What You Need To Know About Raw VS Cooked Vegetables
Interested in a raw food diet but unsure about how to get started? Proponents of a raw food lifestyle eat only uncooked and unprocessed foods because it is believed that heating food destroys important nutrients and enzymes, some of which are crucial to fighting disease. There are many benefits of eating raw vegetables, and it has been shown to have healing effects on some chronic illnesses. For me, it helped heal my fibromyalgia symptoms after almost 20 years of pain and fatigue. Another benefit of eating raw vegetables is that this diet has kept me feeling energetic and healthy for years. And I’m never hungry either!
My transition to raw food happened literally overnight as I was desperate to make a drastic change with the hope of healing my fibromyalgia. For most people, transitioning to a raw lifestyle takes time since it can be difficult to cut out foods you’ve enjoyed for years cold turkey.
If you’re ready to make the shift for the benefits of eating raw vegetables, here are some tips to help in your transition:
1. Educate yourself. Take time to learn about raw VS cooked vegetables and foods and why they work. It can help to read about others who have had success with this type of diet. When you’re confident that you’re doing the best thing for your health and body, you will be more motivated to stick with it.
2. Have a well-stocked kitchen. Having lots of raw VS cooked vegetables at your disposal will make it easier to stick to your plan if you have more of the former. Here’s my list of foods that I always try to keep on hand, so I can easily and quickly make a raw meal:
- Fruits: Always have a variety of fresh and organic fruits in your kitchen. I like to freeze fruit, so when something is no longer in season, I can just reach into my freezer and add it to my smoothie. Take a look at this fantastic smoothie recipe for fibromyalgia! Lemons and limes are essential for adding great flavor to salads, dressings, and many dishes.
- Vegetables: My staples are celery, lettuce, green leafy vegetables, cucumbers, bell peppers, and zucchini.
- Nuts: There are so many to choose from cashews, walnuts, almonds, pecans, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, etc. Make sure they are raw, and store them in your refrigerator or freezer for up to six months.
- Seeds: A great source of minerals, seeds are a healthy addition to salads and trail mixes.
- Nut butter: These are great to have around when you want a quick snack: spread peanut or almond butter on celery or apples for a nutritious treat. You can put them into smoothies, dessert recipes, or even salad dressings.
- Dried fruit: My personal favorites are tomatoes, cranberries, raisins, mangoes, and figs. Make sure they are sun-dried and don’t contain any sulfur or chemicals. The only ingredient should be the fruit.
- Herbs/Spices: Fresh herbs make food come to life! I use mint, parsley, cilantro, rosemary, sage, thyme, green onion, and basil. I love adding spices to my dishes, too; not only do they add flavor, but they can help you avoid using too much salt. My main spice staples are ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, smoked paprika, chili chipotle powder, curry, onion powder, fajita seasoning, cayenne, garlic powder, and cardamom. Experiment and see what works for you.
- Sweeteners: I use dates, primarily, although occasionally I’ll use raw date sugar, coconut sugar, or maple syrup (maple syrup is not raw). Carob powder and cacao powder are wonderful ways to add a chocolate flavor. And raw shredded coconut works well in desserts or as a garnish. Vanilla bean is another excellent addition; it’s not a sweetener, but it can give a really nice taste to nut milk and desserts.
- Oils: Stock your kitchen with high-quality, cold-pressed olive oil, organic unrefined raw coconut oil, or avocado oil.
3. Keep your meals simple. Your meal can be as simple as a delicious smoothie or a large salad filled with fruit and vegetables. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Practical, easy-yet-delicious meals make for long-term success.
4. Start a collection. Check out raw recipe books and online websites. There are so many recipes out there, and you will eventually find ones that work for you. Some of my favorites are No-Bake Vanilla Coconut Doughnut Holes, Raw Vegan Coconut Curry Soup, and Rainbow Veggie Wraps.
