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Raw Food Lifestyle: Frequently Asked Questions

Raw Food Basics

Raw Food Nutrition & Weight Loss

Adjusting to a Raw Food Lifestyle


Questions on the Basics of Raw Food

What is raw food?

Raw food is food which has never been heated nor treated with chemicals so it retains the enzymes and nutrients of its natural state. As soon as a food is cooked or has added chemicals, the vitamins, nutrients, enzymes, and other healthy compounds start to change or become destroyed and the food no longer has the life and health-giving properties it should.

What benefits come from eating a raw food

There are so many benefits, we can’t even list them all. But for starters: people feel more energetic, more awake and healthier on raw. Most people lose excess weight, look and feel younger and more vibrant. Digestive problems like ulcers and acid reflux decrease and disappear. Skin conditions like acne tend to clear up. Body odor decreases. People get far fewer illnesses. People with diseases see relief and many eventually heal when their bodies are not burdened with toxins or an overload of work and can clean out and repair themselves.

What do raw foodists eat?

In a nutshell, raw foodists eat: fresh, raw fruits and vegetables as well as seeds, nuts and some soaked or sprouted grains. There are unlimited amounts of raw recipes and dishes which are made from these ingredients, including: pates, loafs, "noodles", cakes, cookies, crackers, soups, salads and marinades. Raw Foodists do not have to eat only salads!

Does a raw diet include raw meat?

Not usually. Some raw foodists in a transition period will choose to eat things like mahi tuna or steak tartar, but after awhile they usually stop. It isn’t necessary, you won’t gain any thing by eating it. Raw meat is still hard for the body to process, so it can't assimilate the nutrients in meat as well as from vegetables, fruits and soaked nuts and sprouted seeds. Raw meat often contains parasites which also reduce the amount of nutrition available. Many raw foodists are also against eating meat for humane and ecological reasons.

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What about protein, how do I get enough of

This is the #1 question people have when they are considering a raw food diet. People think that protein comes only from meat, dairy or at least soy, and that without eating at least some of those foods, they won't get enough.. As a matter of fact every living cell contains protein: every plant cell has protein as a basic constituent in its cytoplasm. Vegetables contain protein! Seeds and nuts obviously contain proteins. Seaweeds and algae are very rich sources also. Factually, your body doesn't use whole proteins - it must break these down into amino acids. Plant proteins generally break down for assimilation more quickly than animal proteins and are often found already in the form of amino acids.

The horse, cow, deer, elephant, and gorilla are naturally vegetarians -where does all their muscle and body mass come from? Grass, leafy greens, and in the case of the gorilla, fruit! The meat and dairy industries have spent millions on advertising to convince people the only way to get protein is from meat and dairy products, and they have been very successful. In fact, the protein in meat is coagulated and in a form that the body cannot assimilate easily, and cannot use effectively. The consumption of meat and dairy (and the fat within it) has been linked to all kinds of fatal illnesses, including heart failure..

The fact is, your body needs 22 amino acids in order to build protein molecules and muscles. Of these 22 amino acids, there are 8 which the body cannot make and must get from outside sources. All 8 are available in raw plant foods. And in raw plant foods they are in a form which is easily assimilated and used by the body. All the protein your body needs can be gotten from raw nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits.

If you are still worried about protein, we recommend you get started on a raw food diet, but eat very small amounts of meat (3 to 5 oz) only a few times a week. And try to get the cleanest, organic meat, with no hormones, that you can. After some time of doing this people generally find that they no longer feel they need the meat, and end up not eating it anymore. In this way you can find out for yourself that you are getting the protein you need.

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Do I have to be 100% raw to get benefits?

No. You will see benefits from just from being more raw than you are now. Say you eat 90% cooked food and only 10% raw right now in each meal. (By weight, not by volume.) If you increase the raw so you are eating 50% raw and 50% cooked in each meal, you would see big benefits! However, the cooked food you are eating shouldn’t be candy bars, soda, chocolate, fried chicken, etc. Try to cut out the especially unhealthy cooked foods. However, as long as you still have any amount of cooked food in your diet, you may never see all the benefits of raw. You’ll probably reach a point where you stop improving, but still have some health and body complaints. You can transition by increasing the percentage of cooked to raw food in each meal every week or every month, until eventually you are 100% raw. Eventually, usually after a year or several years, you will want to be 100% raw and feel completely comfortable with it.

