There are different diets and definitions of how one should eat raw foods, and of course, everyone has their own opinions of how to do it correctly: For instance, some go 100% raw, while others feel comfortable with eating raw meals, up until lunch or dinner.
According to the raw foods page on Wikipedia,
"Foods cooked above 104 F have lost much of their nutritional value and are less healthful or even harmful to the body. Advocates argue that raw or living foods have natural enzymes, which are critical in building proteins and rebuilding the body, and that heating these foods kills the natural enzymes and can leave toxins behind."
Several weeks ago, after reading again about the benefits of a raw food cleanse, I decided to try it out, to rid my body of those nasty, unwanted toxins! I was also inspired by my friend Chelsea's 10 day raw food challenge several months ago, and revisited her blog for some inspiration! My goal started out as 10 days, though it turned into a 6 day raw food journey. Here's a few things I learned along the way, as I ventured into this new way of thinking and eating:
First, I learned that eating exclusively raw foods is really cleansing for your body. After my third day of eating mostly fruits and veggies, my bowels had felt thoroughly emptied, leaving me feeling light and refreshed. By day 6, I had lost 5 pounds, which I figure must have been waste materials stored up in my intestines. I felt really awesome inside and out!
Secondly, I learned that eating exclusively raw is labour intensive and time consuming. Trying to think up creative meals and snacks was often difficult! I did pretty good for breakfast and lunch, munching on smoothies and salads, but by the time dinner came along I wanted something of substance like a sandwich or a taco! But, I had to be more creative than that, and that took some extra brain power.
Next, I learned that eating raw foods is expensive. I don't know how people can afford to eat totally raw, unless they have a huge garden out back, with all the produce that they need. I found that I was heading to the grocery store or farm market every 2 days, to stock up on more produce, more nuts, and more seeds. The prices started adding up after day 3, and it wasn't looking good on our food budget. I had thought that maybe I could live off of cheap papayas for the duration of the cleanse, but I got sick of them after day 3. I needed to branch out to grapes and strawberries, and those don't come cheap in the islands!
Next, I learned that eating exclusively raw is an amazing psychological journey towards mastering self-discipline. Staying aware and conscious of what I was putting in my mouth throughout the day taught me to be more mindful of myself and my body. I hadn't realized how many times I was stuffing unnecessary bits of leftover crackers or cereal from the table, when I wouldn't allow myself to do it! Also, while I was doing this cleanse, I still had eat alongside my husband and children, which often became a challenge for me. I remember one night they were chowing down on chicken alfredo pasta, while I was eating a shredded green papaya/carrot/cabbage salad with sunflower seeds sprinkled on top. The aroma from the pasta was tantalizing my taste-buds like nothing before! (Okay, It was killing me!) But, I persevered, and ate my salad, and felt like a frigging champion for doing it!
Lastly, I'm just really glad I did this. At the end I felt really grateful for the bounty and variety of fresh foods we have available to eat. Planning out my creative meals, and thinking out of the box, allowed me to be more mindful of what foods I have around me, and what I needed to do differently in my overall diet. Honestly, I don't think I was eating enough green vegetables before! I mean, I eat a pretty wholesome, healthy diet, but I saw that it has been lacking in the green department. Kale is my new best friend!
Overall, it was a lot of fun and I enjoyed the challenge! I don't personally believe that eating raw foods 100% of the time is an ideal, long term diet for me, but I enjoyed the benefits of this shorterm journey and experience. Oh, and the reason why I stopped at day 6 instead of going the full 10 is because I started to get worried and anxious over what I was going to eat on day 7. Getting anxiety over food is a huge red flag for me to stop and redirect my focus. So I did, and felt really good about weaning slowly back to raw and cooked foods the next day.
Here's a few recipes I came up with during my cleanse, which I loved:
Favorite blended breakfast:
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 large frozen banana
1/2 ripe papaya
Large handful of spinach and kale leaves
1 teaspoon stevia
1 Cup 1/2 of water to liquefy
Favorite lunch smoothie:
1 cup coconut milk
2 frozen bananas
2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
Favorite dinner salad:
Shredded Veggie-papaya Salad
1 shredded zucchini
2 shredded carrots
1 shredded green papaya
1/2 cup of chopped cilantro
Handful of sprinkled pumpkin seeds
Dressing of Choice
So, to sum it all up, I feel awesome, I am eating more greens, and I'm happy as a little Spongepants. I might even try this cleanse again in the Spring, now that I am more prepared. Aloha!