My first youtube video in a LONG time – all about my raw food journey and struggles/triumphs on a low fat high/fully raw vegan diet.
Please subscribe to my channel, as I do plan to make more videos 🙂 Thanks!
My first youtube video in a LONG time – all about my raw food journey and struggles/triumphs on a low fat high/fully raw vegan diet.
Please subscribe to my channel, as I do plan to make more videos 🙂 Thanks!
Raw pesto pasta at Giva, in Chiang Mai, Thailand, 2013
After 6.5 years of eating an extremely high raw diet (100% for months at a time, usually a bit of cooked food in winter, nothing major) and following and learning from a multitude of sources, I am no beginner. These are the lessons I have learned:
1. Any version of a raw food diet is going to make you feel amazing at first.
I was on a high fat raw vegan diet, almost exclusively, for the first 3 years. I deviated very rarely and always stayed plant-based. I felt amazing, was radiant, and slim as a whip.
Higher fat raw foods are great transition foods, and when I ate them I followed no caloric recommendations, I just ate everything raw.
I know people on low fat raw, high fat, low calorie, high calorie, all natural, people with plastic surgery, thin, chubby – some look amazing and some look like shit. The important thing is to do raw or high raw in the way that you can stick to, and that makes you feel your best!
You must be patient as you will will probably have some detox symptoms to begin with, but they will pass and you will understand why people are so passionate about this lifestyle.
2. 80/10/10 is a good basic guide, but not a rule book.
This diet has basic good macronutrient ratios and outlines just-as-important aspects of true health. (note – my answers in the link are from 2.5 years ago and have changed greatly).
A low fat, high carb diet is excellent for mood, energy levels, and athletic endeavors. I don’t agree with all of the book, as it excludes things that I think can be beneficial (juice, herbs, certain supplements, seaweed for iodine and sodium for example), but in general, it gives good basic guidelines to follow, however, tweak the suggestions to work for you. Take what makes sense, and toss what doesn’t. Eliminate the non-essential.
3. Raw till 4 is misleading and incomplete
This diet is better than the majority out there, but I disagree with some aspects of it. When I followed this a couple of years ago, I felt really good but still feel better being all raw.I was also bloated and rashy.
The idea that you can eat unlimited calories, and need to stuff yourself, is ludicrous. You need to take in enough. There is evidence for failure on this diet everywhere, as well as successes – generally the people who are successful are very active and have been for a long time. Newcomers that gain a ton of weight and are confused by it are going to be disparaged and either continue to gain or fall off completely. Activity level must be on par with the amount of food calories you take in. Movement is essential for health.
Restricting calories is not the way to go, either – but restricting is not the same as eating just what you need.
Another problem is lack of greens and vegetables (and variety of them). The majority of vegetables being eaten are cooked and so are devoid of most minerals that would be available otherwise.
The addition of processed food is one I disagree with. Whole foods like root vegetables, beans, and even grains (depending on what kind) are much better choices.
Lack of fat is another issue – the phobia of fat that is being perpetuated is nonsense. Most people who follow 80/10/10, or 90/5/5 and struggle are often satiated by a bit of fat – we do NEED it, but not in excess.
I do agree with getting in mostly carbohydrates because it improves your mood and your energy levels. However, macronutrients are not the only aspect of health! MICROnutrients are VASTLY important and need to be addressed far more often. Sodium is also higher on this diet (but still low) which may explain why people are so drawn to having some cooked food as sodium is required for proper health! This is one other thing I like about Raw till 4.
4. Don’t treat your teachers as gods
No one knows everything. If you start treating your teachers as gurus and leaders, or idolizing them, you will ignore your own intuition and continue to do things that do not work for you.
5. Your results should not take years
If you have greatly abused yourself for a long time, then yes, it may take longer for your body to heal – but the important thing to focus on is feeding your body the healthy amount of VITAMINS and MINERALS, and making sure that you can absorb them. Be patient and focus on feeling good first. Consistency is really the key.
