There are so many diets, theories, and books floating around about the health industry and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by it all. I get it, it’s information overload. Now with more people raving about raw foods, many of us are wondering if this is something we should start to look into. This post is here to make it a little simpler for you. A beginner’s guide to the raw food diet, what it is, who it benefits, how to do it, and if it’s right for you.
Beginners Guide To Raw Foods
I have to say that I can’t call myself an expert in this field. I can, however, share my experience with raw foods, when I eat them and how it has affected my overall health. But let understand the basics first.
What Is A Raw Foodist?
A raw food diet or a person who eats only raw foods aka “a raw foodist” is someone who eats unprocessed and uncooked foods so that they get all the nutrients without the dangerous additives many processed foods have. So really anything that is uncooked or “prepared” below 115°F temperature.
There are different variations of raw food diets out there, all with different advice and degrees to which foods can be cooked. Depending on the category of raw you choose to follow, it can include far more than just fresh produce. A typical raw foodist consumes a diet full of fresh, whole, unrefined, living, plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, and seeds. Some raw foodists might even consume fish, sea vegetables, fermented foods, sprouted grains, eggs, and even some meat and raw dairy products.
Benefits Of A Raw Food Diet
Once becoming vegan it wasn’t long after that we started to look into how a raw food diet can benefit our bodies. You really can’t beat the nutritional benefits that unprocessed fruits and veggies offer. What makes raw food so great is that they are abundant with enzymes and bio-photons. You will hear this a lot with raw foodists.
Enzymes are your body’s workforce. They power hundreds of thousands of chemical reactions that take place throughout the body and are essential for digestion, absorption of food, and production of energy. In fact, enzymes are critical for most of the metabolic activities taking place in your body. Which is why many raw foodies claim it to be the elixir to life.
And it’s not just about enzymes but when eating raw food you also up to the fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Many reports that when they change their diet to raw foods, their body undergoes a transformation. I sure felt this. I started feeling healthier, happier, lighter, and more energized as time went on. Sleep improved and my headaches and joint pain dissipated. My mind became more alert and creative, while brain fog faded away. Here are just some of the benefits a raw food diet can offer.
- lowering inflammation
- improving digestion
- providing more dietary fiber
- improving heart health
- helping with optimal liver function
- preventing cancer
- preventing or treating constipation
- clearer skin
- preventing nutrient deficiencies
- helping you maintain a healthy body weight
- increase energy
Who Can Benefit From A Raw Food Diet?
We can all afford to eat more raw fruits and vegetables. While you might think that going fully raw might not be something you can do, even eating a few more serving raw fruits and veggies can benefit your body greatly. Some people who can especially benefit from eating more raw foods include those with:
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- kidney disease
- autoimmune disorders
- food allergies
- joint pain
- muscle aches and pains
- hormonal imbalance
Raw foods have a big impact on the acid/alkaline balance in our bodies. The body can become overly acidic due to environmental pollutants, stress, processed foods and/or lack of nutrients and diseases begin to develop more easily when acidity rises.
This is also great for those looking to lose weight since you’re likely to feel full when eating raw foods due to its high water and high fiber content, so this can help you curb cravings and eat less overall if that’s one of your goals.
How to Start Eating More Raw Foods?
As you know, slow and steady wins the race. So you’ll likely enjoy the journey and feel your best if you take it one meal at a time. Start with breakfast. Try my Green Monster Energy Blast smoothie or learn How To Build Your Own Smoothie Bowl, it a favorite of mine.
You can also start this new habit by filling your plate with whatever raw food you are interested in at the time like fresh greens, fruits, vegetables, nuts.
Instead of doing sugar or maples start playing around with different fruit sugars, you can replace it with fresh fruit and/ or dried fruit. If your craving a dessert there are many creative ways to still enjoy things like Strawberry Ice Cream, Pecan Pie, Raw Vegan Cookie Dough and even Chocolate Fig Brownies!
There are so many amazing raw food recipes to try. You will be amazed at how creative you can get with fruits and vegetables.
Here are some of my favorite raw foods that helped me transition:
- Lettuce Wraps
- Apples + Almond Butter
- Zucchini (mostly for zucchini noodles)
- Dates + Almond Butter
- Citrus City Juice
- Extra virgin coconut or olive oil
- Nutritional Yeast mostly for Raw Vegan Mac & Cheese
It can be hard to transition from the diet you currently eat to one with more raw foods — especially if you currently think you don’t like raw fruits and vegetables. If you’re skeptical of raw food diets and worried about whether or not you can tolerate eating more raw foods, remember that it’s all about taking small steps. There is no need to go all in, you will likely maintain a healthier way of living when you transition slowly.
Top 10 Raw Vegan Kitchen Essentials
- Vitamix Blender
- Food Processor
- Mandoline Slicer
- Julienne Peeler
- Mason Jars
- Storage Glassware
Are There Any Risks of A Raw Food Diet?
There are far more benefits with eating raw foods than risk, that’s for sure, but I have learned a thing or two to be aware of when eating an all raw food diet.
It’s been said that when you cook certain foods it can bring out more of their nutrients. Hmmm… cool huh? Many foods like squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, and tomatoes release more nutrients and are easily absorbable when cooked.
In addition to those vegetables, some of the cruciferous family (kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard greens, and brussels sprouts) when eaten raw can block thyroid function but is mostly deactivated by heat and cooking. I personally don’t have this problem but I have noticed bloating when eating these raw veggies. So I tend to cook most of my cruciferous vegetables.
Cooking is also useful for killing bacteria and pathogens that can live in some foods, especially in animal products such as fish, eggs, and meat.
I always recommend listening to your body first before making any changes to your diet.
Is Raw Foodism For You?
If your curious about raw foods then I say, try it! When it comes to healthy eating its a process of trial and error. Sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes it works for a period of time and then your body needs something else.
For us it was great. We did a full year of raw foods. We all got tons of benefit from it but it wasn’t something we could see ourselves doing long term. It did help with cleaning out our digestion and helped us to incorporate more raw foods on the regular. Now we eat a variety of cooked foods and raw foods, which for us is a good balance.
Although I don’t think an all raw food diet is for everyone. For some, raw fruits and vegetables can be hard to digest due to the lack of certain enzymes or digestive capabilities. So if you’re looking to start I always recommend talking to a professional first. Start slow, and always listen to your body.
I hope this post has been helpful. I think many can benefit from adding fresh raw produce to their diets. Share & comment below how are you getting your servings of raw foods these days? Tag me on Instagram @LiveSimplyNatural. I’d love to hear what you are doing to eat well and live life naturally :)