Will I need special kitchen appliances or utensils for preparing raw foods?

To get started you can get away with just a blender and some knives. As you want to make more complex recipes and pates you will want to get a food processor. Food processors are invaluable for chopping and grinding seeds and nuts, shredding vegetables, making sauces and pates. To get started you can just get an attachment for most blender bases so you can use it as a food processor, these are generally around $20. For grinding nuts you can also use a coffee grinder and do small batches at a time. You can get along with using a regular blender for awhile, but some time down the line you'll probably want a higher-powered blender such as a Vita-mix 4500 Blender. If you're mixing nuts and fruits and vegetables and such making soups and frostings in a regular blender, you will probably wear them out every so often and need to get a new one. A Vitamix can handle a lot more and they last for years and years. There are also little kitchen helper utensils which will make your life easier. There is a device called Spiroolli which is invaluable for making raw pasta, it creates strands of vegetable which really imitate pasta well. It also makes quick shreds and chips. You can purchase it on our products page. If you get really into raw and want to make your own cookies and crackers and other dehydrated items, you will want a dehydrator. You can eat raw for quite some time or even indefinitely without one, however.

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Questions on Nutrition & Weight Loss While Eating Raw Foods

Will I lose weight eating Raw?

People do usually lose all their excess weight when they eaten unprocessed, high enzyme raw food diet These foods provide you with nutrition without stressing your digestive system. If it the food is organic as well, your body gets high quality nourishment to keep it running smoothly and no toxins that it couldn't break down and would have to find a place to stash.

When you stop eating toxic, processed foods that your body doesn't know what to do with, you will find that you are more in tune with your body and its actual needs. It is almost impossible to gobble down foods without realizing how much you are eating, when you eat raw. As you sample the variety of different foods available to eat raw, your body gets reacquainted with sources of actual nutrients and you may find yourself craving certain foods and wanting to eat lots of them. That's fine; you can even pig out on things your body really needs and still lose weight! In fact, your body will tend to get rid of the fat and stored toxins, when you give it what it really needs and craves.

Can you lose too much weight eating raw?

Sometimes people are concerned that they are losing too much weight. The strange thing is that, while they may be concerned that they look too skinny, they still feel better, more healthy and more energetic. What is happening is this: The body is dropping any fat stored up, and any muscle that is too heavily toxic to rebuild. It isn’t something to be worried about. After your body gets rid of the fat and toxic materials, it will start rebuilding with healthy muscle. After detoxifying,people tend to even out at their ideal weight and stay there. If you feel like you’re too skinny, or are worried about getting too skinny, you can start a program of regular exercise. This will help to replace the fat and toxic muscle you've lost with healthy muscle.

How do you get enough calcium without milk

First of all, dairy products do not provide sufficient calcium. The countries with the highest dairy consumption are the ones with highest osteoporosis also! All dairy products are extremely acidifying in the body. Dairy is one of the most acidic foods on the PH scale. Calcium is the number one mineral the body uses to buffer against excess acidity, and there is just never enough calcium in any dairy you can eat to offset the acid-producing effect it has. Therefore, you wind up losing calcium when you eat dairy products, not gaining it, as it combines with the acids to remove them from the body. This is the explanation behind the interesting fact that all the countries which consume a lot of dairy also have a high incidence of osteoporosis and other calcium-deficiency related diseases.

On a raw food diet you get lots of calcium from various vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables such as kale, and also broccoli and sesame seeds,. This calcium is very bioavailable, and these foods are alkaline-producing, so the body can actually use the calcium it gets from them.

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Don't you get hungry eating raw?

You will find that as you lose fat and toxins, and rebuild with healthy whole nutrients, you will need less food and not get hungry. Think about it: most people overeat as they feel undernourished. A person often stuffs himself at meals while barely even tasting the food piled on in an attempt to get a full, satiated feeling. Then this is repeated as a daily habit because the body craves food but doesn't get enough nutrition; the food it eats is either deficient in nutrients or deficient in enzymes to break them down or the digestive tract is so laden with mucus in an attempt to prevent unsuitable materials that foods are not assimilated. It is a vicious cycle of modern society with its over-processed "empty" foods -, and the result is multitudes of obese people!

While making the transition to raw, your body is still trying to get rid of the unsuitable materials that were stored and replace them with fresh raw foods nutrients. You can feel hungry as your intestines and all your tissues throw off old stored matter that has little use. You may think it is the raw food that is empty, but if you persist you will find that when your body has cleaned out, you will desire less quantity of food yet feel entirely satisfied from the raw foods you eat.

