by Jane Smith, Raw Foods Instructor
“The ‘Raw Foods’ Lifestyle? What’s that?” That was my question several years ago when I was making my way through life as a vegetarian. At the time, I was a lacto-ova vegetarian, which means that I ate eggs and dairy, but no meat.
Lacto-ova vegetarianism was a good life. I was 20-30 pounds overweight, give or take. My blood pressure, while higher than normal, was well-controlled by three medications I took daily.
I rode my bike (even when my knees bothered me), swam regularly, had regular sessions of yoga and worked out with weights at home. I guess you could say that life was OK.
I was introduced to the concept of raw foods as a diet or lifestyle by Leah, my 15 year-old granddaughter. While we were visiting her family in Colorado for Christmas in 2006, I took note of her simple eating patterns and the very calm demeanor she carried herself with. I took the time to read through her raw food books.
Because I knew the “loneliness” of eating an unconventional diet, I wanted to be supportive of Leah. While her parents encouraged her to choose nutritious foods, Leah was in many ways “on her own” as she tried to figure out the path of raw foods.
I also wanted to learn about a diet of raw foods, and not be judgmental about something I knew nothing about. And while the benefits and personal success stories that I read in her books were compelling, I never imagined making such a drastic change in my own way of eating.
After all, I was too busy commuting a long distance to work, and dealing with the stresses of life the way it was. Changing to a raw foods lifestyle seemed too hard – and maybe too weird, as well.
But then I realized I was on the verge of rejecting something out of hand because it was just too new and too different. Certainly, eating a diet of purely raw foods posed a challenge, but maybe the fabulous benefits I was reading about were worth it?
I decided to try an experiment. Two days after that Christmas I ate nothing but raw food. The next day, after I woke up, I ate nothing but raw food again. The rest is history, and I have been a very high raw eater ever since. And I’m pleased to say that it’s been a wonderful (and healthy) adventure!
To begin with, what is a “raw and living food lifestyle?” Simply put, it means eating exclusively fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds that have never been cooked.
The fun and very liberating part of the raw foods way of life is that there are myriad combinations of these foods, so that mealtime is always interesting. I was surprised to learn that raw food recipes abound!
But why eat raw? Speaking from personal experience, in just a few weeks time my occasional knee pain disappeared, even though I was riding up and down some steep hills on my bicycle.
In just three months I had effortlessly lost thirty pounds, followed by another seven pounds over the ensuing months. And after about one year, my blood pressure had dropped sufficiently that my doctor suggested I didn’t need to be taking medications to control it any longer.
There are so many benefits to eating and “living” raw! My own raw foods success story isn’t really that dramatic, even when you factor in my greatly increased energy, the need for less sleep, the disappearance of occasional headaches and my greater strength and improved performance when doing athletics.
Individuals switching to a diet of raw foods have reported dramatic outcomes, some of them after years of taking medication and undergoing medical treatments. A raw foods lifestyle has led to relief from depression, hay fever, fibromyalgia, and diabetes.
Other benefits of a raw food diet include lower cholesterol, a clearer complexion, less grey hair, fewer toothaches, a more positive outlook, an overall improvement in health and vitality, and more harmony in body, mind, and spirit.
One way to get started eating raw is to investigate the possibility of a raw food potluck group. Here in Columbia, Missouri, join us at Columbia Raw Food Feasters, a monthly raw food potluck where we share food, ideas and help each other.
The trend towards a raw and living lifestyle begins with being open to the idea that human beings can be more healthy and vigorous than we are now. Everyone deserves to be as healthy as they can be. It begins with nutrition, and the best nutrition is raw!
(published March 20, 2012)
Jane W. Smith is a Columbia, MO, Health Coach who teaches Raw Food Preparation Classes. She became a vegetarian in 1994, and in 2006 was introduced to, experienced, and then embraced the Raw Foods Lifestyle. Since 2008 she has hosted the Columbia Raw Food Feasters monthly potluck, and in 2010 was certified by Alissa Cohen as a Raw Food Chef and Instructor. For more information, visit her websites: abundantrawlife.blogspot.com and www.facebook.com/abundantrawlife. Jane emphasizes that while the Raw Food diet may not be for everybody, all of us can, indeed, benefit from introducing more raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds into our eating plans.