The raw food diet
February 2013 (Updated)
I have been a raw foodist since January 2000. Here I explain what the raw food diet is, and how you can start eating it.
What is the raw food diet?
People on a raw food diet eat 100% raw, uncooked food. There are many people who find this a little difficult (often due to social reasons), so they choose a 75-99% raw food diet. Most raw foodists are vegetarian or vegan, but some eat raw fish and meat. The benefits of a high-raw or all-raw diet are clear:
- Increased energy
- Weight loss (or gain if you were too skinny)
- Diseases disappearing
- Happiness, and often bliss
The actual food eaten by raw foodists varies greatly, aside from those who eat a balanced raw diet, there are natural hygeinists, sproutarians, fruitarians, juicearians, superfoodists, ecstatic foodists and living foodists.
Most raw foodists eat a high proportion of organic or wild food in the belief that conventional food is more toxic and weaker.
Dr Gillian McKeith is a living foods proponent. Jason Vale (The Juice Master) agrees that raw foods and juices should make up a large proportion of our diet. Demi Moore, Woody Harrelson and Alicia Silverstone all love the raw food diet. Why? Because these foods help your body stay clean on the inside, they give you energy, they're full of life and they help people avoid disease associated with the Standard UK Diet (SUKD!!) and Standard American Diet (SAD!!). As our government embarks on healthy eating campaign after healthy eating campaign, let's think about looking to nature to get it right. It's sooooo simple!
What's your involvement in the raw food diet?
I've been promoting raw food since 2000. The first year was accidental, it just happened that thousands (soon to be millions) of people read my raw food journal, and got inspired by it! I ate exclusively raw for four years, until I became pregnant and nothing quite tasted the same after that. I was about 80-95% raw during pregnancy and breastfeeding and I currently eat 95-100% raw. I've written several books and an iPhone app that detail raw food as part of a whole health and wellbeing package. I also present the world's first TV programme on raw food, called Raw Kitchen on Sky 281 and FreeSat.
If you don’t want to stop eating cooked foods, then make the decision to cut out microwaved foods and to have at least 50% raw food in each meal to stop yourself suffering from leukocytosis and a suppressed immune system.
So, what do you eat?
Masses of variety. So much more than in Ye Olde 3D Worlde cooked days. For an idea of what I eat, check out my recipes.
My diet is so different from the SUKD. I've developed over 500 raw recipes for my books and DVDs, so it's certainly not limiting. I base my recipes on the following foods:
- Fruits, dried, fresh or frozen
- Vegetables, dried or fresh
- Sprouts (like alfalfa, not Brussels!)
- Herbs and spices
- Nuts and their butters
- Seeds and their butters
- Ancient grains, soaked or ground
- Sea vegetables, often dried
- Algaes, sometimes frozen or compressed into tablets
I personally pay particular attention to superfoods, such as maca, wheatgrass, goji berries, raw chocolate, chlorella, spirulina, E3Live and others.
Raw foodism is the oldest diet in the world. It's the only diet for every species in the world except humans and the animals they keep. It's the ultimate fast food diet -- just pick and go! No more greasy pans or toxic oven cleaning chemicals to deal with.
Is it expensive?
The reality is, that your health isn't something that should come down to cost. It can be expensive to buy organic fresh foods, and if you're resourceful, it doesn't have to be. Think about growing sprouts on your windowsill for a few pennies. Think about planting some fruit trees, growing greens, foraging. Have a look on the reduced shelf in the stupormarket. I know people from all walks of life who make raw living seem easy simply because they're resourceful and fit raw food into their lives because they love the benefits. I also know of people who use every excuse under the sun to not eat raw, even though they say they want to! Money is just one of those excuses, if you want to eat raw, you will. And when you feel the benefits of a raw diet, money won't ever be an excuse again.
You are what you eat. Because we know this phrase to be so true, think
what you want to be made of: a starch-bomb baked potato or strong, wild
and free greens...
Do you need special equipment?
You don't need it, but many people do have it. Dehydrators, the Vita-Prep, juicers and several other gadgets are often found in the raw foodist's kitchen. Take your time with buying stuff, and remember that you can get by with just your hands and teeth!
Will I become deficient in anything if I eat just raw food?
You can be deficient in nutrients on any diet. The SUKD and SAD diets are low in phyto-nutrients, B12, the anti-oxidant vitamins, EFAs and water. The nutrients to watch out for on a UK-based raw food diet include vitamins B12 and D, essential fatty acids and protein. For the vitamins, I recommend a good multi-vitamin tablet. For EFAs, I recommend Udo's Oil, vegan DHA/EPA (made from golden marine micro-algae), vegan vitamin D2 (made from litchen) and flax Salba/chia and hemp seeds in the diet. The superfoods will cover your protein needs when eaten regularly, and of course, there's the wonderful hemp protein powder. There is no need to eat animals to get enough protein -- I've been a vegan since 1987 and only ever felt protein deficient when on a high-fruit diet. I certainly don't recommend that way of eating to anyone unless you're doing a short cleanse.
