I first started to eat raw food back in 2005. I kept the habit for more than 6 months and then, after several weeks of recession, in which I ate everything including meat, I become a lacto-ovo-vegetarian. That vegetarianism was based on cooked food, which was more than 80% of my regular meals, and the rest was raw fruits and salads. I wasn’t a vegetarian before and I never thought I could become one. To be honest, I haven’t paid too much attention to my food habits in the past, and the fact that I started to eat raw directly, without going through a intermediary vegetarian period, has to do more with my friends than with my own decisions. At that time I started to be more interested in the occult and astrology. Ok, take the “occult” term very vaguely, and define it like something outside our normal cartesian system of thinking, do not imagine that I tried black magic or some other sort of underground manipulating things. The main part of this occult interest was about astrology and although I was an interested reader about astrology facts in the past, I never crossed the line towards a more systemic approach. But during that time I felt that my regular interpretation of reality and myself is somehow limited and maybe there are new ways of understanding what happens with me and with the world. There was a very intense feeling of the “beyond here and now” state, and that pushed me to seriously study astrology. Â
But that was not the only thing I’ve done. I also started to read other spiritual authors, like Carlos Castaneda, don Miguel Ruiz, Osho and a plethora of motivational writers, like Og Mandino, for instance. It was an inner burst towards change and a more congruent approach to the way I lived my life. No wonder that during that period I started the relationship that eventually become my current marriage. I plan to write extensively on the spiritual, astrological and personal development topics, so I will stop here these ramblings, which only served as a context for the main topic of this post, which is raw food.
So, why raw food? What’s wrong with the cooked food? What are the ups and downs of being a raw foodist?
The first and most visible benefit I felt after being a raw foodist was my weight, which almost magically decreased to the level where it was 15 years ago, when I was 20. I am 1,82 meter high and in 2005 my weight was about 95 kilos. Quite overweighted, if you ask me. After several months of raw food I measured again and I was 85 kilos. Almost perfect, if you guide after the saying that you have to weight the exact number of centimeters above 1 meter. This was the most noticeable effect.
But for me the most important benefits were those not se easy to spot, and I’ll try to outline them in a few words. First of all, there was this incredible feeling of clarity and focus. It was a mental state in which I could stay for hours without a single gap in focus. I could read, watch movies or write code for hours without a single minute pause. My body felt lighter, and my mind experienced almost the same thing. It was like the dirt of a window was cleaned and the whole picture was all of a sudden incredibly clearer than before. I didn’t know exactly who was responsible for this state of mind at that time, but after several years of going out and in into raw food habits I can tell you that this was coming from the diet. Of course, you can achieve more focus and longer periods of attention by training only your brain for that, like using NLP or transactional analysis, but I guess in the absence of a more natural diet the overall feeling won’t be the same. Raw food made it so much more enjoyable for me.
Another benefit was the ability to party more. Yes, I know it sounds strange, but at that time I had an immense urge for more social interaction and that came mainly from friendly evening gatherings in which we drank a lot of beer. I remember very clearly that I even measured the duration of a hangover and it was exactly 12 hours. After exactly 12 hours after the end of the party I felt again as a new born, regardless of how much I drank or the duration of the party. My body was completely cleaned on the inside and ready to start again. It was so exact that even become scary for me and stopped paying attention to it. Looking back in time I realize though that all those parties were just a form of intense communication and information exchange. It wasn’t anything involving addiction, boredom – which is always associated with parties, as an incentive for them – or lubricity. It was just an expression of enthusiasm and joy of life. I always remember that period with a lot of positive emotion and enthusiasm.
All in all, my whole body seemed to enjoy a lot more efficient metabolism. I started to sleep only 5-6 hours per night without felling tired during the day. I could walk for hours without feeling drained. And I can also tell you that my overall sexual performance was clearly better than any other period in my life. But, as I already told you, I always saw the main benefit of a raw food diet in the mental burst.Â
Eating raw is not easy. It depends on a lot of factors, from your gastronomical education, to the cultural and social habits of your current community. Eating raw in Romania, a country with almost any traditional meal based on meat, it was definitely something highly unusual. I will talk more about that below, but for now, let’s take a look at the side-effects.
