How to Start Eating Raw Foods
Eating raw foods can be a challenge for many people. In some cases, it seems pretty impossible, even though it’s the easiest food to prepare. In my opinion, the difficulty in transitioning to raw foods is a matter of an addiction to cooked food, a mindset that it’s ‘too complicated’ and ‘time consuming’, and the social factor that comes along with it. All issues can make it hard to enjoy the fantastic benefits that raw foods offer.
Before giving any tips on how to eat raw foods, I think it’s important to point out why eating raw foods is beneficial and an ideal thing to incorporate into your diet. For the past couple of days, my boyfriend has been telling me how much he is ‘tired’ of food and how he knows he needs to change something. He has digestive issues on occasion and I’ve been telling him about raw foods and how important it is to digest well. He loves smoothies and juices, but isn’t really ‘into’ eating fruits and veggies. But now he’s at the point of wanting to change, and that is a very key ingredient to any lifestyle change…we have to want it.
Raw foods, especially raw living foods, in my experience, and countless other people would agree, provide not only enzymes, vitamins and minerals, but also does something for the soul. It’s fairly hard to describe, but I can safely say that it gives the body a lightness, an energy and a ‘feel good’ factor, that no other type of food gives. I know this isn’t something that I’m imagining because I have gone back and forth from living foods to cooked foods, and the difference in how I feel, not only physically but also very much psychically, is very real. It’s like the difference between being in a stuffy, humid, stinky room and being in a fresh smelling, cool, breezy room. Night and day. It’s also some of the easiest food to digest, especially fruits and blended foods.
So, how to eat raw? I would say, first of all, is that like most other types of lifestyle changes, it’s ideal to start off slowly and give your body and mind time to assimilate, especially if you’re coming straight from a SAD diet. Processed foods, meat, dairy and fast food is as extreme to the opposite end as you can get, in regards to raw, living foods, so it will be a bit of a shock to your body and even more so to your psyche, not in a bad way, but in a significant way. Raw foods are whole foods, with none of the chemical additives and saturated fats that the SAD diet contains. It’s also simple food. At the very least, you will need a knife and cutting board, if you’re not eating something that you can simply peel or bite into and make a meal out of.
Starting off by eating a few pieces of fruit, or drinking a green smoothie made with mostly fruit and a bit of spinach or romaine lettuce. Those two greens are the mildest in taste. If after doing that once a day for a few days, you’re feeling well (and it’s hard to imagine that you wouldn’t!), have these as meals a couple of times a day. Eat or drink enough to be satiated. With just that kind of change, you’re at 50 percent raw, which is a great percentage.
As time goes on (and the amount of time depends on the individual), you’ll want to incorporate more raw foods into your meals. I’m not saying that as a presumption, but as a common fact. The body gets used to whole foods and craves what it needs, which raw foods provides. I wouldn’t be concerned with making your diet 100 percent raw, but if you can shoot for 80 percent, I think that’s a great amount for most people. If you truly want to go 100 percent, or you feel that’s what you need, you’ll get there, but again, just give it time and do it at your speed. Don’t forget to add fats like avocado, nuts and seeds to your meals. I would advise, especially at first, to keep it to 10 percent of the raw food that you eat. See how that feels. If you’re losing too much weight too rapidly, adjust the amount of fat intake.
Look up the nearest farmers markets in your area. When your fruit and veggie intake increases, ask the farmer there for a bulk discount…what kind of deal he/she can give you for buying a lot. If you don’t have a farmers market, look up a co op in your area or any kind of buyer’s clubs, to save money on bulk or group purchases.
Stores like Costco can be tremendously helpful too, and word is going around that they’re offering more organic foods. Which, by the way, try to buy as much as possible…organic fruits and veggies. It’s incredibly important that food that is not sprayed or given pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and any other ‘-ides’ is purchased and demanded by the public. Demand creates more availability.
Keep it simple. The more complicated you make it, the more likely you will fail on your goals and sink back into how you were eating before. Raw food is very simple and easy to prepare. At its simplest, it’s just a matter of cutting an apple into fourths or biting into it. Peeling bananas and eating them or slicing them into a bowl with a sprinkling of nuts and some nut milk. When it comes to gourmet raw food, then it’s more complicated, with the need for different gadgets and techniques. Of course, if you want to, then go ahead and have fun making various types of dishes. I know from experience that it’s very fun to get creative with raw foods and the tools they call for.
Be prepared. Soak your nuts and seeds (not all of them need to be, but some do), then dehydrate them or dry them out at the lowest setting in your oven. Put them in the freezer and you’re set to use them when the time comes. Cut up your fruits (or don’t) and salads and pack them in your car, if you know you’re going to be out for a while and there’s little other good choices out there. Keep a cutting board and small knife in your car.
Take your own food to social gatherings and drop the shame or embarrassment. Social gatherings and events are some of the biggest reasons why people slip back into their old ways of eating. By bringing your own food, you will save your hosts the trouble of accommodating your needs and also save yourself the awkwardness of having the attention drawn to that fact. Pack a fruit salad, a half gallon of a smoothie or juice, or a salad…enough for yourself and for one or two other people, in case someone at the gathering shares your interests (you will be surprised that there most likely will be!).
I hope this helps give you a good idea on how to start eating a raw diet and how to navigate your way through it. One last thing: when you tell your friends and family about your raw food diet, they will look at you funny and think that you have a ‘weird’ and ‘extreme’ diet. It can feel alienating. It may take some time to gather enough confidence in you and your way of eating, but when that time comes, it will be a wonderful opportunity for you to inspire others to increase the amounts of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds into their own diets and to improve their health. Think about how great that will feel!