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.
24 thoughts on “Post Raw Food Diet”
I totally agree with Jonathan- I tried this “diet” myself and it really didn’t work for me. I was gaining weight instead of losing weight and I felt quite uncomfortable and lacking energy. I feel at my best on a diet with more variety in it and it’s really obvious that what works for one, doesn’t necessarily have to work for another person…
And I also think Celestine is right- whenever Dragos and I were invited at some party, I would almost always receive a phone call from the party organizers asking me what to prepare for my husband 😀 It can get annoying at times.
Not to mention the emotional ups and downs and the mood shifting- but I think Dragos forgot to write about these ones here…:)
.-= Noe´s last blog ..How To Have A Fantastic Holiday With Your Kids =-.
Hi Dragos, thanks for sharing your experience and observations. I have followed a wide range of dietary approaches over the years and can appreciate the unique aspects of them all. Each person has a highly individualized response to any given eating pattern, and this can change dramatically as time passes. I think the increased awareness of ones own response, along with the feasibility of sticking to a certain regime, provide the best guideline. I doesn’t matter how well it works for someone else, we need enough body and mind awareness to decide how well something works for us at any given time. You obviously have both.
.-= Jonathan – Advanced Life Skills´s last blog ..When Lightning Strikes =-.
Thanks a lot for sharing Dragos. After my 21 day raw trial, I slowly went back to cooked food too. The biggest barrier is really the availability of food. As you had pointed out, in outings/social gatherings/parties it becomes an issue. I’m not particularly concerned about the questioning, but rather that I was burdening / troubling my friends as they have to specially look out for my needs. It’s a pity because raw diet does have its benefits as you pointed out – weight loss, increased clarity, the feeling of purity of the body, etc. I’m planning to get back on it sometime in the future though (it’s on my bucket list!)
.-= Celes | The Personal Excellence Blog´s last blog ..Why I Wake Up Early (And 9 Reasons You Should Do So Too) =-.
Anyway, I think it’s great you kept it for 21 days. In my experience, the first 4-6 weeks are mainly detox related, so the main benefits are showing only after at least 6 weeks of raw food diet. But as you mentioned, it’s pretty difficult to stay with it longer.
A very interesting article. I’m not veggie, but I rarely eat meat – I don’t particularly like it, and it makes me feel sluggish. From my trips to Romania, avoiding meat there seems very hard work!
.-= Amanda´s last blog ..The origin of English surnames 2: patronymics or fatherâ€™s first name =-.
Yeap, you’re right: pretty difficult to avoid meat in Romania. Thanks for the comment 🙂
I love the article, as I am a vegetarian almost… I said almost, because of the allergies that forced to adjust my diet. With additives to food or non-organic vegetables it is hard to keep up with the dietary requirement…Only trying my best when buying food or eating out….Very good article and thought provoking too…Thank you!
Thanks for the nice words, Zuzanna, and I’m sorry about those allergies. My mom also had allergies and I know how it feels.
I do notice that eating more raw foods and fruits seems to cleanse the pallet. Even when I don’t use red pepper and I use it even on fruits, foods taste much better.
I have heard for weight loss it is better to go either fruit or vegetables but not to mix. I don’t know if I go along with that. Both are sources of fiber. Whether they work against each other I don’t know.
.-= BunnygotBlog´s last blog ..Eleanor Roosevelt: Speaking Volumes, Part 2 =-.
I love vegetables and have never considered myself a vegetarian because I do eat eggs and fish or white meats. The difference is I only eat fish or white meat 2-3 times a week.
I can make an entire meal of assorted raw greens and other vegetables add nuts and fruits. I make a vinaigrette and top it off with flax seed. The meat is a small portion. Usually the size of my fist.
Potatoes – occasionally steamed with carrots and spinach. I use a lot of vinegar and Turkish red pepper. I love hot spicy foods..Jalapenos peppers are a must in my daily diet.
