouli, cabbage wraps with fresh tomato salsa and avocado slices or a delicious raw dip with crudités. For some raw foodies, it might even mean adding back in some high quality cooked vegetable dishes to provide satisfaction and comfort until you are ready to let them go (if you ever wish to at all – it’s certainly not necessary for wonderful health!).
Now it’s your turn. What foods and habits can you upgrade with a healthier choice that still satisfies you?