15 Lessons I Have Learned From Raw Food, 80/10/10, and Raw till 4

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.

Recommended Reading:

The 80/10/10 Diet

Becoming Raw

Green for Life

Creating Healthy Children

Nutrition and Athletic Performance

Thrive

Thrive Fitness

The Raw Cure

The Pleasure Trap

Could It Be B12?

The Vitamin D Solution

Eat to Live

World Peace Diet (for ethics)

Healthy at 100

The Food Revolution

Diet for a New America

Raw Family

The China Study

Whole

The Starch Solution

No Happy Cows

The Raw Secrets

Raw Food Controversies

The Detox Miracle Sourcebook

Recommended Watching:

Forks Over Knives

Earthlings (for ethics)

Foodmatters

Food, Inc.

Eating

The Diet Wars

Fat Sick & Nearly Dead

Vegucated

Supercharge Me: 30 Days Raw

Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days

Healing Cancer From the Inside Out

Hungry for Change

Dropping Labels and Dogma

So, there has been a lot of drama lately in the raw food community, and it has raised some questions for me.

Who’s side do I take? No one’s. Instead, I am questioning labels in general. The labels people put on themselves AND others, and what I want to use for myself, if anything.

I have thought about this before and was comfortable with certain terms, but now I even question those because in certain people’s eyes you will not be enough.

Do I want to be called a raw foodist anymore? A fruitarian? A VEGAN? I don’t know. And I don’t think so. I know what I stand for and that is what is important, not what someone ELSE thinks of me based on what I call myself.

I know that I do not want to contribute to the harming of animals. But what if I wear my old leather belt or shoes? That I bought years and years ago? Does that make me not a vegan? I give a shit about the planet. I always want to adhere to my basic ethics and will work around them, even if I can’t be perfect, which is impossible anyway.

What if I eat a gourmet raw meal? Does that take me out of the fruitarian club? Fine. Whatever. Do I get my Raw Foodist Card revoked if I eat nuts or miso or dried fruit? What if I get sick to death of bananas? What if I WANT to eat a whole whack of avocados in a day? Funnily enough, I felt and looked best on a high fat raw diet, it was only when I upped my fruit intake ALONG with it that I felt shit – so it’s one or the other, really.

I do feel best on a high fruit diet, but there are times when I question it – like when my skin is super dry or I got horrible dandruff, or other weird personal issues I don’t want to discuss on here. They are minor issues, sure, and I dealt with them for all the other benefits – but during my first two years raw, where I was eating whatever I wanted in whatever quantities  satisfied me, I felt great, grounded, happy, and looked my BEST.

And so now I am thinking of dropping all labels entirely, and just saying I eat a plant-based diet, live as ethically as I can from day to day, make the best choices I can, and eat almost entirely raw plant foods with an emphasis on fruit. My main focus is to be as healthy as possible, and I lost sight of this to cling to a label, or aspire to attain the status of “fruitarian” because I like the idea of it. But does anyone I know give a shit if I’m a fruitarian or not? No. The only people who seem to care are other fruitarians/raw foodists, and the ones who DO NOT care are the ones I admire the most, anyway.

I want to stay honest, and seriously, if everyone did this, there would be a lot more solidarity between everyone, less hatred, etc – it’s ridiculous.

My decision now is to not follow anyone’s protocol in particular – not that I ever did. Over the last 6 years of me being interested in and following a raw lifestyle I have learned from multiple people with differing views, and taken knowledge from all of them – of course 80/10/10 has made the most sense to me but even that I do not agree with entirely.

I keep questioning it all. I stick to my ethics and beliefs and even if something I try doesn’t work, I will keep seeking out what does, and it is not necessarily what one or two people claim is the best way.

I actually feel horrible for being judgmental – this rubbed off on me from particular people in the raw food movement. Before following certain people I was really passive in my approach and just did my own thing and only shared my experiences out of pure joy and not judgement. I was also influenced a lot by the negative attitude of my ex who slowly dragged me down over a period of 3.5 years into becoming kind of mean for a while. I started hating people! And I don’t! I take some responsibility of course. It was a set-back, and part of the reason I left is that I was turning into a person I didn’t like when I was with him.

I am done with labeling myself for the same reason I stopped labeling my sexuality ten years ago. When you label yourself you are ripe for criticism, guilty-feelings, and if you are on a JOURNEY, as everyone is, and things shift, you don’t have to feel BADLY or like you are not ENOUGH. Life is FLUID. You shouldn’t have to feel bad if something didn’t work out for you, and I don’t want to contribute to people feeling bad about their choices!

I like to look at all sides of things and make my own assessments – I don’t want to like or dislike someone based on what they eat or how much they weigh or how fit they are or if they smoke weed or trip balls in the woods. I want to live it up and do my best and be open-hearted. I want to be around POSITIVITY and I want to be REAL.

Being a happy, goofy person does not equal fake, and being a judgmental, ego-driven, aggressive, critical person does not make you “real.” Everyone, especially online, has their schtick, it is not necessarily fake, just like how you behave at your job to the public does not necessarily make you fake – it just makes you conscious of how you want to present yourself, how you want to be seen. Just because someone isn’t making videos when they’re in a bad mood and showing that side of themselves, does not make them a fake person. If I stay home when I’m in a rotten mood so my friends doesn’t have to see me like that, does it make me fake? Or should I go anyway and ruin everyone’s fun?

