Wednesday, January 01, 2014

A Review on Raw Food

reading time: ca. 3 min





Happy New Year, friend!

Today I'd like to look back on the past year in terms of my diet / lifestyle because it has altered and evolved a lot over time. Brief outline: started living a vegetarian life when i was 8 years old (and very compassionate towards animals), went dairy-free and gluten-free around 3 years ago due to intolerance, attempted and failed eating raw vegan one year later for a couple of days/months, again attempted and this time succeeded eating raw last summer, sticking to a raw vegan lifestyle for 1 1/2 years. Currently i am eating loosely based on RawTill4 philosophy (meaning: raw vegan food until 4 p.m., and non-raw or raw vegan food for the rest of the day). Yep.

But before you run away screaming, let me just say i am not going to tell you that eating this way is going to make you "forever in love with life", "smiling all the time" or "make your skin radiate". I'm just going to be honest.

(scroll down for my pro/con list)

Usually i don't call myself a vegan because i don't like the whole "so how come you wear a fleece sweater? i mean, a sheep had to be shorn for this wool to be fabricated into your sweater, right?!" that comes with veganism nowadays. Instead i just say: "i eat everything fruit and veggie". Which is true.
Only recently i came to the conclusion that it is more important - for me, anyways - to make sure i eat low-fat low-sodium vegan plants (raw or steamed, fruits, greens, potatoes, yam, collards, lentils...) than forcing myself to eat EVERYthing raw (like starchy sweet potatoes or brussel's sprouts, which is possible but not particularly delicious) and in the end binging out on nuts and superfoods.

The whole raw food diet seems to have emerged into some sort of a trend lately - especially around New Years Eve of course, where everybody comes up with a bunch of super-duper resolutions (a la "Happy New Year, Happy New You"). Along with the raw food lifestyle comes a controversial debate about whether it is possible/recommended to eat fully raw all your life.
There are so many views out there, and i am not here to tell you that my opinion is the "right" one - on the contrary, i am here to share my personal experience to add to the big pot, so stirring around in that pot you can form your own opinion.

That being said, here's my Review on Raw Food:

Things that went right for me:
- Abundance - > you can eat whatever (fruit or vegetable) you want, how much you want!
- Better sense of my own body and needs
- Positive mindset
- More patient and more relaxed about things in general
- More open towards other people
- Improved self-confidence (it takes some guts to face all those skeptical people who will judge you for your choice of eating - but there you have it: it is YOUR choice. do what feels best four YOU! and be honest about it)
- As a result of that: better posture (resulting in a leaner, sexier appearance :)
- Increased energy levels, wanting to be active
- Clear skin
- Clear, shiny eyes (i sounds weird, but i actually do feel like my eyes are more open than before)
- Weight loss (actually i have not weighed myself in years, so i don't know for a fact that i lost weight, but i definitely lost some body fat)
- Overall feeling lighter and fitter  
- More stamina
- Quiet sleep (i used to suffer from insomnia)
- No more cramps during menstruation (see below)
- Another icky topic that needs to be addressed: poo. raw vegan poo is very soft and fluffy and pretty much odor-free, some call it the "fruit poo". no more stinky poo! yay :'D
- Very good digestion
- No feeling guilty - why would i? i'm fueling my body with the best vibrant energy there is! fresh and fruity and hopefully not as badly infused with pesticides, lol
- No bloatings (that is, if you try to combine your food the proper way)
- Getting sick less often (and, if so, still feeling mentally fit and healthy)
- No more hot flushes during the night (which used to torture me at night, it was like hell)
- Fill up your belly with large amounts of planty foods in order to get enough nutrients as well as calories - which leads you to less cravings because your belly is simply too full for that
- No effort preparing food. (instead of spending quite a while in the kitchen cooking and having several dishes to wash afterwards, making breakfast can be as quick as peeling a banana, literally)


Things that didn't go right for me:
- Eating enough - > it was and still is hard for me to take in enough carbohydrates/calories per day - > which will lead to serious high fat cravings to get in those carbs!!
- Expensive lifestyle (then again, ask yourself: what's your health/happiness worth to you?)
- Dark under-eye circles (vitamin/mineral deficiency, probably iron. i kind of had to deal with dark circles all my life though since i have been a vegetarian ever since i was a child... by the way: good iron sources include lettuce, parsley, broccoli, chick peas and dried apricots)
- Hair loss
- Decreased menstruation (almost non, very light, which is quite comfortable but probably not the best sign, i'm guessing)
- Not enough greens in my diet (because i first needed to figure out how to make them taste GOOD, and also because they don't have as many calories as fruits, and i was already struggling to get in enough calories like i said)


Bottom line:
- Eat bigger portions.
- Eat more greens! 
(i recommend green smoothies - recipes here or here or here)
- Don't forget to drink.
- Instead of nuts and dried fruit or "gourmet food" like superfoods, eat more fresh produce!
- Incorporate herbs and spices into your meals.
- Don't be ashamed of eating huge amounts. Blend it into big bottles of smoothies, if you don't want to carry around masses of bananas and veggies.
- Don't go preaching. It is absolutely fine to share your experience and inspire others, but everybody has to find their own path and their own way of living. You're not going to find it for them.
- Don't be too strict. Don't stick to a textbook no-matter-what. Instead: be flexible, mold the guidelines to your personal lifestyle and see what works for you!

To be honest, most of the downsides of living fully raw are probably due to the fact that i never really mananged to consume more than 1200 calories a day. I simply under-ate. It's just very hard for me to get down 20 bananas or 2 kg of leafy greens -due to their low calorie density- without feeling sick or as if my tummy is about to explode! But i'm working on it.

Even though i'm not too strict about it, i still eat raw vegan 90% of the day, just because for my body it seems to work best. But i do not restrict myself to that. When i feel like eating a nice bowl of rice or cooked potatoes or steamed mashed cauliflower, i go ahead and do it. Maybe i'm making way big of a deal of the whole only-raw-fetishism, but i feel like having to point out that i do not approve of those raw food gurus who preach that everything non-raw is evil and bad for your body. Some vegetables are actually digested better steamed than raw. 

For example: Many people consider raw spinach healthier because cooking it depletes it of many water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C and folate. Cooked spinach, however, is more condensed, so you are likely to eat a larger serving of it in a sitting and get more nutrients from it!

So as you can see, i'm not religiously following the raw food track, because to be honest i can't see myself eating raw food all my life. Sometimes it's just not warm/filling/satisfying enough.

I do however see myself eating vegetables and fruits, seeds and nuts all my life. Who knows where life (or my guts) lead me. For now i am just deeply, deeply grateful for discovering the raw vegan lifestyle which - as cheesy as it sounds - probably saved my life, and i am super excited to try out more and more recipes, raw vegan or just plant-based, and eat my way through all sorts of delicious ripe fruits and vegetables!

 
 
 
 

Lots of love and happy thoughts :) 



Maisy



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