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#1 – What is R.A.W. (Real, Alive, Whole)

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The definition of “raw” is R.A.W. — Real, Alive, and Whole.

Whole foods are found in nature, only have one ingredient, and haven’t been processed. Whether you decide to eat a raw diet, a cooked diet, or (what I recommend) a diet infused with both worlds… whole foods are essential.

A raw food diet can be as simple or complex as you want. There are no rules such as counting calories, or anything else that rigid unless you choose to make it so. The dishes usually consist of salads, smoothies, soups, energy bars, chocolates, granola, cereal, nut milk, and some fancier, more gourmet foods such as raw tacos, lasagna, vegan cheese, nut-based yogurt, veggie burgers, and even cakes and pies. All made with whole food ingredients that haven’t been heated over 115 degrees (F). Truthfully, you can pretty much recreate any cooked dish into a raw one with a few tricks, tips, and techniques.
 

Do I have to eat 100% raw to be healthy?

 

The answer to that question is heck no! Keep in mind that while many people find improved health with a raw food diet, others will need a balance of cooked and uncooked foods (like me). Any increase in the amount of raw, whole foods that you consume has health benefits, so don’t get locked into percentages or even food labels. There are so many excellent eating guidelines out there, use them for just that – a guideline. Allow yourself the time and effort to understand how your own body responds to different foods and preparations.

 

The point is that we are not cookie-cutter humans, therefore how can we expect our dietary needs to be that way? Explore, experiment, and find whatever version of raw works best for you. Our end goal ought to be optimal health, and the path that leads to it is going to vary from person to person. So don’t get caught up in comparing your dinner plate with the person’s next to you.

 

It’s also important to know that when it comes to changing your eating habits, it doesn’t mean just changing the foods on your plate, it also requires a mental and emotional change. Over time you will be amazed at just how emotionally attached you are to foods and how some will be a struggle to overcome. So be aware and open should a particular emotion rise as you start to omit certain foods (gluten, dairy, refined sugars, etc.) Work through them, let them go, and move on. It’s a time of healing on every level.

 

The beauty of eating whole foods is that as your body adjusts to natural foods, your mind has the opportunity to let go and to surrender more often to the messages your body is giving out. So whether you eat 10%, 50%, or 80% raw, the more whole foods you eat, the better the chances are to crowd out those “crap” (pardon my language) processed foods. Learn to make every bite count.

What 50% Raw Looks Like

My recommendation is to start by eating 50% raw / 50% cooked whole foods and see how you feel. If you are coming from the Standard American Diet (eating high-processed foods), it will take a little bit for your body to adjust. So with that being said, don’t be afraid to decrease the percentage of raw to even less than 50%, then slowly work your way up to a level that leaves you feeling energized, clear-minded, and happy.

To simplify it, make sure that at least half of your plate is raw, whole food. Select in season, ripe, organic produce. Do your best. We are not approaching this way of eating as a “diet” but instead as a lifestyle change. Through healthy eating, we are learning about self-love, not self-sabotage.

Along with fresh produce, nuts, seeds, and grains that have been soaked, sprouted, and dehydrated are excellent raw food snacks as well as supporting ingredients in recipes. This process may seem daunting, but I am here to help support you as you learn these new-to-you techniques. The soaking process helps to reduce phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, which will help with digestion.

What 50% COOKED, whole foods looks like:

If at all possible, try to use only whole food ingredients. This dietary change alone will provide you with excellent health benefits. Get away from all canned, boxed, packaged, heavily processed foods! Cook lentils, beans, quinoa, amaranth, brown rice from scratch. Canned foods are high in salt (not the good kind either). Steamed vegetables, rice wraps, limit dairy (or none if possible), and if not vegan, look for farm-raised, hormone and antibiotic-free animal protein, poultry, and fish. Cut out all refined sugars. It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that.

What 80% Raw Looks Like

Eating 80% raw is going to look similar food-wise to the 50/50 approach. The only difference is the ratio. If you feel that your body and mind have adjusted well to the 50/50 method, try upping the raw to 80% (or 60% or 70%). But be mindful! Listen to your body. Do not try to force it into a food label.

 

Only YOU can determine what is best for you, but this requires you to pay attention to how you are feeling physically, emotionally, and mentally. If you dive into radical food changes, your body can throw off some undesirable symptoms, even flu-like ones. If so, ease back, don’t fall off the turnip wagon, sit tight, but please ease up so you can determine what foods may be helping or hindering you at this point.

What 100% Raw Looks Like

Well, as you can guess, this means that you are eating 100% raw. No food is prepared above 115 degrees (F). No food is coming from a can or box. The center of a grocery store will become a black hole for you, and should you find yourself walking down one of those center aisles, you will feel as though you entered the Twilight Zone.

 

Personally, I don’t know anyone who adheres to a 100% raw diet, and in most cases, I don’t recommend it. Some people find it easier to eat 100% raw because all cooked temptations have been removed, but without proper knowledge or guidance, I feel more harm than good can be done long-term.

 

Besides, I feel that you need to work through those foods that are tempting you to slip into old eating patterns. By not addressing these issues, you will likely fall victim to them again. Ask yourself where these temptations stem from; old memories, eating for comfort, not getting enough of the essential nutrients (which your body may be craving)… and so forth.

 

100% raw is a significant lifestyle change that should be carefully considered. Consult a doctor or nutritionist to determine whether you receive adequate nutrients when adapting to any radical changes in your diet. Dietary supplements may be necessary to add calcium and vitamin B12 to your diet.

 

Regardless of how much raw food is part of your diet, the key is to find balance.
 blessings, amie sue

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