Be sure to check out Part One of the Raw Food Re-Cap if you haven’t already! In it, I address: 1) Emotions and mood, 2) Sleep, 3) Cognitive abilities, 4) Energy levels, and 5) Financial Expenses.
6. Body changes (weight and body fat percentage):
Generally my weight stays the same. It may move up or down by 1 lbs, but that’s it. Over the first three weeks, my weight fluctuated back and forth 3-4 lbs. It appears to have leveled off in the past week, however: I lost 2.8 lbs and 1% body fat from January 1st to February 1st. I’m now at the same place where I was before I gained those few stubborn pounds last summer, so I’m rather pleased about that. It’s almost difficult to not lose weight on a raw diet, but some people lose a lot of weight within a very short time period (such as 10 lbs in a week and that sort of thing). Losing that much weight is going to be water-weight, but in any case it’s not healthy to lose so much in a short time span: you’ll lose valuable muscle in addition to fat and your body won’t be able to adjust appropriately to keep the weight off in the long term. I wouldn’t recommend eating raw as a way to lose weight, although it is likely to be a side effect of the diet.
7. Detox symptoms:
“Detoxification” is the notion that you’re ridding your body of all toxins. Many raw foodists consider the typical detox symptoms that people undergo to be a good thing because it means that the raw food is “cleansing” your system. I have mixed feelings about this; I think that, in a sense, our bodies are trying to flush out the bad stuff (if we’ve been eating unhealthily), but at the same time the body is likely in shock from the drastic change in eating patterns.
From everything that I’ve read about transitioning to a raw diet- particularly a 100% raw diet- the detox symptoms are horrible. Headaches, nausea, the works. People seem to have these symptoms within a few days of starting their raw diet, and they can last from anywhere between a few days to a few weeks. Luckily, I didn’t experience any of that. There was maybe two days when I had a sore tummy, which I believe was because I was consuming a very high amount of raw nuts that I had not pre-soaked (and apparently if you don’t soak raw nuts, it can be incredibly hard on your digestive system. I didn’t learn that until after I had a sore tummy), and therefore it wasn’t related to detoxification at all. Other than that, the only “detox symptom” I seemed to get was that I slept a lot for the first couple weeks. Best detox symptom ever 😉 The reason for this may have been that I was already eating quite healthy so my body wasn’t put into too much shock and it didn’t need to flush out any toxins.
8. Preparation and clean-up:
One of the turn-offs that people seem to have with eating raw is that it takes hours to prepare food. Well, technically it takes hours to prepare food if you count vegetables in the dehydrator sitting there all day, but you don’t even have to be at home for them to “cook”! It takes no more time to chop and dice and slice ingredients for a salad than it does to throw together any other meal. And if you’re making something in the food processor or in the blender, it’s even faster.
As far as clean-up goes, it’s the same as with any other appliance: if you clean it right away, it’s a non-issue. The juicer, blender, and food processor were actually often easier to clean than most pots, because I always cleaned them immediately after I used them. It took no time at all (normally my pots wind up hanging out on the stove for hours on end, resulting in the necessity of scrubbing them half to death). Except for my disastrous attempt with the chocolate pudding, in which avocado and chocolate covered the walls of my kitchen, cleaning was pretty much a breeze.
It’s rare that I eat a burger. Maybe once every few months, if that. And when I do eat burgers, it’s always a locally raised bison burger or else a healthy veggie burger (or a homemade one). Yet for some curious reason, I had massive cravings for a burger for the first couple weeks! I also really missed popcorn, eggs on toast, pita chips with hummus, wine, and banana bread, among about a dozen other foods. A few times I really craved milk and cheese- and I can’t remember the last time my body wanted either of those things- which I believe meant that I wasn’t getting enough calcium.
I really missed basic food. I couldn’t get into the juicing and there were a lot of raw dishes which didn’t quite cut it for me (such as the zucchini pasta, mashed cauliflower, and raw hummus). Cravings were tricky to deal with- but not impossible. Often it was the texture or the warmth of food that I was really craving.
10. Raw in the long term:
As you may have guessed, if you’ve been following along this challenge throughout the entire month, I will not be adopting a raw food diet for the long term. I can see that there are a lot of benefits to this way of eating (because seeds, sprouts, nuts, fruits, and vegetables are of course incredibly nutritious), but I also strongly believe that there are many benefits to cooked foods, too (the nutrient content and our ability to absorb the nutrients changes when the chemical composition of the food changes). I also believe that while some people do very well on a high raw diet, others do not. The main benefit that I see from eating high raw is that you are forced to only eat real, whole food, with nothing processed. And that is why I have constructed a plan to keep myself on track and healthy and mindful of what I eat: I want to experiment with going on a high raw diet (not 100% raw, as I did in January), for four to seven days every four to six weeks.
By adopting this technique, it will be flexible enough that I can adjust when I eat “high raw” (with just one meal cooked each day throughout the week-long period, for example), but it will also enforce very healthy eating patterns in case life gets hectic and I start to fall by the wayside. Eating high raw for about a week every one to two months will also be a really useful reminder for the importance of simplicity; the fact that eating healthy and being healthy in body and mind can be reduced to a very simple and easy level. In about a month, when I try this experiment for the first time, I will absolutely be sure to document it and let you all know how it goes.
If you’re interested in reading about what I eat on a daily basis when I’m not in the mist of a nutrition challenge, I’ve started up a little side project blog called Health Writer Eats. I always write down what I eat in a notebook anyways, so I decided to just start recording it all electronically to share with others rather than keeping a private notebook with my daily eats (I may also have a mild blogging addiction. Shhhh). If you need ideas for how to eat healthy, be sure to check out that blog!
Questions? Thoughts? You know where to leave them!