From diets like Mediterranean Diet and Paleo Diet to more conservative eating plans like Vegan and even specialized diets like the Atkin’s diet, there’s certainly no shortage of diets plans available.
However, one diet that’s low on everyone’s radar is the Raw Food Diet. It’s been around since the 1800s but has begun to peak in popularity in recent years. This diet is on whole new level potable-wise, and is primarily meant for athletes and those who use a lot of energy during the day.
The Raw Food Diet, also called ‘raw foodism’ or ‘raw veganism’, is mostly based on consuming raw and unprocessed foods. Raw foods are considered ‘raw’ if they’ve never been heated over 104-118°F (40-48°C), the theory being that cooking and processing removes a number of the helpful phytonutrients present in raw food. As a result, this diet is predominantly based on vegetables, fruits, and legumes.
People using this diet plan almost always report higher levels of energy and stamina. Eating an abundance of raw food helps people reduce the risk of diabetes and obesity. While research is still being done, a raw food diet is considered helpful in lowering the risk of other diseases as well, such as heart disease and cancer.
Since the 1980s, several variations of the raw food diet have been promoted as cures for cancer. Raw food meal plans began to develop a more high-profile following in the 1990s, as celebrities such as Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson embraced them.
By the mid 2000s, raw food restaurants and cafes began showing up in many urban areas.
Foods to Eat On a Raw Food Diet
The raw food diet prioritizes fresh food over everything else, which is why fresh fruits and raw vegetables are at the top of the list on the raw diet menu. Grains, legumes and other sprouts are also key foods, including semi-raw meats, raw nut butters, nut milks and raw fish.
Remember that raw food is key when it comes to what kind of foods to eat in this diet plan.
- Fresh fruits and raw vegetables
- Raw grains and legumes, sprouted or soaked
- Dried fruits
- Dried meats
- Raw nuts and seeds
- Raw nut butters
- Nut milks
- Cold-pressed olive and coconut oils
- Fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut
- Raw meat or fish
- Raw eggs or dairy
- Coconut oil
- Dried food
- Purified water
- Unprocessed organic or natural foods
- Herbs and spices
Raw, uncooked and unprocessed food retains phytonutrients and other beneficial natural nutrients that are otherwise lost. Keep in mind that the raw food diet is more a lifestyle than a diet–at least 75% of all foods consumed while on this diet should be eaten raw while completely avoid avoiding commercially processed and most cooked foods.
Raw food eaten on this diet can be prepared in many ways; as-is, blended, dehydrated, or juiced. Although the majority of food should be uncooked, some cooked foods such as boiled pasta or baked potatoes are fine to eat occasionally. The rule is simple: as long as it is raw and vegetarian, there are no restrictions. You can eat as much as you want, as often as you want.
Most people report losing weight on the raw diet, however results are strictly individual. Some people start losing weight right away, others take several months before weight loss begin.
Although weight loss typically occurs, the main benefit here is the significant drop in the probability of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other diseases and illnesses.
Foods to Avoid
Cooked and processed foods: This includes cooked fruits, vegetables, meats and even roasted nuts and seeds. Refined oils are also out, as well as refined sugars and flour. Table salt, coffee, tea and junk food also need to be put aside while following this diet.
- Baked items
- Cooked fruits, vegetables, meats and grains
- Roasted nuts and seeds
- Refined oils
- Refined sugars and flour
- Table salt
- Coffee and tea
- Pasteurized juices and dairy
- Other processed foods and snacks
Main Benefits of the Raw Food Diet
Since raw, uncooked food has all the phytonutrients and natural enzymes and nutrients intact, there are a number of benefits, beside the weight loss:
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Reduced risk of diabetes
- Reduced risk of cancer
- Better digestion
- Stabilized blood glucose levels
- Improved skin appearance
- Higher energy levels
- Weight control
- Stronger immune system
- More mental clarity and creativity
Potential Negative Aspects
Since you’ll be eating raw food, it’s possible to feel adverse effects as many raw foods can be hard to digest if not slightly cooked and/or combined with other food:
- Buckwheat greens can be poisonous if eaten raw too often or in large amounts, and can cause photosensitivity in fair-skinned people
- Rhubarb leaves can be poisonous if eaten raw: the stalks can be toxic if they are not harvested when they are young
- Raw kidney beans and kidney bean sprouts can be hard to metabolize if eaten too often or in large amounts
- The greenish skin that develops on some potatoes contains is a toxin that’s neutralized by high temperatures; eaten raw it can cause stomach upset
- Raw foods, especially meats and seafood, can be contaminated with bacteria and parasites that would be killed with cooking
It’s recommended that traditional eaters move gradually toward a higher percentage of raw food in their diet rather than making a sudden change. This can have help avoid adverse effects, as the sudden change to strictly raw food will can be difficult to digest and metabolize for an unprepared system.
Some people, when switching to a raw food diet, may experience what raw foodists call symptoms of detoxification:
- mild moodiness
Sample Daily Meals
A typical breakfast would be a fruit salad topped with chopped raw nuts. Organic, unpasteurized yogurt and milk are also popular.
As much mixed salad as you want with lentil sprouts, virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, plus any variety of vegetable-based dishes.
Vegetable soup, sunflower seeds, avocado and other vegetables on the side. Fruit sorbet is an excellent dessert choice for raw food dieters.
Water, coconut milk, or all natural fruit juices.
There are a lot of positive short-term effects when sticking to the raw food diet. It’s both filling and low in calories and contains wide variety of healthy food choices.
However, a raw food diet is not a realistic long-term option–this diet is primarily undertaken as a short-term weight loss eating plan that you can try for a short amount of time and afterwards move on to a mixed, modified diet strategy. It might make sense to set aside a few days a week to go with a raw food diet and then fill in the other days with a more normalized diet that includes cooked food.
As healthy as fresh and raw foods are, it’s important not to eat them exclusively for long periods. Cooking is important to make certain foods and nutrients more digestible. While a completely raw diet is proven for weight loss goal and disease risk reduction, you need to be aware of your long-term nutritional needs.Share!