I remember when I first became involved in the raw food movement; I felt very overwhelmed by the overload of conflicting information about what to do and what not to do. I got stuck more than once as I continued on my raw food journey, which definitely involved making a mistake or two (or three). I want to share with you some easy mistakes that you want to avoid in order to be a happy, healthy and thriving individual while eating raw.
Mistake # 1: Being a fanatic
It can be really exciting when you first start eating more raw foods. There are so many positive changes in your life, and you are really enthusiastic about raw foods with everyone around you. You might be like me, and get a little bit obsessed. However, in going about it with such zeal and gusto, you might find that you have taken things to the extreme, which will only cause frustration. This is because you might also get too focussed on aspects of raw that stray from your whole reason for eating raw foods in the first place. I remember feeling guilty if I wasn’t 100 percent raw, or if I ate some (healthy, vegan) cooked food. By having this kind of mindset that I had “broken the rules,” I put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself.
I’ve since realized that I should always listen to my body, notice how I am feeling at any given time, keep an open mind and always aim to eat food that is organic, whole and plant-based. Fundamentally, I eat raw foods so I can feel at my best and be healthy. I don’t want to be too fanatical, and everyone is different with a unique chemistry. I eat a LOT of raw food, and I think everyone should. But, I don’t need to be 100 percent raw all the time to still be healthy. So long as I’m keeping to my core principle, then if I eat a cooked vegan curry one night, for example, I’m not going to feel guilty about doing so!
Mistake # 2: Overdoing it on the nuts
Don’t get me wrong, nuts and seeds are amazingly satisfying to eat, and they contain loads of healthful benefits. But, they are also fatty. Yes, the fat in nuts is “good” fat, but if you overdo it, then your body will feel heavy and sluggish, and you will gain excess body fat.
However, if you keep your consumption to a moderate level, you have nothing to worry about. By that, I mean a small handful of nuts and seeds a day. I use a small container that can fill a handful of seeds and nuts. I will stash some pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds and walnuts in the container. I then know once I have eaten everything in it, I am near my nut and seed quota for the day.
On this note, also be wary of eating raw cheesecakes, raw desserts generally, and even dishes like raw pizza, as they are usually made using large quantities of nuts and/or seeds. Cheesecakes and other raw dessert snacks should also be treated like treats, not something to indulge in every day, if you want to be healthy.
Mistake #3: Not keeping it real
By this, I mean relying too much on dehydrated snacks, dehydrated raw breads, and dried fruits. Yes, these are yummy, and yes, they are healthier than regular junk food snacks. But, if you rely solely on eating these kinds of foods all the time, you won’t feel all the amazing benefits that you can get when you eat food that is at its freshest. I tend to mainly eat dehydrated snacks I have prepared if I am going to be out and about or travelling, and it is handy to have them packed in my bag if I am hungry and stuck somewhere without a healthy option.
Remember, when fruits and veggies are fresh is when they contain all the nutrients in their most vibrant state, and these are what fuel and fill our body with goodness. Better yet, eat living foods such as sprouts, and add fermented foods such as sauerkrauts and pickles to your diet, as they contain plenty of nutrients and are natural probiotics. However, try and avoid buying too many goods from packages or tins, as these will have additives and preservatives that detract from the overall quality of the food you are eating. Keep it real and fresh whenever you can.
Mistake #4: Become a superfood addict
The buzzword “superfood” seems to be everywhere, and has such hype around it now. It is easy to get tangled up in the (sometimes misguided) information and to get convinced that a particular superfood is something you must have to be healthy. Many of the superfoods definitely can bring amazing qualities when eaten, but don’t get sucked into thinking you have to consume the item to be healthy. Think of these super products as something that may add to your life, but are not essential for you to be happy and healthy.
There is one supplement that I take every day, and that is a B complex that covers me for B12, the only vitamin you can’t get from a plant-based diet (although many carnivores also need to watch out for this deficiency!). I also use spirulina for protein, maca for its balancing qualities, raw cacao because it is delicious, and goji berries because they are cheap and available in Indonesia where I live. Sometimes it might be weeks between having any of those supplements (except the vit B), and I get along perfectly fine. Use your intelligence, and do your own research before you fork out a lot of money on a product. And know why it is you are using it.
Mistake #5: Going too gourmet
This point kind of ties in with Mistake #3. Again, I remember when I first got interested in raw foods and I had a few (un)cookbooks that I browsed through. I was blown away by how delicious some of the dishes looked -- like something I would see at a restaurant. I was super keen to try making food that looked the similar. But, these foods were made by trained raw chefs who know special techniques and have a lot of time on their hands. The gourmet meals, whilst they look good, are often quite time consuming to make and use a lot of strange ingredients. These really are exotic dishes that you might make for a special occasion or while entertaining. I do love making more gourmet meals sometimes, but it isn’t realistic to always to do. And, striving to will make life and the raw food lifestyle really difficult, especially for newbies.
For the everyday raw lifestyle, you just want to learn how to make some simple, easy dishes that are your home-style signatures which you know you can and will make again and again. Having your standby meal will definitely help to keep you on track and focused.
What do you think of these mistakes? Have you made any of them yourself, or have one to add to the list?