A fad, trend, or craze is any form of collective behavior that develops within a culture, a generation or social group in which a group of people enthusiastically follow an impulse for a short period. Fads are objects or behaviors that achieve short-lived popularity but fade away. (Source: Wikipedia)
The Raw Food Diet traces back to the late 1800s, when Maximilian Bircher-Benner, a doctor from Switzerland, claimed he cured his own jaundice by eating raw apples. This discovery led him to begin a series of experiments testing the effects of raw food on human health, later opening a sanitarium that offered a raw food diet to help heal his patients. I guess that answers our original question, it’s not a fad – but is it a fact that a raw food diet is good for you?
We hear a lot about the raw food diet today, and there are many different variations around. Most of the variations have some things in common – the main eating plan involves organic food that hasn’t been cooked, processed, microwaved, irradiated, genetically engineered or exposed to preservatives, pesticides or herbicides.
In the nineteen-seventies, Dr. Ann Wigmore, a Lithuanian American holistic practitioner, naturopath, and raw food advocate, believed that eating mainly raw foods could prevent many diseases and improve overall health. She is credited with starting the the raw food movement here in the U.S.
Since then, eating raw foods have become the norm all over the world. Nowadays healthy raw food is available almost everywhere, in restaurants and health food stores. Even celebrity chefs are doing it. It’s become the trendy thing to do in certain circles.
The raw food diet is not an easy one to follow, but many people claim it has turned their life around, some claim that it has cured their ailments, and there are some that even claim a raw food diet saved their life!
Does that mean that the raw food diet is the best way to eat – or even the right way to eat? Not necessarily, but it is a fact that our bodies do benefit when we include lots of good fruits and vegetables in our daily menu. It just makes sense to try to eat some raw vegetables and fruits every day in order for our bodies to function at its best.
Here are some of the benefits of consuming raw foods –
Raw organic produce has a much higher nutrition content of than most frozen or canned versions of the same. The important minerals, enzymes, vitamins qualities of food are retained, instead of reduced or even destroyed by the process of cooking them. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, raw organic fruits and vegetables have some of the best nutrients we can find.
Because raw fruits or vegetables are crunchier, we have to chew them longer and harder than cooked variations. Chewing is important as it breaks the food down smaller, it also mixes the saliva (which contains digestive enzymes) with the food before it goes to the stomach. This helps the digestive process.
We hear a lot about how important it is to stay in an alkaline state when fighting any type of illness or disease. The alkalinity in our bodies is connected to the foods we consume. Consuming only cooked foods can result in an acidic condition inside your body. This impairs the immune-system, which makes it harder for our bodies to combat anything that doesn’t belong.
People who eat a diet of raw foods claim their energy levels are off the charts. The original raw food diet was based on the premise that raw foods are full of energy straight from the sun. While there aren’t any definitive studies I’ve seen supporting that, it is proven that raw foods also contain significant amounts of minerals, enzymes, and vitamins. A combination of these two things can’t help but lift your energy levels during the course of the day.
Many who eat strictly raw foods say it improves the clarity of their thoughts. They claim eating raw fruits as well as vegetables open your mind and help you to think more clearly.
Raw foods can add variety to an otherwise boring eating plan. With a little research you can find recipes for meals that promise to be flavorful and bring in a new texture. It will pull you out of your rut and inspire you with new food preparation ideas.
Adding raw foods to your diet may help you to release excess weight. If you have one or two meals a day of strictly raw foods, you will most likely consume fewer calories while eating a satiating volume.
My own personal preference is to eat for the season. Whatever is available at the time of year is what I eat the most. That means in the warmer months, when local produce is available, I will eat more raw foods. I still prefer my cooked foods when the weather is cooler.
A word of caution to those considering going full out raw foods with their eating – some foods in our present age aren’t safe to eat raw. When the raw food movement started many people still ate meat and dairy so long as the temperature did not exceed one hundred fifteen degrees Fahrenheit. In today’s world, with all the food borne illnesses around, that is no longer guaranteed to be safe.
Maybe you aren’t interested in following a raw food diet, but see the benefit of adding more raw foods to your current way of eating. Here are some ideas to help you:
Drink a vegetable smoothie at breakfast, at lunch, as a healthy snack or just on your way to work.
Have a big salads for either your lunch or your dinner. Mix fresh greens and any other vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers. If you want to get creative there are many options, green beans, celery, mushrooms, avocado, radishes etc. The list is endless.
For a healthy way to satisfy your crunch snack cravings, try some cut up vegetables with a healthy dip or some nut butter.
Grab a quick veggie sandwich for on the run. You can make a wrap stuffed with all kinds of delicious vegetables. Tomato, sprouts, lettuce, cucumber and guacamole all taste like indulgences to me, but they are healthy choices.
For dessert, rather than sugary, processed pastries or ice cream, try eating some home made fruit salad. It’s a light and delicious finish to any good meal.
If you choose to change over to the raw food diet, or just want to add more raw fruits and vegetables to your current plan, it’s best to begin by adding them in slowly as it could cause some digestive discomfort if you add in all that good healthy fiber too quickly. Start small and add a little more each day until you get to the level you desire. Stick with it and you’ll soon see the wonderful results of eating raw foods.
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Did you find a few more ideas of your own? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments, and as always please reach out with your thoughts.