Thumper and I both enjoy salads more. Food like pizza with meat toppings, hamburgers and fatty foods make us usually tired. You know the foods that leave a fatty ucky coating in your mouth – you have a hard time getting rid off.
I think if you at least continue a raw diet every couple of months you will benefit. Looking forward to hearing about it.
.-= BunnygotBlog´s last blog ..Eleanor Roosevelt: Speaking Volumes, Part 2 =-.
Thanks for the comment, yes, I know the feeling of a fatty ucky coating my mouth, lol, I liked that 🙂 Eating a lot of greens proved to be a real energy booster for me, especially in the second part of the diet. It’s usually easier to go on a raw food diet with fruits, because they’re sweet, but once you’re there, you don’t need them anymore and switch to greens.
Dragos, This really is a great article, I was totally fascinated throught the whole post. I have only recently started considering this as a way to feel healthier and lose weight (currently 92 kilos as well). I don’t know if I could hack it as I am not particularly adventurous with food and don’t like a lot of vegetables, but still looking into it. This calrified a few things for me as well.
.-= Steven Aitchison´s last blog ..Stop Wearing My Boxer Shorts =-.
Glad you found some food for thought here 😉 If you plan to start, there is an adaptation period, usually 4-6 weeks, but after that things are just perfect. As I said, I’m totally in for this type of diet, if everything around it could also be socially accepted.
Dragos, wonderful article. Many of your benefits from raw food probably came from enzymes. Cooking destroys the enzymes in food and those enzymes are critical. Anyone who eats cooked foods should take supplemental enzymes.
.-= Stephen – Rat Race Trap´s last blog ..Being Extraordinary =-.
Thanks for the comment, Stephen, yes, it’s about enzymes but I think there is a lot of stuff which is destroyed by cooking, not only enzymes. To be honest, one of the most healthy parts of this diet has the habit itself 😉
Geez, I missed this one and find it absolutely fascinating. And wonderfully honest.
Since age 24 I’ve been either a vegetarian, a vegan (mostly vegan w/ lost of raw food and some cooked), at one point in the jungle I was a total fruitarian, at one point a total raw food eater, and a couple of times for a very short period vegan with an occasional chicken thrown in. Are you laughing? I am!!! Oh my dear Dragos, I just re-read that and am sitting here laughing my face off. I wish you could hear me.
I totally hear you with all this. It can be challenging esp. when traveling. And it is truly astounding the social pressure to conform. We’d both be lying to say otherwise. I think the thing is to listen to our hearts and bodies and find what works for us personally in as MANY ways as possible, both physically and emotionally. I do not believe that there is any ONE way to health. That is like saying there is only ONE religion or spiritual path. Baloney! There are as many paths as there are people.
I really really admire you for telling this so honestly. It’s just feels so human and natural and without pretense. That is a healthy thing in itself. Good for you.
.-= Robin Easton´s last blog ..Turn Off the Bombardment =-.
Hey Robin, thanks for the comment and the nice words. Yes, I can laugh too 🙂 There is an entire part in the article I decided not to include, and it was about raw food evangelism. In that part I was saying that I am not an evangelist for raw food, nor do I intend to become one. I just realized that it’s ok to skip the part altogether. If I’m not an evangelist for that, well, leave it outside the article.
You’re right, there is no single way of being healthy. Keeping things too restrictive or out of sync with your life music could damage yourself more than eating meat.
I know some of the mentioned restrictions in the social life. I’m on a low carb lifestyle for almost 1y now and I still have to tell people that “i don’t eat bread” and every time I do they look like I said something really, really stupid. And often I need to listen to things like “but you have to eat potatoes or noodles”. *sigh* Maybe it’s easier here in Germany than in your country, but it’s still there. And only few people have the knowledge about nutrition to understand what I try to achieve…
You know, it doesn’t matter much to me, but after explaining it once or twice to the same people it really gets annoying. And I think I’m not really as restricted as you because on low carb I can always find something when we’re out to eat. Love me some salad or a good steak. 😉
But I’m not responsible for someone’s else eatings habit, so I think your situation is very different to mine. I certainly won’t quit my eating habits again, because I feel much better and the more I read about carbohydrates and health effects, the more I want to keep my current lifestyle. I think that’s something everyone has to decide for himself.