Another factor is that many people have parasites although they may not be aware of it. The parasites make a person crave food as he isn't getting enough with them stealing it! Also, although this craving is especially for dairy and carbohydrates (pasta, cookies, bread, sugar, more, more, more...!) It is hard to resist this feeling, but getting rid of the parasites will make your transition and life much easier.

To help make the transition, people going raw usually want heavier foods, such as nutburger mixes and nut-based pates,avocados and oils, and more complex combinations of foods that take longer to move through the digestive system. There are many recipe books that give transitional food ideas .Generally, raw foods are lighter so you will tend to eat less at a time but more frequently.

What if I have diabetes or another illness, can I still eat raw food?

Yes, raw food is exactly what you should be eating if you're ill. Many illnesses come from lack of usable nutrition in the food you're eating, or an over stressed digestive system which is not doing it's job properly and is putting strain on the rest of the body, making you more likely to get sick. Eating raw allows your digestive system to clean itself out, and gives your body the nutrition it needs to rebuild and heal itself. However, you still have to use common sense. If you are very ill or fragile you don't want to shock your body with a major diet change all at once. Start adding more raw food into your diet gradually. You can call us and we will help you figure out how to transition with your specific concerns.

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What makes cooked and processed food so much less healthy?

As soon as you apply heat to food it starts to break down, nutrients are degraded or eliminated. Very often when you're eating cooked and processed foods there is so little nutrition present that the body has to use its reserves to break it down and eliminate it. The amount of nutrition you're gaining from it is less than the amount your body needs to process it. You can only go on your reserves so long before your body will not have enough nutrients left to carry out its processes, and then you begin to get deficiencies and the illnesses related with them. The nutrients in food are also degraded by heavy processing, adding all kinds of preservatives and homogenizers and irradiation. These not only cause the nutrition in the food to break down, they are also toxic to the body. When the FDA approves these additives and treatment procedures, their concern is to find the level or amount at which they are not too harmful, which is the level they then approve. But the fact remains that they are still somewhat harmful. And after years of consuming these additives in almost all the food you eat, it builds up in your body and the effects can definitely be seen. Just look at all the diseases that are so common now, but were rarely even heard of 100 years ago when food was far less processed!

How will I know my body is getting all the nutrition it needs?

After eating raw for a week or several weeks you'll notice that you feel better. This is the best indication you can have that your body is getting the nutrition it needs - actual, noticeable improvements to your well being! Also, if you do some kind of exercise regularly, you will notice your strength and endurance improving more rapidly.

Can I overeat on raw foods?

Yes. You should avoid eating to the point where your stomach feels distended, over-stuffed or uncomfortable. This is a habit many people develop from childhood when their parents tell them they have to eat everything on their plates. It puts unnecessary strain on the stomach and digestive system to expand so it can accommodate more food each you eat a meal. This can also make your belly look larger, as you stomach will stop contracting if it is used to very large meals. However, over eating on raw is much easier for the stomach to handle than over eating on cooked food.

Are there any raw foods which are unhealthy?

There are no specific raw foods which are unhealthy, but some foods if eaten in excess can be stressful to the digestive system. Having too much of the higher-fat raw foods such as nuts, seeds and avocados in your diet can be stressful to your system, especially for people who have been raw for years so their system is not used to all the heavier food anymore. Also, avoid eating too high a percentage of fruit or any one type of vegetable in your diet for a long period of time. How much of a food is too much varies from person to person, just listen to your body. Make sure to eat varied foods to give your body a good supply of all the nutrients it needs

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Questions on Adjusting to a New Raw Food Lifestyle

Doesn't eating all vegetables and fruits get boring?

At first, people are usually unaware of the vast variety of foods available and the many methods of preparation for preparingdelicious and interesting dishes. They tend to eat plain vegetables or plain salads and fruit and find it boring. But you can have a 5 course raw meal with an appetizer, soup, salad, meaty loaf or pasta-like veggie dish; there are ethnic entrees, beverages and desserts such as pies, cookies, puddings and others. On the West Coast there are raw restaurants with a six-week waiting list on reservations where you can eat a five-course gourmet meal! Check out our raw recipes page to get started, and then purchase a few raw "un-cook" books. You will find it is really not boring at all, and there are even more options available for flavorful dishes in raw foods than in cooked food.

