Summer keeps promising to arrive, and if you’ve ever been tempted to try a raw food diet, then your moment may be when the sun finally comes out.
What’s it all about?
- This is food in its most nutritious state, with the vital elements of nature still within it – sun energy, water and nutrients from the earth, so it’s no surprise to find that it must consist of unprocessed and uncooked foods.
- To be truly following a raw food diet, 75% of your total food intake has to be raw. More commonly, it is a vegan diet but it is possible to include raw fish, eggs and meat.
- The only way food can be cooked is by using a dehydrator where the temperature never goes above 118 degrees F (48 degrees C). So you can use a conventional oven if the temperature goes down low enough.
- You can eat a raw food diet with no special tools at all, but the following will allow you more scope for variety: Blender, food processor, juicer (masticating is best), spiralizer (fabulous for courgette spaghetti) and a dehydrater.
Is it really just salad?
Absolutely not…. but you do have to get creative on a raw food diet or you might be in danger of feeling like a rabbit!
There is lots of fun to be had with spouting legumes and grains, juicing and blending, drying and fermenting.
It’s important to have a wide variety of ingredients to ensure your interest is sustained and your body nourished:
- Make sure that you have a well-stocked pantry with lots of dried fruits, nuts & seeds, fresh herbs & spices and oils.
- Your fridge should be bursting with the freshest fruit and vegetables that you can find.
- Stock up on lots of goodies that will make a difference to how appetising and nourishing your food is such as nori sheets, sun-dried tomatoes, ginger root, garlic, spring onions, and raw honey.
Here’s a fantastic recipe for raw sushi and the sunflower seed pate that goes into it courtesy of the wonderful Aradhana Kaur at Beautiful Heat Raw Kitchen I have made this many times and it’s a game changer!
What might the Raw Food Diet do for my health?
- It’s as much about what you take out of your diet as what you put in! By excluding many of the foods that often cause damage to our health and replacing them with whole, raw plant foods packed with nutrients, enzymes and fibre, we will naturally experience improved vitality, energy and an increase in overall wellbeing.
- Cooking can destroy vital nutrients, particularly water-soluble vitamins, whereas not only are these nutrients preserved when raw but also some of the techniques such as juicing, blending and soaking could potentially release more of them.
- Fruits and vegetables are alkalising and when eaten raw, the antioxidants and phytochemicals can reduce the risk of disease or slow their progression. Its anti-inflammatory effects reduced the swelling in my two arthritic finger joints in only a week!
- It can help us to lose excess weight as most foods that are responsible for our modern day obesity epidemic are naturally eliminated in a raw food diet.
Why else might I choose the Raw Food Diet?
- A plant based helps with the preservation of our planet by reducing energy consumption and waste and by reducing the negative impact that livestock has on the environment.
- There is a lot to be gained by simplifying of diet with benefits such as more time, more energy, more head-space and more money.
- It gives us the opportunity to better understand our relationship to food and reveal any unhealthy eating habits.
- It’s much more difficult to do when the weather is cold and you crave a steaming pot of soup or stew, so choose your timing.
- The 25% of your diet that isn’t made up of raw food should contain some good sources of protein – tofu, eggs, fish and meat (there’s only so many nuts you can eat!)
- Cooking some foods actually increases the antioxidants and nutrients that are available to us, such as lycopene in tomatoes and beta-carotene in carrots.
- You need to plan ahead particularly if you’re sprouting, dehydrating or fermenting.
I don’t think that I would recommend staying on a raw food diet long term, as a combination of raw and cooked foods is a more balanced diet. However, for short periods or one day a week, it’s a fantastic way of cleansing and boosting your health. A raw food diet is not for everyone but most of us would benefit from increasing the percentage of raw food in our diets every day..…for life!
YOGIC NUTRITION is a regular feature written by Anna Ranprem Kaur, a Kundalini Yoga teacher with more than eight years of experience, now also in her second year of a diploma in Nutrition Therapy and Naturopathy. In this monthly blog, Anna will share knowledge and explorations as she moves forward on her journey in nutrition. www.annakundaliniyoga.co.uk