As more and more people turn to the healthier plant based lifestyle they will naturally start to feel fitter and healthier than ever: it is the start of an exiting journey into healing the body and mind and living the wonderful life that you were born to live. The raw food diet is often a natural progression from plant based eating, and may evolve naturally as you start to listen to your body’s needs.
What eating raw actually means:
Eating raw food isn’t just some new fad, in fact it’s been around since the 1800s, but of course they didn’t actually invent it: before the discovery of using fire to cook foods it would have been the diet we naturally evolved on – which kind of makes sense as to why it’s so healthy for us now.
Raw food does not necessarily mean eating just plants – there are lots of animal products that can be eaten raw, such as fish, meat, eggs, and raw dairy products but as this is a plant based website I will just be focusing on raw plant foods.
Eating foods in their uncooked state leaves all their nutrients, enzymes and antioxidants intact, therefore making them much more nutritious. You may be led to believe that cooking foods helps to digest them more easily, but this is mostly not the case.
Cooking foods often destroys those valuable digestive enzymes BUT there are exceptions to this, as in the case of potatoes, carrots, spinach, asparagus and tomatoes. Why? Because these vegetables have antioxidants that are released during the cooking process, the likes of ferulic acid, lycopene, and beat-carotene which converts to vitamin A.
Sprouting and Soaking:
Beans, legumes and lentils will need to be soaked and sprouted in order to eat them raw because they contain compounds that inhibit enzyme function, and can actually be toxic. Sprouted pulses are in fact a great source of fiber, protein, enzymes, vitamins and minerals, and should definitely be a part of a healthy raw diet.
It is easy to sprout your own pulses, seeds and lentils at home, and often more cost effective. You can then add these sprouts to salads, stir-fry’s, smoothies, or just eat them alone as a snack. Here’s a short video to show you how simply this can be done.
Most other foods can and should be eaten raw and in abundance, and many that contain the fat soluble nutrients such as A,D,E and K are better absorbed alongside a little healthy fat as this will greatly aid absorption. Examples of such foods are:
- ALL green leafy vegetables
- Sweet Potatoes
- Cantaloupe melon
- Butternut Squash
Mix it up!
It’s probably safe to say that the best way forward is to get a good mix of both lightly cooked and raw foods, leaning heavily towards raw. Raw can actually mean anything that isn’t heated above 116 degrees, so you can still eat warm foods for comfort.
You can incorporate raw foods into every meal and snack quite easily: it’s simple to add raw chopped fruit to your smoothies or morning cereal, or eat dried fruit, nuts and seeds as snacks, and add large side salads to your main meals.Even by doing this alone you will be making your diet about 50% raw!
You can make all sorts of delicious raw dressings in a food processor to add to your veggies and salads, my favorite is avocado, lemon, olive oil, tamari or soya sauce, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Just whizz it up and add ingredients to taste. Putting a heavy dressing like this over your salad or vegetables makes it a filling and complete meal that really hits the spot!
Foods that are definitely best raw:
Some foods offer far superior health benefits than others when eaten in their raw state and with all their nutrients and enzymes intact, and these top 6 should be incorporated into the diet as much as possible RAW.
- Bell peppers
- Garlic (sorry)
- Coconut flesh
- Nuts – especially macadamia, walnuts, almonds and brazil nuts
- Seeds – especially hemp and pumpkin seeds
THE RAW FOOD DIET BENEFITS:
As you start to incorporate more and more raw foods into your diet you will in effect be giving your whole system a cleanse. The fiber in raw fruits and vegetables literally drag all the crap out of your colon to be excreted out of the body. Keeping the body in a good state of detoxification will lower your chances of not only toxic overload, but also many modern day diseases such as cancer, degenerative disease, heart disease and obesity.
Try to add these top ‘detoxification foods’ to your diet to really boost the process, especially when you are just starting out on your raw food diet.
As plant foods are just bursting to the rim with antioxidants you will also be greatly decreasing your chances, yet again, of many diseases and illnesses. Antioxidants fight the free radical damage caused by too many toxins from both in our diet and environment, such as junk foods, chemical additives, sugar, burnt foods, sun exposure, smoking, alcohol and pollution.
Free radicals are unpaired electrons that mess with our DNA and accelerate the aging process, antioxidants help to negate this, and so the more we can get into our diet the younger we will look and feel, both inside and out.
3. STRONGER IMMUNITY
As raw fruits and vegetables have all their nutrients, phytochemicals, antioxidants and digestive enzymes intact, they will offer you much higher immune protection than cooked or dead foods. It is however very important to source out as good a quality, local and preferably organic as you can afford as these factors make a huge difference in food quality.
4. LESS STOMACH PROBLEMS
Raw foods because of their natural digestive enzymes, will help to ease and even eliminate completely stomach and digestive problems such as IBS, heartburn, gas, constipation, and indegestion.
5. BETTER SATISFACTION VALUE
As raw foods are so nutritious you will feel more satisfied for longer periods after you have eaten. This is because your body has been given the nutrients it needs to thrive on, which will stop sugar cravings AND help keep blood sugars stable.
Stable blood sugar is vital for good health, a slim body, and may also help prevent many diseases – the most common being type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, some cancers, and obesity.
A low GI plant based diet is a great place to start if you want to get in shape, detoxify, kick sugar cravings, lower your chance of disease and boost energy. Start doing this today with my Beginners ‘Guide to Plant Based Eating’.
Finally, raw foods can be absolutely delicious, and it’s really easy to whip up a crunchy salad with a homemade avocado dressing – AND don’t even get me started on raw desserts, which are simply out of this world. Every week I make myself a raw carrot cake and a chocolate cheesecake, the beauty of which is they can be eaten guilt free any time of day.
Raw energy balls are a really simple snack to keep in your fridge that are great when you feel peckish and even better as a pre/post-workout snack as they are full of nutrition and slow release energy. There are so many different versions and flavours you can make and they all pretty much have a base of smooshed together dates and nuts. From there you can add other nuts, seeds, coconut flakes, cacao, flavourings…the world is your oyster here.
If you want to make any of these delicious raw recipes for yourself then the internet is literally awash with them, so you should have no trouble finding something simple to try out for starters.
Adding more raw foods to your diet will DEFINITELY have awesome health benefits. Nobody is saying you need to go 100% raw, just start by adding more and more raw foods and get your taste buds accustomed to them.
Raw eating is another level of health and the next level from plant based. It is something that you need to break yourself into slowly if you don’t want to throw your body into full on detoxification too quickly (which makes you feel crappy).
Ultimately, going raw will cleanse your body and mind and take you on a journey inside yourself where you will find pure clarity, bliss and awakening. This is the testimony of those whom I have spoken to whom have been eating raw on a long term basis, and as if that’s not incentive enough, they also look AMAZING in a way that I have never seen before – living proof that raw ‘alive‘ foods bring us to life also.