Today I want to share with you something I’ve been toying with for awhile, and reading a lot about in the last month. Personal growth is a huge focus for me this year and there are so many ways in which I have grown, and an almost overwhelming list of ways in which I still want to develop myself. You could say that the last 6 months has been one resolution after another, as though the first week of January never ended.
Earlier this year in February I did a juice cleanse that turned into a smoothie cleanse that turned into a fruits and vegetables cleanse, progressively. It was a good way to ease into eating whole foods I think, but ever since I did it I keep remembering with longing how good I felt then; how energized I was, how perfect my skin looked. I hated juicing though, because of how messy it was and how much produce it used up, and how time consuming it was; and the whole while I would be looking at the food going into the juicer thinking, “why don’t I just eat it?” because I wanted to. Since then I’ve eaten a lot more fresh fruits and vegetables, and have pretty often eaten just fruits and vegetables until dinner and felt great about it. Lately though, that hasn’t been enough. Lately I have been feeling heavy and my skin has been looking older and saggier (I am 25 now–ancient!!) Also I keep thinking that I need to lose weight, except that I don’t need to lose weight, and I’ve found that feeling “fat” sometimes means that I need to detox, either physically or emotionally, and that I could use some extra self-care.
I’ve been looking into the benefits of eating raw with quite a bit of interest as well. For one thing, my body has been indicating that my gut health/stomach acid/digestive enzymes may be lacking their full potential, and eating foods raw keeps enzymes around that heat would otherwise destroy. Heating foods also tends to greatly decrease nutrient content, and our bodies have to work much harder to digest cooked food. I think the most alarming information I have read about cooked foods being so altered that they produce Advanced Glycation End Products (appropriately termed AGE’s, which accelerate aging and all the negative things we associate with age–cataracts, Alzheimer, arthritis, diabetes, cancer, wrinkles; the list goes on) and this document is invaluable in describing all of this in detail with advice on how to alter cooking methods to reduce this effect. Basically raw food is living, cooked food is dead. It isn’t hard to see the implications of eating living food versus dead food could be far reaching for our health. This effect is magnified when cooking meats and is responsible for a large portion of studies suggesting that reducing meat consumption is advantageous for optimal health.
So I’ve decided to do a 21 day raw food cleanse and record the experience and conclusions of how this type of diet feels in my body. I love doing experiments like this and I think this is the most excited I have been about a food adventure like this. I will be starting the 21 days in September and will use the time leading up to it to prepare by collecting recipes, making my meal plan and gradually fading out cooked foods from my diet. I encourage any followers to join me! I will certainly be documenting and sharing as I go along. I am also going to be adding a yoga component which I haven’t solidified yet–but it will probably include spending 3 days focusing on learning about and cleansing each of the chakras, with some sort of daily practice. Stay tuned!
To go over the types of foods and how they are effected by heat:
Fruits and vegetables: there are some exceptions, such as cruciferous vegetables and tomatoes actually become more digestible upon cooking (even then cruciferous are better lightly steamed; cook at too high a heat or for too long and nutrients are lost) but for the most part, raw, alive produce (with organic being superior) is going to be easier for your body to digest and get nutrients out of. I will be consuming mostly fruits and vegetables.
Grains, beans, nuts and seeds: these do need some amount of processing to make their nutrients available (see more on that here; this writer advocates complete removal of wheat and soy–I disagree, but she goes into the nature of these types of foods and why they need processing and it is informative) but my body does well with keeping grains, beans and even sadly nuts in a smaller moderation than most people consume them, and I do just fine without them (functionally; socially and emotionally may be another matter), so I will probably be consuming some raw nuts and seeds and perhaps some raw tempeh and not bothering too much with trying to ferment or sprout these types of foods, which some raw foodists really focus on.
Dairy: I have an even harder time digesting dairy (problem child over here) though the benefits of raw dairy has been studied and when quality sources are available I have been informed have a much richer nutritional profile than the pasteurized, sterilized versions sold in the mainstream. I will probably not be consuming any dairy either way.
Eggs: I am fortunate enough to know a local farmer who has chickens and sells their eggs about 2 miles from my house, so I probably will be looking into consuming raw eggs. More research needed here.
Meat: I will be consuming some raw meat, very carefully. I’ve been studying a lot about this. Basically, if you find meat from organic, pasture raised (grass fed) sources, wild caught etc, and freeze it for 14 days (as is often done with sushi) or marinated in citrus (as is done in ceviche) the meat is safe. More on this here. I have been cross referencing my sources from various books and journals on this, and will continue to do so.
So there you have it! I’m very excited to share this all with you. If anyone wants to join me, please let me know so I can share menu plans and more information. My soul needs this as much as my body, and I look forward to this fresh start to the Fall season!