There are so many diet styles to choose from nowadays: keto, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, the list really goes on and on. With the new year in full swing, I’m sure many of you have pledged to try at one of these diets or, at the very least, resolved to be a healthier version of yourself in 2019.
If you haven’t chosen a diet yet, or you are looking for a new one to really (I mean, really) challenge yourself, you should try going raw.
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I know what you’re thinking – “How do you expect me to eat like a rabbit?” It’s an assumption so many make about vegans, it can only be assumed people think that about a raw diet.
However, like veganism, raw dieting comes with many misconceptions. You don’t have to only eat raw carrots and for dinner. Raw food can be “cooked” up to 107 degrees Fahrenheit, which means you can still get creative with your meals.
According to raw food specialists, when food reaches over 107 degrees F, nutrient degradation begins to occur. Not only that, but when food is cooked beyond 107 degrees F, the nutrients between the foods have a harder time working together and benefiting your body in the way they could if kept raw. In order to reap the full benefits of your raw food, and the nutrients within, raw food is “warmed” rather than “cooked”.
Beans and legumes, however, are a little bit of an exception. They are an integral part of a raw diet, especially if you plan to follow a vegan diet as well, but they are near impossible to eat raw. While beans and legumes can be eaten after being soaked and sprouted, they will still be very tough to eat and even tougher on your digestive system. Many raw diet experts say it is just fine to eat boiled beans and legumes while sticking to a raw diet, as long as they are eaten on their own or mixed with raw greens and veggies.
Raw food also includes dehydrated food which can be a fun experiment and an excellent way to snack throughout the day. If you aren’t up to dehydrating your own food, all kinds of fruits and some vegetables are readily available in any grocery store. (Kale chips, anyone?)
Photo by Mark Weinberg from food52.com
Although a raw diet is the simplest of them all - being purely made up of uncooked fruits and vegetables - going raw might not be feasible, depending on where you live, or something you even want to do. Either way, the diet has great benefits. Knowing them might help change your mind and push you to start implementing raw foods into your diet plan.
One great benefit of a raw diet is that you know exactly what you’re eating. You can recognize and name everything on your plate! Eating a raw diet, or simply implementing more raw foods into your diet, means NO ADDITIVES. None of that extra stuff that we read in ingredients and ask ourselves and the universe, “What is that?” before tossing it in our shopping cart anyway. No extra sugar, no preservatives, no added salt. You know exactly what you’re putting into your body.
On a raw diet you may find it easier to listen to your body’s cries for help. Have you been having stomach pains or headaches for some time now and you can’t figure out why? Or maybe you’ve been having trouble sleeping, staying awake or have a weird, inexplicable rash? Going raw means cutting out a lot of (unhealthy) things from your diet. Besides the aforementioned additives, you’re also cutting out eggs, dairy, most meat (some like to include raw fish in a raw diet), and gluten. Many things that cause ailments are stricken from your diet, meaning you can try and pinpoint what it is that your body doesn’t like.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding a raw diet. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, a raw diet is too “cold” for our body’s natural digestion. Our bodies have an easier time digesting warm foods because the cooking process already begins the process. People following a raw diet often have bloating or gassiness, especially toward the beginning of their raw journey.
Raw dieting is something that should be transitioned into, beginning with a partially raw diet and increasing your raw food content over time. As with anything in holistic health, listen to what your body is saying. Not one thing works for everyone. Stay mindful and do proper research to find what diet style works for you.