This is the post I’ve been the most excited and apprehensive to post. I’ve been excited because I have been eating incredible foods and feeling ridiculously great…but apprehensive because apparently eating this way isn’t “normal”. I mean I haven’t eaten normal my whole life if you consider the Standard American Diet (SAD) normal. But eating raw seems to make even the healthiest eaters think twice and look at you with scrutiny in their eyes. “But how do you get your protein? How can you be an athlete eating like that? Haven’t you lost a ton of weight? Are you getting enough nutrition”. To answer these questions I figure my story into raw must be told.
We all eat raw foods. In the forms of uncooked fruits and vegetables. At this point it seems to be an undisputed fact that eating more fresh fruit and veggies is incredible, and necessary, for your health. Yet when you tell people you are going to get nearly ALL of your calories from fresh fruit and veggies they worry about all of the different nutrients we’ve been told we can only get from certain foods. (Protein only from meat! Calcium only from milk!)
For a long time I have eaten the majority of my calories from fresh fruit and vegetables. At the end of the school year I started eating at VOD, a raw food restaurant in Reno. I think one week at the end of the year I went there four days in a row for lunch bringing different people with me each time. I always left feeling satisfied, but not overly full. Still, even though I felt great after, I always said I could never go raw. Well…leave it to a transformational trip to northern Quebec to change my mind. There Andrew Jones (raw foodist, permaculturist, teacher, role model) taught us about raw food and we ate raw breakfast and lunches for several days. I felt really energized and well….light and clear headed. I really don’t like telling people how to eat at all so just take this as my personal experience, speaking only for myself here. Anyways after we ate raw for a few meals and I felt good, Andrew had to leave and we went back to eating the available cooked foods. It tasted fine, but I was feeling really anxious and excited to learn more about eating raw.
When I returned home I decided I would learn more about raw food. I didn’t set any parameters, or say I would never eat something ever again—or in other words I REFUSED to define myself as a raw foodist, vegan, vegetarian, lacto vegetarian, pectoarian, dinotarian or whatever the hell else type of eating definitions are out there now. Simply stated I was planning one day or one week at a time and doing inordinate amounts of reading and research. And let me tell you there is reading to be done. EVERYONE seems to have a theory about the right way to eat. There is so much information, crazy advice, demonization and radical views. Sifting through all of the bull shit I did find some very informative, inspiring and useful advice, but my most important realization was that I have to listen to my body and eat accordingly.
The one way I do not mind being defined by what I chose to eat is as a compassionate eater. I make the choice to buy food that builds soil, is sustainable, supports life on earth, and I am sick and tired of this being a strange way to eat. I believe in growing food in a way that does not destroy the planet, other humans and animals, and myself. To me this is simple, straight forward and obvious.
So apart from my strong beliefs about compassionate food choices and eating here is some of the information we learned about raw food:
- Enzymes (most) are destroyed when you heat foods above 120°F.
- Cooked foods cause leukocytosis, or an immunity response in our bodies.
- Cooked food is dehydrated, losing most of its original pure water content.
- Protein coagulates, causing up to 50% of the protein to be lost when you cook foods.
- Somewhere around 80% of the vitamins are destroyed when foods are cooked.
- Free radicals increase in our foods when we cook them, making them less stable in our bodies.
This list could probably fill a couple thousand pages…but I’ll move on to what I learned about blood pH.
- The blood has a narrow range of acceptable pH—between 7.35 and 7.4
- The acidity of our blood depends on our diets, a long term SAD diet drops our net pH
- When our blood is overly acidic the blood draws calcium and other minerals from our bones to bring us back into balance (osteoporosis and SAD diet correlation)
- Some foods are acid promoting and other alkaline. Most cooked foods are acid forming in the body, and most fresh foods (especially leafy greens) are alkaline forming in body; meaning that when you eat mostly alkaline foods your body does not have to take calcium from your bones to stay in balance
- list of acid/alkaline foods
So the above is a lot of information. The best thing about Andrew was the way he taught us. He did not have any kind of superiority complex about the way he lives and eats; he basically said here are some of the things I do, try it if you like. No one likes being told what to do, or feeling imposed upon, especially when it comes to food. I read somewhere that people will change their religion before they change the way they eat. With this in mind he recommended that we incorporated more raw foods into our existing diet.
Learning about food usually puts me, and it seems most other people, on information overload. The bottom line for me is if I feel good and am having fun then its worth it. I’ve been eating pretty much 100% raw since I’ve been home (about a month) and feel really good especially during workouts and have been having so much fun playing with the dehydrator, juicer, and vita mix. I haven’t made any claims that I’ll never eat certain foods again or anything like that; I just feel like I’ve discovered a whole new food medium that I love and for now I’m sticking to it.
So, because I don’t like telling people how to eat or the attention that comes with the food choices I make I just want to move on past all of my talk, provide some raw food resources and show some of the deliciousness I’ve been eating.
The majority of the foods we have made do not make it to the picture stage because they are being eaten. Some of them include: kale chips, sweet potato chips, grawnola, buckwheat crispies, strawberry/blackberry jams, kale salad, apple crisp, many different raw cacao concoctions including tortes, ganache, puddings and smoothies, many many many salads, green shakes, fruit smoothies, crackers, pesto and on and on and on wherever our creativity and imagination take us. Right now I have dough for pizza dehydrating along with tomatoes and homemade pesto. For the most part though, despite the creations, the majority of my diet consists of fresh fruit and leafy greens.
Needless to say I have been enjoying myself and feeling great eating this way. Here are some resources, remember when you read things to take them in with a grain of salt, you don’t have to believe everything people say, just take the stuff that works for you.
A few websites…of the hundreds: