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10 Easy Steps to Transition Any Donut-Loving Burger-Eater to a High Raw Food Diet (Part 1 of 2)

Posted Jun 25 2012 9:35am
Written by Tera on June 25, 2012 – -

by Carissa Leventis-Co x and Tera Warner

I have been a raw vegan for over a year.  During this time, my meat and carb craving husband and son have been able to transition from 100% cooked foods to more and more raw vegan meals.  On a very good day at home, breakfast, snacks, drinks and lunch are 100% raw and dinner is about 50% raw.  As I write this, I am reminded of how far we have come in the past year.  But it is a struggle sometimes.  On what I call bad days, the boys consume almost 0% raw but for their drinks.

The Only Fruit on the Menu Was a Slice of Tomato

We recently visited Alabama and I was shocked to discover that in one restaurant the only fruit or vegetable (cooked or raw) on the menu was a side order of 2 slices of tomato!!!  I couldn’t believe it.

Needless to say, we didn’t eat there.

We were appalled! But, what incensed me the most was the quality of food my husband and son were eating – rather what they chose to eat when dining out: non-organic meats, Krispy Kreme doughnuts (at a buffet in a museum), highly processed preservative filled pancakes and muffins (I would have chosen better restaurants if there were options), fried coconut shrimp (probably saturated fat and mercury filled), lemonade no doubt made with high fructose corn syrup… I could go on.  I cringed at their choices.  I cringed at the toxins they were eating.  I cringed because I had a quick vision of myself giving up on them and serving them what they obviously so enjoyed.

It is OK for them to make their own choices for themselves. It is OK for them to discover how these awful foods affect their bodies – for themselves. It can be a learning experience for them – and for me too.  When we returned home, they were exhausted and had outbreaks of pimples on their bodies.  I, on the other hand, was as healthy and full of energy as I was at the beginning of the trip.

Now at home, I have bravely decided that (like all raw moms), I needed to do a better job at properly empowering my family to make better food choices. But how? HOW?!? Although we home-school, bring our lunch boxes everywhere and eat at home for most meals, we want to be part of the community and in doing so, we are exposed to what other people eat a few times a week.

Although our friends know how careful I am about our family’s diet, it is inevitable that our son will want what all the other kids or adults are having.  In a recent birthday party, there was a pinata and our son just devoured all the candy he picked up.  It didn’t stop there of course because he ate all of his mainstream cupcake, some ice cream AND he wanted a lollipop.  Needless to say, a watermelon cube at the end of a toothpick just wouldn’t do.  (Did I already mention that we even made sure we fed him before we arrived at the party?)  Of course, the very next day, he had a bit of a runny nose…

Although I do explain the difference between processed and fresh foods – does my son really care?  Does he understand? But will he choose to eat that junk anyway?  Hmmm…  if given a choice, probably yes. Ditto for my husband if we’re out of the house.

Before this summer, it was easier to get our 3 year old son to eat more raw and he loved the green smoothies and sprouted salads.  But as he has become more social and more attentive to how other kids (or adults) eat and attuned to their negative views on vegetables, he has said: “I don’t like greens.” “No green smoothie for me!”  “I just want bread!”  “This is Almond Butter, not Peanut Butter. Yuck!”  He has taken the lettuce out of a raw sandwich (so lovingly put together), refused to drink freshly made juice or smoothies and declared “I am not hungry!” after surveying the table. This is hard.

How To Transition to a Healthy Raw Food Diet

How can you resist the Standard American Diet when it is constantly in your family’s face? How can you fight a culture that exalts bad food?

Ummm… perseverance, I guess?

Let me see… what other mantras do I recite in my head while I cringe at my family’s food choices: “force not, educate constantly, provide healthy food options at home and while traveling… and geez… you gotta just RELAX. It’s not the end of the world.” 

So what do I do?  I keep at it because at the end of the day, I know I’ve done my best for my family’s health and well-being.  This thought alone motivates, encourages and inspires me to keep serving up more raw vegan fare at home.

Many friends have asked me HOW I have come this far in transitioning my family’s meals at home.  Most are daunted by the task of introducing raw foods, especially if their husbands and children love meats and cooked foods.  So, here is my ‘plan’.  I wish we were 80% raw now,  but I believe in ‘the slower the better’ method especially for those who may resist change.

Eating Healthy On A Raw Food DietI know you’re an Earth-shaking change maker. But extremism isn’t right for everyone and the only way you’ll get your family over to the healthy side of the fence is through gradual, respectful change and communication.

Make a list.  Go Slow. Start by changing one habit at a time – the easiest ones first.  Once that becomes comfortable, move on to the next item on your list.

Change takes place best on a gradient. Most people who do extreme purge diets just binge when it’s over. If you make gentle, gradual lifestyle changes they will become a part of your every day life.

It will seem as though, without effort, you suddenly woke up and things were different.

No one likes to be told what to do and no one likes having changes imposed on them. By gently offering new ideas, recipes, tricks, tips, your family will gratefully embrace the fresh, new foods and feel better for it. Imposing, rushing, complaining, etc. will only create disinterest and hostility.

Educate Yourself About the High Raw Food Diet

For my husband, documentaries are important in getting his support, such as:

  • The Cove (let’s just say we don’t go to Sushi restaurants as much anymore, and if we do – he chooses his fish carefully)
  • Blue Vinyl: The World’s First Toxic Comedy (this has diminished his craving for more animal products)
  • Foodmatters (he now wants to add Superfoods into his food and suggested more meals consisting of his favourite raw vegan foods – YEAH!)
  •  Food, Inc.(I don’t have to argue why organic, local food is better)
  • For my son, he looks at what Daddy eats. So, if Daddy is on board, it is much easier getting the child to change diet.

