The Raw Deal
“Going raw” refers to eating a plant-based diet in which foods are never heated higher than 118 degrees Fahrenheit (48 degrees C). Raw-food enthusiasts base their diets around the belief that when food is cooked, it loses nutrients and the enzymes needed for digestion. “Raw foodists” typically eat fresh fruit, veggies, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Some raw dieters also choose to eat animal products, such as raw milk and cheese, fish (if it’s sashimi), and meat (like carpaccio).
There are plenty of potential benefits to any diet that’s based on plant foods and limits animal and processed products. Among them: better heart health, weight loss, and reduced disease risks. But more specifically, advocates emphasize better skin, slower aging, and an increase in energy levels.
If you begin a raw food diet, it’s good to start slow, only eat about 50% raw for the first weeks, and then gradually increase. Pay attention to the calories you’re eating, too. It’s easy to wind up consuming fewer calories and nutrients when you change diet too quickly. Bulk up on vitamin-dense veggies like Brussels sprouts, bok choy, and other leafy greens (spinach and kale are easy to find), along with colorful produce like bell peppers and carrots. Need more protein? Sprouted beans and lentils work.
Fewer calories are a dieter’s best friend. And a raw diet, with no processed foods, is one way to easily reduce them. Combine this with an emphasis on plant-based, nutrient-dense foods, and the pounds can, potentially, melt away. But remember, it’s important to eat enough; otherwise, your diet might “plateau.” Even if weight loss isn’t your goal, keep an eye on the calories.
The Raw Tools
Even raw food needs a few tools. Dehydrators, blenders, juicers, and food processors are the most common appliances for a raw diet. The other big one is time. Sprouting, soaking, and blending all take time, so set aside some extra prep time.
Is It for You?
While it’s not the easiest way to eat, many raw food fans think the tradeoff of time and effort is worth the potential benefits. Is it for you? Let us know.