So, you're new to raw food and not sure if you doing it "right"? Or maybe have been dabbling for a while but aren't feeling quite as good as you think you should? Or how about a long termer who is in need of a few fine-tuning tips?
Whatever your situation, this article is guaranteed to have you feeling and looking better than you currently do whether you take on board one or all of the suggestions outlined (and these suggestions just scrape the surface). Remember it's as much about what you don't eat as what you do!
In this issue we'll take our first look of many at what's good and not-so-good for delivering the health, energy and vitality you deserve. Breakfast. The most important meal of the day? Only if you're hungry! It's amazing how many people will force breakfast down even though they're still digesting last night's dinner and don't feel hungry at all. Why? Because we're told to. By who? The famous "they" of course! Forget about "them" and ask your body: "Am I hungry?" If yes, eat. If no, don't! (But do have a large glass of water, whether that be warm or room temperature as this will help the cleansing cycle that runs from 4am til noon).
Superfoods. Ah! Apparently the answer to everyone's nutritional prayers? Yes and no. Superfood overdose-syndrome has a lot to answer for - mostly an empty wallet! I recommend that you choose 3 or 4 great ones that you keep in stock and play with them as and when you feel like it. To use a really good one every day is, I think, a good thing (I like Nature's Living Superfood, also known as Nature's First Food or VitaMineral Green, or the liquid blue-green algae called E3 Live), especially if you're worried that you're not getting enough variety or nutrients for whatever reason, but piling in 10 or more different things to your morning smoothie is definitely overkill. (How do you know what's working? That's the most expensive smoothie in the world!) I recommend you take your one key Superfood per day - perhaps 3 at most (I like to use bee pollen as it has an incredible nutritional make-up, and I also take maca occasionally), and see what works for you. Used sensibly and consciously the addition of some first-class superfoods can really make all the difference.
Food combining. As is common in the world of health and nutrition, controversy abounds yet again as to whether the concept of food combining is a fact or fallacy. Well, my own experience is that I'm more sensitive to some combinations than others, but I try and keep my meals simple anyhow and avoid snacking or eating desserts most of the time. What I do know is this: throwing 15 ingredients into your salad is never going to be a good thing - a) Because you don't end up tasting very much; b) Because you run out of salad ideas very quickly!; c) Because typically at least 3 or 4 of those 15 ingredients are going to be heavier raw foods such as nuts, seeds, sprouted beans and/or grains, olives, avocado and the like. What does this mean? Waaaay too complicated and the body just won't make proper use of it. Keep it simple and feel the benefits, as well as multiplying the number of possible salad combinations you can make from your favourite ingredients, of course!
B12. There's so much confusion around the B12 issue that I always recommend to err on the side of caution. This means take your B12 drops regularly. A B12 deficiency can show up in a multitude of ways and you may very well find that you feel less foggy, have better memory and feel generally more calm if you take B12 daily, especially if you've been long term vegan or raw. The best first step is to have a blood test (these are free with your GP in the UK) and see where you're at, then you know what you're dealing with.
Water. I love this one. It's common when eating lots of high water content raw foods to think that we are getting our water needs met through these foods alone. I've fallen foul of this one and I don't believe this now to be true. It is said that we don't usually feel thirsty until we are already on the way to dehydration - whether this is true or not, I think it's a great recipe for tons more energy, faster and easier weight loss and overall clearer functioning to drink at least 6 pints of pure water per day as well as taking in additional water through fruits, smoothies and juices. What your body doesn't need it will get rid of, right? You WILL feel the difference!
Nuts. You may well know what I'm going to say. In the raw food diet there is no bigger energy sapper that I can think of than overeating on nuts. Nuts are the most dense raw foods of all, comprising of a significant amount of fat and very little water. Yes, they have nutritional benefits, but no, I don't think we need to eat them every day and in fact everyone I've worked with reports feeling markedly better when they don't eat them, than when they do. Try leaving nuts out of your diet for 1, 2 or more days (yes, that includes nut butters!) and feel and see the difference. You CAN meet your nutritional needs without nuts, but a few a day (like 10 almonds) generally works okay for most people without significant issues - soaking them first for 4-8 hours helps a lot too.
Eating late at night. The general recommendation for nighttime eating is to eat at least 3 hours before bedtime. Well, you know as well as I do that this isn't always possible! So what to do when you come in late and are feeling hungry but don't have the time or inclination to prepare a big meal (and you know that isn't a good idea anyway!)? I suggest a big bowl of grapes or other juicy fruits, or our friend the green smoothie. Both are super-easy to digest and will leave your stomach within 30 minutes, and you'll go to bed feeling satiated, having a great sleep and feeling good on it the next morning. This WORKS!
Green smoothies. While we're on the subject, hands up who's NOT drinking at least one green smoothie a day? Shame on you! (I'll let you off ONLY if you don't know what they are!) Going by what I have seen, heard and experienced personally so far, I would say that the single most beneficial raw food habit to build into your day is the green smoothie. Fast, easy, delicious and so nutritious as to be scary! If you forgot what they are or haven't yet learned, watch my YouTube clip to find out. Just one of these a day will make you feel great, reduce cravings and go a long way towards your recommended greens intake.
And finally ~
Listen to your body. As per breakfast, it never fails to amaze me how many of us (read: 99.9% of the population) feed ourselves when we're not hungry, when we don't like something (but think it's good for us), when we want to stimulate ourselves in some way, or because someone offers us something and we daren't say no. Poor little body! No-one else speaks up for it and when IT tries it's ignored. It doesn't really stand a chance. Well, the big news is this: If you don't listen to it, you don't stand a chance - the chance of achieving truly vibrant health and a level of body-mind connection that simply cannot be achieved any other way. As far as good choices go, I have learned over and over again (the hard way!) that the body should be the master and the mind the servant NOT the other way around!
Now, that's a few things to be getting on with! So which one/s are YOU going to implement from hereon in? Commit now and then take action. Let me know how you get on!
Now, get tweaking!
© 2011 Karen Knowler WOULD YOU LIKE TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR ON YOUR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Karen Knowler, The Raw Food Coach publishes "Successfully Raw" - a free weekly eZine for raw food lovers everywhere. If you're ready to look good, feel great and create a raw life you love get your FREE tips, tools and recipes now at www.TheRawFoodCoach.com.