Whether you are new to raw food and haven't yet experimented that much, or a longer term raw foodie but feel like you've hit a wall and salads, fruit and smoothies just aren't doing it for you right now, fret not! Help is at hand.
It's perfectly natural to get bored with food sometimes. When you think about it, we do this with all aspects of life from time to time, whether it be our job, our home, our relationships or whatever - now and again we need to take stock, see where the problem is (inside or out - or both) and do what we need to do.
Bearing this in mind, this week's article is about what you can do when you start feeling bored and uninspired by your raw food diet and find yourself staring longingly at the deli counter or the Indian take-away even when you know that's not what you really want! What you really want is just to eat raw and love it - is that really too much to ask?
First of all, as above, know that boredom is common and, providing that you make some minor adjustments when prompted by your boredom, this will pass. Routines can get stale. If you keep eating the same foods, meals or aren't keeping it "fresh" in any way then boredom is, in time, inevitable. Variety is the spice of life and all that!
Do know that "keeping it fresh" doesn't have to mean changing everything, however. Just a few tweaks may be all that's required. It might be that you swap your morning juice for a smoothie or vice-versa, or you start playing with your dehydrator for the first time, or for the first time in a long time, you bring in foods that hit a spot your current menu has been falling short of.
Know that while you are a simply beautiful creature, you are also a highly complex one! And sometimes you just want what you want! So if some aspect of you is calling you to eat something that you wouldn't normally allow (like eating something complicated, heavy or "naughty" within the raw food arena), then why not throw caution to the wind and let it in? (See later for more about intuition and how it can ultimately be your best friend). It's a good thing to let your body call the shots even if it defies reason or your chosen philosophy. The body has no interest in philosophies!
In order to get out of the raw food rut we need to take it from the top. This means looking at what we would eat in a normal day and how and what a healthy and varied raw menu actually comprises of.
First off, I need to say that sometimes all of us can make the whole “raw menu planning” thing a much bigger deal than it really is. It can feel like a mountain to climb and just so confusing when you look at all the recipe books and philosophies out there. I am a firm believer that raw food should be simple, fun and delicious - and that has been my experience.
So before we start feeling like it's all too much like hard work, let's just look at this "mountain" that we feel we have to climb that can seem so overwhelming or like too much to think about. Really, all we are looking for, when we plan or consider our daily menu, is usually 2 or 3 decent meals per day, a snack or two, maybe something sweet and some great drinks. That's it!
Having just five great options for each main meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and a similar array of snacks, sweets and drinks is really all you need to keep things interesting - and it really doesn't take long to acquire the recipes or know how to make this happen. Anything beyond five is obviously then a major plus!
Does this mean we stick with the same five recipes per meal for the rest of our life? Of course not, and not even over the rest of our month or year. Things will change, and they will need to change as we inevitably change as time goes by. An example - are you still wearing the same clothes that you wore this season three years ago? Quite probably not. And it may be that you stayed the same size in clothes but those clothes simply didn't feel right anymore. So too does this happen with food. As our body cleans out and metamorphosises over time, our body asks for new foods, for different foods, often for less volume but for increasingly higher quality and much less of the "recreational" stuff, be it raw or otherwise. If you listen, you will hear!
For my own part my raw food diet hasn’t, at its essence, changed massively over the years, but I do have many new additions in my diet that I didn’t have in the early days that help keep things interesting, but that don’t outweigh the really good stuff – the fruits, greens and salads. These other foods and recipes simply act as a contract to stop me craving other stuff that may not be so good. This point is important. As I said earlier, we are very complex and diverse creatures, and we need to allow ourselves to break out and try new things whenever we feel the urge or things can become stale very quickly.
A small but good example: I love fruit. I don't eat anywhere near as much of it now as I did when I first went raw and leaned towards fruitarianism, though. A couple of years ago I also moved away from drinking a lot of smoothies and have preferred green juices to green smoothies for quite some time. This is completely normal in my experience – you don’t need as much sweet stuff further down the line. It all can taste “too sweet” – yes, even fruit.
Onto the most common source of raw food boredom, "same ol'" salads are probably raw food enemy number 1! The most common classic mistake is to throw everything you have into your salad so that you have about 10 or more fresh ingredients, a handful of nuts, a handful of olives, some seeds, maybe some sprouted grains and an avocado all mixed in there somewhere. And you may even throw a thick dressing on top! While this may taste great and be very filling, you massively limit yourself to how many different combinations you can come up with because everything is already in there! The best approach to salads is to have some great quality greens (lettuce, spinach, watercress, rocket/arugula etc.) and in ample supply, a couple of juicy ingredients like tomatoes, bell peppers or cucumber, something a bit more contrasting like carrot, fennel, grated beetroot, and one fat - be it through your dressing, an avocado mixed in, some olives, some nuts, some seeds or a pâté that you've come up with. When you keep salads simple in this way you come to appreciate the flavours and textures a lot more than you do when you throw the entire fridge contents into a bowl!
The other useful tip for getting out of the raw food rut is to challenge yourself to get really hungry. Sometimes our palate simply gets jaded, even when eating the healthiest or best foods. We may have slipped into eating by the clock, or just not waiting until we're truly hungry. When you're truly hungry you will eat just about anything! So fasting for half a day or more is a sure-fire way to get you to appreciate your food so much more than you may have been doing recently.
Although there is so much more detail I could go into to give you ideas for how to get out of any raw food rut, the above really does outline the keys to it, so give it a whirl and see where shaking things up and seeing where they fall takes you.
© 2012 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.