6. Raw food can make you lose or gain weight
Yes, 2000 calories of raw food or whole food is going to be dealt with much differently than 2000 calories of junk. They are not the same. However, taking in more calories than you need is hard on your body and also hard on your finances. The only need for excessive caloric intake is if you are extremely active. You have a basal metabolic rate – which is how much energy (calories) you burn while at rest. For instance, for my height and weight, I would require 1300 calories just to keep me alive and functioning properly while lying bed doing absolutely nothing for the entire day. Then you need to figure out how much energy you expend while moving through your day. If you eat more than you burn, you may gain weight, unless you are regularly active and have a high metabolism.
7. Lower fat is the way to go, but protein, minerals, fat, and sodium need to be taken seriously
The main issue I had when going low-fat raw is that my skin got very dry and I had a bumpy rash on my cheeks for 2 years that mortified me. My skin was beautiful on high-fat raw. I was convinced my problems were from salt, but no matter how long I avoided it, nothing changed. I went without make-up for ages, no change. When I had a blip in my diet last winter and was questioning raw, I was eating mostly cooked for a little while and my skin got amazing. It was then that I made the correlation between lack of sodium and being dehydrated. Too little sodium will make you unable to hold on to any water you take in.
A low fat raw vegan diet is VERY low in sodium, particularly if you are eating mostly fruit and not enough greens (and you need a LOT, especially if you are eating low fat and not getting minerals from nuts and seeds). A better way to get sodium, if you are not consuming enough greens to do so (the bare minimum to live healthfully is 500mg a day, and should be below 2000mg per day) is from living foods such as miso, or the highest quality unrefined salt you can find, and a very small amount (no more than a teaspoon a day). Celery and greens are the best natural sources of sodium, however they still do not provide enough for excellent health.
Protein is to also be taken into consideration. Low-protein is touted as best, but people do get quite a lot of protein if they are eating a vast amount of calories. If you are not an athlete and do not require a lot of muscle re-building, this isn’t something you really need to worry about. If you do want to build a lot of muscle, you either have to eat a huge amount of calories (which will give you a lot of protein, yet it would be a small macro ratio) or eat a higher protein food (like beans, or grains, or raw vegan protein supplement). For instance, if someone eats 50 bananas, there is 64 grams of protein right there. But 20 would give you 25 grams. That is not conducive to building muscle mass. It is also 5000 calories vs. 2000, so it all depends on your fitness goals and personal aesthetics.
Having too little fat makes the diet more difficult to follow and makes it less satiating. You have to eat a lot more fruit to be satisfied and it might be much more than you require or want. By the end of the day I can’t wait for my savory meal. Fat is also important for a lot of functions in the body. People who eat low-fat raw, especially who avoid overt fats, will lack omega-6. If you do not eat enough greens, you will also lack omega-3. You also need certain fats to absorb certain nutrients. You do not need a lot of fat, but you do need some.
8. Cooked food is not poison, but you need to be careful what it is, and expect consequences
Living foods are superior to cooked foods, but not all cooked foods are created equal. Steaming is going to be better than any other cooking method, but even that does minor damage and should only be done for short periods of time.
A living food is still full of enzymes, probiotics, and other helpful nutrients, as in fermented foods. Sprouted foods (grains, beans) are also good, though they may be harder for you to digest – experiment.
There are some cooked foods I am still okay with, but keep to a minimum. These must be whole foods only – nothing refined and no grains unless sprouted and you feel okay with them.
I still feel better 100% raw and you may also. If I eat cooked food as a choice, it will be small amounts with large amounts of raw salad. If I start to neglect my fruit and salads and get bingey on cooked foods, then I know I have to cut them out again. It’s best not to flip-flop – either stick with raw or stay partially cooked.
9. Food combining does matter
You can experiment with combos that work for you, but this is especially important when it comes to combining fats and carbs, and also raw with cooked. You can see a good food combining guide here. Improper food combining causes havoc on digestion and can cause bloating, gas, and improper absorption of nutrients.
