The raw food diet is a way of life for some people. Instead of cooking their food, people who follow a raw diet consume more than three quarters of their food raw. There are a number of good reasons why one may follow a raw food diet, but there are also some downsides to this manner of eating.
What Is a Raw Diet?
At its core, a raw diet is exactly what it sounds like. The majority of a person’s diet is uncooked food. Fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes make up the bulk of this sort of diet. Many followers of the raw diet are vegetarian (people who will not eat meat, but will eat eggs and dairy) and vegans (people who eat no animal products at all, including cheese, eggs and honey). A raw diet can contain raw meat and fish, such as sushi and sashimi.
Following a raw diet does not force you to live off handfuls of raw fruit. There are some preparation methods available that allow for variety and add interest to this diet. For example, dehumidifiers that do not go above 115°F can create dried food that is still considered raw. Beans and grains can be soaked and sprouted. Juices and blended food is also popular on this diet.
Why Begin a Raw Food Diet?
The idea behind this diet is that heating breaks down useful enzymes in a food. These enzymes are an important part of the digestive process, helping to break down food so that the optimal amount of nutrients is released. Raw foodists believe that cooked foods take longer for our bodies to digest and can cause clogged arteries and sluggish digestive systems.
Although preserving enzymes is an important part of a raw food diet, it is not the reason most people switch to eating raw. Instead, the main draw is the weight loss that tends to come with this diet. Raw foodists report that switching to a raw diet results in a large drop in weight without any subsequent gain.
The reason for this weight loss potential comes from the types of foods that are consumed when following a raw diet. Calorie-dense foods like baked goods, sodas and fast food have all been heated, rendering them non-permissible. Instead, dieters are left with a selection of low calorie fruits and vegetables. A raw diet is naturally low calorie, resulting in significant weight loss.
This is not the only potential perk of a raw diet. Numerous other benefits have been reported, including an increase in energy, better digestion, and healthier skin. Because the raw food diet is plant based, it also lowers the risk of developing heart problems and cardiovascular disease.
Is the Raw Food Diet for Everyone?
While raw food supporters list a number of benefits from following this diet, it is definitely not for everyone. Following this diet does mean that you will not be biting into a juicy steak any time soon, and there are other downsides to take into consideration as well before deciding if it is a diet for you.
The main downside of the raw diet is the time and effort required to follow it successfully. It takes time and brainpower to organize meals that do not require cooking. You will also have to stay away from processed and pre-made food, leaving you responsible for preparing everything that goes in your mouth.
Another downside of the raw diet is the willpower it requires to stick with it. Going to a family gathering or a restaurant can be difficult, especially if there are no raw menu items available. Do you get a dry salad and nothing else? Do you sneak into a bathroom with a Tupperware container? You need an endless supply of internal motivation to successfully implement this diet.
Finally, the foods available to you can be a downside in themselves. There are many foods that can be toxic when consumed raw. These include buckwheat, kidney beans, eggs and parsnips. You may also find yourself suffering from irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive problems when starting out.
The raw diet has a number of pros and cons. If you feel that the health benefits are worth the effort to give raw eating a try, this diet may be right for you. However, it is not the only path to a healthy lifestyle.