First of all, there is a detox period and you must be aware of that. Even if you’re a vegetarian for years, when starting to eat raw you will experience major changes in your metabolism. Your body will try to adapt to a new way of incorporating energy and that will come with some attached costs. You will feel often tired or with a low level of energy. It’s not because of the raw food diet, it’s because of your own body, which has a memory of itself and it’s trying to remain attached to a pattern that it already knows. After several switches between cooked food and raw food you will observe that your body will spend less time in adapting to each new diet. It’s because it learned what is all about and it will be easier to adjust to something that it experienced before. But the first detox period will be really difficult.
Another pretty strange side effect is the way your feelings will affect your body. I know that will sound strange, but this is exactly how I felt. In a normal, cooked food diet, your body will be more dense, so at least this is how I perceived it. So your thoughts and emotions will actually be slower, they will propagate over your body at a lower speed. Sometimes they will stop in some areas of your body, those areas where you have unusual high matter density, and maybe they will cause some discomfort there, or even a disease… When eating raw, your body will be lighter and your emotions will propagate at a higher speed. This is interesting. Because your feeling of joy and enthusiasm will manifest into your body almost instantly. I guess every single person that embraced a raw food diet mentioned the abundance of the joy and exhilaration feelings. But the downside of this one is that your feelings of depression and sadness will propagate just as fast as those others. And that could be really annoying. A lot of raw foodists mentioned depression as one of the detox indicators but from my experience is not the depression itself, which might have been present into your body all the time, but the way it manifests in this new body. So, be aware of the fact that your emotions will be more intense, the positive as well as the negative ones.
Some other signs of detox are an extreme heat in parts of your body (I experienced it in my back neck in the beginning), some cold-like behavior like sneezing and a rush of nasal fluids, and sometimes unusual sweating. But all of these will go after some time. In my experience, the longer period of detox was 2-3 weeks.
Your eating habits will be completely messed up. You are, like 80% of the world population, raised with a 3 meals per day habit. Well, guess what, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should eat 3 meals per day. But it’s really difficult not to because this eating habit is so well incorporated into our social interaction patterns. When going raw you will see that your body can stay without food for much longer periods. And that the normal hours for meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner, are not always the time when you’re hungry.
So, you’ll be eating somehow hectic until you establish your own eating routine. If you are the only member of the family which is a raw foodist – that’s my case, for instance – you will have to adjust to the other’s eating routine. For me it’s easier to eat with others than keeping my own eating hours, even if my meal is completely different.
You will also have to eat more than your regular quantities. Especially if you will ground your diet on fruits. In the beginning it will also be a stress factor, so take that into account. But then again, once you establish your own patterns, you will come up with a solution. Some raw foodists chose to eat every 3 hours, while others chose to incorporate more fat into their meals, basically through fat-rich fruits like avocado, or with a large variety of seeds or nuts, very rich in vegetal fat.Â
Other habits modified by a raw food diet are the shopping habits. In the beginning you will be shopping a little bit strange, sometime more, and sometimes less than you need, and you will have to do a lot of trial and error steps in order to set it back to a normal and understandable routine. I eat a lot of apples and peaches, and also a lot of bananas. After shopping every 2 days for 1 kilo of apples I ended up by buying a full package of 18 kilos which will last for at least a week, if not more. The same goes for bananas and some vegetables, like tomatoes, carrots or celery. Other stuff requires a more frequent visit to the shop, but it can be managed.Â
The costs of such a diet are a little bit higher. I (still) live in a country which favors massive meat consumption, so there isn’t much profit for selling vegetables and fruits. Hence, the high prices for such food. In other countries, and especially in United States, it’s even cheaper to be a raw foodist.
Overall, keep in mind that you will not shop the way you shopped before, and there will be a significant impact on your budget, either up or down.
There is a lot of talking these days about raw food. Popular people are going raw daily, movie stars, singers, bloggers, you name it. There is a lot of hype, which means that some of the things you are reading about raw food are only speculations, suppositions or just plain lies, published only for bigger traffic and some money. Eating is one of the most important things in your life, it can dramatically influence your health, and your psychological behavior. It should be treated very carefully. If you plan to go raw, take it easy, don’t rush to the first diet to see on a blog (including mine). Talk to someone that’s already a raw foodist. Try to meet real people that are raw foodists for more than, let’s say, 2 years. Read all that you can read on the subject. Make some experiments in your own privacy. Try it out the easy way. At the end, decide for yourself. It can be a good thing for you, or it can’t. It’s entirely up to you.
