Thursday, 30 June 2011

9 Lessons from a (Mostly) Raw Diet

You might remember that the other week I was trying out a raw diet. Well, I was going to give you a day-by-day account, but I thought it would be easier to digest (pun intended) if I simply gave you the top lessons I learnt. Cool? Cool.

Note: when I say ‘diet’ I don’t mean the losing weight kind of diet. I did lose a few pounds over the week, but that was not my intention. What I wanted was to see other physical benefits such as improved energy levels, better skin, and less bloating which is an issue for me.

Firstly, I’ll give you the lowdown of a typical day on the diet for me:

Brekkie: Fruit smoothie made with bananas and strawberries (if I embarked on the diet again I’d want to significantly bulk this up with a protein powder or some such powerful élément).
Lunch: Epic salad as pictured above, including avocado and mixed seeds for essential fats.
Dinner: A light veggie stir-fry avec tofu.
Snacks: Apples; carrots; raw chocolate (super-yummy and available in all good health food shops); homemade raw chocolate pie; oatcakes with hummus as a cheat (although you can make raw hummus).

So, class is in session and this is what I got from my raw programme:

1. Unless you are really saintly, you’re probably going to end up cheating. Don’t beat yourself up about this and simply look at each new day as a chance to begin again. Also, try and make sure you make them good cheats like tofu, cooked beans, oatcakes, toasted seeds or yummy grains.

2. You can do a raw diet without a hand blender or magimix, but it won’t be much fun. If you want to whip up a raw storm I suggest you either borrow or invest in at least one of these!

3. You’ll need to Prepare with a capital P. Loosely planning your meals and snacks for the whole week will make life a lot easier. We didn’t and I think that was where we really tripped up. You cannot prepare too much with this kind of diet, so make sure you have plenty of fresh produce ready to go.

4. You’ll need to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so make sure you like doing that. Choose a week where you haven’t got a whole lot else going on so that your raw experiments can take precedence. 

5. You’ll probably have never eaten so much fruit and vegetables in your life, and you’ll need to use all of your imaginative power to avoid getting bored. Salads don’t always have to be of the garden variety, whop in everything you’ve got, splash it around in a zingy dressing and add seeds, sprouted seeds or nuts for extra oomph

6. Get a good raw recipe book, with pictures! Even if it’s just from the library. Alternatively, print a plethora of web recipes to whet your raw appetite.

7. If it ends up simply being a 90, 80, 70 or even less percentage raw diet, that’s still great, and can easily be built on over a few weeks if you want. The main lesson I took from my week is that, even when not on a raw diet, I could be eating much more fresh produce. As a loose rule I intend to make 70% of my shopping basket fruit and vegetables, as well as 70% of my plate, from now on. 

8. Fruit and vegetables can fill you up, but they aren’t always so great at sustaining you. Don’t expect to down a smoothie then hop off to the shops for three hours without a snack. I did this and nearly fainted. Not advisable. Take a couple of raw snacks with you wherever you go. My mum made a valid point that animals in nature that are totally herbivore graze all day long. That’s pretty much how you’ll roll on a raw diet, which didn’t suit me as I like to be getting on with other things, not munching continually. 

9. Don’t go wild on your first day off of the diet and eat an entire block of cheese. Take it from me: it hurts.

So, did I see the benefits I mentioned at the beginning? Hmm, not really. I found the diet very difficult, probably because I wasn’t nearly prepared enough. I think raw living takes a lot of training and isn’t necessarily something you can jump into cold tomato ('turkey' didn’t seem quite the right word...) I have to say that avoiding wheat and dairy for the week did seem to make me less bloated, and that the night we cracked and had a creamy vegetable curry my bloating returned in full force.

Further Reading:

♥ Steve Pavlina rocked a 30 Day Raw Diet
Raw LouLou has a host of tasty and, more importantly, easy raw recipes
♥ Karen Knowler is a raw food coach (yes they exist!) who worked with Gala Darling, you can see how they got on here

Let me know if you’ve had any/ plan to have any raw food adventures! It’s definitely something I would dabble in again, though I’m not sure if it could work for me at the 100% level.


J said...

A very inspiring post, as always! =) I've been trying to change my lifestyle by getting more active and eating healthily recently... I think I'll have a look at implementing raw foods too! =)

Eternal*Voyageur said...

I do around 70% raw most of the time, and I have to say that it´s addictive. Meaning that even if you cheat and can´t do all raw, you´ll probably never be able to do all cooked in your life again. Your body will just demand raw.
Also, the filling part gets better: I used to be ravenous half an hour after a smoothie breakfast. After a month my body learned the difference between ´needing food for nutrients and calories´ and ´already digested purreed fruit and resting before lunch´. I mean, it got used to not having to take several hours to digest a heavy breakfast.

My advantages on raw were not very dramatic (I already ate rather healthy) but I noticed that I have no bad breath anymore, I get sicker rarely (once a year, on average), digestion is easy (and I used to have constant digestion problems), no muscle pain even after a hard workout after months of not exercising and I recuperate quicker after an effort.

PS I can´t find the link to the older posts on the bottom of that page...

Emily said...

I think I may try going raw now. I've been wanting to do it for awhile, so why not?! Thanks for the tips :)

Megan said...

E*V - I got rid of the 'older posts' link in a moment of madness but have now replaced it! thanks for flagging it up, and for the great comment about your red-hot rawness!

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