Ok, I officially LOVE raw food. I started eating raw about five weeks ago, and have been 99% raw since (my trespasses? a tiny brownie, a few sprouted grain english muffins, and a stupid eggplant pizza). Let's do the math on this baby :
First I ate 100% of whatever I wanted. I loved fried foods, desserts, and pizza. Thanks to miraculous metabolism, I never gained too much weight. Then I read Fantastic Voyage : Live Long Enough to Live Forever, hacked away at my diet, and cut out probably 70% of the foods I used to eat. Later I researched more and cut out 90% of those foods, leaving me eating about 7% of what I initially ate. I wrote a book called The Skinny Snob about that. Going raw eliminated at least 70% of those foods, so now I'm down to about 2-3% of the foods I ate a year ago. Based on my daily diet I would consider that wholly accurate.
Now... that is a wild change. Especially coming from me. I would constantly mock anyone trying to go on a diet and explain that you should just eat whatever you wanted. No amount of logic would get me to change. What did get me to change was my inclination to try things for 7 or 30 days, and the accompanying drastic results.
Despite it being a huge interruption to normal life, I would HIGHLY reccomend that everyone try going raw for at least a week. Most changes need 30 days to full experience them, but honestly you will notice the difference with raw food in only a week. If you're an Austinite, then just go to the downtown Whole Foods and buy 7 days worth of meals. The people who work there are cool and can help you work around the short shelf lives of some of the foods. Hell, if there are enough people here I would even host a week long raw food extravaganza.
The biggest noticeable change is that I look a lot healthier. My eyes are brighter, my skin is more vibrant, and maybe my hair is better. I have a lot more energy and I feel like my mood is even higher on average than it used to be. I need less sleep, and I feel MUCH better after every meal.
Eating meals is a complete joy because not only is the food delicious, but I can imagine how much my body loves it and how it puts every ingredient to good use. Even after eating the largest meal, I my stomach feels fine and my energy isn't sapped.
I think there's the perception that all we eat is salad all day, but that's not true at all. Here are some of my favorite things to eat :
Lunch or Dinner
Obviously there are a million more great things to eat, but these are some of my staples that I really enjoy. In that Raw Food/Real World book there are 100 recipes, and I've only done 1 of them so far.
Luckily, I just got my dehydrator. It is the mack daddy of all dehydrators, the Excalibur 2900. I'm pretty sure that all raw food restaurants use this particular workhorse (Whole Foods has 10 of them), as do most serious Raw Foodists. I just got it two days ago and so far all I've made was raw popcorn which was really gross. Next up is raw onion rings, and after that I'm going to start making normal stuff like flax seed crackers and the recipes from Raw Food/Real World. They have some little tacos that look particularly tasty as well as coconut almond macaroons.
This will seem weird, but cooked food seems really gross to me now. Maybe I've brainwashed myself - I don't know. But when I see someone cooking over a stove I just think "wow... that is really gross. I can't believe people eat that". The more you eat raw the more you realize that it is logically (and practically) the best diet possible. No animals eat cooked food. Our bodies could not POSSIBLY evolve fast enough to be designed for cooked food. Cooking destroys nutrients and alters the original balance of the food. It makes so much sense that I can't imagine how I never tried this before. I guess I just had too much of a closed mind. Really even after hearing about it I was highly skeptical until I tried it myself for a week.
Believe it or not, is has been EASY to transition to raw food. This is totally counterintuitive and unexpected.
A couple months ago I tried going Vegan for a couple weeks and I found it to be awful. It felt restrictive and I didn't feel any better than when I was eating my Skinny Snob diet, which is much more permissive. Within two weeks I gave up on the diet.
Raw food has a different feel. You WANT to do it because you feel great after every meal. Instead of feeling like you're restricting your diet, you feel like you've uncovered a whole new world of great foods that you never knew existed. Ironically, being Raw is vegan (although I still eat raw fish on occasion), but much more restrictive. It just doesn't feel that way.
I've never once craved any sort of meat (which previously was a major staple of my diet) or really any other food. Occasionally when I'm really hungry and it's late at night and I have no food left I will crave the CONVENIENCE of normal food, but never the actual foods themselves.
I'm normally not preachy, but I believe so strongly that everyone has got to at least try this. The problem is that most raw foodists seem to be total nutcases with bizarre theories involving the life force of food and stuff like that which really puts me off. The best reason to go raw is because it is what your body wants and because you will feel and look better within days. If I get around to it, I'm going to write an ebook helping people make the transition without any annoying hippie speak.
Aha!! I see it. Yea, thats a good account.
By the way I like the way you try things out with an open mind, while maintaining an independent outlook. Its cool.
Wow there is ALOT of misinformation in the original post and in the following comments.
The first evidenve of cooked food comes from the swartkrans cave site dated to at least 1 000 000 BP. The charred bones found in this sheltered site bear the chemical signatures of bones cooked in a fire with the heat of a medium sized campfire. It was probably Homo erectus (a direct ancestor of Homo sapiens) that was in control of these fires.
This EASILY provides plenty of time for our species to become adapted to cooked food. As an elucidating example the gene for lactose tolerance is very high in areas where dairy farming began earliest. That adaptation took place in a mere few thousand years.
Be careful about espousing dubious information when discussing issues that might affect peoples lifestyle choices.
For those of us living in a 'meals provided' environment (college dorm cafeteria, for example, but there are many such situations), how viable is switching to raw foods? The meal plan here is not optional and I don't have the means nor money to get every meal from Whole Foods. It sounds like the joy of raw food is that you can actually make real recipes, unlike a more traditional 'only salad and fruit' type diet (which is what's available in the cafeteria).
