Many people are attracted to raw foods as a tool for weight loss; in fact that was one of my own most compelling personal motivations way back in 1993. After all, to eat a diet that was mostly fresh fruits and vegetables can only mean a lean, mean fighting machine surely?
Well, yes and no.
This week’s article is an insight into how raw foods can help you lose weight but also how, no matter what you eat (yes, even raw), you can also keep weight on!
My own raw food/weight loss story is probably the best way I can illustrate what’s possible (and isn’t) with raw foods. I’m sure if you are struggling with weight loss, or have struggled in the past, something about my story will help or resonate with you, and hopefully give you more insights into your own weight loss journey.
As mentioned, in 1993 I found out about raw foods and as I still had some weight to lose, the promise of creating or “unveiling” my perfect body was of course way too alluring not to give it a shot.
So off I went bringing in more raw foods left right and centre, and making the rest of my meals as healthy and wholesome as possible. Rather surprisingly (to me) I found this not only easy, but way more delicious than any other way of eating I had previously tried. In fact the only cooked foods I really ate after about a year were cooked veggies, pasta sauces now and again, whole grain rice, pasta, bread and potatoes.
Within the first year my body did look incredibly different. Not only was I eating a truly great predominantly raw and living foods diet, but I was also exercising and leading a very fulfilling life, living in an environment I loved and loving my job too. I had never looked or felt better, ever. I was 22 years old.
Everyone at work couldn’t quite understand what I was doing, thinking I was on a diet, and yet everyone was commenting on how well I looked and my obvious weight loss, and yes, how happy I was too. In fact over the first two years or so of dabbling with raw foods, I lost something in the region of 20 lb completely effortlessly. I just ate great raw foods, moved a lot, and got on and enjoyed my life.
Yet, within a year or three, despite still eating predominantly or even all raw foods, my weight had started coming back on again, and I was a rather rotund raw foodist to say the least! In fact, to look at me you wouldn’t have known I was on any kind of healthy eating plan, apart from the fact that I looked a lot younger than my years and still had unstoppable energy.
So while I was still mostly raw, my “results” were very different. How so? Well, this is what most of today’s article is about. This article will illustrate how raw food is great for weight loss, but as always, it’s only part of a much broader picture.
So what had changed over the course of the first four or so years?
Well, firstly, what I ate had changed quite dramatically. Yes, it was still mostly raw foods, but it wasn’t raw and living foods. I was relying more on fresh fruits, nuts, dried fruits, lots of avocadoes, and I also wasn’t exercising much anymore. I also was eating when I wasn’t always hungry. And sometimes I was overeating long after my hunger had been satisfied.
If you don’t already know it, then eating when hungry is the number one rule of weight loss, whatever food you might be eating. The body quite simply knows when it has had enough and will tell you. Then it’s up to “us” to stop, put the fork down and walk away. Having had countless conversations about this coupled with my own experience, I have to say, however, that learning or being able to do this on a cooked and processed diet is a lot more difficult than it is on a high or all raw diet. A LOT more difficult, if not impossible at times, as quite simply the body’s inner harmony can become easily disrupted in the presence of unhealthy foods, which usually only stimulate it, thus making the messages a lot more difficult to hear. So the quality of the conversation you have with your body is always going to be directly proportional to the quality of your food.
As I was already eating mostly or all raw foods and yet was still eating when I wasn’t hungry, what was that all about?
Well, again, things had changed. Now I was no longer happy with my life, my job, my living environment and everything about my external life felt wrong. This meant that my internal life was pretty miserable too, which meant that I ate. And I ate when I wasn’t hungry, which meant that I was overriding the messages from my body (which was desperately trying to help me regain balance), which meant that I was not only out of alignment in my everyday life, but that I was now ignoring my body and just eating raw anyway, but in this chapter mostly unconsciously. Eating raw had now become just a habit, just something I did.
So the whole raw experience for me had started off so beautifully in a perfect and wonderful setting (i.e. a great life) but it all went pear-shaped (literally!) when my life circumstances and inner world came out of balance and harmony.
And as with everything in life, one large or small choice can set up a whole chain of events. One thing leads to another until we are either in greater harmony than before, or less harmony – we can never stand still.
Over the past few years I have been asked a lot about my own weight loss and gain, and thankfully my more recent (and final) loss. Having been through the raw food wringer I feel I really have got a handle on what stops people losing weight despite what foods they are eating, and largely they are emotional. When the heart is hungry the hand tends to reach out, and down the chute goes the “love”. And this love can take the form of a cheese sandwich, or a raw coconut cookie, or a raw chocolate smoothie. Anything goes!
For real and long lasting weight loss, all areas of life need to be looked at. How happy are you at home, in your relationship, in your work, in your everyday life? How emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically fulfilled are you? As long as you feel empty inside you will likely have a tendency to fill it up with something, anything, and that, more often than not, will be food. And that might be cooked or raw.
One of the main reasons why I am a raw food coach as well as a raw food teacher, is that over the years through much trial and tribulation I have come to know the secrets to leading a truly wonderful raw life. Having lived both sides of the fence I know now, without a shadow of a doubt that it really is a whole person journey. To live on live foods for the rest of your life you will need to bring the rest of your life up to speed with you, and that can mean looking at all those things that bother you, that you’d really rather just sweep under the carpet and forget about, or that you feel are way too much work to address so ignore them for as long as humanly possible. Well, as you also know, unfortunately they may be out of sight but they’ll never be out of mind. Without a peaceful mind, having a peaceful body is a very hard thing to accomplish indeed! I now work with people to address these issues in a loving and supportive environment, because I know that just pointing these things out isn’t always enough. Sometimes you need someone on your side who “just knows”.
For my own part, not only did I transform every area of my life, but I also transformed possibly every aspect of the way I looked at life, what I chose to believe about it, the people I surrounded myself with, the amount of freedom I gave myself to be true to myself and to follow my own path, wherever that took me. I also needed to heal certain patterns that had stood in the way of weight loss, and pay really close attention to what I believed about myself and my weight to finally let it go forever.
Thankfully today, I am leaner, slimmer and stronger than I have ever been. My life has never been fuller but I have never been more able to handle it. Surprisingly to many I actually weigh more than I did back in 1994 when I first lost my “cooked food body” but today I wear smaller clothes than I did then, proving that my body has ditched the toxins, holds less water (no need to keep those toxins at hip reach!) and quite possibly has more muscle than ever before. I feel strong, powerful and alive! And this is why I coach. Because having the body that you want might not always be as easy as just eating raw foods!