A few of you, who followed the Raw Food Diet Experiment, have asked me questions on how to start becoming raw foodists. Although I am no longer on the 100% raw foodist path (I’m currently at 70-80% raw foods), I have walked it and I have a few suggestions in mind. Rather then respond to each e-mail individually, I’ve decided to write an article for those of you who are eager to start the journey. Although there are numerous ways to become raw foodists, I found these ten to be the most helpful. Enjoy!
1. Do Your Research
Before you start the Raw Food Diet, you should do some research. This can easily be done on the internet. It contains tons of free info, including this blog which has over 30 articles devoted to the raw food diet. The internet also contains a plethora of other articles, e-books, and forums devoted specifically to eating raw. You can also use the internet to research calories of foods and read reviews of appliances, such as blenders, dehydrators, and juicers.
Another idea is to check out your local bookstore. I visited my local Barnes & Noble and found 20 books specifically devoted to the raw food diet. There were also other books with slight variations of the diet, with some encouraging 80% raw foods.
Aside from the internet and bookstores, the truly devoted can seek the help of raw food coaches (yes, they’re real). I went to see David Wolfe speak when I was undergoing my 30 Days of pure raw. Even though his speech was on superfoods, it still gave me tons of great ideas. Shorty after seeing him speak, I started incorporating various superfoods into my diet. The superfoods helped me attain even greater consciousness and health.
When I went on raw foods in December, I didn’t really prepare myself well in terms of research. I wanted immediate benefits and didn’t want to invest the time needed to do the research. I decided I could just try not eating anything cooked and go from there. I was not very well prepared during the December trial and even though I made it through 12 days, I would have been better off if I had done more research. More research would have meant more knowledge, which I could have leveraged to aid me in resisting the temptation to quit after 12 days.
After you’ve decided to open yourself up to trying the raw food diet, the resources will starting popping up all around you. In order for that to happen, you have to start taking a step in the raw foods diet direction. Just be prepared for the wealth of information that starts coming your way.
2. Seek Support
If you have decided to go raw, then you will likely appreciate some help and guidance along the way. There should be some raw food groups in your area. I have been recommending meetup.com as a place to find the locals closest to you. The meet ups are once a month and some groups meet about twice a month. The great thing about it is that even if you can’t find any groups close to you, you can use the zip code locator to find a group within 100 miles of your location. The dates for the meet-ups are posted about a month in advance, so you have plenty of time to plan your trip.
If you are seriously committed to you health, you can’t say you won’t drive 100 miles about once a month. Gas is under two dollars a gallon, so there really is no excuse other than not wanting to. If a group is not within 100 miles of you (this is really rare), then you can still join the groups by using the zip code of a large city that’s within 200 miles of where you live.
The benefits of joining such a group are tremendous and your learning curve will be reduced dramatically just from attending a couple of meetings. You don’t even have to attend every meeting to be a member. I’ve joined a couple of groups, none of which kicked me out because I missed a meeting. If you can’t attend the meetings, you can scour the message boards. I found tons of gold nuggets posted on them. Recipes, recommendations, and advice are all there waiting and ready for you!
Another idea is to private message some of the members of those groups. By reaching out to them, you can make friends that can meet-up with you outside of normal meeting times. Chances are some of those folks live within a reasonable distance from you. You can tell them you are a newbie. Personally I love being asked for advice on things I’m proficient in. I’ll gladly dole out a sermon to whomever is willing to listen. It’s highly probable that there are some members in those groups just like me. They’re just waiting for some courageous soul to ask them for advice.
3. Rid Yourself of Temptation
If you have TV dinners, frozen pizzas, processed food, etc. in your fridge and pantry, it’s a good idea to go through and cut down on it or eliminate it completely. You don’t want tempting food staring at you, telling you to eat it. So go to your fridge and clean it out.
I have seen a health coach on TV go into a client’s home to throw out all the “bad” food. He showed up with a black garbage bag and start loading it up with food from his client’s fridge. You don’t have to be that extreme, but do try to either give the food away to a neighbor, donate it to a soup kitchen, or have one big last cooked food party for you and your closest friends. Whatever you do, don’t leave it there thinking you have the willpower to resist it because you’re making things way harder on yourself.
4. Limit Your TV Time
If you are not limiting the time you spend in front of the TV during this diet, then you’re really tempting fate. You may think the TV is your friend, but in reality it will become your arch nemesis. While on this diet, it will constantly bombard and attack you with commercials advertising delicious freshly cooked foods. It knows your weak spots and will make the advertised food so appealing you’ll soon start biting chunks out of your leather couch…mmmmm, chewy!
The amount of commercials advertising food on TV, especially in the evenings, is ridiculous. It looks so tasty, but I want you to know that most of that food is created using special effects. That’s right, advertisers use smoke, lighting, calcium chips, and chemicals to produce that tasty looking food. Just think about it, has the food you’ve ordered from you local fast food restaurant ever looked that good? Most likely not. Instead of becoming TV’s lackey, become its boss. Have it serve your favorite shows and then turn it off.
5. Avoid Restaurants/Barbecues
This should go without saying, but do NOT go out to eat at traditional cooked food restaurants. I say this because if you are a social person, you will no doubt be invited out to eat or to a barbecue at some time during your raw food diet transition. I would advise you to avoid the traditional restaurants and any barbecues.
If there are raw food restaurants in your area, I encourage you to go in and try some of their foods, but don’t go into a steakhouse and ask what they have for a “raw foodist.” Everyone there will look at you funny and then show you the door. The same goes for barbecues.
If you are trying to make the switch to raw foods, the last place you want to be is at a barbecue. The cravings for cooked food will be unbearable. Pair that up with the scents of barbecued meat constantly bombarding your nose and it will be enough to send you into a relapse.