10. Supplements are not evil – put health before diet dogma
If you are lacking something and cannot get it through your food, then supplement. If you are in a colder climate, or want to stay pale, take vitamin D. If you are low in B12, get supplementation in sublingual pills or shots. If you have specific body-building goals and follow a strict regime and require more protein yet want to limit your calories and fat intake, then by all means supplement – there ARE raw vegan protein powders available. If you lack zinc, selenium, or any other mineral that is available through small amounts of nuts, but are allergic, eat more greens or take a green powder like Vitamineral Green. Or simply take a supplement for whatever you are lacking – you can track on cronometer.com. You can tweak and figure out ways to get all the nutrients you need with whole foods (which is always best) but for whatever reasons you cannot eat certain things – location, allergies, previous health issues/surgeries, whatever – there are other options to help you!
There are a lot of options to allow you to reap the benefits of eating raw without falling back to cooked.
11. Exercise should be studied and taken seriously as well
Study the correlation between movement and diet, as well! So many people come to raw, or high carb, whole food veganism, and neglect the exercise part. You must have a method of aerobic movement, as that is what burns fat. Study physiology and basic exercise principles.
12. It is entirely possible to do while traveling, socializing, or on holidays with family
With enough planning and care for oneself, this can be done easily. I have gone traveling both prepared and unprepared, and guess when I was successful? There are lots of resources online to help you, especially places like happycow.com – if you struggle with family or socializing, then simply don’t socialize with these people around food. There are many other ways to be with other humans than chowing down. I rarely go out to eat with people and when I do, I invite them to raw and vegan places. Everyone so far has liked it, and if I am invited out I bring my own food and if the person doesn’t know I eat a strict diet, then I tell them! If people make fun of you, then question how good of a friend they are.
13. No scene is devoid of drama and being pushy doesn’t work
There has been a lot of drama in the raw food movement in the last year, and it can be off-putting. Don’t allow the arguments of others taint what speaks to you. The most important thing is that you focus on your health, basic nutritional needs, and your own intuition.
Pushing your dietary beliefs on others will never be taken well. Wait until someone asks. Living your life will speak volumes more than being a raving fanatic.
14. You MUST MUST MUST think for yourself and do your own research
This is the most important point. Never take the word of anyone, even the people you think have all the answers. NO one does. I have learned so much from a multitude of people, professional and not, over the last six and a half years of daily study. Some information is monumental, and some is destructive. Some is fear-mongering, some is money-grubbing, and some is even in the pursuit of power.
If something does not ring true for you, tweak it and question it. Consider all angles and do a lot of research, on the actual science and on the person advising you.
15. A rigid, extremist viewpoint will be more detrimental to your health than anything else
Fanaticism will get you nowhere. If any of these methods work for you, CONTINUE DOING THAT, and if that changes, tweak it and question what you could be lacking nutrient wise or taking in too much of. Keep your ethics in mind as they are extremely important – plant foods are always the way to go for the benefit of yourself, animals, and the environment.
On an end-note – don’t take my word for it. I don’t know everything and do not claim to. These are simply my experiences and important things I’ve learned on my journey. I continue to research and tweak where needed. I know health is best on a plant-based diet, but I also know that health is much more than just macronutrients. There are tons of resources – documentaries, books, and ways to be raw. Do what makes sense for you, your goals, and your lifestyle. Drop the dogma, and embrace the pursuit of health and knowledge. Question everything, and don’t take any shit.
World Peace Diet (for ethics)
Earthlings (for ethics)
I have followed it strictly in the past. At times I have adhered to many people’s “instructions” even if they made little sense to me.
I like Bruce Lee’s advice (and it applies to everything) – Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own. Eliminate the non-essential.
Do you need 3000 calories a day just because someone says so? Unlimited calories! It makes SO much sense, right? Come on. Eat what you USE. Figure out what is absolutely necessary for you to function at your best and fuel you through the activities you love. Otherwise you are taking in calories you do not need, and you are spending money on food which you could spend on other things you enjoy doing. Don’t make your whole life about food.
A lot of people who come to raw foods are so transformed that they want to make every aspect of their life about it (myself included – I was a zealot at first)! They want to be gurus, open a restaurant, coach people, or be youtube celebrities – and that’s fine if it is not making you forget other things you were previously passionate about.
