The Raw Food Diet: these trendy food buzzwords are becoming a popular option for people looking to live a healthier life.
Eating a raw diet can also be a good way to cut out meat and dairy products in an effort to eat more ethically or sustainably. But what is a raw diet, what can you eat, what can’t you eat and is it really good for you?
What Is a Raw Food Diet?
It’s time to ditch the microwave, oven and BBQ – even your toaster can take a back seat. If you’re ready to delve into the raw food world, it’s all about swapping out your cooking appliances. They will be replaced by a dehydrator, juicer and a high-powered blender. That’s because cooking in any context is out of the question on this diet.
Simply put, you can eat anything that can be eaten raw.
A food is considered raw if it has never been heated over 104-188°F (40-48°C). It should not be refined or pasteurised. It also can’t be treated with pesticides or otherwise processed in any way. So, be ready to embrace a mostly plant-based diet – think fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Less commonly, raw dairy and eggs (ugh, I hear you say).
To become a raw foodie there are several different approaches you can take. All involve different percentages of the amount of raw food consumed.
The general rule of thumb is if 75% of your diet contains raw food, you can proudly wear the badge of the “rawist”. fYour next thought may be, well what will I actually eat? And what will be crossed off the shopping list?
Take a look at the list below.
Foods on the Raw Menu
- Fresh fruit and raw vegetables
- Raw nuts, seeds, grains and legumes
- Dried fruits and meats
- Nut milks
- Raw nut butters
- Cold-pressed olive and coconut oils
- Fermented foods (all the rage) most popularly, kimchi or sauerkraut
- Less common options include raw eggs or dairy, raw meat or fish
Foods to Avoid
- Cooked fruits, vegetables, meats and grains
- Baked items
- Roasted nuts and seeds
- Refined oils
- Table salt
- Refined sugars and flour
- Pasteurised juices and dairy
- Coffee and tea
- Other processed foods and snacks
Why Do People Adopt a Raw Food Diet?
I have to admit, when I faced the concept of switching to a raw food diet I was more than skeptical.
How will I survive on only salads?
It was a fair concern.
Also, my social circle was less than impressed. It was hardly exciting for them when dealing with the prospect of inviting me over for dinner.
That said, the general, less-than-enthusiastic response from your friends and family is not a big deal. And it’s certainly made up for by the renowned enthusiasm and commitment by fellow raw dieters. I clearly remember thinking to myself: There must be some kind of pay-off that inspires this challenging lifestyle choice.
And of course, there is.
One of the main beliefs among avid raw dieters is the strong opinion that the cooking of foods destroys the natural enzymes. This reduces their nutrient content and thus kills the “life force” that naturally exists in all raw foods.
There is also a clear argument for improvements in general physical and mental well-being. Along with disease prevention, weight loss and lots of environmental factors.
So let’s look at how these reasons affect your overall health, how safe it is and how to integrate this new way of eating into your daily life.
A Raw Food Lifestyle
Speaking from personal experience, the initial thought of anything ‘raw’ was enough to make me turn green. What, no more cheese on toast?!
Despite this, there were benefits I had read about which sparked my interest. So I began to research.
Basically, there are many conflicting arguments for you to ponder. The rest is up to you.
Retains natural nutrients – The diet means that you keep a whole host of nutrients and enzymes that would otherwise be broken down whilst cooking. The enzymes also help to absorb other nutrients and retain other water-soluble vitamins – great for your health!
Removes toxins – A raw diet can be a great way to remove toxins from your body.
Weight loss – It’s a bit of a no-brainer. You’ll be cutting down on unhealthy baked and processed foods. This means you’ll be able to keep a healthy weight balance.
Increased energy – Let’s face it; any extra energy is welcome.
Clearer skin – eating raw, natural foods can lead to clearer skin.
Certain nutrients are lacking – Low protein intake is a criticism with this diet. You may also not get enough of certain omega-3 fatty acids so may want to consider supplements.
Food-borne illness – There are some foods that can cause food borne illness if eaten raw. If you choose to include unpasteurised dairy and eggs or raw meat or fish, you will be more at risk of illnesses.
Restrictive diet – You may end up eating large amounts of the same types of foods. A varied, healthy diet it very important for your health and your sanity!
Digestive issues – Cooking breaks food down into smaller components, which make it easier to digest. Chomping exclusively on raw food can be tough on the teeth and your digestive system.
Is the raw diet right for you? Only you can answer that. In my opinion an everything in moderation attitude applies.
If you get the balance right, you can reap the benefits from enjoying a raw diet.
Keep these tips in mind if you want to give the raw diet a go:
- If you are brand new to the raw food diet, take it slow. Aim for between 50-60% raw at first and then increase bit by bit if you eventually want to go all in. There is a certain level of detoxification that your body has to go through when adopting a raw diet. If you’re pregnant, this is not the best time to start experimenting with this way of eating.
- Steer clear of any foods that could potentially cause a food-borne illnesses.
- Don’t deny yourself ‘treats’. If you fancy that jacket potato or a toasted sandwich, then go right ahead. Believe in your nutrition intuition; you know what’s best for your body.
Would you go raw? Would you try it for the health benefits or for a way to reduce animal products from your diet? We’d love to hear about your experiences so do get in touch to say hello!