How time-consuming is raw food to prepare?

When first going raw you will tend to desire the complicated and filling recipes that replace cooked food meals and are somewhat time consuming to prepare. But as the months go by you will find yourself desiring complex meals less and less, and you will find you are more satisfied with eating whole foods which are as fast as it gets, needing perhaps a little chopping or peeling and that’s it.

There are also other benefits to preparing raw food. Cleaning up is much faster and easier as there are no pans, no stuck on food or burnt on grease to deal with. Your dishes can usually be cleaned just by rinsing them off. Also, when you prepare raw foods you can enjoy the vibrant colors and aromas they retain.

What do you do at social gatherings where everyone is eating cooked food?

You could eat only whatever raw food there is, such as fruit salad or veggies from a veggie tray Another option is to let the cook know ahead of time and request that a raw dish be provided for you to eat. If it is an function you are paying to attend, they are usually considerate of dietary needs and will provide a salad or other raw dish in place of the standard meal. If you know there is going to be no raw food at all, you can either eat ahead of time so you won't need to eat at the gathering. You also have the option of bringing some of your own food. Chances are, others will be interested in your goodies! While it may be a bit awkward to explain your needs, most people are considerate and will respect your eating habits, and try to accommodate them. If all else fails you can play with your food and fork so it looks like you are eating and no one makes it an issue.

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Can I still eat out?

Yes! You can get fairly clever about getting the restaurants to give you a tasty raw meal from the foods they usually use. Look over the menu and see what kinds of salads they serve. Perhaps they do offer a good salad or fruit salad. Also look for vegetables and fruits they use in any of their dishes or side dishes or even as a garnish. Do they have stuffed bell peppers on the menu? Then they probably have some fresh ones in the kitchen.You can request a special elaborate raw salad including any of the things you saw. You could order a dish which is usually cooked but ask them to leave it raw (like a vegetable stir-fry) and ask them to leave the sauce on the side (in case you find it too yuccky). You might see that some of their cooked dishes include portabello mushrooms and red peppers, and one dish has avocado and mango in it. And that their Caesar salad has Romaine lettuce - so you could order their grilled chicken strip salad, without the chicken, and ask for portabello mushrooms to substitute for the chicken, uncooked; then tell you them don't eat cheese either so to please skip the cheese and give you avocado and mango pieces instead; and tell them you also want only Romaine lettuce - no iceberg. Ask for lemons or limes to squeeze on as a dressing. Sometimes a waiter will be confused, but usually any restaurant with decent service will accomodate you nicely. You could also take a small bottle of organic oil or a homemade dressing with you when you go out to put over your veggies or salad.

How do I get my kids to eat raw?

This can be tricky, because you don't want kids to feel deprived or to reinforce their insistence on eating cooked food. So do it on a gradient. The best way is to make a lot of delicious raw dishes which they enjoy andwant to eat. Usually this means desserts at first. Raw desserts are made of healthy filling ingredients - usually it’s just fruits, spices, nuts, and dates or honey. so you can give them a piece of raw cake for dessert, for a snack, or even for a meal. They'd probably be excited to be eating cake for dinner! Green salads with strawberries, mangos, and pine nuts or walnuts added are usually considered a treat too. Find a recipe that uses your child's favorite frruits or vegetables and make it. If your kids are older, explain to them what kind of benefits they can gain from eating raw. If they have a problem like asthma, acne, or overweight, you can get them interested in raw by showing them how it will help with their problem. There are stories from raw foodists of how it changed their health or looks, or perhaps there are people you both know who have gone raw and can be a good example (or you convert to raw first and demonstrate the changes in health and appearance). Another great way to get your kids involved in raw food is to get their help and ideas in preparing the foods. There are great recipe books, interesting new ingredients, and fun kitchen equipment to learn to use. They will enjoy making yummy recipes for themselves and others. Get a kid's creativity going and it will be hard to stop him or her! Hopefully, they'll find dishes they love to show off with. out of that.

How can I convince my husband or wife to

Find a few dishes your spouse likes which are raw, and present these along with their regular foods. Get creative, the more raw dishes you find that they like, the more likely they are to go raw. Usually the biggest objection anyone has to going raw is having to give up all the cooked foods they love. But if you have delicious raw foods on hand to replace those cooked dishes, that can be more persuasive than anything. Also, try to lead by example. If you are eating raw and having great benefits, hopefully they'll notice. They'll have a very hard time holding to their objections if they're seeing the wonderful results right in front of them..

