Friday, April 24, 2009

The Raw Food Diet

The raw food diet has become very popular as many people seek to eat in a more natural, healthy way. Some people follow it in order to lose weight but many people of normal weight also switch to eating raw food for health reasons. Some consider cooked food to be unnatural.

What Is Involved?

There are many forms of raw food diet. The following are a few examples:

Raw Vegan

Any raw food except animal products. Calories come mainly from fat (nuts, avocados) and fruit.

Raw Vegan - Fruit Based

Low fat version of the raw vegan diet, often described as 80/10/10 after Doug Graham who proposed that the raw vegan diet should consist of 80% of calories from fruit, 10% from protein and 10% from fat.

Raw Vegetarian

No meat or fish, but includes raw (unpasteurized) milk, cheese, eggs etc.

Primitive Raw

Includes raw meat and fish, but with strict rules about what meat is eaten, for safety reasons. May not eat soaked and sprouted grains or legumes, if following a paleolithic style diet.

What Foods Are Not Raw?

Many people are confused about the difference between foods that are eaten cold, and raw foods. The following foods are NOT raw:

- bread and any other food that has been cooked before you bought it.

- any food that has been pasteurized (including all dairy products unless marked raw or unpasteurized, all fruit juices unless freshly squeezed from the fruit, almonds from California).

- nuts that have been heated to extract them from the shell even if marked raw (macadamia, brazil, cashew). Nuts in shells are usually raw, as are out-of-shell unroasted filberts (hazelnuts), peanuts, pine seeds and non-Californian almonds.

- sugar, molasses, maple syrup, most commercial brands of honey.

- oils unless marked extra virgin.

- nut butters and tahini except from a specialist raw food supplier.

- almost all canned and processed foods.

Dried foods are raw only if they are dried at temperatures below 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius).

Some raw foodists eat foods that have been frozen, if safe. Others do not on the grounds that freezing breaks down the food in much the same way as cooking. Defrosted frozen fruit usually looks and tastes more like cooked than raw fruit.

Why Does It Work?

In most cases, the result of switching to raw food will be a reduced calorie intake, leading to weight loss.

Most forms of the raw food diet are very high in fiber so you will feel full with fewer calories. This is not necessarily true if you include a lot of high fat raw foods in your diet (nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut). If you go raw and are not losing, try reducing your consumption to 50g (2oz) of nuts/seeds or 1/2 avocado per day.

The raw food community argues that cooked food is unnatural and harder for the body to handle, causing weight gain and disease. Whether you will lose more weight eating raw food than you would if you ate the same food cooked, is not known.

Any Negatives?

Plenty! Nevertheless, people attribute some amazing health benefits to this diet.

A 100% raw food diet is notoriously difficult to follow on social occasions. In a restaurant you can usually ask for salad and fruit, but when visiting friends and family you may have to take your own food.

Nutritional requirements can be difficult to meet. You need to eat a lot of raw green vegetables, which some people find unpalatable. However, they can be blended with fruit to make green smoothies.

The vegan diet (cooked or raw) requires supplementation of vitamin B12. Vegan diets may not be suitable for small children.

Some versions of the diet are very high in fat. This can be a negative factor depending on your medical history.

A high fruit diet may be bad for people with diabetes and candida overgrowth. A combination of high fruit and high fat is definitely to be avoided if you suffer from either one of these conditions. Whatever your medical history, take medical advice before embarking on the raw food diet.

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How to Lose Weight Quickly and Easily with the Raw Food Diet

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