Can children eat raw food?
Children have very different needs to adults, so the raw food diet is different for them, just as a cooked food diet is. There are children being raised successfully on a raw food or high raw food diet. Evie, my daughter is one of them. I urge you to read this article on raising raw vegan children. For more information, I recommend you read Evie's Kitchen. As with all diets, proceed with knowledge and care.
Further information, products and resources
- FREE Raw Food Recipe eBook: download it right now to get started with raw food!
- 97 Reasons To Eat Raw Food -- A raw food iPhone app, to keep motivated and inspired about your raw food diet at all times.
- New 2 Raw -- FREE raw food training and a cheap get started on raw food course, by me.
- Shazzie's detox delights -- 100 quick and easy raw food recipes, by myself.
- Detox Your World -- Over 100 raw food recipes and many detox plans for your whole life, by me.
- Naked Chocolate -- Over 60 raw chocolate and superfood recipes, written by myself and David Wolfe.
- Evie's Kitchen -- Over 180 full colour raw food recipes and everything you ever wanted to know about raising a child on the raw food diet.
- Sunfood Diet Success System -- The most popular book on raw food, by David Wolfe.
- Excalibur dehydrator -- The dehydrator most often used by raw foodists.
- Vita-Prep -- The blender of choice with raw foodists.
-- My favourite is the Green Power Kempo.
How do I start eating raw food?
I've coached many people with raw food, and the most successful method has been this: change one meal at a time. Become comfortable with that meal, then change the next one.
For example, you could first of all alter your breakfast. Make smoothies, eat fruit, make juices, have raw muesli with nut milk etc.
Then, when you're happy with that, alter your lunch. Make cabbage burritos, lettuce or nori wraps, salads, dehydrated goodies such as burgers or crackers with hummous, cashew cheeze and guacamole.
Then alter your evening meal. Remember, there are many great raw food recipe books, so you can always have something different to eat.
Making your snacks raw could mean eating dried fruits and nuts or enjoying vegetable sticks with raw food dips.
Finally, including superfoods every day will ensure you get more minerals and other nutrients that may be missing from or low in a normal raw and cooked diet.
Things to do
- Enjoy food in its natural state. If you can't eat it raw and unprocessed (like kidney beans and potatoes), ask yourself "Is this food designed for humans?"
- Look at food as it's being cooked. See the water disappear, the colours fade and the textures change. Really think about the logic of eatingfood in an altered state.
- Ask yourself if you're as healthy and happy as you could be. If the
answer's no, then change something. The saying goes: If you keep on
doing what you're doing, you'll keep on getting what your getting. Change
your eating habits and the results will soon show.
I hope this little introduction into the world of raw foodism has helped you decide to add more raw food into your diet. Remember that being gradual about your changes causes the cravings and detox symptoms to be minimal. Above all, enjoy your journey into raw foodism, it opens up many more doors than those I've mentioned here!
Extract from Detox Your World
by Shazzie, published by Rawcreation Ltd (UK) and North Atlantic Books (USA)
Chemical changes in food
Cooking causes major chemical changes to the food and then the food contains new and unrecognisable chemicals. Your body doesn’t recognise them and treats them as toxins. It creates an immune response, and produces many white blood cells to go and disarm the invaders. Ultimately, your immunity really suffers because it's made so many attacks on the "food" you’ve eaten, and so becomes depleted.
A good example of this is the simple baked potato, which is often used in other detox programmes. When it is baked, it contains over 400 more chemicals than when it is raw. As we’re undergoing a detox, we want to remove ourselves as far from all known sources of toxins as possible, so we spend this time eating a diet which has not been cooked.
In my recipe book, Shazzie's Detox Delights, I’ve created over 100 delicious and sometimes sinful-looking recipes which will make you love food that loves your body. In this book, there are another 100+ recipes. This all goes to show that you don’t lose out on variety or enjoyment when eating healthily.
If this looks a bit too different for you to try, don’t worry. The detox plans are carefully worked out so that you gain maximum energy with minimal cravings.
Your body has an immune response when you eat cooked food
When you ingest cooked food, your body acts as if it has been poisoned. White blood cells are produced and rush to your defence. This immune response is known as leukosytosis. If you eat raw food, or at least 50% raw food in each meal, this doesn’t happen.
All forms of cooking change the structure of the cells within the food, such as the baked potato’s 400 chemicals mentioned above. Your body has to try and do something with these new and unrecognisable chemicals. When your body has to deal with this chemical assault on a daily basis, over weeks, months and years, it doesn’t have the time or energy to do normal housecleaning and repair. It also has to find safe places to put the chemicals that it doesn’t have time to remove. This long term storage of toxins accounts for many of the diseases prevalent in our society.