How To Apply Raw Principles To A “Conventional” Diet
[Links in this entry all lead to further explanations on this blog or one of my other health-related web-sites.]
You can't expect to wake up tomorrow and eat nothing but all-raw foods day in and day out for the rest of your life. Perhaps if you had cancer and desperately wanted to live, or perhaps if you were a mother facing severe health issues that prevented you from taking care of you kids – perhaps then you'd have the motivation that it takes.
Most of us, however, seem to be doing reasonably well as we are. Sure, we get headaches frequently, and take off a week or two worth of sick days in a year. Yes, there is the occasional constipation, irritated skin, wrinkles and other issues, but none of it seems all that serious. That extra fifteen or thirty pounds is annoying, but it doesn't seem to hinder you all that much. It just doesn't feel serious enough to give up a large part of “American culture.” (Perhaps it's time for a new culture?)
Even when we know in our hearts that the food we're eating is killing us, it's hard to take that plunge. You ask yourself, “Will it really work?” and “Will my friends still accept me?” and “Won't I feel like I'm starving?” and “Isn't all-raw food boring?”
Because you don't yet know for yourself that it will work, and because you don't yet realize that your friends will adjust and that you'll make new friends along the way, and because you don't realize how much your body will change for the better, you're not ready to go fully raw. You haven't tried all the amazing raw food dishes out there yet, and even if you've had a few, you're clueless as to how to make them.
And yet! You know that the way you're eating is destructive. So what can you do to start changing your eating habits and your level of health without jumping off what appears to be a cliff. (It's actually a diving board into a pleasantly warm pool; but the fall is scary, and the jump does take a lot of guts.)
Primary Principle: Enzymes
The reason why eating raw works is because of enzymes. Without them, your body can't digest your food, or build muscle or function correctly in general. Some enzymes are already made by the body, but many we need from an outside source: raw fruits and vegetables.
Certain foods are particularly hard to digest. Without an adequate supply of enzymes they will pass on to your intestines without being fully digested. This is what causes gas and various different sorts of stomach pains. This is because there is bacteria in your intestines – parasites – which lives off of the food you can't digest. The parasites eat what you leave behind, and they let out gas.
Dairy & Lactose Intolerance
This is why lactose intolerance is sky-rocketing. Pasteurized milk doesn't contain any enzymes. Ideally, I recommend not having any dairy, or at least very little. And that very little should absolutely be raw. (I can name a string of people off the top of my head who I know personally who thought they were lactose intolerant, but discovered they had no issue with raw milk, including myself.)
To gain some of the benefits of a raw diet, consume something raw with every meal at the beginning of the meal. This will ensure that there are some extra enzymes in your stomach to help you digest what's to come. I personally discovered when I was sixteen years old that eating meat and dairy upset my stomach – except when I ate a large salad first! And that was before I knew anything about a raw diet or about enzymes.
Don't Make Boring Meals
Eating something raw first could be a fruit, a salad, or a green smoothie. And don't make a boring salad! The biggest reason people get turned off of eating a raw diet is because they're eating boring salad day in a day out. Try using different greens you've never tried before. Use heirloom tomatoes (which are much, much more flavorful than conventional bred tomatoes), organic avocados, and add a little fruit. Try making a dressing in your blender with avocados, spicy peppers or peaches with cold-pressed organic olive oil. Try mache, leeks and basil on your salad.
Try picking out one or two days a week to do entirely raw. This is ideally done over a period of time that starts with a day including a raw potluck. Go online and use a site like meetup.com to find a raw meet-up group near you.
If there isn't one already in your area, start one! While the idea of meeting strangers off the internet may seem a bit creepy to some people, I've found it to be one of the most rewarding things in life. When you meet a group of people or a person (in a safe public place) off the internet, you meet someone entirely removed from the circle of friends and family you already have. It can be truly eye-opening.
A raw potluck will introduce you to many new dishes you've never even dreamed were possible. Whipped toppings made from cashews and coconut 'meat', sherbets made from chilled mixed fruits (with no added sugars or artificial ingredients whatsoever), puddings made from bananas and magoes, dressings made from spicy fruits, many types of dips, sandwiches that use lettuce as the 'bread', 'crackers' made from dehydrated seeds and nuts, cakes made from dried fruits and nuts, and so on and so on.
These new dishes will inspire you. You can't give up steak until you've found a replacement. An effective method of changing your diet is picking out one thing you can stand to give up (that you know isn't good for you), and replacing it with a raw dish you're willing to make at the same frequency. For example, if you usually have a sausage once a week with dinner, and you've discovered that you love a sprouted bean salad; you can stop having that sausage and start having that sprouted bean salad.
As you become healthier and begin to have more energy, your taste-buds will begin to change and you'll begin to crave something good for you. But the key is not to make yourself feel deprived or starved. If you feel hungry, by all means; eat! But if you suspect you've already eaten enough, but still feel hungry, go for something raw. You'll have a hard time eating too much raw food.
The most enzymes can be found in something freshly picked. Think about how long it takes a flower to wilt after it's picked. That's about the length of time the majority of the enzymes survive after something is picked. Growing even a few things at home can make a big difference.
Something I've been doing to help with the transition is putting home grown fresh basil on top of most everything I eat. It's great on top of salads, sauces, soups... Just make sure whatever you put it on top of is cool enough to eat before adding the basil (because you don't want the heat to kill any of the enzymes.) If you have a good patch of sunlight, you can do the same with chives (which are like onions only milder). Both basil and chives are easy to come by, and easy to take care of.
- One or two days a week of Raw Feasting.
- Attend or host raw-food potlucks to discover new dishes.
- Grow one or two plants at home and eat them fresh.
- Eat one raw item with every meal.
- Don't eat boring salads, or anything boring at all.
- Don't make yourself feel deprived or starved.
- Enjoy having more energy, and beginning to change your body and life for the better.
Continue to expand what you know about food, nutrition, health, fitness, awareness, success, happiness, fiscal interrelationships, the law of attraction, and your own personal skills at every opportunity. You'll notice that when you're eating more raw foods, you learn faster, because your mind is functioning with more correct natural fuel and less toxins.
Next step: Read this Article, outlining the four biggest mistakes people make when trying to transition to raw foods, and how to avoid them.