Being healthy is the catalyst to help propel you towards the things you love with ENERGY and INTENSITY. The healthier you are, the more you will be able to go after your dreams. Health and nutrition are far more important than a set of rules or dogma.
I’ve read so much about different ways to be raw over the last 6.5 years. I continue to experiment but also stick to what I know works as my base and I advise you to do the same. Nutrition is fascinating, and also confusing. This is why you have to try things for yourself and see what happens. You should be energized, strong, clear headed, slim, satisfied, hydrated, and with great digestion.
So what have I learned? No one knows everything, and if they claim to, take what makes sense and then THINK FOR YOURSELF. Remember, things like 80/10/10 are “more like guidelines than actual rules.“
Don’t let anyone dictate to you what is right or not right for you. Ethics are always important to keep in mind, and there are set beliefs I have that will not change, but they make SENSE to me. If something does not ring true to you on a DEEP level, then question it. Research. Keep open. Do not take what anyone says to you as gospel. When this sort of thing happens it is dogma, and it is cultish and extremist. Being rigid allows you to easily break and be taken advantage of.
Every time I had issues with something I learned from a raw food “leader” I tried something else to tweak what made sense.
When I had awful dandruff, skin rashes and dryness on 80/10/10 I was convinced it was an allergy, or that I was not drinking enough water, or that it was the overdose of sugar causing it even though I felt good otherwise. What was it? I found out it was LACK of sodium – this took me about 2 years to discover on my own by eating some cooked food over the winter and having my skin miraculously turn soft and beautiful again. Lack of sodium probably causes a lot of people on low fat raw vegan to turn to cooked foods as they may demonize salt as I used to do (and many people do not eat nearly enough vegetables or greens on a low fat raw vegan diet). It is not failure, it is lack of knowledge and listening to people who claim to know EVERYTHING, when they do not.
So what do I eat these days? I am not as rigid as I once was, and I will have something cooked once in a while (usually hummus) but I accept the consequences (headache, runny nose) and try to keep it rare. It is a CHOICE for me, and not a failure or a binge.
I am 100% raw most of the time, and that’s what matters (to ME).
1. I start out with a glass or two of water, depending on how thirsty I am. I usually wake up once to pee in the night because I hate being dehydrated. Usually it’s just plain water, and I have more throughout the day.
2. I have a smoothie. It is usually 1-2 bananas with 2-3 ataulfo mangoes. I might put a date or two in there. Sometimes I use berries, sometimes I now use a tsp of acai powder. I add in 2 tbsp of Warrior Force protein powder (raw vegan) – I am doing this as an experiment because I am wanting to gain more muscle. If you are not trying to gain any muscle mass, you definitely do not need more protein. But if you do want more, then a raw vegan protein is better than anything else. I also add in 1 tbsp of Vitamineral Green.
3. Sometimes, but not every day, I will have a piece or two of raw chocolate. Why? First of all, I really like it, and a small amount of fat after breakfast keeps me going longer without getting hungry. It also gives me magnesium which alleviates my awful menstrual cramps. When I have this almost daily, I get no cramps. Nix it and they come back – doesn’t matter what else I do, this has worked, and I’d rather eat this than take a mineral supplement. Plus it makes me a little extra happy through the day!
4. For a snack I might have dried mulberries or other berries since it’s the season!
5. Lunch I will have a bunch of grapes or another smoothie 🙂 Or sometimes I will gorge on berries. Another snack I have been having is blackberries – I go out and forage for them because they are everywhere right now.
6. For dinner I will sometimes have some fruit (not always) and then a big salad, which generally has a head of greens (arugula, kale, spinach, spring mix), 6-10 campari tomatoes, kelp noodles, some kelp and dulse, cucumber (1/2), zucchini noodles (1), and then a dressing made of tahini (about 1/4 cup), 2 oranges juiced, 1 lemon juiced, a few green onions, and either rosemary or dill. I also add a small amount of cumin and Himalayan salt (very little, only for sodium – I can’t afford to juice tons of celery every day). THE BEST. Once in a while I make guacamole and have that with cucumber slices (instead of the big salad). Sometimes I will have some kombucha.