.-= Carsten´s last blog ..Aufgabe des Telefonanschlusses =-.
Thanks for the comment and good luck with your diet, just keep it on. Being raw foodist, at least here and now, it’s simply an alienating experience. But on a low carb you can do it so much better, I guess, at least from the social pressure.
I am still committed to get back to being raw foodist, because I know the diet in itself is great, I just need to change the overall circumstances. And I’m working on it :-).
I have a few question and perspectives that might help you.
#1 The total body weight is almost irrelevant. How did your % of body fat change ? I am asking because when it comes to being healthy and energetic that is the one that counts.
#2 In % of kcals, how much do you now eat more that when you have been on the raw diet ?
#3 You might try to start to simply eat food that is of far better quality then most people are used to. It might be at times almost as hard as going full raw-veg , some of that social backlash will get back to you but you might be surprised to see how that feels. I mention this because it is not really ok to compare “stiles” of food ( raw veg lactio veg omnivore ) that are generally not in the same quality range. I personally consider low quality raw vegetables “not fit for (self respecting) human consumption” and you probably agree with me on that. Yes, learning to eat high quality food if a project in itself. 😀
#4 Just to “test” my quality of food theory, how long did it take you to “recuperate” and regain balance after Bianca’s birthday “afterparty” 😀
Your comment regarding % of food fits into my “quality of food” theory too. For me, even a small amount of shitty food completely messes up at least half of my day and makes working very difficult.
As for the need of sleep, it might be linked with the % of body fat. I pretty much excloude that you weight gain is in muscle, so it mist be in fat. For me, when I “redesigned” my body from ~88km @ `22-24% fat to ~72kg @ ~13% fat I was able to reduce the sleep that I need from ~9h to ~6,5h a day. Interestingly, as soon as my body fat gets around 14% I “instantly” need more sleep.
Time to run.
Take care Dragos,
.-= Bogdan Belcea´s last blog ..BogdanBelcea: Come to think of it, it was the fist time I drank raw milk in a place that had things like a good internet connection, paved road, etc 😀 =-.
Don’t really know how my body fat changed, but after your comment I searched a little the internets and I think I know what I’m going to buy me for Christmas 🙂 A fat checker, of course. There are other methods, as you already knows, but seems like a body fat checker works best.
As for cals, I’m sure I’m eating less calories now than I was eating when I was raw, that’s for sure. I was getting easy up to 2000-2500 cals when I was raw.
Also, I do my best to eat better food than the average, and I’m sure you know that. I agree it makes a biiiig difference. One amendment though, from the 7 and a half months of this year, more than 1 month I was traveling so I really couldn’t do my best in getting the best food for me (as in a 25 hours trip on 3 planes, you don’t get too much to choose).
Lol, that afterparty was really nice, I think it took me 12 hours to recover. I already wrote in the first post about raw food diet that one of the reasons I chose this was the magical recovery after a hangover. Back when I used to really really party, after 8-9 beers per night it took me exactly 12 hours to fully recover. After 10-12 beers it took me exactly the same. 🙂
Thanks for being around, and I’ll keep you posted on that body fat checker device I’m planning to buy.
Thanks for the comment. Yes, I still want to eat raw and I will do my best to have as much raw food as possible, if possible. But from my experience is not the percentage of the cooked food, is the cooked food. When I was raw, if I was eating something cooked, it usually took several days to get balanced. If you started to eat at least 20% cooked is like you eat 80% cooked. Anyway, I’m sure I’ll do this again.
Very insightful article on the social stresses of eating raw. I am sorry it didn’t work out for you as it seems that you really achieved some great health benefits. Have you ever considered trying a percentage? I often will be 100% raw at home but will eat some cooked food when out…social situations.
Best of luck,
.-= Susan´s last blog ..Avocado Mango Broccoli Salad =-.