If the scents don’t get you, your friends surely will. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure your friends have your best interests at heart, but just seeing them eat cooked food will turn you into one of Pavlov’s dogs. Having been there, I know how hard it is to resist the temptation to eat what your friends are eating.
6. Transition Slowly
You don’t have to do it cold turkey. If you can go straight in, then by all means do. Just remember, there are many ways to get to the same destination. On my December ’08 trial it was ALL raw foods for 12 straight days. After that I cut out about 50% of the cooked food I was eating and increased my raw food consumption by 50%. I didn’t go back to ALL raw foods until April ’09. That might be a little extreme, but you can start out slowly and work up to 100%.
You can first start out by cutting red meat and pork from your menu. You would do this gradually by eating less and less of it throughout the month. For example, if you eat red meat and pork every day, you would start by cutting it back to only 5 days a week the first week. Then cutting it down to only 3 days a week the second week. You would only eat it 2 days the third week. Eat it 1 day the fourth week. Then you would give up red meat and pork after that.
After a month of being red meat and pork free you work on cutting out the chicken. Then you can start eating a diet consisting of 20% raw foods. Then a month after you’ve cut out chicken and are consuming a 20% raw food diet, you can cut out the dairy and increase your raw food consumption to 30%. The month after that, you can cut out the seafood and increase raw food consumption to 40%. Then you can stop eating eggs, butter, and any other animal product and increase your raw food consumption to 50%.
Or you can take the step down approach and go vegetarian. Then shift to vegan. Then to raw foods. These are just some ideas to get your mind thinking in that direction. If you have better ideas or need more time to transition, give yourself the time to implement your plan. Just hold yourself accountable. Don’t set a deadline of 2 years and then just drop it altogether after 1 month. Stay with it. I know you can do it!
Whatever you decided to do, realize that each of those stages will take time. I think the stages are important because as I’ve posted, when I went off the raw food diet I had cravings for really unhealthy foods and I ate some of them. I couldn’t stop myself because I had jumped straight into the raw diet without fully completing the preceding stages. A practical thing to do is just to start having fruit for breakfast. Instead of having coffee or cereal and milk, just grab some fruit. I don’t just mean eating one fruit, I mean really getting in there and eating a few fresh pieces of fruit for breakfast. You’ll soon see the clean energy this gives you. Do this for 3 weeks and you’ll never go back to coffee or milk.
7. Use Raw Food Recipes
Some raw foodists have made the switch from a standard American diet to a raw food diet by using raw food recipes. During the transition, they substituted their favorite cooked foods with similar tasting raw foods. You can follow that same path on your journey.
Have a favorite lasagna dish you just can’t do without? Chances are that there is a raw food lasagna recipe on the net to help you during your transition. Don’t think that because you are eating healthier, you have to sacrifice your favorite foods. I have tried some recipes on my own and in a majority of the cases I ended up liking the raw food recipe more than the traditional dish.
8. Buy a High-Powered Blender
The blender is a great tool for a raw foodist. It helps pulverize anything that’s not easily chewable. It dices fibrous plants into little pieces so you can better digest them. Even more beneficial is the blender’s ability to blend the foods you don’t like with the foods you love. This gives you the ability to get the nutrients from the foods you find unappealing without having to experience their unpleasant taste. I would have never made it through the 30 days without being able to combine greens with bananas and other tasty sweet fruits.
If you are on a budget, much like myself, you might not be able to invest in a Vita-Mix or a Blend-Tech Blender right away. Even though they are the Ferrari of blenders, you can get by on something from Hamilton Beach. For my 30-Day Raw Food Diet I used a Hamilton Beach blender and it worked just fine. It didn’t puree the vegetable as well as a Vita-Mix or a Blendtech, but it still did a great job for the price. Even though the Hamilton Beach blenders are affordable, I would not buy a blender below $60 as those tend to burn out when you try to puree fibrous plants. This lesson cost me $34, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.
9. Make Produce Your Priority
When going shopping at the supermarket, you’ll need to head to the produce section of the store first. This will instill a habit in you that says, “Eating fresh fruits and vegetable is my main priority.” If you are not ready to fully transition to raw foods, that’s all right. By buying the fresh produce first, you’ll still be programming a good habit into your subconscious for when you are ready to go 100% raw. As a bonus, you’ll also guarantee that the money is being invested in your health, not in various nutritionally devoid junk foods.
10. Keep a Journal
Tracking your progress on paper will be a great help in your transition to raw foods. By writing things down you’ll keep them in your consciousness. Doing this will remind you that you have made a commitment to yourself and to your health. By tracking your progress, you’ll keep yourself motivated.
In your journal, you don’t have to keep track of every food gram you eat. Just jot down a few sentences about the food and how you felt after eating it. Try to stay positive, but if you encounter problems jot those down. You never know when your journal will act as a guide for someone else.
It’s also a good idea to write yourself a letter of resolution (on the first page of your journal) so that when you are tempted you can come back to it for support. By reading your resolution, you’ll remind yourself about how excited you were about losing weight or gaining more energy, which will keep you motivated to stay on the diet.The resolution is an added safeguard in case you want to break down and go back to eating cooked food. It will help you get through the tough times and also the periods of temptation.
If the 10 Ways to Become a Raw Foodist aren’t enough, you can also contact me free of charge. I’m not an expert, but I have navigated the rough seas of cravings and temptation. I will be glad to help you out with advice, stories, and resources. I want to help reduce our dependence on cooked food, especially meat, so I will do my best to help you in any way I can. It could be a simple e-mail, but if you are lucky you might catch me in my office while I’m generating more content for the site. If for some reason I’m not in my office, shoot me an e-mail and I’ll do my best to respond, especially since the site is still in its baby stage.