As I said before, eating raw food is a big social challenge. Eating habits are so much melted with the social habits these days. Whenever you meet somebody, you have to do it while eating. Let’s have lunch sometimes, would you like to come to us for dinner? And so on… Being a raw foodist will surely make you a strange beast and you must be prepared for that. And, after all, they’re perfectly right, the normal way of eating is still cooked food. An entire civilization is based on that. You are the strange one.
My social experience as a raw food person was rather unpleasant. In the end, I had to succumb to the established social pattern and become a lacto-ovo-vegetarian (also pretty strange too in my country, but acceptable). I still think that you can have a raw food diet and a normal social life and I think I know how to do it know.Â
The biggest problems I can see from a social standpoint are: meeting people in a formalized way (a business lunch, for instance) and trying to have some entertainment. Other than that, a raw food diet wouldn’t impact much on the social activity.
When meeting people in a formalized way I guess it’s best to tell in advance that your eating habits are different than most people habits, and iron the things out before the actual event. You can avoid embarrassing situations, like eating at a restaurant that can’t even give you a decent fruits plateau. And you can also clarify that your eating habits are not part of the business, if the meeting is about business, of course.
When you are going to have some social entertainment, options are very limited. I remember that, during my initial raw food period, I wanted to organize a party for my birthday. I decided to have the party on raw food, and I cooked one day and a half – with very precious help from my friends – and we end up with a pretty decent party menu. All raw food, of course. The term “cooked” is used in very different way, we made raw cookies, and we actually prepared raw soup and several other raw meals. All extremely tasty, if you ask me, and all raw… The party was a blast, but one thing I remembered was that in normal circumstances I just couldn’t set up a raw food party. It’s too different…
My raw food set up
I rebooted my raw food engine two weeks ago, meaning I started to eat raw food again, just weeks after I sold my company. I started without a plan, just feeling good about having only fresh fruits and vegetables in my diet. Didn’t embarked on a raw food diet challenge, nor did I joined a club about that. Just started to eat raw because I want to enjoy the benefits. After first week, I realized that I am starting to experience detox situations, like fatigue, and sometimes rushes of nasal fluids, and a decision has to be taken: would I stay totally raw, or would I go back and forth from raw food to cooked food? I decided to stay raw. I know the detox is not ready yet, and I know it will take some time until I will really enjoy everything about raw food, but the benefits are already showing up. I’m starting to lose weight, going from 93 kilos 2 weeks ago, to 88,7 kilos today.Â
Must say though that at the same time I started an exercising routine which consists basically getting myself everyday to the gym. The goal is to eliminate all the unnecessary fat I still carry within my body. The estimated time frame is 3 months from now, but from previous experiences I expect to be less. In normal circumstances it will be less, but I have to take into account our complete relocation in a new country and all the associated stress.
One other benefit is my psychological energy level: I’m much more clear and focused. I’m also experiencing a state of tranquillity in which I tend to be more understanding with other people’s problems.Â
As for the food set up, I am eating roughly 50% fruits and 50% vegetables. I don’t prepare complicated meals, when I need to incorporate more food I just blend everything and drink it. The main goal is now to get over the detox period, and for that I need that the raw food should actually be eaten, or get somehow into my body. I plan to extend this diet in the future with more complicated meals, like soups, for instance, but for now it’s very important to stay on track, regardless of the color, texture, or taste of the food.
Other sources of information
I know how difficult is to find answers when you need them. So, if you want to know more about raw food experiences, I highly recommend you to read Steve Pavlina’s 30 days raw food challenge.Â There’s a lot of information in that series of posts, and I recommend you to read them all (there are 30 posts logging the raw food challenge, and then several others with conclusions). By the, way, several months after this challenge Steve Pavlina become 100% raw foodist. Another good starting point is to join an online raw food community, and one that I can recommend for now is giveittomeraw.com. I joined a week ago and I was surprised by the vitality of such a niched community.Â
Well, that’s it for now for the raw food diet, if I will find more to share in the next days / weeks, I’ll do it again.
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[tags]raw food, diet, personal development, health[/tags]