I don't know if fundamentalist is the word. I have no problem with killing animals for food or any other moral quandry. But it does make a lot of sense that we are NOT designed to eat cooked food.
The history is sketchy, but it's estimated that primitive cooking began between 8000BC and 6000BC. That's 10,000 years at most. Modern humans have been around for 100,000 to 200,000 years. The chance that our entire digestive system somehow evolved to be unlike any other digestive system in such a short time is very unlikely.
Bacteria being bad is also a myth. The problem is that we are so used to eating cooked food that we do not have the natural bacteria resistance we used to have. In fact, just by weaning yourself onto raw eggs and raw fish, you can avoid most bacterial infections when traveling aborad.
Nutriends definitely get damaged when you cook. Obviously there are varying degrees, but the important thing is that most enyzmes which aid digestion get destroyed between 118-145 degrees. Our bodies are designed to digest food with the aid of those enzymes.
You can eat certain beans by soaking them in water, although I don't know about soybeans or lentils. I do know that the Chinese ate soybeans before cooking was a common practice.
All that said, it's not NECESSARY, obviously, to eat this healthy. Your diet is probably better than 99.9% of Americans. However, I am quite sure based on my experience and that of others that Raw Food (including raw eggs and fish) is the best diet we know of.
I think its an interesting move from Pick up artist to Raw Food Fundamentalist. :)
But, I think raw food is another extreme end. Animals and us were probably not designed to eat cooked food. But over time we have evolved and our bodies have evolved towards it.
Now going back to HUMAN DESIGN. Humans have a digestive system like one that belongs to a cow. We were not designed to be meat eaters. So drop that meatloaf from your menu.
But we have evolved from being pure plant eaters to seafood and different meats.
Raw is good. Lots of raw is better. ALL RAW is probably not the best. RAW = Uncooked = Living Bacteria. Cooking kills common bacteria.
Now, talking about nutrient loss. Nutrients dont vaporize (maybe a little), but they are usually part of the original item and part of the liquid you cooked it in. Hence, dont BOIL and throw away the extra water.
Also LIGHT cooking is better than HEAVY cooking.
Once again, it is about BALANCE. Add a lot of raw foods: Salads, finger food carrots, fruits & nuts to your diet. But try eating SOYBEAN or LENTILS uncooked. You cant. Hence you boil the beans, lentils etc. and keep the liquid.
PS: This comes from a vegetarian who has grown up with half his lunch and dinner plate always consisting of sprouts salads, fruits, cucumbers, radishes, carrots & tomatoes.
I sometimes bite my nails... is that raw food? :)
I eate my grilfriend out, but Im too impatient to cook her first.
I guess vegan is the fastest way of life,you can mown your lawn and eat at the same time!
I left my meat in a fridge for too long and it got that green fuzzy grass on it, I eate it anyway. Does that make me half a vegan?
(My first standup is comming soon :)
So if you have only tried one recipe from Raw Food/Real World, where do you get the recipes for every day food? Are you consuming a large amount of pre-prepared food from Whole Foods?
I am completely into trying a raw food diet, but the initial hump of finding recipes (outide of "normal" salads) has been a challenge.
Thanks for writing about your raw food experience. Love the blog.
I used to walk into McDonalds and often times I wouldn't be charged for my food. Why? Because I went there so frequently and brought so many friends, that they knew I was good for business. My favorite meal was the Fishwich, a mighty sandwich made with a bun, american cheese, a deep fried fish patty, and a generous portion of tartar sauce. To fully sate my appetite I always supersized.
My parents had always encouraged me to eat healthy. I just didn't see the point. I felt good, I wasn't fat, and I never got sick. Why fix what isn't broken? I was thankful for my good metabolism and assumed that eating healthy was for people who didn't have it so good.
Then a couple years ago I watched Super Size Me. I watched it for entertainment, but it was the first time I began to believe that what I ate actually mattered. If you haven't seen the movie, I highly recommend it. When subjected to a McDonalds only diet, the creator became depressed, lethargic, and generally didn't feel too well. That was the day I stopped eating fast food.
A big item on my dreams list is connecting people in my life with healthy food. This is a challenging one, because food is built into our personal traditions, and because accomplishing it might involve cooking, which is not traditionally found on among my personal strengths.
It has been a year of mixed success on food. I worked out of a corporate office in Minneapolis over the summer that had an amazing set of lunch cafes. They offered tons of greens, veggies, fruits, and healthy foods for a subsidized low cost. For the first time in a long time, it was as easy to eat healthy as to eat poorly. I would stuff myself each lunch with pounds of salad with an incredible array of veggies and end up so full that I couldn't eat anymore. As a result, I lost weight and felt great.
I read the book "Eat to Live", which confirmed what I thought I was observing. It advocates eating veggies, fruits, and beans primarily. I actually managed to cook a couple of recipes out of it, and they were palatable.
But then, as I settled back full time to Appleton, eating such a diet was much more difficult. I convinced some friends to go to the salad bar at the local grocery store for lunch--but the overwhelming food culture here is bread, cheese, and sugar. Last night I hosted my birthday party. A friend cooked and did an awesome job, and even made some vegetarian chili that was delicious. But, I think my girlfriend and I were the only ones who opted for vegetarian over meat. Today, I had pizza stuffed with meat. Win some, lose some, and during winter in Northern climates the body really favors losing some. Battles, not pounds..