Other supplements I now take are: cranberry/D-mannose (I am prone to UTIs and this has worked well – it’s the only thing I take daily), probiotics (I was on antibiotics for a UTI early this year and continue to replenish my natural bacteria), B12 sublinguals, D3 (mostly in winter), K2, vegan DHA, zinc. Having the right nutrients is far more important to me than following an extremist diet, and if I can get it through food or sunshine, I do.
So far, out of the last 6.5 years, this is what has made me feel and look the best. I am becoming much more lean and less bloated since doing this. I feel good. If you are miserable on 80/10/10, Raw til 4, or 90/5/5, then TWEAK it. Don’t go overboard with sodium and fat but add some back in! Don’t be scared of it because some OTHER person says to be. Don’t SMASH the calories because someone else does. How do YOU feel? If you only need 2000 cals, then eat that much! Don’t restrict either! Restriction means DEPRIVING yourself. You also don’t need to STUFF yourself. Eating what satisfies you and provides you with the nutrition you need is ENOUGH.
I would say my ratios are about 70/10/20 (carbs, protein, fat) right now and I feel awesome this way. But I am open to changing things again, because I have lost my dogma. Remember – you are a smart individual with INSTINCTS and INTUITION. USE them.
Crazy Date Monkey
Sometimes, I eat cooked food. And when I do, it’s like an addiction. It’s not good. I act weird. I avoid certain grocery store people who know me as “that raw food girl.” I make sure my landlord doesn’t see me in our shared kitchen. I have one bite of something and then later on drive around like a psychopath looking for a grocery store that is open late so I can have another fix … and then do that all week, until I feel so gross and moronic that I finally stop!
AND THEN, the real horrors…DETOX!
Now lemmee tell you, going through detox over and over again ain’t fun. This is why I’ve never understood drinking alcohol until you get smashed. I have had a hangover – ONCE. YES, I AM THE PERSON WHO MEANT IT WHEN I SAID “NEVER AGAIN!”
On the occasions that I have gone off raw, I always go back. These periods of time don’t last long because I know what I am doing is not in my best interest – there is always something that prompts it, usually a stressful situation, or a winter-deep depression around February (thank Gad for Thailand/Australia trip coming up in Feb. 2013) – and so I set a day for myself and I always stick to it (this is key – set the day, give’r the night before, and say your good-byes!).
Normally I have the same detox symptoms – zits, snotty nose, cough. It’s like a cold. Starts with a tingly throat and there it is. This time, because I was a moron and ate pita bread with hummus for a week, all that gluten had it’s fun with me and I was blowing blood out of my nose. GREAT. If that’s not a sign of bad news, what is?
Other than that, I have had no cold symptoms. My skin got BETTER. What?
Want to know my new secret? I am eating the thing I love most – when I craved something cooked (mostly it was dolmas), I ate something I never, ever tire of – DATE PASTE. Yes, delicious medjools ground up together in a food processor.
I worked extra shifts so I could afford to eat more of them. That is how dedicated I have been – usually I rely on bananas, but I don’t love bananas – so this is key for you, people! Make sure you have the raw foods around you that you LOOOOOOOOVE. In summer it is blueberries, but alas, they are all gone.
This week, I have had the nastiest detox symptom – cold sores. I have not had them in years, ever since originally changing my diet, and this binge of mine at the end of summer (which ended just a couple of weeks ago, though I was still 90% raw), plus a lack of sleep = low-immune system. Couple this with stress and crazy living…yup. Thanks life!
But actually, when I look at it this way (profound insight by writing right this second…?) it’s a blessing. It’s a reminder! Take care of yourself, girl! A big gross reminder that I cannot ignore.
And so, now if I feel the urge to try a bite of bread, or a slurp of soup, I will remember how I feel right now, and I will reach for my box of dates, and devour those instead, knowing that my body will be very happy.
And then I’ll take an effing nap!