I will always be real. What I post is going to be reflective of how I feel in the moment. Sometimes I may seem serious and sometimes I might seem ridiculously happy and positive and vibrant. It’s called BEING HUMAN. My emotions shift! How I feel about something today might change tomorrow based on NEW INFORMATION I get. I am no better than you or anyone else. I don’t want to be put on a pedestal. I want to be relatable and set a good example of healthy living and what it can do for you. If I ever feel phony that is a warning sign that something in my life needs to change, and I take it seriously and make the changes necessary. I have tried being fake and it never ever works. I suck at it. Because of my inability to be a phony, I have lost a lot of jobs and people tend to take me the wrong way.

I will always adhere to a raw food diet, or a high raw diet – I don’t know how I will feel about certain foods from day to day! It depends on my mood! Right now I am all raw and have been for ages. That could change at some point, as it has before for brief periods of time. I still believe raw foods are the ultimate, that a human diet needs the bulk of calories coming from whole fruits and vegetables, but I really don’t give a shit what you eat as long as you’re a nice person and you’re trying your best. I’d prefer if everyone left animals alone and didn’t eat them, but I am not going to make you feel like a pile of shit for it.

I have been going towards this way of thinking for a while now, but all the drama going on has just cemented my decision.

Love to all of you.

Lorra

Eternal Youth

Secrets to Youthfulness!

1. While you are actually, chronologically young, don’t poison yourself with dumb shit every week. If you must experiment, do it rarely, and be wary of what you choose to try. Be vegan. Eat mostly raw fruits and vegetables.

2. Do this when you are older, too. What you put in your body has the most influence on your energy levels and how quickly you age (physically AND mentally).

3. Get sunshine, but not too much.

4. Sleep. A lot.

5. Value free time + relaxation over money, and have a job or lifestyle that corresponds to that.

6. PLAY. Keep your youthful attitude. This doesn’t mean being immature in your responsibilities, but avoid becoming “serious” just because you’ve grown up.

7. Explore, as much as possible.

8. Be curious about EVERYTHING. SOAK up information – if you are in school, get the hell out and learn on your own. Your passion for learning will increase x 1000.

9. Work as little as possible for others and spend your time doing the work you are meant to do, whether it be painting, skateboarding, or activism.

10. Move. Your. Body. I don’t mean exercise, but find something you love that makes you use what you’ve got.

11. Have as much sex as possible with someone you LOVE (or at least totally adore!)

12. Have animals around you to cuddle.

13. Partake in things like waterslides and amusement parks.

14. Make sure you have a hobby that originated in your childhood. There’s a reason you loved it – don’t lose it.

15. Keep playing with your appearance. Don’t conform, ever.

16. Hang around other fun, playful people. Toss aside the boring ones, or force them to go do crazy things with you.

 

 

 

Project: Full-Body Regeneration

This is now to be my mindset, my full-attention, my real health journey.

It has been a very swell, continuous journey for 4.5 years. I’ve had bumps, and frankly I am tired of them.

Have you ever heard that all the cells in your body are replaced every 7 years? Well then, I should be well over half-way there, and so clean and wonderful I would have a staggering level of health. I see this in the long-term fruit-lovers, the raw darlings who really do things the right way and barely sway, or do not deviate at all. And this is my true aspiration.

My bumps have been few up until the last year or so, and they’ve been more frequent, and I am fairly sure I know why – there is a lack of pleasure elsewhere in my life, something I am working on – filling myself up with more friendship, passionate fun, and dancing in the moonlight on rocks by the beach, lightning hula-hoops and vibrations from others all around me, long meandering walks in the dark. I am filling myself more, giving myself what I really need, and not holding back. If I feel compelled, I follow, and I am finally unencumbered by anxiety. The last couple of months, pushing through it and having good experience after good experience – this has released me, and I am feeling fuller, more myself, and less inclined to fill a hole with things I know are not ideal for me.

Victoria, BC, Sept. 2012

Once I came to this conclusion, I knew that it was the real reason that I’ve been tempted, because for my first two years of raw foodism, I really never had any desire for cooked food. It was unappealing, it brought me down. But over the last 2, I have had more lapses, because I have had more down moods. I always regret it – the gut-ache, the disappointment in myself.

However, even being very, very high raw, and high-carb (I’d say I am 100% raw, 95% of the time for the last year), my mind has been very clear, and I am able to dig deep into my head, especially once I get it all out on paper. Obsessive writing, documenting, dreaming, hoping. This revelation, of filling other needs with “bad” foods, just came to me a couple of days ago.

Sometimes you just need the right situation, the right JAB, to wake you up, and bring a real spark back to your eyes.

Eating fresh fruits and vegetables, moving your body, sleeping soundly (and enough), copious hydration, loving touches, hugging, friends, dancing – all of these things will keep you young, vivacious, vivid – and most importantly, will allow you to live, fully, instead of just existing.

Never ignore your true needs, whatever they may be. And so, I want to know what sort of joy and bliss I will feel if I am 100% raw, 100% of the time.

Over a period of 7 years, you truly become a new personwho will I be? What will I be capable of? What about you?

What is your highest potential?

I know I want to reach mine, and I only have one life to do it – same as you. Don’t waste it!