5. Take it one meal and one day at a time. If you think about your raw diet in terms of the month or year ahead, you may feel so overwhelmed it paralyzes you. Instead, just go meal to meal, day by day, and one week at a time. As long as you are going in the right direction, it’s not about how fast you get there.
6. Avoid labels. There’s no need to get caught up in labeling yourself as a vegan, vegetarian, or raw foodie. It’s not about that. It’s about feeding and nourishing your body with the very best foods to reach and maintain the very best health. Just listen to your body and eat foods that you thrive on, not what fits into a diet category.
7. Don’t feel like it has to be all or nothing. It doesn’t have to be about being 100% raw. Even if you add a big, green leafy salad with every dinner and have fruit for breakfast, you will receive great benefits from that. Every little bit helps.
8. Be patient. If you “cheat” or slip up, don’t beat yourself up. There’s no need for guilt or criticism. Remember, you have the very next meal as a new opportunity to move forward.
I hope these tips will help in your raw food journey and that you discover an eating lifestyle that helps you feel healthy and strong.
Raw VS Cooked Vegetables Success Story: How Eating Raw Eased My Client’s Chronic Pain
A car accident in 2005 resulted in a Fibromyalgia diagnosis for my client Carmen. Prior to the accident, Carmen had lived a full and satisfying active life. But now she suffered from constant pain, brain fog, and debilitating headaches, and she was always tired. She spent thousands of dollars on various forms of treatments, none of which worked, and some even led to worsened symptoms.
After hearing that I had helped other people deal with their health conditions through diet, Carmen came to see me. After discussing her symptoms and struggles, she knew she would have to undergo a major lifestyle change, but she was willing to do it because she was desperate to return to an active, vibrant life. She wanted to feel normal. She wanted to feel like Carmen again.
After understanding the benefits of the raw food diet, Carmen agreed that a mostly raw food diet, supplemented with some cooked plant-based foods, was best for her. Amazingly, within a few days of following the plan, Carmen’s brain fog was gone! She began to feel more energy and less pain. Eventually, she lost over 20 pounds, something she was never able to do on any diet. Seeing how successful the diet was for Carmen, her husband, who suffered from severe heartburn, tried eating raw food for six months. He, too, was amazed at how much better he felt after just days — no more Tums needed.
Carmen has been eating mostly raw food for almost two years now. She is back to her busy life and able to do what she wants. She has expressed how grateful she is for my help and guidance and is happy she chose to trust in the power of food — it really did heal her, and her diet continues to do so every day. For amazing smoothie recipes for fibromyalgia, take a look at our Further Food recipes page!
A Raw Food Diet Helped My Client Lose Weight, Sleep Better, and Reduce Anxiety
Laura struggled with weight gain, insomnia, and anxiety for many years. Her long hours as a nurse made it hard to take care of herself properly. She often ended up eating junk food and microwaveable dinners in between shifts or when she got home after an exhausting day. When she came to see me, she told me she felt as if her health was completely out of control. Even though she knew she wanted to eat healthier and take charge of her life, she just didn’t know how to do it. She was tired, and the thought of making those changes — and being conscious about it on a daily basis — felt overwhelming.
I came up with a plan to help Laura achieve her health goals (lose weight, sleep better, feel better overall) slowly so it felt natural and comfortable for her. To start, I suggested she make a healthy, fruit-filled smoothie every morning for breakfast. Just this simple change to her eating habits helped Laura feel lighter and more energetic. And in just three months, she lost 15 pounds!
Laura was so pleased with the results that she wanted to do even more to improve her health. I eventually helped her transition to a raw food diet. Even though this was a big adjustment for her, allowing me to guide her along the way helped her stay focused and committed to her health goals. After two months of putting the raw food diet into practice, Laura lost another 10 pounds. Now, she not only feels good about her weight, but she also wakes up feeling rested and energetic. She told me she was also surprised at how much happier — and less anxious — she feels. Making these changes to her diet has led to a positive mindset and attitude — in fact, people often tell her that she’s glowing!
Take a look at our Further Food recipes page for amazing smoothie recipes for fibromyalgia and much more.