Seriously, I think this is the MOST important thing to do before switching to raw foods. Why? Because otherwise you will think raw food makes you sick, and that you can’t “handle” raw foods. That it might work for other people, but not YOU.
It’s garbage. You have the same internal organs as every other human (unless they were born with a genetic defect or had something removed beforehand).
You cannot expect to go raw overnight, or even within a week or a month without having some crazy “symptoms” – which is just your body cleaning out all the old crap you’ve put into it your whole life. This is a process!
I was eating some cooked food over the winter – not even anything “bad” – just potatoes, and steamed veggies! I went back to all raw at the beginning of June and had no problems, until a few days ago – then I got the same symptoms I always get if I eat cooked and go back to raw – sore throat (acidic, mucusy crap getting ready to heave!), a small cough, then mucus to cough up, a sniffly nose with more mucus to come out, and lethargy – I get light headed and very sleepy. Oh and I get zits. Yay.
All this from a few months of having a little cooked food.
Now imagine what will happen when you go from eating meat, or processed foods, or whatever else you have been eating your whole life? You will probably have a NASTY time and think that raw food is making you sick – actually, it is making you BETTER. It is not actually the food making you better or worse, though – it is the removal of everything that has been making you sick. When I first went raw I was HAPPY to get “sick” because I knew my body was cleaning out. I had read a lot about what would happen so I was like “Gurl, okay!”
I went about it over a course of two months and cut out things one at a time. I hadn’t had red meat or poultry for 12 years, fish for a year, and in those two months up to going raw I had zero animal products. So my detox was not so bad, but if I had not known what to expect, I may have blamed the food and gone back to what I had always done and just medicated myself forever. Booooooo.
If you have had a history of eating a diet with a lot of animal products, I can imagine you will get pretty “sick” so go slowly. You may even want to get colonics or do enemas at home. If you have a degenerative disease, you may want to look into supervised water fasting.
There is a lot of info out there about detoxing via raw foods, so look into it. Ignore the “detox” crap out there that is just looking to make money off you (the stuff you see in stores) – why detox to retox? You have to completely change your lifestyle otherwise you are wasting your time. Once you get through the crappy feelings, you will emerge a DYNAMO. Seriously. Expect miracles.
Make sure you always have a bounty of food around you – fill your fridge with fresh produce. Fill your counter with fruit. Fill your garden with seeds! Fill your cupboards with bowls (you should not have much in your cupboards because you want fresh food – if anything is in your cupboards it should be nuts, seeds, seaweeds, dried herbs if you want. Nix oils, vinegar, salt.
Also be prepared to spend more money on food. You will save money in the long run on doctors, medicine, make-up, etc – you won’t need it. Invest in yourself.
Also expect to eat MORE. Raw foods have less calories than you may be used to, so the volume of food you will be eating may seem excessive. Eventually it will seem normal. Eat as much raw food as you want – the more fruit + greens the better – take it easy on the nuts and seeds (though at first, don’t worry too much – eventually you will not want so much of those things. I was eating 4-5 avocados a day when I started, now 1/2 is enough for me).
This is self-explanatory – but if it’s around you, you are more likely to have a weak moment and indulge, especially if you are not eating enough carbohydrates (FRUIT).
Read as much as you can, and watch videos. I do this daily and have for almost 5 years now. I never get bored of it, so find some good raw inspo. Here are my favourite blogs + youtube channels:
Fully Raw Kristina. My favourite! She is beautiful, eloquent, passionate, and exuberant!
Tannyraw! Excellent advice and a wonderful, peppy attitude.
Tim van Orden. He is the most INSPIRING guy! LOVE him.
Megan Elizabeth. A sweet slice of raw pie, this one! Great recipes and humour.
Blogs + Websites:
Books: All listed here.
Getting cravings is normal – you will have memories of certain things tasting amazing, or things that calmed you down, comforted you, whatever. Some of these things may be foods that come from animals or are animal flesh.
Without an ethical stance behind your decisions you may be tempted to eat these foods again. Make sure you know what goes on behind the scenes and burn those images into your brain.