Raw food diets have become more and more popular in recent years, and their health benefits have been well documented. However, if you are unfamiliar with raw food diets, it can seem a little overwhelming to know where to start.
Firstly, what counts as raw food?
How do you prepare for lunch on the go, eating out or having guests over for dinner?
As with any new diet or eating habit, these considerations all need thinking through at the beginning. However, once you have been eating a raw diet for a while, it becomes a lot easier.
So what does a raw food diet actually entail?
Essentially, you will be eating a lot of uncooked food such as fruit, vegetables, and grains. The argument for this is the process of cooking them removes essential nutrients from the food.The enzymes and nutrients in the food help you to fight infection and other diseases; by cooking food, you remove these vital health benefits. Some proponents of the raw food diet argue there are many health benefits to such a diet, including curing
The enzymes and nutrients in the food help you to fight infection and other diseases; by cooking food, you remove these vital health benefits. Some proponents of the raw food diet argue there are many health benefits to such a diet, including curing headaches and improving other conditions such as arthritis and poor memory.
In addition to the benefits to us, a raw food diet will significantly benefit the environment. Those who eat a raw food diet will eat either none or substantially less meat. This obviously means fewer animals are killed to feed humans.
Furthermore, raw foods require no preparation, no factory processing, and little waste. Therefore, there are much fewer gases being released into the environment, which can only be a good thing.
The Organic Benefit
As far as organic goes, the value is plentiful as more than 2/3 of 3,015 produce samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2013 contained pesticide residues and 165 different pesticides were found on thousands of fruit and vegetable samples.
This is obviously a major concern for many people as organic produce sales reached landmark $35.9 billion in revenues in 2014.
Organic means eating a cleaner diet and ingesting less pesticide and other chemicals used to grow crops and antibiotics, and hormones fed to cattle in the US and around the world. 8 out of 10 families chose organic in 2014, and this is a reflection of consumer desire to eat clean food.
On a practical, day-to-day basis, what are you eating on an organic raw food diet?
The diet consists of fruit, vegetables, grains, and rice. Some people include unpasteurized dairy products and fish as well, possibly even raw meat. However, this comes with the obvious health warning of eating raw meat. Possible options include swapping sugar from Stevia, salads, raw honey, coconut products, and nut cheese and butter.
There are now suitable alternatives to most day-to-day products, so with some organization, you should be able to relatively easily move your diet over to a raw food diet. We should all be consuming sufficient quantity of water each day and this diet is no different. If anything, it is more important as other, processed drinks are not part of the diet.
It may seem hard to consume enough vitamins and minerals with a diet that doesn’t include much, if any meat, dairy products, or fats. With a little bit of research, you can easily find alternatives that will provide you with these vitamins. For example, nuts and seeds provide high levels of protein and essential fatty acids.
This diet does require a high level of effort, preparation, and dedication, so may not be suitable for everyone. However, as with many diets, once you in a new routine and have been doing it a while, it will become much easier.
Many people use a juicer or blender to mix ingredients, make food easier to absorb or simply to take food on the go. It will be a case of trial and error to find what suits you best and fits in with your daily lifestyle.
Below are some of the main considerations that may influence your decision to start a raw food diet.
– Preparation time
A raw food diet is generally more time-consuming, as it requires more preparation than typical foods. For example, a heat in the microwave meal is a quicker and easier, particularly after a long day at work. However, unless you are organized and have prepared food in advance, meal times become longer and more involved.
– Consider what you are eating now
What does your diet currently consist of and how does it make you feel? If you are feeling lethargic, bloated and perhaps unhappy? If so, it might be time to rethink your diet. A raw food diet can completely change how you feel after eating, giving you more energy and a general feeling of increased wellbeing.
– Family & Household
If you live alone then you only have yourself to consider. However, if you have a family, you might need to consider their needs and wants. They may not wish to take part in the diet with you, so you may be forced to prepare different sets of food.
– Initial side effects of a change in diet
Your body is used to eating a particular kind of diet, and when you drastically alter this, it can come as a bit of a shock to your body. You are likely to experience effects such as headaches, cravings, acne, irritability, and low energy levels. If you do decide to start the diet, it might be best to do it when you have a particularly quiet time.
Buying large quantities of fresh fruit and vegetables can be costly, particularly compared to convenience food. While this shouldn’t be a barrier to following this diet, it is worth considering it as a key factor. There are some fruits and vegetables that are more routinely available, and some are cheaper than others are. If you can, stick to buying what is in the season.
– Getting sufficient vitamins
We naturally receive a sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals from a typical diet, but changing to a raw food diet can reduce the amount of vitamins and minerals you get. However, this is easily rectified by monitoring what you are eating and taking supplements if necessary.
– Health risks of eating raw food
While most food is safe to eat raw such as fruits and vegetables, others, such as meat, are less clear-cut. Raw fish is a common component in many diets, but raw meat is much less so. Raw meat could contain bacteria that cause illness in many people.
What is the main reason why you are looking to follow a raw diet? Is it because of the health benefits or the effect on the environment or for ethical reasons? Whatever the reason, keep it in mind, particularly during the difficult periods, and you will find it much easier to stick to the diet.
Weight loss is likely to occur when following this diet, as there are no added fats, processed food, or harsh chemicals in the diet. If this is an intended consequence, then it needs to be monitored adequately to ensure it is not too drastic.
The overarching message is to pay attention to your body. This will be the best predictor of how the diet is going, how your body is adapting to it and if it is missing any vital components. It will take a while to get used to as it is a large change from the typical Western diet, but over time, it can be a worthwhile change.