"My real concern with really embracing raw food big time, with all the cashew nuts, almonds, coconut in some of the recipes is (I know it's sad) putting on weight!... I've been a Weight Watcher for years (using their system to manage my weight, although I would like to shed a bit more) and know that there are lots of 'points' in these foods, but instinctively know that there are lots of nutrients too. How free can I be with the nuts and seeds? It's sort of the thing that's getting in the way a bit at the moment."
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Good question, and I'm sure you're not alone in wondering about this.
Nuts are an interesting one. There's a couple of things I want to talk about to do with nuts before we get into the nitty gritty.
So first of all, let's consider what nuts grow into.... ?? >>>>>>>>>>>>
When we think about that, and I mean REALLY think about that, it's no small deal to take something into your body that, if planted and watered instead, would eventually become the HUGE upright structure that is a tree. That's pretty amazing. And when you think about it in that way, it's really no wonder that nuts are notorious for promoting weight gain! (Seeds on the other hand are much less "offensive" in this respect, as probably now makes sense!)
For this reason I tend to refer to nuts as the "meat and dairy" of the raw food world. They can really pack the weight on in people who are predisposed to gaining weight easily (me being one of them). Also, like dairy, nuts can be mucous forming - fat and protein are a pretty clogging combination, and nuts should always be eaten in moderation at the best of times.
And that brings me on to the second point - quantity. Traditionally, these days we buy nuts in packets - unshelled.
Of course in nature they grow IN shells AND they take a long time and a lot of manual effort to shell them one by one (which we would do in nature).
I don't think it's a coincidence that nature is set up this way : ) It knows that these "little" treasures are PACKED with nutrition and potential and we just don't need many (if any at all, even) to be healthy.
So with all that said, the bottom line is that nuts are not an essential part of a raw food diet, which means that limiting them is not a bad thing - in fact it's a good idea as they are the most dense foods to digest of all (practically zero water).
If you choose to eat them, then best to soak them first whenever possible, or make nut milks from them so you get "milk" rather than fibre. But there will always be people who seem to handle them better than others, which is why I always recommend individualising the diet.
Of course when you omit one food group from any kind of diet you just need to pay extra special attention to covering the nutritional bases. I naturally found that when I cut way aback on nuts, or left them out completely, then I absolutely had to eat some or all of the following instead:
Seeds, Sea veg, Sprouts (beans, grains etc.), Bee Pollen, Mushrooms, Dates, Maca, Mesquite.
When you look at these foods closely it becomes clear that these foods are either high in B vitamins (nuts are), protein (nuts are moderate in protein), are high calorie (like nuts!), are mostly brown in colour (again, like nuts) and are what I would call "earthy" foods - that is they generally have a mellowing or balancing effect on us. They are also mineral rich like nuts are.
So, by all means take or leave the nuts, but just make sure that you let your intuition guide you to other foods instead : )
One final note, to anyone reading who has ever given up nuts and then craved bread or dairy - same thing - your body is looking for those missing elements and it's taking you to where it knows for sure it can get them. Hence the importance of eating a diversity of raw foods so that your body knows raw places where it can get what it needs.
I'll be writing more about that in this week's eZine.
Fascinating stuff isn't it?