Like many of us, I’ve struggled to find a diet that suits me well. A vegetarian for nearly a decade, I was still battling weight issues and stomach problems and couldn’t seem to figure out why. I’ve never really believed in alleged miracle diets, even though I tried the master cleanse once (passed out on day 8, would NOT recommend it), and I really seriously love to eat. I’m very interested in nutrition and have always taken pride in knowing as much as I possibly can about the food I eat. A few years ago, I even joined my local chapter of Slow Food USA as well as a CSA, in order to support my local food producers. So what was missing?
Suddenly, the answer came to me. I’m not really sure how, but at that moment I just knew that raw food was going to be the thing for me. I ordered every book I could find on the topic and started reading furiously. The more I learned, the more sure I became that I had finally found the diet that was going to be right for me.
Raw means that your food hasn’t been heated up over 116ºF (46ºC), the reason being that below that temperature all the vitamins, minerals and enzymes stay intact (if you heat the food up higher they start degrading quickly). The food is all unprocessed (no canned stuff!), and organic and consists of mostly plant foods. Raw foodies are often vegan as well, even though some choose to eat raw meat and dairy as well (this is often called the Primal Diet or the Tiger Diet).
When I did my Mind & Body Reboot program a few months back I started drinking green juice every day and discovered what a difference it makes for my overall health. Now, I start every morning with a green juice or a green smoothie (made from whatever is in my fridge at the moment) for breakfast. This is a great way to give your body an instant boost of energy and nutrients as you break your night’s fast — think about the word: “break-fast.” It keeps me full until past noon. I also started eating a big salad for lunch every day. This was back when I still had my office job, and people would make fun of me for the gigantic lettuce-filled containers I brought every day. It was a lot of food, sure, but when you eat healthy — especially raw stuff — you have to eat more. That brings me to my favorite thing about raw food: you can eat a crapload of it and not get fat!
For dinner, I usually eat some type of veggies, usually raw, and I sometimes add grains like quinoa. See, I don’t believe in eating 100% raw. Well, I think it’s great if your body is built to handle it, but completely raw may be too rough on some of us (my stomach staged quite the protest when I transitioned to raw too quickly). I aim for 70% of my diet to be raw, which is, according to research, enough to reap all the benefits of a raw diet. I also try to live by the 80/20 rule, meaning that 80% of the food I eat is really good and the other 20% are the indulgences I allow myself. Life is, after all, not meant to be about restrictions, and I think it’s healthy to just relax sometimes and not be so uptight about food. Mostly, I never want to become that person that people stop inviting to dinner because I’m perceived as difficult.
So, yes, I am an aspiring raw foodie and you can follow my journey here on Goodlifer and — if you are really interested — on my Swedish (English translations can be found at the bottom of each post) health & wellness blog Råfrisk (which, in case you are curious, translates to both raw health and super healthy). Finally, to my friends, I want to tell you that I am not a fanatic and I will not lecture you unless you ask for it, so please keep inviting me to dinner. I really love dinner.
All photos by Johanna Björk.