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. Eating a raw food diet 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. Eating mostly raw foods 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, here are some tips to help in your transition:
1. Educate yourself. Take time to learn about raw 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 foods at your disposal will make it easier to stick to your plan. 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. 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 butters: 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 it 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 milks 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 complicated. Practical, easy yet delicious meals make for long-term success.
4. Start a collection. Check out raw recipe books and online web sites. 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 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.
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Note: PLEASE consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or medications. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.