Summer Slack-Off 2: Raw Food Diet
August 16, 2009
Around mid-summer I sometimes take a month or two and eat a raw food diet.
It’s pretty simple. You just eat raw food.
For some reason, the first thing people ask is: “Is it OK to eat raw meat?” I didn’t know that so many people were so anxious to eat raw meat. I eat some occasional raw fish and shellfish, but not more than once or twice a week. Otherwise, it’s all fruit, vegetables and nuts.
You can eat whatever you want, as much as you want. It just has to be raw.
This is, by far, the most fabulous diet ever. If you want to lose weight, it is common to drop 10-20 lbs a month on a raw food diet — but you can eat whatever you want, as much as you want. However, it’s not just about weight loss, but detoxification and re-energization on many levels. Eating a raw food diet for an extended period (six months) has been shown to clear out the colon, and also clears out arteriosclerosis. I would suggest it for most any chronic health condition, such as diabetes for example.
Unfortunately, we live in a rather toxic environment, including toxic food. Pretty much any processed food — anything with a list of ingredients — is likely to be stuffed full of chemicals these days, including chemicals that they are not required to list. There are a few exceptions, but you would have to search them out.
Also, by eating raw food, you avoid meat. And, you avoid the “white foods”: processed grains, dairy, salt and sugar. Of course, no beer or hard liquor. Wine is apparently raw, although I wouldn’t drink very much of it and it would be better to avoid it altogether. No coffee or tea.
There is considerable evidence that forms of cooking are not so good for food. Even very mild “cooking,” such as pasteurization. In experiments, it was found that 90% of baby cows will die if their mother’s milk is pasteurized.
Ideally, I would avoid all pasteurized food, including pasteurized fruit juices. It is best to make your own juices, with a squeezer and juicer. However, in practice I am often a little lazy, and buy pasteurized juice at the store.
What you can eat:
All fruits and vegetables in their natural state
Fruit and vegetable juices (be creative)
Raw nuts (not roasted)
Raw nut oils (olive oil, sesame oil, walnut oil, etc.)
Herbs and spices
Certain condiments including vinegar and soy sauce
Certain pickled items including olives and cucumbers
Sun-dried fruit and vegetables
You can make a variety of salad dressings, which is important because you eat a lot of salad. I would make my own, rather than buying anything in a store.
You can buy raw food “cookbooks,” but they aren’t very helpful. Mostly, they are a good source of salad dressing recipes.
Many people seem to make the mistake that “raw food” means nothing but apples, bananas and iceberg lettuce. Variety is important! You will find that there are so many fruits and vegetables out there that you will never be bored. Figs, currants, dates, avocados, cantaloupes, mangos, kiwis, watermelons, goji berries, cherries, cranberries, grapes, dozens of varieties of leafy vegetables including kale, chard, bok choy, arugula, napa cabbage, peppers, olives (many varieties!), parsley, dill, cilantro, basil, pine nuts, cashews, brazil nuts, and on and on. I would also look into juices made from carrots, beets, celery, ginger, garlic, etc. etc.
By now, all of this probably sounds rather difficult. But, actually this is about the easiest diet you can have, once you get started. You will find that you have few “cravings” with a raw food diet. For example, even if you used to drink coffee every day, you will probably find that you don’t have any coffee cravings, and also no withdrawal symptoms either. I would suggest it for strong addictions as well, such as narcotics or certain prescription drugs.
One thing that makes the raw food diet easy to “stick to” is that you don’t have to think very much. No counting “points” or calories, planning meals, reading ingredient lists, and so forth. If it’s raw, then go right ahead and eat it.
Also, there are no recipes to adhere to, and actually not much planning at all. There isn’t much work involved, and very little cleanup. You can just cut open a watermelon and start eating.
It it especially effective to combine a raw food diet with some exercise.
If you have a typical U.S. diet, including lots of processed foods like soft drinks, snack foods, meat every day, etc., I think it would be good to have a few weeks of transition period where you eat more like a “19th century” diet. You can cook and eat meat, but stay away from anything that you can’t make in your own kitchen. No Gatorade, Cheez Wiz, Pop Tarts or Diet Coke. Eat some salad and fruit every day.
In practice, the first week can be rather difficult. Some people have reported strong “detox” symptoms including flu-like symptoms. Also, you are going to be changing your habits rather dramatically, which is a bit jarring. During the first week, it is common to want to eat A LOT. If you want to eat … then eat! People are often “afraid” (???) that they will “feel hungry.” You are going to feel hungry. Go eat a watermelon. You won’t feel hungry after that.
In the second week, it is still a little difficult, but it gets easier.
By the third week, you should be cruising along pretty comfortably. The urge to eat all the time fades away. By the fourth week, you probably feel really good, and you are 10-20 lbs lighter too. The idea of continuing for another month probably doesn’t seem difficult at all. I would, especially if it is your first time on raw food. Three months is a good goal.
For some reason, people are always concerned about “nutrition” when eating raw food. They should be more concerned about nutrition when they are eating Coke and potato chips! A raw food diet will flood your body with nutrients. You will be naturally attracted to foods which have nutrients you require. They will taste good. Nuts provide plenty of protein.
Some additional advice:
Summer is a good season for raw food, because there is more local produce. Eat what’s in season. When the supermarket is selling grapes for $0.99 a pound, take advantage!
Organic is good. Local is good. Organic and local is the best.
Wash your salad and get a salad spinner. After you add dressing, toss your salad.
Get a blender for “fruit smoothies,” and a juicer for carrot/apple/beet type stuff. If you live in a place where citrus is plentiful, such as California or Florida, I’d get a citrus squeezer.
Variety is key! If you get tired of grapes, look for something different, like an avocado/tomato salad. Also, you can olives for a whole day, if you want to. Concentrated foods like nuts and dried fruit should be under 10% of your diet, however.
It would be particularly effective to combine a raw food diet with a colon cleansing program like Dr. Natura:
This stuff works great. I would wait until at least the third week of raw food before starting a program like this, however.
You will probably spend more money at the supermarket when eating raw food. However, you will spend less at bars and restaurants. On balance, it is usually a money-saver.
There you go. If you want to lose weight, or have chronic issues like high blood pressure or diabetes, or just want to avoid today’s toxic food supply, this is by far the easiest, fastest, and most effective method.
If you are overweight, have chronic health issues, continue to eat poisonous processed foods, and don’t do anything about it, well, you get what you get. You had your chance.
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The rationalizations start to pile up for higher taxes. I suspect we might be in a long-term tax hike cycle.