I am writing as a person who has been taking advice bit by bit from your fantastic website for about a year now, but a few things have been puzzling me and as I'm attempting over the next few weeks to get more seriously raw. I have never followed the raw food diet 100%, usually staying about 50% raw, unless I feel I need to lose a few pounds - like now! I wondered if you would be able to help me?
Firstly, I eat fresh fruit and some almonds for breakfast most days and I generally stick to salads with some oatcakes for lunch, but a few months ago I started a new job where I am working at a higher stress level, for longer and walking further there and back to get there! The result has made me far hungrier than I used to be, and despite my efforts I absolutely am desperate to eat anything by about 5pm when I have at least two hours to go before I get home. I eat lunch early due to my working day's hours and I try to eat breakfast after my walk to work, so that I'm not eating two breakfasts! I wonder if you could suggest anything that would really see me along and satisfy to stop me eating bad biscuits - which I never, ever used to do!!
Secondly - I need your advice on dried fruits. I really love these - dates, raisins, sultanas, apricots etc - but I can find myself being extremely greedy with them - I think because they're sweet, sometimes I get a very bloated stomach if I've gone too far! I've checked your website and some others too, they all seem to suggest that dried fruits are part of the raw food plan - am I mixing these up with the wrong thing? Are packaged ones bad? I do gain wait if I eat too many of these!
I'm so sorry for this very long e mail, I realise how busy you must be, but a little advice on this would really, really help.
Many thanks, Anna Higginbotham
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Hi Anna, thanks for writing, and, I hear you! I totally understand these late afternoon munchies, I used to get them myself. From what you share with me, eating lunch later is not an option for you right now. Of course, either way, I would recommend that you eat more for lunch – or at least some kind of fresh fruit dessert within the hour, but I think that will only go so far in relation to the hunger pangs occurring later in the day.
My recommendation is any or all of the following. I’m guessing that you should be able to put any of these into action; it’s just which ones appeal most and work best for you.
- Keep a stash of fresh fruit, raw snack bars, dried sweet treats, kale chips and any other dehydrated goodies in your desk drawer - or in a secret box under your desk : )
- If at all possible, make either a big flask of green smoothie, or a nut milk based smoothie, before you go to work, keep it in the office fridge and enjoy that around 4pm.
- Even better, if this option is possible for you, take a bunch of fresh/raw ingredients into work, keep them in the fridge or in a bag under the counter, take in a blender or “Magic Bullet” type blender and make your own smoothies during the afternoon break. (You can bet your colleagues will want a piece of the action!)
- Finally, you could make some nut-cheese or pâté, take that into work and spread it on crackers, nori sheets (to make nori rolls) or whatever else you like to spread things on.
These are all just starter ideas. I recommend that you have a scout online for anything that you can take into work that will be delicious, nutritious and filling for you. Also check out any establishments local to you that could help in terms of raw food drinks, snacks or take-aways. You never know what’s out there until you go looking!
The secret to success for you here is falling in love with whatever you add in to your new routine. You can feel great about the walking already. How fantastic would it be to feel that you are doing all of that walking powered by delicious, satisfying raw-food fuel that will set you up beautifully for the night ahead?
Now, onto your second question.
Dried fruit – I’ll keep this brief.
Dried fruit generally speaking is to be eaten in moderation, if at all.
First off, usually the dried fruit you buy commercially is NOT truly raw, owing to the way it has been dried at very high temperatures (yes, even if it says “sun dried” – which sounds very idyllic – the reality usually is that it’s been dried in the sun within massive metal containers that intensify the heat and effectively cook the fruit). So, that’s myth #1 busted! That said, there are some super-conscious food producers out there who make a point of getting this right and keeping the temperatures low, but you will certainly know about them when you find them because they’ll make a POINT of saying that their dried fruit is truly raw. (If such a producer is reading this, or you know of one, please go ahead and share resources in the comments box below).
Second, because the water content has been reduced dramatically or completely, a lot of what you end up eating via dried fruit is actually condensed sugar. Yes, it’s fruit sugar, but to the body it’s still sugar and it treats it as such. This accounts for the compulsion that you and many others often experience around dried fruit – once you start it’s hard to stop! And yes, weight gain can absolutely be a side effect of too much dried fruit consumption as it’s high sugar and high calorie. It was a significant factor in my own weight gain about three or four years in to my raw food journey when I started experimenting with different “raw” foods.
Personally, I recommend that you:
1) Avoid dried fruit as much as possible and replace with more savoury snacks such as kale chips which are super-delicious and much lower calorie.
2) If you do buy dried fruit, pro-actively seek out the organic, truly raw varieties and then eat in moderation. This means no more than a couple of times per week.
To be crystal clear, while dried fruit can be considered part of a raw food diet (when it’s raw!) it’s certainly not a necessary component and you won’t lose out by omitting it entirely – unless your diet lacks variety.
Personally I only eat dried fruits about once per month now, if that. The only exception is Medjool dates which I use in smoothies two or three times per week, but I consider these one of the better quality of dried fruits, as they are not totally dried. But even then I eat and use way less of those than I ever used to.
It does get easier with time, Anna. Just make sure that in either case you are really giving yourself options that you LOVE – this is vital. This will not only make it easy and pleasurable for you to make the switch, but also ensure that your success is inevitable.
Good luck and please let me know how you get on!