In my first nutrition class we were told to try all diets for a week, so that one day when a client comes to us curious about a specific diet, we’ve felt it in our own bodies. I think that this is a great idea! So when I began noticing I was predominantly consuming my veggies cooked, it prompted me to embark on a raw food challenge. This also meant vegan. I had initially wanted to do it for a week, but social commitments meant that it wasn’t to be! Nevertheless, I think 3 days is a great period of time for a cleanse – a juice, smoothie or a raw food detox.
Benefits of a raw food diet:
- Raw foods contain more of their nutritional value. When you apply heat to food, some nutrients, particularly water-soluble vitamins and antioxidants, are destroyed.
- No exposure to carcinogens that are produced through some cooking techniques.
- High fibre diet.
- Digestion efficiency and bowel function.
- The increased nutrients you are consuming may make you feel more satisfied, thus you eat less.
- It encourages you to eat more fruits and vegetables. Always a good thing!
In class we have been learning about nutrient losses as the result of processing, handling, storing and cooking fresh produce. Exposure to heat, light and oxygen diminishes the nutrients and phytochemicals found in fresh produce. It has been shown that produce can lose up to 15% vitamin C content daily when kept at room temperature! Therefore even when eating raw, from farm to table a lot of nutrients can be lost, even before cooking. This is not to alarm you! Eating fruits and vegetables is never a waste and you will always obtain some nutrients and of course, dietary fibre. I mention this so we are aware of how important it is to take measures to preserve nutrient quality. See my recommendations at the end of this post.
As I mentioned, I used this as a cleanse and to remind myself of how great food tastes raw! As it is winter in Australia I found myself cooking and not making use of veggies in their raw state. This was an effective reminder of how delicious raw food is and how good I feel including it in my diet. Here is what I ate:
Breakfast: Beauty Blend as a smoothie bowl
Snack: 1/3 cup raw nuts (almonds & cashews) + 1 green apple
Green alfredo zucchini pasta with nut parmesan! I also chomped on ½ red capsicum whilst making my lunch :p Recipe for this coming soon.
Snack: 1 frozen date + 5 brazil nuts
Dinner – salad:
- handful spinach
- ½ avocado
- 12 soaked almonds
- cherry tomatoes
- 1/3 capsicum
- 1 tbsp kim chi
- 1 tbsp tahini
- ½ lemon juice
- Drizzle cold pressed macadamia oil
Dessert: 3 strawberries
Breakfast: chia pudding with nuts and seeds
Snack: 2 x bliss balls
Lunch: fruit salad – green apple, kiwi fruit, brazil nuts, dates, raspberries
Snack: carrot and celery with 2 tbsp tahini
Dinner: Pasta from yesterday with ¼ avocado added
Breakfast: Raw Buckwheat Porridge
Snack: Green juice – kale, spinach, cucumber, celery, broccoli, mint, parsley and 2 x bliss balls
Lunch: Fennel salad with purple kale, coriander, pumpkin seeds, cucumber and almond butter and date dressing
Snack: Raw flaxseed crackers (Kitz brand) and cut up carrots, capsicum and celery and homemade pesto
Dinner: Lettuce cups with ground walnuts, seaweed, olives, carrots, celery and onion (raw tuna!)
I felt great! I felt I could eat in abundance and not feel lethargic or overly full. My digestion worked well, my energy levels were great (I exercised every day without a problem) and my skin was glowy! Mission accomplished, I have since been and will continue to include raw produce in most meals/snacks.
In conclusion, I don’t think it’s necessary to entirely give up cooking to have a healthy diet. I do however believe in including raw fruit and vegetables daily. There is still plenty of nutrition left in properly cooked food. Use the below tips to preserve food quality and reduce exposure to toxins…
- Consider buying organic meat, poultry, dairy and eggs and wild fish (not farmed).
- Consider buying certified organic fresh produce or observe the Clean 15 / Dirty Dozen.
- Prepare your own meals from whole foods as much as possible and use packaged food sparingly.
- Eat raw fruit and vegetables daily to maximize nutrients, and consume whole grains over refined.
- Keep fresh produce refrigerated as soon as you are back from the market and consume as soon as possible – this might mean 2-3 shops a week (although it is difficult to say how long they are stored un-refrigerated at the shops).
- Shop local at smaller grocers/markets where produce has been stored for less time and travelled less distance.
- Grow your own! Even if just a small herb garden.
- When cooking, opt for lightly blanching or steaming as opposed to boiling. If boiling, save and use the nutrient-rich water for stock, as nutrients leach into the water.
- Avoid barbequing meat in direct flame and always trim fat to avoid potential carcinogens and pesticides.
- Try washing and scrubbing vegetables rather than peeling (a lot of nutrition is under the skin of fruit/veg).
- Include fermented, cultured and pickled food in your diet (actually preserves and enhances nutrition in food!).
- Freeze food that you will cook with or use in smoothies (freezing preserves! Buying frozen food that doesn’t have any additives has been proven to have greater nutrition).