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Can I enjoy eating raw even if I don't really

Yes! Find recipes you do enjoy eating. Try seed and nut pates, fruits, desserts, smoothies, raw dehydrated crackers and cookies, and marinades. Somewhere in that list (which includes no salads!) you will find dishes that you enjoy eating, and can make a large part of your diet. Also, try as many different vegetables as you can, you will probably find some that you have overlooked in the past which you would enjoy. Your tastes will change as you eat raw for weeks and months. Start out with the things listed above, but try salads and vegetables every so often. Incorporate some amount of them into your diet. You will find that your taste buds and your body will let you know that they desire the vital nutrition from veggies, and you'll start to enjoy them.

How will I know my body is getting all the nutrition it needs?

After eating raw for a week or several weeks you'll notice that you feel better. This is the best indication you can have that your body is getting the nutrition it needs - actual, noticeable improvements to your well being! Also, if you do some kind of exercise regularly, you will notice your strength and endurance improving more rapidly.

Where can I shop to find a better variety

Of course the obvious answer is your local health food store. They will be more likely to have raw nuts, seeds and grains than a regular grocery store, but you still have to watch out because even in a health food store they carry many roasted nuts. Read the labels carefully! Also, taste or smell them to check for staleness or rancidity. Let your health food store manager know if you want fresher products.

Another good place to look is in ethnic food markets. There you can usually find exotic fruits such as: young coconuts - that is coconuts which are not as old as the conventional round, brown, and hairy ones - and are white or still in a green shell and their meat is soft and flexible instead of chewy and fibrous. Durian, a spiky large fruit that has compartments inside with yellow, pudding-like meat. Leeche nuts, which are small, red and spiky and have sweet flesh surrounding a pit, and other exotic raw fruits and vegetables.

You might also check fruit stands in your area, we have had the good luck to find one recently that is only a few blocks away and always has a selection of more exotic produce, at very reasonable prices.

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How do I overcome the cravings for cooked

This boils down to discipline and preparation. Finding recipes you like to eat and eating them when you get a cooked food craving will help. Also, get some raw books and inform yourself of the negative effects of cooked food. If you are really craving something cooked, grab a plate of your favorite raw dish and read one of the powerful sections in a book to remind yourself why you are sticking to this diet. If you go cold turkey and stay raw, your cravings dwindle and eventually disappear. If you are still eating some percentage of cooked food you will probably get some cravings until you go totally raw. Also, be aware that some cravings are really nutrition deficiencies. In Victoria Boutenko's book 12 Steps to Raw Food she mentions that cravings for sweets are often really cravings for calcium, and by eating foods high in calcium (such as sesame milk) she got rid of her sweet cravings. (See our Articles section for the excerpt.) If you are craving something cooked, try to figure out how to eat similar ingredients or flavors raw.

Should I only eat Organically grown foods?

Studies done on organic foods vs. commercially grown foods have shown that the organic produce has an average of 3 times more nutrients than commercially grown. Organic foods aren't grown with the pesticides, chemicals, growth stimulants and bioengineering, all of which are very bad for your body. Many organic foods just plain taste better and have more flavor as well. But, prices can be much higher for organic. If you have the means, definitely eat as much organically grown as you can. If the price makes it impossible for you to do this, then buy the commercially grown and eat organic when you can. If you're buying commercial produce, inquire about the source of it and try to avoid any that is bioengineered (the genes are spliced with those of animals, insects, or fish to make them more disease resistant) and remember to wash or peel everything, to minimize the pesticides you're consuming.

Is eating completely raw 100% all the time all I need to do for good health?

For some time this may seem true, because it is such a radical improvement for the body. But in order to be really healthy you should also do some kind of exercise regularly. This helps to keep you in shape, strong, younger, and in better health. Also, you should make sure to sweat while doing at least some of your exercises. Sweating is a necessary function of the body and allows the lymph systems to clean out. For optimum health you should do some kind of exercise which is strenuous for you at your level and allows you to sweat at least 3 times a week for 45 minutes. Also get sunlight and fresh air regularly. A healthy lifestyle should include a good evaluation of what is important to you in life, a philosphy of life which helps you to understand and live in harmony with others, and which enables you to reach for your goals and pursue them.

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