What is a Raw Food Diet?

The Raw Food Diet

raw food

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You may have come across the term Raw Food diet and dismissed it as something that sounds very unappealing. Or you might think it is the kind of diet that only people with ‘alternative’ lifestyles (known as hippies when I was young) might be interested in. On the other hand you might be curious to know what it is all about, because the raw food movement is becoming more widespread and it is kind of trendy at the moment.

The term Raw Food Diet is misleading on many levels. I don’t like the term diet because to me it sounds as if it is something you go ‘on’, or have to ‘suffer’ for a time until you achieve your objectives, at which point you can return to your previous existence. It is like saying you are on a vegetarian diet or a meat eating diet. A better description would a Raw Food  Lifestyle. The ‘Raw Food’ diet is not a specific regime to be followed but a more descriptive term which illustrates the types of food you predominantly eat.

So having cleared that up, what exactly are raw foods? The term is  NOT generally taken to mean foods like Sushi and Steak Tartare! Although you can get raw dairy products and raw meat and fish products these do not generally feature in a raw food lifestyle. They are certainly not components of a therapeutic raw food diet as advocated by myself.

The strict definition of raw food is any food which has not been heated above 48 degrees centigrade (117 degrees Fahrenheit). Generally this means uncooked foods and foods which are in their natural state. In terms of the ‘raw food diet’ this is taken to mean foods which are safe to eat when raw. Fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds are the obvious food groups which spring to mind, though there are many others with which you might not be familiar.

The basis of a raw food diet is seasonal, organic vegetables and fruits. Drinks tend to be fresh fruit and vegetable juices, or pure water. To this add nuts, seeds, sea vegetables and some oils and you have the basis for a well balanced diet.

So in some ways the term ‘Raw Food’ can give a misleading picture to individuals who are new to this way of eating. Sometimes raw food is referred to as ‘Living Foods’, but strictly speaking this should only apply to foods which are still growing such as indoor greens or sprouted beans and seeds.

As well as the obvious foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds there is a wide range of food groups available, so this is not a restrictive regime but can offer plenty of variety. I have listed the more common foodstuffs below:

Raw Food Groups

  • Fresh fruits (apples, bananas)
    Dried fruits (raisins, sultanas)
    Vegetables (carrots, sweet potato)
    Salad vegetables (tomato, Peppers)
    Leafy Green vegetables (spinach, kale)
    Sprouted beans and pulses (mung, lentil)
    Sprouted grains (wheat, barley)
    Sprouted seeds (buckwheat, quinoa)
    Nuts (macadamia,brazil, almond)
    Seeds (flax, pumpkin, chia, sunflower)
    Mushrooms
    Sea vegetables (kelp, nori)
    Oils (olive, hemp)
    Spices
    Herbs
    Sweeteners (agave, honey)
    Superfoods / Supplements (Bee pollen, aloe vera, spirulina, maca)
    Ready made (nut butters, seed butters, tahini, flax crackers)

As the Raw food movement has gathered pace, Raw chefs, teachers, food manufacturers and providers have started to look for innovative ways to use and present raw foods and hence you can now find raw cakes, raw chocolate, raw pizza, raw lasagne etc. There are even cafes and restaurants spring up now which serve nothing but raw food.

Comments

  1. I was a raw vegan for 2 years, from 2005-2007. I still incorporate some of it into my diet, but I had to quit due to the seeds and nuts (I can’t do them due to inflammatory issues with my intestines.) I love raw recipes, green smoothies, and simple salads and my diet has plenty of veggies and fruits that are raw 🙂 If I lived in a tropical climate, I’d do it on a higher level 🙂

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