What is this raw food diet all about and how can it make me look younger? What’s it all about and how can I incorporate it into my life without countless hours of dehydration and food preparation? The raw food lifestyle is rapidly becoming the most talked about diet in America despite a haze of skepticism shrouding the movement. To all the skeptics, I see where you’re coming from: “If I only eat raw, will I stop shaving my armpits and join a commune? Will I become that annoying evangelist who never gets invited to a dinner party because I only talk about raw food and how it makes you super human?” I offer to you my own life as evidence: my real mom experience with the raw food diet and how I walked away from nine months of being 99% raw to become a total fan of raw food AND someone you still might want to invite to a dinner party. At least I hope!
First comes the cleanse.
It all started when I was turning 40 and wanted to do something for ME. NOT my kids, my husband, or my three animals, but ME! I started with the Master Cleanse. I personally love the Master Cleanse because you don’t eat anything for several days. Instead, you drink lemonade made with fresh lemons and maple syrup. When your body doesn’t have to digest food it can start to flush out toxins and repair cellar damage. Toxins from pesticides as well as chemicals that leach into our skin from sunscreens and topical creams are stored in our fat cells. Doing a cleanse will allow you to burn off the old fat cells and flush out the stored toxins. Not to mention, you will lose weight, which is the number one reason for doing a cleanse for most people! It was strange how after the first day or two I stopped being hungry. And I couldn’t believe how great I slept during this time! You can find my favorite, the Master Cleanse, detailed in a yellow pamphlet that can be purchased at most Whole Foods Markets, but remember: If you’ve never done a cleanse, I highly recommend that you research one that will work best for you. It’s always best to consult your doctor before starting a cleanse.
Raw foods are living!
After the Master Cleanse it was finally time to eat again. This is when I made the big decision to eat only raw foods. The raw food diet is comprised of raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. It is vegan and gluten free, which is another benefit. Living raw foods are loaded with digestive enzymes and co-factors that help us to absorb the nutrients from our foods quicker and higher up in the gastric region. This is important because it relieves the pancreas of its normal duty to manufacture these enzymes for us. When a person relies solely on the pancreas to make digestive enzymes, ingested food sits for a longer period in the stomach and intestines waiting for these enzymes to take effect. This extensive wait causes the stomach to create more stomach acid. The moment we begin chewing our food, we flood our bodies with living enzymes, which helps us to absorb nutrients quicker and more efficiently. This process de-stresses the pancreas by allowing it to produce enzymes for other important metabolic functions. Cooking food above 118 degrees causes the destruction of the vital enzymes and co-factors needed to absorb the vitamins & minerals in it.
The benefits are unarguable.
When you eat raw foods you will quickly notice a more pleasant fullness after meals (as opposed to that painful feeling you get when you’ve eaten too much), increased energy, faster emptying of the stomach, decreased gas, and more regular bowel habits. The greatest benefit of all? You will shed pounds rapidly. Once my ideal body weight was achieved, I began to incorporate cooked foods back into my diet. I started with steamed veggies, moved on to raw fish, and eventually ate cooked seafood once or twice a week. This entire process creates an body environment of decreased stress, which in turns slows the aging process and makes you look and feel younger! An added benefit is that most food allergies begin to dissipate they’re usually caused by an inability to manufacture the enzymes needed to absorb foods. For example, those who are allergic to dairy don’t produce the enzyme lactase. When these people ingest pasteurized diary (which is heated to more than 118 degrees and devoid of any digestive enzymes), they cannot digest dairy at all.
Simple ways to incorporate raw foods into your life.
Eat only raw nuts and nut butters rather than roasted ones. Eat raw veggies with every meal. Make every meal at least 50-70% raw. Add raw fruit/veggie smoothies into your daily ritual. Learn about all the wonderful raw “superfoods” and how to add them into your daily diet. Begin to juice greens and add this to your everyday intake. If you’re making a fruit based smoothie, throw in a handful of spinach. Explore the different raw food snacking options now available at most Whole Foods Markets and other natural retailers — you’ll be amazed at how flavorful and satisfying these foods can be! (Check out our line of raw snacks at www.hailmerry.com) Raw desserts are so yummy and not off limits on a raw food diet. They kept me “in the game” and are so delicious.
A few things to avoid.
Don’t over eat nuts and seeds, a simple mistake many novice raw foodists make in the beginning to replace meat and dairy. Remember that nuts are extremely healing but your liver can only digest one handful of nuts at a time! Eat your fruits, don’t drink them! Raw foodists tend to over juice, which is a mistake because raw fruit juices are extremely high in carbs and sugar. A sugar high from over juicing can throw your thyroid and adrenal functioning out of balance. Don’t freak out about the perceived lack of protein — dark, leafy greens and nuts are loaded with it. Plant-based protein is also more easily digestible and you don’t need as many grams of plant protein to maintain muscle. You’d be surprised at how many pro athletes are thriving on a vegan diet!
What kept me going? A great dressing!
Here is my favorite raw salad dressing recipe that kept me in the raw food game at the beginning. I poured this dressing on everything! Raw Ranch Dressing: ½ cup lemon juice, 1 tablespoon Celtic Sea Salt, 1 tablespoon dried chives, 1 tablespoon dried rosemary, 1 tablespoon dried oregano, 1 tablespoon dried sage, 1 cup whole, raw macadamia nuts, 1/3 cup cold-pressed olive oil. Blend all of the ingredients until very smooth. Add water to achieve desired consistency. Pour over chopped salad of choice.