When I first transitioned to a raw food diet, I loved the results. I dropped more than twenty pounds of excess body fat. My skin cleared. I slept better, and my energy level skyrocketed. But I couldn’t stick with it. I had a lot of misconceptions about what a raw food diet should look like. I thought it had to be done at its most extreme to get the results I wanted. It took me a while, but I learned a few things that make eating raw in the real world a lot easier.
1. You don’t have to eat 100% raw to benefit from a raw food diet. Most raw food enthusiasts also include cooked veggies and cooked grains, like high-protein quinoa.Of course, most normal humans like to enjoy a splurge food every once in a while. If dishes made from raw vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and sprouts make up 80% of your diet, you’re doing great. Look at it this way. Of all the long-lived cultures in the world, not one has been found to eat all raw.
2. You can go raw even if you’re an omnivore. A quick search of the Internet and it might seem like all raw foodies eat strictly vegan. A lot of us do, but it’s not a requirement. Some people include raw dairy, or even lightly seared steaks and tuna that are still raw in the middle. Model and actress Carol Alt has eaten that way for years, and includes recipes with animal products in her raw food cookbooks. Other people include animal products in the 20% of their diet that isn’t raw. It might be a matter of ethics or a matter of health, but it’s your choice to make.
3. Low fat and high fruit, high fat and low fruit, or something in between—there’s no one right answer for everyone. There are experts on every side, and a lot of them claim their way is the most natural, the best for long-term health, or superior because it worked for them. The truth is that different people respond differently to way of eating raw, depending on their biological make-up and their lifestyle. You have to see what works for you and adjust accordingly.
4. It ain’t rocket science. Raw food’s so easy to make. Raw soups, juices, smoothies and salads can be pulled together in minutes. Dishes that sound complicated, like chia pudding and acai bowls, can be made in less time than it takes to microwave a frozen breakfast sandwich. You can get fancy, if you want. Just save the gourmet raw food dishes for when you have more time, and make enough to last for a few days.
5. Raw food recipes are limitless. Anything you eliminate, from cheeseburgers and milkshakes to steak and mashed potatoes, can be replicated or replaced by a raw food dish. Some foods will be very similar to the original cooked versions. Others will replace the flavors and textures with something different, but just as satisfying and much more nutrient-rich.
6. Packaged foods are a must for a busy lifestyle. There are new raw food products appearing on the shelves of health food stores, and especially on raw food websites, every day. These aren’t the typical convenience foods, most of which are over-processed, filled with preservatives and additives, and just not supportive of a healthy eating-style. The better choice is a raw food product made with a few organic, raw, good for you ingredients. It’s a lot easier to resist the world’s temptations when you grab a bag of raw cookies, crackers, or kale chips on your way out the door.
7. You’re already a raw food lover. Who doesn’t love to dive in to a slice of watermelon or a hot summer day? Even the most die hard anti-vegetable eater can go for a handful of pistachios or sunflower seeds as a snack. The best way to transition to a raw food diet is to build on the raw vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds you already enjoy.
Don’t be afraid to give raw food a try. It’s not difficult or complicated, and it may just be the eating-style that works best for you.