The way nature intended

2009-07-30 00:00

WHAT is raw food?

Raw food is plant-based, uncooked food the way nature provides it to us. By cooking we mean heating anything beyond 47°C, which is the temperature at which enzymes in food begin to be destroyed. To test how hot this is, if it burns your finger it’s too hot.

Why eat it?

Uncooked food provides you with more nutrients­. The cooking process has been shown to destroy nutrients and the higher the temperature, the more is detroyed. Because of the destruction of enzymes, cooked food requires more energy to digest.

What are the benefits?

Most common is a feeling of lightness and clarity. Emotions become more stable. Chronic conditions often improve and skin, hair and nails look better. Less sleep is required,­ as your body is no longer detoxifying all night and weight loss is often dramatic­. I can see this being easier to follow in summer than in winter.

Do you find that?

Initially when transitioning into raw foods it is possible to miss the warming comfort that cooked food provides. The key is to find your own balance between cooked and raw foods in winter and not to be too hard on yourself when you want something warm. In our first few winters, we included organic brown rice, quinoa and steamed butternut or sweet potato. Within a year or two your body will have acclimatised to the new way of eating and the desire for the cooked food ceases to exist.

Raw food doesn’t need to be cold food, there are a number of warm options in our book, RAWlicious. We eat soups warmed using a blender and add lots of spices in winter or include dehydrated foods.

Is the diet safe for children and pregnant women? Can children get enough protein on an exclusively raw diet?

Yes, a raw, whole-food, plant-based diet is your natural diet and it can easily provide all your nutritional needs. However, you need to get in a wide variety of foods to make sure that you are meeting all your requirements.

Why don’t you include dairy?

Your metabolism changes when you are weaned off breast milk. Most people have a difficult time digesting casein, a major protein that is found in milk. Ongoing exposure to casein that is not properly broken down has been linked to ear infections, nasal­ congestion, acne, eczema, a variety of autoimmune illnesses and even cancer. Most shop-bought milk is loaded with antibiotics, growth hormones and puss and has been pasteurised and homogenised, making­ it completely unrecognisable to your body as a food. Contrary to popular belief you do not need milk for calcium, strong bones and teeth. You get more absorbable calcium from sesame seeds and green leaves than you get from milk.

If you don’t have the time or the space to grow your own vegetables and you can’t afford or you can’t obtain organic produce, is this diet still a good idea?

Eating non-organic produce is not ideal, as you are essentially eating mineral-deficient food and you are getting herbicides and pesticides added to your toxic load.

We believe that “where there is a will there is a way” — growing your own food can be as simple as having sprouts in jars on your kitchen windowsill.

Getting a whole family to change to this lifestyle may be difficult and preparing two meals is not usually viable for most people. What advice do you have for people who would like to do as much as they can to follow it?

Start with smoothies or green vegetable juicing. Most children will not say no to a raw chocolate-nut milkshake for breakfast. Or starting your day off with a green vegetable juice will cut the cravings for other processed foods later, and the good nutrients will literally start to push out the old.

One complaint from people I know who’ve tried a raw diet is that it gets boring after a while. Do you ever miss anything you used to eat, such as pizza?

That’s why we wrote RAWlicious, so that there is no shortage of a variety of raw dishes. As for whether we miss anything that we used to eat, the answer is honestly no. In the beginning we allowed ourselves to indulge our cravings so as not to become fanatical or deprive ourselves, but eventually we realised that those foods made us feel sluggish and ill.

Can you suggest one thing that our readers could try that would make a difference?

Start with the Superfood smoothie. There’s more nutrition in that smoothie than most people see in a week. What other things do you do for your health in the way of exercise or relaxing, etc?

Walking in the forest, taking infra-red saunas­, making regular trips to the hotsprings­, reading, taking the time to acknowledge the beauty that surrounds us and being grateful.

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