The Bigger Picture.

8 07 2009

Some former raw-foodists ate a healthy, natural raw diet for several years, but went back to the Standard American Diet (SAD) because they constantly experienced cravings or lack of satisfaction.

A diet isn’t right unless it is sustainable. So, the big picture means that healthy food choices must be made, consumed in the right combinations, and it must be satisfying without huge cravings. That is the raw food diet you want to achieve!

Does Raw Always Mean Unheated?

This is a big and important question! The dictionary defines raw as “uncooked” but it also includes “not processed, purified or refined” in the definition. This indicates that raw food is food that is in a natural state – whole fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds in their natural state.

If you think about the definition of “raw”, it is impossible to consider oils, dried fruit, dehydrated crackers and many other items as raw. Think about a can of nuts from the grocery store. First of all, the nuts are usually roasted using oil or coconut butter, and they have salt, and sometimes sugar or other spices, added before packaging.

If raw means unadulterated and natural, would you consider these nuts healthy and part of a raw-foodist regimen? Of course not. The same goes for most nut butters, dried spices, herbs, and frozen fruits or vegetables.

The secret is to avoid becoming a fanatic on the term ‘raw’ and, instead, ask some questions about every food choice:

  • Is this really healthy for me?
  • Do I feel great after eating this food?
  • Is this a specific food for humans considering how humans are designed?
  • Is this a fruit or vegetable?
  • Is this food easy to digest?

You’ll find that a 100% raw food diet means that you’ll eat mostly raw food. You’ll avoid heating foods for the most part. While some have gone long periods of time eating a 100% unheated raw diet, most do not claim to eat 100% raw all the time, nor will they ever achieve that mark.

It’s pretty simple and easy for most people, especially in the summer, to eat only raw foods. They are plentiful and at their prime. But there are times that raw-foodists eat some steamed vegetables.

No one is perfect. The key is to stick closely to the raw-foodist regimen but also to realize that you are only human and not perfect. So, if you feel you simply must have some hot food once in a while or are placed in a situation where eating 100% raw simply isn’t possible that meal, choose some lightly steamed vegetables.

If you simply must have some meat on rare occasions, or if the situation you are in means it isn’t possible to avoid all meat for that meal, select a very small serving eaten with raw vegetables that are non-fat.

When you can’t be 100% raw-foodist for one meal, avoid fat or foods with added fat, because it can be a trigger eating food choices that are much worse! Then, get right back on your regular eating pattern.

Raw is not the only Criterion

We simply must use some common sense and be aware of what food choices we make. It’s better to have some lightly steamed vegetables than to eat a large amount of nuts and seeds. Junk foods, like pizza, chips, anything fried, coffee, ice cream, pastries, and similar foods, are much worse for you than a small piece of meat. If you eat a piece of chicken with a salad, it is better than choosing pizza!

The ideal foods are fresh fruits and vegetables, including fresh nuts and seeds. However, we live in an artificial world. If you must deviate from the 100% unheated raw diet, make rational choices.

Common Mistakes Made by Raw-Foodists

I’ll list for you the most common ways that people sabotage their diets, resulting in cravings and lack of satisfaction with their raw, natural diet:

  • Using salt, condiments, and/or spices
  • Eating too many avocados or eating avocados every day
  • Eating too many nuts or nut butter
  • Worrying or thinking about food continually
  • Drinking too much juice, especially fruit juice
  • Eating concentrated sweets like honey or maple syrup
  • Eating raw cacao – just because it is raw doesn’t mean it is less toxic
  • Thinking that drinking coffee, tea or other caffeine drinks will not sabotage your diet
  • Eating large amounts of sprouted beans and grains
  • Not getting sufficient sleep or sleeping at irregular hours
  • Failing to consider digestion, eating complex mixtures or mixing the wrong foods
  • Eating a raw diet but failing to maintain dental hygiene, including regular check-ups
  • Not getting enough exercise, even if eating a raw food diet
  • Eating too much acid fruit, eating dried fruit; eating dates on a regular basis
  • Using oil regularly
  • Overeating greens by dulling the taste with gourmet salads
  • Failing to pay attention to the body’s signals about hunger, even when eating a raw diet

You’ll find that avoiding these common mistakes will help you feel balanced and healthy. Eat a raw food diet, or one that is very close to 100% raw, natural whole food, but don’t think that this regimen will solve everything, in every case and situation. It is only one factor in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

A Word of Warning

While eating raw is something that almost anyone can achieve, there are those that have health, mental or physical constitutions not suited to making a sudden change of diet. For these people, as well-planned transition is required. Diets must be adapted to personal needs and no one should conform blindly to an idea without considering these factors. Any competent hygienic practitioner would never recommend a 100% raw diet to everyone immediately in every single case!