People like to label things and raw foodists are no different. There's a label right there: "raw foodist." How do you get to be one of those? Purists would say you must consume only raw, living foods not heated above 108 degrees. Do that, and you're 100% raw. Or perhaps you're high raw, eating a primarily plant-based diet but still consuming some cooked foods. Are you vegan? Vegetarian? Fruitarian? Do you eat 80-10-10 or 811rv? No salt? Low fat? Mono meals? Superfoods?
It can make your head spin.
Raw food gurus? They're a dime a dozen. Written a book? Welcome to the party, you're a guru.
No gurus here. I'm just the fat chick who traded in her frequent flyer miles at the drive-thru windows for a diet rich in raw living foods and in the process, shed the weight equivalent of another adult female.
Still, I have folks write and ask me all the time, "What am I allowed to eat?"
As someone who developed a very complicated and convoluted relationship with food at a rather young age, and who's spent the better part of the last 16 months Changing My Relationship With Food, I am the last person on the planet who will ever tell you what you are "allowed" to eat.
Don't know where to start? Have a look at the 20 Raw Food Groups. Lots of variety to choose from here. But how to put it all together?
My own journey into the land of raw living foods began with The Raw Food Detox Diet and I can't say enough about nutritionist Natalia Rose or her program. Shopping lists, menu plans, recipes, this book's got it all going on. A Day In The Life gives you a peek at what my own transition looked like.
The best advice I can give out is this: take your cues from your own body. Different bodies have different needs at different times. When it comes to nutrition, there is no one-size-fits-all.
The Experts Weigh In
On January 14, 2006, a group of doctors, educators and raw living food chefs gathered at the Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida, for the first International Living Food Summit. Since then, this historic Summit has reconvened twice — on April 28, 2007 and May 2, 2009 — to establish scientifically based common standards for optimum health.
Leaders from eight countries (with a combined total of over 500 years following the raw foods lifestyle) agreed on the following:
The Optimum Diet for Health & Longevity
Vegan (no animal products of any kind, cooked or raw )
At least 80% raw (the remaining to be vegan, whole food, and organic)
High in nutrition such as vitamins, antioxidants and phytonutrients
Contains a significant quantity of chlorophyll-rich green foods
Contains adequate complete protein from plant sources
Provides excellent hydration with a large proportion of high-water content foods and pure water
Includes raw vegetable juices
Contains all essential fatty acids from naturally occurring plant sources
Has moderate, yet adequate caloric intake
Contains only low to moderate sugar and exclusively from whole food sources (fruitarianism is strongly discouraged )
Contains minimal amounts of unprocessed salts, as needed (depending upon your constitution)
Is nutritionally optimal for both detoxification and rebuilding
They also agree:
Eating local, ripe, seasonally-available foods as appropriate is advisable.
Deficiencies of both Vitamin B-12 and Vitamin D-3 are common issues for mental and physical health, for anyone on any diet. Plant-based supplementation of Vitamin B-12 is imperative. Adequate Vitamin D levels can be maintained with sufficient sun exposure. When exposure is inadequate, take appropriate levels of plant-based Vitamin D-3.
The addition of enzyme-active superfoods and whole food supplements is also advised but does not take the place of the optimum diet described above.
Caffeinated and/or addictive substances ( even in their raw form ), such as cacao/chocolate, coffee, caffeinated teas, and alcohol are highly discouraged.
This way of eating can be further optimized by tailoring it based on individual needs (within the principles stated).
Benefits derived by following these principles are proportional to how well they are followed.
We will remain open-minded, and this information will be updated and expanded upon, if necessary, as new research becomes available.
Diet is a critical part of a healthy lifestyle, yet not the entire picture. A full-spectrum, health-supportive lifestyle is encouraged. This includes physical exercise, exposure to sunshine, as well as psychological health. Avoiding environmental toxins and toxic products is essential. Paramount is pure water (for consumption and bathing), the use of natural-fiber clothing, and non-toxic personal care products. Also consider healthy options in home furnishings/building materials and related items.
All participating leaders agree that eating according to the International Living Food Summit Guidelines will significantly address the urgent issues of health, environmental sustainability, world hunger, and a compassionate respect for all life.
The following leaders support this Summit Statement:
Fred Bisci, PhD – USA Tamera Campbell – Vision – USA Katharine Clark, RN, CMT, CCT – USA Brenda Cobb – Living Foods Institute – USA Gabriel Cousens, MD, MD(H) – Diplomat American Board of Holistic Medicine – USA Anna Maria Clement, CN, NMD, PhD – Hippocrates Health Institute – USA Brian Clement, CN, NMD, PhD – Hippocrates Health Institute – USA Karin Dina, DC – RawFoodEducation.com – USA Rick Dina, DC – RawFoodEducation.com – USA Dorit – Green Lifestyle Film Festival – USA/Israel Carole Dougoud – Institute Haute Vitalite – Switzerland Kare Engstrom – Dietician – Sweden John Eagle Freedom – Health City – USA Laura Gonzalez – GWAH Healing Institute – USA Jane Holmes – Living Foods Institute – USA Elizabeth Kapadia, DN – GWAH Healing Institute – USA Viktoras Kulvinskas – “Grandfather” of the Living Foods Movement – USA/Costa Rica Dan Ladermann – Institute for Vibrant Living – USA Marie Christine Lhermitte – Chemin du mas Magnuel – France George Malkmus – Hallelujah Acres – USA Rhonda Malkmus – Hallelujah Acres – USA Paul Nison – The Raw Life – USA David Rainoshek, MA – JuiceFeasting.com – USA Katrina Rainoshek – JuiceFeasting.com – USA Claudine Richard, Naturopath – France Michael Saiber – Vision, E3Live – USA Jameth Sheridan, ND – HealthForce Nutritionals – USA Cherie Soria – Living Light Culinary Institute – USA Diana Store – RawSuperfoods.com – UK/The Netherlands Jill Swyers – Living Foods For Health – UK/Portugal Walter J. Urban, PhD – USA/Costa Rica
While the experts have weighed in, I'd be interested in knowing what works for you at this time in your life. Please, share in the comments below.