    For me, I read and contribute to this blog, I found a local raw vegan community, I keep reading books on nutrition and health, and keep sharing what I’ve learned with others. It’s important to stay connected and inspired. Finding other people on the path who share the same goals, obstacles and frustrations will empower you to keep going even when it’s not easy to do so.

    Bring the whole family along to:

  • nutrition talks and meetings.  After one meeting, my son looked at me and said “We need to eat a RAINBOW of colours Mama!”
  • shop at health food stores and let them choose produce for the week
  • when shopping at grocery stores, teach them about the different aisles, food labels, sale items, conventional versus organic, etc
  • go to local farms and support them.  My son has eaten freshly picked okra.
  • I did this in one day and it felt really good to get rid of the junk!

    • Going forward, substitute ingredients for raw, i.e. use local honey instead of sugar,  raw almond butter instead of peanut butter, coconut butter/oil instead of butter, use more whole grain products instead of refined (make raw oatmeal instead of cooked).
    • Buy in season and local and organic (if you can!)
    • Buy organic or local!
    Steps 4 to 10 Will be addressed in tomorrow’s blog post. This one is complete with recipes and specific ideas you can try on your loved ones! Coming soon… Take a moment to comment below and let us know what you’ve done to successfully transition your family to a healthier, high raw food diet!

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    Posted in Green Smoothies, Raw Food for Families, Raw Food Health | 12 Comments »

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    1. By Robi Haskins on Nov 3, 2010

      What a wonderful article chocked full of ideas, resources, wisdom, understanding and LOVE…yeah I could feel it!!!


    2. By JAMIE KAY on Nov 3, 2010



    3. By isabelle on Nov 3, 2010

      why not look to see if there is a raw meetup in your area ( – type in “raw food” on left and your town on the first page where it says “find a meetup”. I belong to two and there are ALWAYS a zillion children and they eat what is there – with gusto!
      have a look at the pics of the food of one of our last raw meetups…even men with hairy chests think eating like this is GREAT!!
      – I have NEVER eaten as well as I have since started a raw diet about 2 yrs ago. My weight is stable, no more yoyo and I feel 20 yrs younger!!


    4. By Lissette on Nov 4, 2010

      Awesome blog I love it, great pictures, can you share some of the recipes?, like the cereal that looks so yummy and the carrot noodles please, thank you for the wisdom
      I wish you a rawsome life


    5. By Fiona on Nov 5, 2010

      A great blog – I also struggle with converting my girls (4) to raw without becoming a total tyrant! School lunch boxes are really hard and so is trying to find evening meals that they will eat. Breakfast is pretty much covered with smoothies, ice cream, fruit salad etc.
      You seem to be doing a great job, well done.


    6. By Angela on Nov 10, 2010

      Wow! Thank you for this article. I thought I was the only one out there trying to figure out ways to make some convert. I am going to come back to the steps you outline here again and again.
      On my own I tried to make a cold-turkey jump into converting myself and it is just too hard. I am finding that a gradual process works and sticks much easier.
      Keep up the good work!


    7. By Carissa Leventis-Cox on Nov 13, 2010

      Here’s the cereal recipe

      I’ll post the Carrot Noodle Recipe soon.
      Here are my other old recipes in the meantime:


    8. By George on Jan 2, 2011

      Regular physical activity can also improve mood and the way you feel about yourself. Exercise is likely to reduce depression and anxiety and help you to better manage stress. To determine the best type of exercise program for you, talk to your doctor and to a certified athletic trainer. Balancing the calories that you expend through some exercises and physical activities with the calories you eat will help you achieve your desired weight. The key to successful weight loss is making some physical activities as a part of your daily routine. Regular exercise is an important part of effective weight loss.


    9. By Simply Heidi on Jan 7, 2011

      Wonderful post. Thank you. I am getting ready to do the 7 day raw detox and my ten year old daughter would like to join in. Any tips? Should I modify it to be gentler for her – add more fats with olives, avocado, cold pressed oils? Or just let her go for it, same as me?


    10. By arlette on Aug 12, 2011

      i need to find easy fast stuff to satisfy me and the family ,, help


    11. By Candice on Jun 26, 2012

      Great suggestions! There are certain food products I just don’t allow in my house. But my daughter’s are 13 and 21. The 21-year old is off to medical school next week. I have no illusions about her eating a high raw diet. But I love it when she calls me to ask what kind of green juice she should order from a juice bar! Clearly I’ve had some influence.
      As for the 13-year old, she’s been homeschooled all this time, but will start high school in a local private school. I anticipate some serious slipping in the way she eats, but I know she has a strong foundation.
      Resistance is never futile!


    12. By Joanne on Jun 26, 2012

      What a fantastic article, voicing what so many of us feel at one time or another! I, too, feel the pull of resistance from my family (and sometimes from myself), especially when my husband cooks some of his less-healthy favourite meals on the weekend (and serves them to the family) – but I keep serving the healthy meals during the week, so I think (hope!) it all balances out! It’s true that women have such power to bring about positive change – we just need to be strong, yet gentle in the ‘application’ of healthy eating for our families.


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