A few things you should know about me: I am not vegetarian, and actually do not care for many "exotic" vegetables. Kale and chard are exotic to me. I grew up in Texas, and absolutely love all-things meat, whether it be chicken tacos or pulled-pork BBQ sandwich. Yum.
However, I have been noticing more healthy foods that I may like to try when I go to the grocery store, particularly in the produce section. A close relative has been diagnosed with Celiac disease, so I have become more aware of gluten-free products recently. I have been reading that consuming sugary carbohydrates in the morning can make you feel sluggish and hungrier, and instead to focus on eating lean protein, fruits and vegetables. After my relative's diagnosis, we have also found out that another relative has been giving himself B12 shots for decades...we never knew this! (He has no interest of being diagnosed, and is fine with his B21 shots, but we suspect Celiac as well). My relative with Celiac's disease has young children who have severe eczema, and now there is the question: do her children have Celiac's disease also, as eczema is one of the signs (allergic reaction to food consumed). My son also has eczema, although very slight, and I have moderate-to-severe seasonal allergies (all seasons, unfortunately), and with all of these "allergies" in our family...I wonder how much is food related?! Bottom line for me, is: the culmination of all of these "events" in our family trickling in, I began to become more motivated to look at how and what we are eating as a family.
I picked up a Raw Food cookbook, and one of the "Idiot's Guide" to raw eating books, and learned a few more interesting facts about this "raw food movement" that I found inspiring:
* No cooking! I have to admit, this is probably my top motivation to try a 21-day challenge. (Sorry, no offense to the family), but I'm all about the idea: "no slaving over a hot stove" in the middle of July & August in Texas.
* You are allowed to start slow and never eat 100% raw.The philosophy behind the Raw Food "Purists" have scared me away, as I just began eating organic and healthier. Do I also have to eat vegetarian, or worse, vegan, or even worse, macrobiotic?! I realize many people are happily eating in this way, but I am just not there yet, and thought I would be open and honest about it! I can not see myself or my family being overly-restrictive with our diets at this stage in our lives. My primary hesitation have been from the overly "enthusiastic" foodies out there that claim the raw food diet is all-or-nothing. They are purists, and nothing less will do. Are there Foodies out there who enjoy the Raw Food lifestyle and do not "push" it onto other people or try to "persuade" them to "their side"? I feel like anything that is enjoyable, makes you feel great and is satisfying does not need salespeople or "pushers", so I do tend to back away from anything called a "diet" that is "restrictive". I will never be a purist in my eating, and want to remain flexible.
After reading the "idiot's guide" book, they made it OK for me to begin slowly with incorporating raw foods into our lifestyle slowly. I can eat raw foods 50% of the time, if I want and not ever go to the 100%. I can begin by traditional means of increasing our consumption of fruits & vegetables. I can then try sprouted breads that are easily found in the freezer aisle at the whole foods store), and experiment with other nuts and seeds that we have never tried. I bought some hemp seeds today...they smell, um, interesting!
Inventory of What We Already Eat Raw
* Long list of fruits & veggies that we like, even our toddler!
* We prefer quinoa instead of the processed white rice
* We already add flax seeds to our salads, soups and yogurt
* We all love nuts and seeds; I love beans
* I have had suncheese before and really enjoyed it!
* As much as we love meat, we don't eat it very often (twice/week for dinner, and lunch meat three/week), so may not be a huge sacrifice
Eating raw does not have to be complicated, as I did read that some people culture their own cheese, they use a dehydrator and use extravagant recipes. However, I'm sure I have made this a little more simplistic than it really is, so I will continue to research and learn what eating "raw" and "live" foods really entail, as it is more than just the opposite of "processed".
A few unanswered questions:
* Is eating raw more expensive? I've noticed that there are many fancy ingredients that I can not pronounce in many of the raw food cookbooks.
* Can I gain weight eating raw? It seems as though many of the recipes call for nuts, which are healthy fats, but also high in calories.
* What protein sources can I use? I'm not prepared to give up milk, cheese or yogurt. I am excited to try to make my own almond milk...sounds easy! Is tofu a "raw" food?
* What exactly is "processed"? For instance, is honey processed?
* Can I eat peanut butter or other nut butter?
* Can I still drink coffee? (please?!)
My 21-day Raw Food Plan:
* Increase our raw food consumption by 60% over the next 21 days, primarily focusing on breakfast and dinners. (Lunches will be "phase 2"; they are too chaotic and many times my son and I are over at grandma's house)
* Eat 5 fruits & vegetables every day (do they have to all be organic?)
* Try 1 new fruit and 1 new vegetable each week
* Omit refined sugars from our diet for 21 days, and use raw sweeteners (does Stevia count?)
* Lightly cook a few vegetables that I know my toddler won't eat if they are raw
* Try to stick to easy combination of foods instead of complicated "recipes"
What I hope to accomplish:
* Feel more energy and less sluggish throughout the day
* Save money (in the long run, after buying staples) on groceries and dining out
* Save time in the hot kitchen
* Have a better digestive system (no more unpleasant symptoms, that I will spare you the details on!)
* My toddler will enjoy more raw foods as well
* Any medical miracles? Less eczema on my son's skin? Less problems with seasonal allergies for myself?
* Begin eating healthy and help my family become motivated to do the same. Still not sure how gluten-free and eating raw are the same/different.
* Adopting a lifelong healthy lifestyle for eating
My potential barriers:
* Grandparents. They are absolutely not going to buy into this, and we are fortunate enough to live by them. I do not want to impose my raw food challenge on them, but will hopefully influence some of their food choices.
* Myself. Honestly, one of the two grandmothers would be accommodating, but I have limited time some days and try to do the quick, easy and convenience cooking
* My days of exercising could be problematic, as I want to make sure I am consuming enough filling calories to sustain a good workout.
* Extra time that it takes to make some of the raw foods more pleasing (we would get tired of only eating produce, beans, nuts and seeds very quickly).
* Dessert options? What would these be? Not sure I can get used to the bitterness of "real" cacao chocolate
* Money. It sounds expense to buy some of the seeds and nuts in large enough quantities. Produce is fairly cheap, unless you buy organic. Save money on meats, so will be interesting to see how our grocery bill "evens out".
I will let you know how I do each week! I hope to hear from anyone else if you know the answers to my questions, and if you are considering a raw food lifestyle as well. Let me know if you have any helpful tips to share!
Here is some additional information at EmpowHer: Do Raw Foods/Living Food Diets Promote Good Health?"
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