to a Healthy Raw Food Diet
Don Bennett, DAS
are two well-traveled roads to a raw food diet, and several other
lesser paths. There used to be just one main route; it was via the
typical Western diet, then the vegetarian diet, then a vegan diet,
and eventually a raw vegan diet. A lot of people have traveled that
road. When they were eating the typical Western diet, they had no
idea that they would ever change their diet. When they became vegetarian,
they had no idea that a vegan diet was in store for them. When going
vegan, most people would never have imagined that a raw vegan diet
was in their future.
a new shortcut has become the preferred route for many raw foodists.
It is best described as the “cooked, not cooked” route. On this
route, many of the detours to successful raw foodism are avoided.
Some, however, are not. On this route, the primary consideration
and detour often becomes, “Is this raw?” rather than,
“Is this healthy for me?”
has always been an issue surrounding any dietary change. As new
dietary habits become ingrained, backsliding becomes less severe
and less frequent. People get back on track more rapidly. When someone
goes from the typical Western diet to a raw vegan diet, with little
or no transition, the backsliding can be quite severe. This is not
only hard on the person physically, it can pose difficult challenges
both mentally and emotionally. Successes on the raw road invariably
lead to more enthusiasm and better adherence to the raw food way
of living. Successes provide such positive feedback that they often
encourage more experimentation with a raw food diet. Failures, or
even perceived failures, often leave novices feeling like quitting,
as if the rewards simply aren’t worth the effort.
are many challenges in going raw. Family and social pressures, learning
about new foods and new ways of eating, finding quality foods that
are ripe, creating tasty recipes, mastering food prep techniques
and nutritional concerns are just a few of the obstacles to be overcome.
The biggest challenges revolve around learning what foods to eat
and developing the skills required to eat those foods.
our eating style, we tend to take our eating habits with us. Overeaters
continue to overeat, comfort eaters persist in using foods as drugs
to numb themselves, and picky eaters are still often very picky
after going raw. The typical Western diet is composed of approximately
42% carbs, 42% fat, and 16% protein, a very unhealthy mixture that
can lead to diabetes, chronic fatigue, candidiasis, and being overweight.
When we go to raw, we usually continue eating this unhealthy mixture
of caloro-nutrients. Changing this nutritional formula to a healthier
ratio is the raw foodist’s biggest challenge, yet in many ways,
it is the easiest.
of the healthiest and fittest Americans have switched to the “high
carb” diet. Doing so on a raw regimen is challenging, for three
basic reasons. Let’s evaluate each and see how they can be easily
typical Western diet is a very low fiber diet
products supply no fiber and most of the grain products consumed
in America have their fiber removed. This lack of fiber means that
there is also a lack of volume. When we switch to a raw diet, we
are not practiced at consuming healthy amounts of volume, therefore
we often unintentionally undereat. The resulting weight loss may
be viewed as a positive, but being constantly hungry is not encouraging
to recently initiated raw foodists. As they search for a way to
consume sufficient calories, the concept of removing fiber creeps
back into play, as a way of concentrating the calories. Removing
fiber is known as “refining.”
foods are considered inherently more nutritious than their refined
counterparts, and rightly so. Still, refined fruits, vegetables,
and fats are being touted as “health foods,” in fact, the healthiest
foods. Nothing could be further from the truth. Fiber is an essential
nutrient. Removing fiber to make fruit juices, vegetable juices,
or free oils or fats is removing an essential nutrient, thus removing
essential nutrition. Juicing may remove the fiber and therefore
lower the overall volume to be consumed, but this can in no way
be considered a healthy practice.
through the practice of eating whole foods will we develop the habits
and abilities to make entire meals of whole foods.
The typical Western diet is a very low water content diet
lack of water also contributes greatly to the inherent lack of volume
in the typical Western diet. The diet is so low in water, in fact,
that a person eating this diet needs to consume almost a gallon
of liquids per day to fulfill their water needs. Raw foodists, on
the other hand, get most of their water from their foods.
process of cooking is the main way that most people remove the water
from their foods. Foods cooked at 400 degrees for an hour will lose
much of their water. So will foods “cooked” at 100 degrees for 40
hours! The practice of dehydrating, endorsed by some raw foodists
as a viable method of transitioning to a raw diet, actually simulates
the low-water-content foods that cooked foodists eat. The use of
dehydrated foods actually holds the eaters bound to the low-volume
foods that they are used to, a captive to the cooked food mentality.
foods are also very filling, if only because of the sheer volume
they provide. To develop the skills necessary to eat high-volume,
water-rich foods, one must eat exactly and only these foods... but
this is a great tactic because these are the foods we're biologically
adapted to eat.
typical Western diet is a very high fat diet
typical Western diet is, on average, comprised of about 42% fat.
Many people on this diet eat over 50%, even 60%, of their total
calories as fat. They have learned to satisfy their appetite with
fats. This is not what our physiology is designed to thrive on however.
A diet dominated by the simple carbohydrates found in fruit more
closely matches our physiologic needs. When "going raw",
most people continue consuming a high-fat diet. As they eat more
vegetables, they get hungrier, and eat even more fat to satisfy
themselves. The simple carbohydrate deficit increases with almost
prospective raw foodists go off their raw regimen, they almost invariably
find themselves eating cooked, complex carbohydrates. Until they
learn to consume high amounts of sweet fruits to fulfill their carbohydrate
needs, they will invariably fail in their health and raw food efforts.
high-fat raw food diet is a recipe for failure, both in regards
to health and to staying all-raw. Utilizing the high fruit diet
is the ideal, logical, and healthful method for achieving the low-fat,
high-carb diet that every knowledgeable health practitioner on the
planet recommends. Simply by increasing, slowly but surely, the
quantity of fruits in your diet, you will reap huge health benefits.
because the foods of a healthy raw vegan diet are grown by agri-industry
who grows for profit and not nutritional content, and because the
foods of a raw vegan diet are not fortified with any nutrients like
the foods of the typical Western diet are, it's important to add
to this "best" diet a nutritional
complement to the diet to compensate for the nutritionally sub-par
fruit and greens that most people buy (I don't sell it). This is
something you're not going to hear from those raw vegan educators
who have a philosophical aversion to nutritional supplements.
"The news isn't that fruits
and vegetables are good for you. It's that they are so good for
you they could save your life."
David Bjerklie, TIME Magazine, October 20, 2003
For Transitioning to a Healthier Diet
You May Experience When Transitioning to a Healthy Diet
to be Successful on a Raw Vegan Diet
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