As some of my readers already know I was on a raw food diet for 9 months. I wrote “I was” because in the last 3 months I decided to quit this diet. In today’s post I’ll explain the reasons behind this decision as well as some of the most important consequences of this change.
The main reason behind this decision was social interaction, which was dramatically affected by this diet. When you eat raw, prepare yourself for a serious wave of rejection. And this rejection will come from various sources: close friends, random acquaintances or even close family. This rejection will also come in various forms, from aggressive attitudes to feelings of inadequacy.
For instance, every time we ate out, the waiter put the steak in front of me and the 3 salads I ordered in front of my wife. Every time I had to tell him is the other way around. At parties or other social gatherings I had to explain all the time that I am different. When the gathering was a little bit casual and the hosts knew us, they were doing their best to prepare in advance some raw food for me. I was the only one eating raw, of course. And instead of feeling nice because they were prepared to meet my food demands, I always felt isolated. No matter how many explanations I gave, they were still looking at me like I was a nutcase or something.
I have to tell you that in Romania, the country where I still live, being vegetarian is extremely rare. Meat is natural here. Even those who are eating white meat are considered “weak”. If vegetarianism was so strange, imagine then how a raw foodist was perceived.
But it was not only the outside world who was rejecting me because of that, it was also my close family. Diana, my wife, was not very happy when I started this. She is omnivorous and I have nothing against it. Even if she was not happy with my diet change, she accepted it like any other crazy experiment I did. But after a couple of months, when she realized I’m not going to stop, she really freaked out. I still don’t know why, but she did. At some point, she tried switching to raw but couldn’t keep it for more than 2 weeks.
The bottom line is that modifying your eating habit in such a drastic way will heavily impact your social life. At all levels. The benefits of the raw food diet were enough for a while, it was a fair balance, but after more than 6 months things started to get out of control.
I hit the first wall during my trip to Japan, a couple of months ago. It’s simply impossible to keep a raw food diet while in Japan. Not only because everything is so expensive (Tokyo being the most expensive city I ever been in) but because the food offer has almost nothing completely raw, everything is cooked. So, while I was traveling to Japan I had to make the first compromise.
After I got back, I also had to make some compromise because of the social life which was getting a little bit crazy. In less than a month, I was half raw and half cooked. And after 3 months, here I am, a lacto-ovo-vegetarian, as I was one year ago.
There are positive and negative consequences of switching back from the raw food diet. I will outline them one at a time below, but before that, I will try to depict the main difference between those two lifestyles (because being raw is more of a lifestyle than a diet).
When I was raw, I felt like I was a train functioning on electricity. The energy was pure and I had a lot of instant energy. After I’m back to vegetarianism I feel like a train functioning on coal. The energy is not so pure, but it’s constant. The electricity train makes almost no garbage, the coal train makes a lot of garbage (and I’m talking at all levels: mental, spiritual and physical). The electricity train was somehow pure, but out of sync, an alien in the world of coal trains. The coal train is not so pure anymore, but seems to be accepted by many more.
It certainly seems that I’m enjoying a much smoother social life. Everywhere I go, I can pass disguised as a normal person. I can eat some eggs, a salad, pasta, even pizza. I’m normal. The freak is gone.
Another positive consequence is that I’m not feeling restricted anymore. During the adaptation period from cooked to raw vegan I experienced a lot of cravings, and somehow this attitude of restriction was extended at other levels. I had this constant feeling of restriction, which is now gone (let aside the social restrictions I had to face). Eating some cooked food made me a little more comfortable with myself and with the whole world.
I also enjoy a little bit of a normal family life. And since we’re here, one thing I really want to mention is how Bianca, our 3 year old, dealt with this. First of all, when eating raw food you’re going to naturally eat far more less than a person who’s eating cooked food. I don’t have a scientific explanation for that, although I could imagine a few right now, but it was just a fact. When I was doing my research on raw food diet I thought it was something related to fasting, but it wasn’t. You simply eat a lot less than on a normal cooked diet. But the downside of this was that Bianca started to eat less too. She was imitating me. At this age they’re so flexible. She didn’t actually said anything but we did some tests and it was clear that she was imitating my eating behavior. Well, while I’m free to do whatever experiments I want with my life, I don’t feel entitled to do the same with my daughter’s life. So, I switched back to cooked and that instantly changed her eating habits too. Now she’s eating what a normal 3 year old will do. Smoother family life, like I told you.
Another positive consequence is that I created some perspective. I was able to close a chapter and identify all the lessons. And it was quite a lot of learning involved:
I learned tremendously about habit creation. When you keep a habit for more than 9 months you learn a lot. I already wrote about that in a post called How To Create A Habit in 15 Days and I will probably write more on this topic. There is so much to be analyzed and shared in this area, from the initial phases of a habit, the relapse, the get back or the long term shot.
I don’t know if I would have the chance to learn so much about how my body is functioning if it wasn’t this 9 months raw food diet period in my life. I’m not a biologist, not do I claim to be one, but I was able to observe my body reactions and overall functioning and got some fantastic conclusions. Not only weight loss (I even made a chart with that) but sleeping patterns, intellectual and physical endurance and so on. It was really enlightening.
Another fantastic lessons was about setting and crossing limits. I realized I had a lot of limiting beliefs and this period of my life served me really well. I learned that everything you want it can be achieved. Everything. I don’t really think there’s something I couldn’t do right now. Really.
Another lesson was on purity. During my raw food diet I realized we’re having a very deep, fragile and pure layer. We’re not always able to reach to it, but somehow this way of eating made it easier for me to be there for a while. I’m sure there are other ways to get there, like meditation or other methods, I’m just saying that I was able to peek a little bit there and I was charmed by what I saw and felt.
One of the most annoying consequences of getting back to cooked food was my weight. I am actually back when I was one year ago: 92-93 kilos. I gained those extra kilos during the last 3 months, only by eating cooked food. But there is something that makes me feel a little bit better about that: although I have the same number of kilos as I had one year ago I feel much better and healthy than one year ago. I guess the effects of the raw food diet will last several years. And since I’m feeling much better than before, there is also some planning for an extended exercising experiment, but will see about that.
Another negative consequence is that I lost all that clarity I had during raw food diet. I’m not confused, but it seems like some things are slowly fading out of my sight. It’s like I’m losing some parts of the picture. There is also this feeling of less color and contrast. I think I have to live with it now.
Ant yet another negative consequence is that I need slightly more sleep and food than before. It’s manageable but it’s a fact, I sleep at least 2 hours more and I eat almost double than what I used to when I was raw. Another thing I have to get used to, I suppose.
Keeping this raw food diet was one of the best things I’ve done so far in my entire life. I learned tremendously. I’m sure I will do raw food sessions again for 3-4 months each. In my experience this is the interval in which you attract most of the benefits of this type of diet.
If we all lived in a raw food world, I think it was normal to get on with that. But we don’t.