A raw foodist is an individual who consumes primarily unprocessed, preferably organic, whole foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouted beans and grains, dried fruit, seaweeds, freshly juiced fruits and vegetables, purified water (by reverse osmosis), and young coconut milk. Non-vegan Raw Foodists also consume raw dairy products like raw milk & cheese. Some even include raw fish (sashimi); however, this should not comprise more than 10-15% of the diet.
Food Prep for a Raw Diet
Food preparation techniques include sprouting seeds, grains, and beans; juicing fruit and vegetables; soaking nuts and dried fruit; blending and dehydrating food. The practitioner should not heat 80% of food consumed over 116 degrees F. Raw animal foods are very safe provided proper purchasing and preparation techniques are followed.
Equipment needed to prepare Raw/Living foods includes:
- A dehydrator which is a device that blows air on food at temperatures less than 118 degrees F.
- A good-quality juicer for juicing fruit and vegetables.
- A blender, food processor, or chopper to save preparation time.
- Large glass containers to soak and sprout seeds, grains, and beans.
- Mason jars for storing sprouts and other food.
- A small food processor such as a powerful coffee grinder.
- A reverse osmosis water purification system.
Why Choose a Raw Diet?
There are many reasons to consider a raw foods diet. For example, our body needs less energy to digest and process raw living foods.
Other benefits of a raw food diet include:
- have more energy
- a lower heart rate
- better athletic performance with enhanced flexibility, endurance, speed, and strength
- clearer thinking, deeper meditation, feel more positive, more spiritual, motivated and alive
- better overall health, faster healing and recovery time
- fewer medical expenses and aches, pains
- stronger immune system and balanced pH
- maintain a balanced blood profile (cholesterol, triglycerides…)
- senses are greatly enhanced: smell, touch, taste, and hearing
- smoother softer skin & clear sparkling eyes
- no body odor or bad breath
- teeth stay clean longer with raw foods
- natural weight management
- reduced food cravings – eating better quality foods with more complete assimilation
- lighter menses with fewer cramps
- simpler and faster food preparation
- more self-sufficient by growing and making more of your own foods
- greener and more eco friendly, by using less canned, packed and processed foods which leaves a smaller carbon footprint
Possible Side Effects
Some people experience detoxification reactions when they start the raw food diet, especially if their previous diet was rich in meat, sugar, processed foods, and caffeine. Mild headaches, nausea, cravings, and fatigue can also occur but usually last for several days only. Slowly adding more raw foods to your current diet over a period of 2-3 weeks can avoid, or greatly minimize most detoxification symptoms.
Many people overeat fats to get the full feeling on a raw food diet. Junk food is still junk food. Fats in any diet should be no more than 20% of calories consumed and ideally good fats (essential fatty acids, omega 3 & 6) like avocado or olive oil.
Some critics claim it takes more time to prepare raw foods. If you eat packaged food that you pop in a microwave oven, then, yes, that might be true. Making elaborate raw food dishes takes the same or less time than cooking, and uses much less energy! For example, a healthy fruit shake for lunch, or a big salad for dinner, takes 5-10 minutes.
The raw food diet may need to be 'modified' for certain people. Sometimes nutritional deficiencies can occur with the raw food diet, including calcium, iron, vitamin B12, protein, and calories. A vitamin B12 deficiency can be avoided by consuming certain superfoods, fermented foods, or occasionally (monthly) eating some animal foods in moderation.
Taking a quality whole food and/or probiotic supplement also helps. Protein deficiencies can be corrected by consuming more superfoods such as spirulina and moringa, or occasionally eating some animal foods. If you have insufficient calories, eat more fruits and veggies!
People that should consider a modified raw food diet include: people who are ill or have weakened immune systems; pregnant or nursing women; people with anemia; high endurance athletes; and children.
Some people adapt quickly to a raw food diet, however, most people become accustomed to a raw living foods lifestyle within 3-18 months. Adapting to eating raw food also depends on age, health and lifestyle factors. It is important to learn about which foods can help balance and maintain optimum health to live comfortably and easily within the 80% requirement of raw living, fresh foods. Try it, you will feel much healthier and have more energy!
[Editor's Note: Organic India has Moringa powder that we love.]