Many people who want to lose weight, improve their health and have more energy are turning to a raw food diet these days. There is so much information out there that it can be difficult to decide where to begin. Transitioning to a raw food lifestyle slowly will help to make the process easier and the change long term. How slowly you transition will depend largely on how you have been eating prior. If you are coming directly from a standard American diet you are going to want to go slower than someone who has previously been vegan or even vegetarian.
Don’t underestimate the mental aspect of making such a radical lifestyle change. Especially when that change involves taking away a major portion of the food you have eaten all your life. As a good friend pointed out to me the other day, we have been programmed into thinking that our bodies need the meat, dairy, breads, sweets and grains. Somewhere deep down psychologically there is a fear, a little voice telling us we are going to starve to death eating like this. And this can be reinforced when people around you are telling you how skinny you are getting and in the beginning maybe pale and sallow. What they don’t know, and maybe your inner self doesn’t know, is that when you get the heavy detox out of the way the weight you are carrying is going to be healthy, and your skin and appearance in general is going to be much brighter.
Transition at your Own Pace
The transition process will go a long way towards determining long term success for your new raw food lifestyle. That is why it is going to be so important for you to determine what works best for you and to go at your own speed in making the transition. The reason being is that there is going to be detox as you change your way of eating. And depending on how toxic your body is going in, some of the detox might be rather unpleasant. Changing your diet radically breaks up and releases the toxins you have stored in your body and these toxins can cause such symptoms as headaches, irritability, fatigue, skin issues and trouble sleeping, among others. Going slower with your transition process can help with this as not as many toxins are being broken up and released at one time in the body.
I transitioned to raw food not knowing that I was transitioning. Back in January of 2012 I decided I needed to lose some weight, but more than that I needed to start taking care of my health after a lifetime of heavy drinking and a recent period of very bad eating habits. I wasn’t thinking about a raw food diet at this time but my process found me eating a lot of fresh fruits, vegetables and smoothies. You might want to refer to an earlier article I wrote Raw Until Dinner. This is basically what I was doing. I would eat as much fruit as I wanted for breakfast, usually have a smoothie or salad for lunch and then would cook vegetables in olive oil or have another big salad for dinner. At that time I was still eating meat and maybe 3 times a week would have fish or chicken with rice and beans. Five months later when I learned about raw living foods I went high raw vegan immediately. It was easy because I had already prepared myself without knowing.
You will read a lot of advice on what to eat but the most important thing is actually what you are leaving out of your diet. The first thing I would recommend doing would be to eliminate processed foods. It might be difficult depending on where you are and your situation but I try to avoid anything in a package as much as possible. Do the best you can in your particular situation. Get rid of the refined salt and sugar for sure. Use honey and fresh fruits to help break your addiction to processed sugar. If you did nothing but take processed foods out of your diet you would be taking a huge step! But let’s not stop there.
The next step is to work on eliminating meat and dairy. In my opinion it is an even higher priority to get the dairy out of your diet than the meat. The dairy is very mucous forming and is not the necessary food staple that “experts” have made it out to be. Once again, how quickly or how slowly you eliminate meat and dairy will be up to individual circumstances. With the dairy, there are so many alternatives that this one shouldn’t be too painful. Try fresh almond milk as a substitute for the moo variety. If you can’t make or buy fresh almond milk, the packaged kind in most supermarkets is still a better choice than the dairy. You can make or buy great cheese substitutes made out of nuts and bananas make a yummy “ice cream”.
If you have been a heavy meat eater or feel like you might have a hard time letting it go, do it in stages. For instance you might cut the pork and beef first and continue to eat chicken and fish. Try to limit even this to several small portions a week. Eventually you can cut out the chicken and when ready to go all the way stop eating fish. Don’t let me discourage you if you think you are ready to cut all meat out at once. Just remember that the most important thing is to make a plan that will work for you.
Once these biggies have been eliminated then you can work on removing more of the cooked food, especially the grains. The grains require processing for them to be edible, which pretty much means cooking them. I recommend not trying to go high raw too soon as some steamed veggies; even potatoes will be very helpful in the transition stage. If you are transitioning to high raw the cooked vegetables will be the last to go and many will still include steamed in their diet from time to time.
A Few Tips
First and foremost, don’t put too much pressure on yourself or try to compete with anyone else when transitioning to a raw food lifestyle. You have to go at a pace that is comfortable for you if you want this to be a long term change. Allow yourself to eat as much as you want of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially in the beginning. You will be less likely to get discouraged and return to former eating habits if you don’t allow yourself to be hungry. One of the biggest mistakes made when switching from a standard American diet to a raw food lifestyle is not eating enough. And when we don’t eat enough and get overly hungry, the tendency is to revert back to old habits and food that is less than nutritious for us.
Educate yourself as you embark on this raw healthy journey. The more you know about how particular foods affect your body the less likely you will be to feed it bad stuff. There are numerous blogs and multiple YouTube videos that will help you to educate yourself on the raw food lifestyle. And whenever possible surround yourself with others that share in and support your lifestyle.
And when you fall short or eat something that you shouldn’t, don’t beat yourself up. That won’t help anything. Just learn from it, move on and try to do better. This is a process and most likely you are not going to go raw over night. To wrap things up it should probably go without saying that as you are embracing this new lifestyle you are also going to want to eliminate drugs, alcohol, nicotine and caffeine for your body to be at its best. If any of these things is a problem you might think about eliminating them before changing your diet so as not to have to deal with eliminating multiple bad habits at once. Enjoy the journey. Your body is going to love you for it.