One of the most common mistakes that newbie raw food enthusiasts make is trying to run before they can walk. Perhaps we have all been there, I know I certainly have! It's only natural to want to do something as much and as fast as we can when it feels so good and seems naturally self-propelling; why would we slow down? And while I'm not here to say "slow down" necessarily, I am here to share a few friendly words of advice from both my own experience and those of others I have coached over the past decade or so, that might just make all the difference.
1) Before you start jetting off, capture where you are starting from. Having a very clear, defined and ideally highly detailed record of where your "point A" is, is not absolutely essential but definitely a great idea especially if you have significant health or weight issues when you begin. By taking photos, writing a journal, weighing, measuring and taking notes about where you’re at on all levels, you’ll have a great record of where you are/were at before your raw transformation (which you WILL forget unless you write it down). This will be priceless to you once you have progressed further along the track as you will be in awe at what has changed along the way.
3) Know your personality type. One of my biggest realisations about why some people are successful with raw foods and others aren't so, is the degree to which they "own" their diet and make it theirs. My personal style, in the way I live and the way I work, could very generally be summed up as "fast and fun". I drive fast, I think fast, I act fast but I always keep my focus on having fun and enjoying life as I go. As such, without consciously realising it, when I adopted raw foods many years ago I naturally found a way of approaching, thinking and doing raw foods that was also fast and fun. I excelled in making 5 minute meals and always loved the creativity and expansion that I felt through "playing" with my food in this way. And now in hindsight, I can definitely see that that's why I managed to stay with it and enjoy it as much as I have. So, for you, have a ponder on what your style is, or even better, do the “What Type of Eater Are You?” quiz, and check in to see if the way you have come to see raw foods is in alignment or conflict with that. You might just have the breakthrough you’ve been looking for.
4) Be honest about the time and attention you can give to this. Most of us lead exceptionally busy lives. So attempting to take on board and "live" a completely new way of eating overnight might sound like a great idea, but realistically, for most people it's pretty much impossible! So recognise that the reading, learning, experimenting and all that goes with learning raw foods (and often "unlearning" cooked foods) WILL take time. When you can accept that and pace yourself accordingly, then you can breathe more easily, rather than giving yourself a hard time for what you're not doing.
5) Embrace your circumstances. The diversity of people I work with is inspiring and impressive to say the least! I love the fact that people into raw foods come from such a broad range of backgrounds, each with different life experiences and current set of circumstances. And one of the main things we have to look at when starting on raw is exactly what those current circumstances are. Do you socialise a lot? Do you work long hours at the office that make self- catering a challenge? Do you exercise rigorously, demanding more calories than the average person? Do you have a family to cater for as well as yourself? These questions are just the tip of the iceberg and they are important. You definitely need to get clear on what's real in your life before you go anywhere near what feels like radical, otherwise the proverbial "down to earth with a bump" is going to be inevitable.
6) Know your goals. It's great to just see where your journey takes you and go with the flow, but it can be even more rewarding if you set yourself some goals or benchmarks to see just how far you have come with raw foods once you start. For me this originally was weight loss. Later I wanted to have stronger nails, lose cellulite, “get the glow” and more. I was big on weighing and measuring back in the old days as I used to work in a toning table salon where inch-loss was the be-all and end-all for most women, and, while there's certainly more to great health than losing a few inches, I still see that it’s a great way to measure progress and affirm to yourself that things really are changing for the better.
7) Know your limits. Depending on your state of health when you start your raw food journey, there will be different degrees to which you need to be careful about the pace at which you go. For instance, older people may have digestive issues which mean that the more fibrous raw foods (broccoli, cauliflower, nuts etc.) may or may not be problematic depending on the extent of the issue. Others may have a history of prolonged drug use, medical or recreational, and this may or may not result in intense detoxification, again depending on many factors. Another common example is being pregnant or breastfeeding. The nature of going raw in the early days is that we are more than likely going to be detoxifying - and sometimes at quite a pace, which means that for pregnant and breastfeeding women, the toxins can go straight into the baby - obviously not good. So we need to take care and get real about where we're at, whether it be to protect our own body or someone else's. So before you go racing off do reflect on what has gone before in your life - dietary, medically, recreationally, habitually, etc., and go forward at a pace that feels right for you from moment to moment - under professional guidance if necessary.
9) The "whole person" realities. Most of us tend to have our mind in the driving seat of our lives. Depending on our nature and the extent to which we let our mind do the talking, generally it loves nothing more than to get an idea it adores and to put its foot down on the accelerator in order to get us there NOW! Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) the body, spirit and emotions don't always have the ability, capacity or desire to follow suit at quite the same pace, which is why those embarking on a raw food path can often find themselves oscillating between raiding the fridge, detoxing, bingeing or even feeling lost and bewildered in their life. By recognising where you are on all levels before you start, you can pay extra attention to those parts of you that might need a little more TLC than your mind. By getting clear on this you will know when to speed up and slow down your raw food ramblings depending on what else is going on for you at any given time.
All of the above are a few of the many different things we need to consider before running into raw. Hopefully it's helped she some light or ideas on things for you, wherever you may be at in your raw food journey, as I find that most people tend to skip over the “grounding” part of the journey (probably because it's not quite as exciting as the others!). But not unlike the game of snakes and ladders, skipping this vital stage doesn't mean you will get away with it! Sooner or later you will find yourself having to go back to the grounding stage in order to fully get a grip on what is real so that you can indeed go on to the other stages and work your way through them in a genuinely enjoyable, rewarding and sustainable way.
© 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.