Eating Raw: A Primer

 

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What does it mean to eat raw?

When you eat “raw” food, you are eating food that has not been “cooked”. Typically, you are eating fruits, vegetables, nits, seeds, legumes, sprouts and grains in their natural state. If they are heated or processed at all through blending, juicing, food processing or dehydrating, they are never heated over 118 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

What are raw and living foods?

Raw and living foods constitute those foods that are provided by nature, organically grown and consumed in their original, uncooked state. They are the considered to contain the highest nutritional contentment of all plant foods and include fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, sprouts and grains; these are prepared for optimal digestion through sprouting, blending, juicing and fermenting..

 

Why eat raw and living foods?

Raw and living foods are high in enzymes, minerals, vitamins and nutrients that help the body to digest food and absorb nutrients into the bloodstream. Raw and living foods are packed with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, chlorophyll, oxygen and antioxidants, all of which are essential to give our bodies the fuel they need. When eating a diet high in raw fruits and vegetables, the digestive process is quicker and more efficient, requiring less of the body’s energy and therefore allowing the body to concentrate its resources on cleansing and rebuilding the Immune system. These nutrient-rich foods increase energy, assist in healing, rebuild healthy tissue and invigorate the entire body. Vitality is increased because all cell functions are operating optimally.

Although there are a few vegetables that benefit from a nutritional boost when lightly steamed, the majority of “cooked” foods (over 118 degrees) lose many of their natural vitamins, minerals, enzymes oxygen and antioxidants. The foods nutrient value is, quite literally, “cooked off” resulting in empty calories and a diminishment of the foods natural taste.

 

Is it necessary to eat 100% raw and living foods to derive the benefits of a healthy body?

Simply shifting from the Standard American Diet (SAD) to an all organic, cooked diet would be a huge step forward in terms of health benefits. Organic foods do not harbor the toxins that are present in conventionally grown foods. Jumping from the Standard American Diet straight into a raw diet can often be a recipe for failure, even for the most excessive personalities. Making the initial shift to an all organic diet can be a first step towards better health and environmentally conscious consumerism. The next step might be organic vegetarianism: the elimination of all meat, refined sugars and processed starches from one’s diet. From here the step to organic veganism is not extreme and would merely constitute the elimination of all animal protein including meat and dairy products. At this point it’s about gradually incorporating more and more raw food into your diet till the majority of caloric intake is coming from raw living foods. It is not necessary to go All Raw but More Raw is always going to constitute a benefit and eventually, who knows? You might want to take the final plunge to 100% raw. These changes do not have to happen overnight. Sugar and chemicals present in the SAD diet are essentially addictive; there is a withdrawal process involved to reach your ultimate goals of health and well-being., no matter how one looks at it. Be kind to yourself. Give your body time to facilitate the changes

My advice is. Initially, unless you are ill, not to go 100% raw. It is a very extreme change and usually, psychologically, it is too great of a leap for the average individual to handle, both mentally and physically; it can be traumatic to bounce back and forth between all raw and cooked diets because of adjustments the body has to make. Now we would all like to think of ourselves as not being average but let’s be real here.  And there’s no sense getting on the horse if the first thing you’re going to do is throw yourself off. So begin by making breakfast raw and do this for a couple of weeks and up to a month. Incorporate raw snacks into the early part of your day. Eventually, incorporate a raw lunch. After doing this for a while, you may want to make dinner raw too, if not, do not beat yourself up over it. Try to eat the healthiest dinner within your own parameters, consisting of the freshest, most organic foods possible Lead yourself to the elimination of dietary ‘demons’ such as refined sugars, processed starches, meat and dairy rather than focusing on the total elimination of cooked foods. And remember: it took a long time to get to where you are; Change takes time, too. What you eliminate from your diet is as important as what you include. It is what you leave out of your diet on a consistent basis that allows for overall optimum health benefits. Get rid of cigarettes. Keep the organic wine. Eat raw chocolates. Remember… this is not a death sentence. It’s not torture. At least it’s not supposed to be.

 

What are the effects of going back and forth between a raw diet and a cooked food diet?

Once you go 100% raw, you should stay 100% raw. Bouncing back and forth I, is literally, too hard on the body. When you go 100% raw, over time, your body will release and let go of all the toxins in the intestinal lining that has built up to protect your insides from all the ‘poisonous’ foods that you have been ingesting over your lifetime through the SAD diet. When you go raw, your insides are literally cleansed; this is terrific for your body but, similarly, it makes you sensitive to anything you put into yourself that isn’t pure. This can actually make you sick; again, this depends on where you started when you went raw; what kind of cooked diet you were on previously and whether you were ill to begin with. Slow and steady transition will allow you to bypass the yo-yo effect.

 

 

How bad is it to ‘cheat’ once in a while?

Cheating can elicit effects similar to yo-yoing between all raw and cooked food. If you eat raw perfectly 6 days a week and one day every week you eat non-organic meat, dairy, refined sugars, processed starches, alcohol, cigarettes, etc, you are going to feel it. It’s kind of like a binge. You will have shocked the body too harshly; you will never feel great consistently as you are always setting yourself back.  In many ways doing two raw meals a day is much better and more consistent for your system. And f you are going to cheat, at the minimum ensure that those ‘treats’ are organic, whether cooked or raw. French fries at McDonalds would be a no-no. That goes for everyone.

 

Remember, as you begin the adventure towards greater health, vitality and clarity that is yours with a high raw diet, don’t stress. You don’t have to ‘go all the way’ if it isn’t right for you, but the closer you get… the better you’ll feel.

 

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