Starting a Raw Food Diet – Do’s and Don’ts
Many people are starting a raw food diet at the beginning of the year. Here are some words of wisdom from someone who embarked on this journey 11 years ago.
It has been 11 years since I started a raw food diet, and although I am no longer exclusively “raw” (I was for 5 years), I still eat a very high percentage of my food raw. I have also met and consulted with many people starting a raw or “rawer” diet over the years and have noticed a few patterns regarding the most common pitfalls people can make when starting a raw food diet.
When starting a raw food diet. . .
Do your research. There are many great raw food books out there, do yourself a favor and pick up a few. Blogs are awesome (obviously), but books will have all the information u need in one place, no google required. I recommend Becoming Raw for those starting a raw food diet because it covers raw food nutrition and contains a few raw recipes.
It also might be a good idea to research other types of diets that aren’t necessarily about raw food such as The Body Ecology Diet, or The Macrobiotic Diet . . .(etc.). You can take concepts from non-raw books and apply them to the raw lifestyle while getting a different nutritional perspective.
Online or local classes are also a great way to get up to date information. I highly recommend The Vegan Mastery Online Program which will be opening up its doors soon. (If you are on my e-mail list, I’ll let you know when enrollment opens.) You are a pioneer on the cutting edge, know that you will be a life long learner of health, diet, and nutrition.
Don’t get all your information from one place or one person. Getting a mix of opinions when starting a raw food diet is a beautiful thing because it will help you to decide what will work for you. Also consider, does this information come from a personal experience, clinical experience, or research?
All types of information can be useful, but I take special notice of doctors who have worked with raw vegan populations and can say with authority what they noticed with their patients and what worked and what didn’t. I like to learn from Dr Alen Goldhamer, Dr Rick and Karin Dina, Dr Michael Klapper, Dr Joel Fuhrnam and Dr Ritamarie Loscalzo to name a few.
Do get your blood tested regularly. If possible, get your blood tested before embarking on a raw food diet and during as well. This will help you to avoid any nutritional deficiencies before they become a problem and can help you to chart your progress which can be very motivating.
Don’t stop going to the doctor or the dentist. Many issues can be avoided with a simple yearly checkup and physical. Doctors are the best at diagnosing, even if you decide to use a more holistic approach.
Do make sure you get enough calories. Most raw foods, with the exception of nuts, have less calories than most cooked foods. If you are not aware of this, you can easily become underweight. On the other hand, nuts tend to have more calories than people are used to eating and, if you not aware, you can easily become overweight!
Don’t expect to live on greens alone. As much nutrition as leafy greens have, they have very little calories. Living on just salads and green juices, most likely, will not be enough.
Do make realistic goals for yourself. Do you really need to be 100 percent raw? Why? Is this realistic for your lifestyle, climate, budget . . . (etc.). What makes you feel the most balanced, healthy, and sane? If adding some healthy cooked foods or even a little bit of animal protein helps you to thrive and stay on a healthy diet, then I say it’s a good thing.
I have seen too many people strive for perfection one week only to binge on junk the next. Everyone needs to find their happy place, and for each person it will be different.
Don’t focus solely on the food. You could eat the most pristine diet in the world, but if you are overworking yourself, sitting in front of the TV or computer all day, and not getting enough sleep, chances are, you’re not going to feel very good no matter what you eat.
I personally always feel my best when I’m meditating, exercising, being social, and eating well. It’s all about finding balance and obsessing about food choices and neglecting other areas of your life is not balanced or fun.
Do start small. If you are feeling overwhelmed with all the new information coming your way, just remember, you can always start small by changing one meal a day, changing your snacks, or just by adding more fruits and vegetables to every meal. These small changes will build on themselves until you gradually start to crave and enjoy healthier options.
Don’t isolate. Making any change in life is difficult and especially when you are going against the mainstream way of thinking and behaving. It can feel like you are a salmon swimming up stream. Seek out others on a similar journey, find a mentor, join a group, take a class, or just talk to someone! You are not alone, just slightly different (dare I say extraordinary) than most!
Do listen to your body. Constantly reevaluate whether what you are doing is working for you. Try not to mix your personal identity with what you eat. If you hang out with a crowd that judges you for what you eat, then you are hanging out with the wrong crowd; your only loyalty is to yourself and your health.
Don’t spend all day in the kitchen. Even though there are many gourmet and (complicated might I say) raw food recipes out there, online and in books, just know that the majority of long time people on raw foods only make gourmet raw food recipes on special occasions. For the most part raw fooders eat rather simply day to day.
Think salads, smoothies, soups, and fruit and leave the gourmet recipes for once in awhile. For a better idea of what a long term raw foodie eats I recommend these two e-books How the Top Raw Chefs Really Eat and What Do Raw Fooders Eat?. I am a proud contributor to both these e-books and they are both affiliate links.
Don’t go crazy with the cleanses. There are so many cleanses, fasts, and detox programs available online that it is tempting to want to believe in a quick fix that will clear up years of abuse to your body in one or two weeks. However, in most circumstances, I would recommend resisting the temptation to do an intense cleanse right away. Although in my experience some cleanses can be beneficial; if done improperly, you can cause some major damage and it will make you less likely to follow through on a healthy eating plan in the long run.
Do a supervised cleanse. If you still want to do a cleanse . . . first start slowly by changing your diet and then do some research on the best cleanse for you and your lifestyle. If you can afford to go to a reputable supervised detox or fasting center that is the best option, but if not, try your local colon hydro-therapist or naturopathic doctor. He or she will most likely have a safe detox regime for you that has worked for other patients as well.
Just keep in mind that the whole point of detoxing is to let your body rest and heal, working full time while undergoing most detox programs can do more harm than good. Try and schedule your detox regime on your days off and take it easy for best results.
And of course, before you start any new diet or detox program check with a qualified health practitioner first, especially if you have preexisting conditions.
Also, if you are new to my website, I have some great resources if you join my e-mail list such as raw food starter guide to get you started with some easy recipes and my essential raw pantry items list.
Wishing you a happy and healthy new year, always!
P.S. Any advice for those starting on a raw food diet? Please leave your suggestions in the comment’s section below.