Raw food diet simply means eating unprocessed, whole, and plant-based meals. Many health experts and researchers have spoken of the numerous health benefits of eating whole foods only. Some of the benefits include weight loss, better nourishment, and prevention of chronic diseases.
Many Americans consume large amounts of processed foods.
The raw food diet involves eating largely unprocessed, whole, plant-based foods.
Some benefits include weight loss and the prevention of chronic diseases.
The major drawback of a raw food diet is the potential for nutritional deficiency.
What is a raw food diet?
A raw food diet involves eating your food in its raw and organic form, with very limited food processing. This diet mostly involves eating fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains. Some people include raw eggs, meat, fish, and unpasteurized dairy.
The highlight of eating a raw food diet is avoiding any form of food processing that can deplete the naturally embedded nutrients in foods. Food processing steps such as heating, blanching, and fermentation have been found to lead to the loss of vitamins and minerals from many foods. Vitamins like ascorbic acid, vitamin B1, and folic acid are very heat sensitive and are usually lost when foods are processed.
A raw food diet sometimes overlaps with veganism. While the latter focuses on consuming a plant-based diet, a raw food diet goes a step further by limiting food processing. Some types of food processing can be tolerated in a raw food diet. Blending, juicing, soaking, and even heating to no more than 118°F are considered acceptable. The overarching goal of a raw food diet is to eat foods in their natural state.
The benefits of a raw food diet are extensive. The most obvious benefit is having a better-nourished diet. As mentioned earlier, food processing can reduce the quantity and quality of vitamins and minerals in foods. So, by eating them raw, you get the full amount of nutrients from your food. Secondly, a raw food diet can help with weight loss due to the high fiber content in raw foods. A study examined the long-term effect of a raw food diet on body weight and found a raw food diet to be associated with weight loss.
Another key benefit of a raw food diet is that it helps in preventing chronic diseases like cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
How to develop a raw food diet?
A raw food diet can feature different types of foods. Think of fruits, vegetables, and grains you like and combine them to make a full meal. Avoid processed foods, refined oils, alcohol, chips, refined sugars, flour, pastries, and pasta.
A raw food diet does require some effort in planning, shopping, and prepping. Preparing for a weeklong diet will require shopping for raw foods, washing thoroughly, and storing them appropriately.
Some meals can be prepared in bulk, like salads, and consumed throughout the week. It is also good to bear in mind that some processing can be done to your foods. Blenders, food processors, and dehydrators can be used in preparing your food.
With a raw food diet, the risk of food poisoning is always present. Always wash and store foods properly. It is also good practice to check the foods before preparing or eating. Foods like greens, lettuce, sprouts, and tomatoes can get bad easily.
Here are some ideas of raw foods you can include in your diet:
- Green salads
- Fruits and vegetable juices
- Plant-based milk
- Fruit smoothies
- Fruit bowls
- Salads with figs and nuts
- Tomato soups
- Marinated vegetables
- Dried fruits and vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Vegetable sushi
Mistakes to avoid when switching to a raw food diet
While a raw food diet has numerous benefits, it needs to be planned with care. Here are some mistakes to avoid when switching to a raw food diet.
Not looking out for food safety
The truth is that while heating depletes nutrients in foods, it makes some foods safer for consumers. Heat can remove certain toxins and bacteria from food. Switching to a raw food diet requires that you pay extra attention to how safe your food is. Certain foods need to be washed thoroughly or treated to ensure food safety.
Furthermore, one should also research to confirm certain foods are safe to be consumed raw.
Not consuming a fully balanced diet
There are certain nutrients we get from animal products that may not be as abundant in raw, plant-based foods. Vitamin B12, calcium, iron, omega 3, and vitamin D are some vitamins and minerals that we mostly obtain from animal products. Meat, chicken, and fish are also excellent sources of protein.
Cutting out cooked animal products may result in a deficiency in these nutrients. People on a raw food diet should take care to ensure they get all the nutrients they need from their diet.
Not being organized and preparing
A raw food diet requires organization and making food plans. One must plan for food shopping and meal prep. This can be time-consuming and can get boring, but using a meal prep plan can help make it easier.
Eating out can also be tricky because most restaurants offer cooked meals and some use processed foods. It can be helpful to look at a restaurant’s menu in advance to make planning easier.
Not eating enough
Plant-based organic foods like fruits and vegetables may not be able to give the calories the body needs. Raw food diets are notorious for being calorie-poor. Hence people on this diet should be deliberate about buffing up their meals with grains and other calorie-rich, plant-based foods.
A raw food diet is low in calories but keeps nutrients intact for consumption. It can help with weight loss due to its high fiber content. However, one major drawback is that it can be nutritionally inadequate, and most people will need to take vitamin supplements. There is also the risk of food poisoning with reduced food processing and for this reason, it is not advisable for pregnant women, children, and people with compromised immune systems.