One of the blogs that I visit most often is Raw Food Right Now. Now, Heidi Ohlander has written a very interesting article on that subject that few talk about and many (probably) think about, at least from time to time. Can raw people have a drink here and there, or is it entirely verboten? (Sure, some of us have considered this issue… I know some people who will drink at home alone, or with close friends whose beliefs in this respect have been carefully polled. The raw restaurant, Pure Food & Wine, here in New York City, actually has wine in its name, and offers “raw organic wines on its menu.) Consequently, when Heidi republished this article, originally written for the British raw magazine, Get Fresh!, on Raw Food Right Now, I was very interested to see her take on the issue. How refreshing it turned out to be! With Heidi’s permission, I am publishing it here:
JUST ONE DRINK?
For optimum health, is it necessary to swear off alcohol for life, or is it okay to “indulge” occassionally?
So many experts in the raw food world talk a lot about what not to eat or drink. With all the different “rules” that are put out there, a lot of fear can go into our decisions about what’s truly healthy for us to consume. When you bring alcoholic beverages into the debate, all hell can break loose.
I’m not going to argue that alcohol is healthy and should be consumed every day like those strange reports that say you should drink a glass of red wine for your heart. That’s ridiculous, and you know it. I’m not going to say that everything is good in moderation, because a little bit of arsenic isn’t good in moderation.
I’m not like all the other experts out there. My mission in the raw food community is to offer multiple options from my own personal research and experience. I want you to make the choice that is right for you. I have recieved countless emails from people who have gone raw, telling me that they want to drink alcohol once in awhile, especially during the holidays, but they don’t know what to drink.
Here’s the deal: no matter if you just found out about raw food last week or if you have been raw for the last decade, if you want to have an alcoholic beverage, you are the one that is going to make that choice.
Your choices for drinking may be personal. Perhaps you are seeing friends from college that you haven’t seen in a long time and just for tonight, you want to seem “normal”. Maybe you are going to your sister’s wedding and you want a glass to celebrate during the toast. It might be your birthday, and tonight, you are going to have a glass of wine, no matter what your favorite raw guru says to the contrary!
No matter what the occasion, you have decided that you want something do drink, and I don’t mean water with lemon. So, you’ve listened to the experts and you’ve made the choice: you’re drinking.
Here are a few important distinctions when it comes to alcohol and raw food:
Go for organic and biodynamic whenever possible. It is amazing how many new choices are out there for wine and spirits.
Hard alcohol has been distilled, meaning it was boiled. It is not raw. You may be able to drink hard liquour now that you are raw, but your tolerance will have changed! Personally I have found that I cannot tolerate any hard alcohol - it is too strong for me. If you decide to go with hard alcohol, choose a cocktail and sip it slowly. If I had to choose one hard alcohol, it would be organic grain vodka.
Wines tend to be the easiest for most raw foodists to consume.Fun Fact: White wine and champange tend to be easier on raw foodists than deep red wines, possibly due to lighter alcohol content and lower sulphite content.
I realize that during the holidays there are parties at clubs and pubs. If you choose to drink at these public places, realize that your organic, no-sulphite alcohol choices might not be available. Look at the options, and choose the best option for you. And try to have a good time!
Whatever you drink, just say no to beer. According to the research out there, modern beer is probably one of the most dangerous beverages you can drink. It has oestrogenic properties, causes acidic symptoms, and is very toxic to the liver. I have known multiple raw foodists who used to love beer, but when they went raw and they tried a sip of beer, it was intolerable. Try it if you must, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!
No matter what beverage you choose, drink lots of water! It is so easy to become dehydrated from drinking alcohol. The classic rule is to drink one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you consume. For those eating high-raw diets I recomend two glasses of water for every alcoholic beverage.
You’ve probably heard this before, but it is true: the more raw you are, the “lighter” you are. This affects not just weight but also sensitivity. Lighter constitution means lower alcohol tolerance. Knowing this can make all the difference between enjoying a cocktail with friends, and puking your brains out because you had too much. Listen to your body. Keep aware of the entire experience while consuming alcohol.
I have found my experiments with alcohol after going raw have been some of the most fascinating experiments during my raw food journey. Before going raw I used to drink with friends on the weekends. Now I might have a glass of wine or champagne once or twice a year.
I know what I can drink, what I can’t drink, how much I can tolerate, and the effects afterwards.
And with time you can too. You can experiment for yourself and find what works for you.
One final important tip: Raw foodists (or anyone) should not drink and drive. It takes a small amount of alcohol to be legally intoxicated, especially for raw men and women. As a general rule, if I choose to drink, I refuse to drive. Even if it is “just a little bit”.
That way it is safe for everyone. Here’s a quick recap:
Find a drink that works for you.
Wine tends to be the best for raw foodists, especially white wine.
Drink small amounts.
Drink 2 glasses of water with each drink.
Don’t drink and drive.
- Heidi Ohlander
Heidi Ohlander and her husband JS are the team behind Raw Food Right Now, a frequently updated raw food blog which is a constant source of great information, ideas, reviews and tips. The site also contains the most comprehensive list of raw blogs in the world.