When I first started my adventure with raw food many years ago, there wasn’t nearly as exciting a movement as there is today. I was basically armed with one book on raw food and the limited information online. Still, it was enough to fascinate me and get me going, because I was craving energy and over-the-top health. Now that raw food’s popularity is soaring, I’m asked all the time, “How can I get started with raw food?”
Today, I’m sharing with you five different ways that you can easily get started on your own raw food adventure. Are you ready? Great! Let’s go …
1. No-brainer raw foods: Let’s start with my own personal raw food journey, which is a good first example. When I found out about raw (by simply stumbling onto a raw food book in a health food store), I was already eating a vegan diet and therefore I was familiar with veggies, fruit and salads. So, it made sense to me, at the time, to simply add more salads, fresh fruits, fresh veggies, smoothies, guacamole, fresh salsa, etc. These things were familiar, easy, and naturally raw – I call them No-Brainer Raw Foods. This was a great way to bump up the amount of raw food in my life without much effort, and in turn, by eating more of these foods I was eating less …ummm … toast with soy butter (I was a toast addict). All kidding aside, by eating more raw food, I was eating less wheat, soy and other vegan foods that, while in moderation I think are fine, I didn’t want as staples in my diet.
2. All-raw … one day at a time: As good as my experience with No-Brainer Raw Foods was, I had bigger plans for my life with raw food, and I was ready to try another tactic to make it more serious and measurable. I decided to pick one day a week where I went all raw. One day a week was totally manageable and not intimidating. Brilliantly, it inspired me to do more days. Score! I felt so great on those all-raw days that it wasn’t long until I wanted to incorporate more days like that into my life. Before I knew it, I was going three days a week 100 percent raw, and then four days, and so on … until I was all raw.
3. Raw til dinner: Although I didn’t start my raw food adventure with this tactic, I know many who have. This style is popular for a couple of reasons: 1) it’s easy for people with family members who don’t eat raw and 2) some people simply don’t want to eat all-raw but want to have a strategy for eating “more” raw. It works exactly as it reads: you eat raw food until dinner. Then, for dinner, the recommendation is that you still eat about 50 percent raw, if possible, and make the other half of your meal cooked, vegan foods. Let me give you an example of what this could look like.
Snack 1: raw almonds, seeds, dried fruit, and/or fresh fruit.
Lunch: large salad, raw soup, raw veggies, raw cheese dip or raw hummus, raw crackers, or go fancy with a raw lasagna or quiche!
Snack 2: raw snack bar.
Dinner: the easiest way to get a healthy dose of raw foods with dinner is by making a salad to accompany the other/cooked food, which could include a vegan burrito, lentils, beans, rice, tofu, cooked veggies, etc.
4. Certain things raw: This option, although not super common, can be a great way to dabble in raw (and fun!). Furthermore, it’s a stealthy way to get your family to eat more raw. Basically, you always make certain foods raw. For example, apart from the No-Brainer Raw Foods listed above, you can make certain things always raw, such as desserts. There are so many brilliant raw desserts, you’ll never get bored: cheesecake, brownies, cookies, cakes, bars, ice creams, chocolate(!), etc. Making the decision to convert to raw desserts is a healthy choice because it helps eliminate refined flours and sugars from your diet. Heck, many raw desserts can be eaten for breakfast because they’re usually super healthy. You could also take the step that you always have one raw side dish with dinner. Perhaps you eat raw mashed no-potatoes or marinated broccoli or a delicious carrot raisin dish. Pro-tip: When you combine this plan with the No-Brainer Raw Foods plan above, you’re really on your way with raw food.
5. Fast track to raw: For some people, the only way to start the raw diet is by jumping in with both feet and going 100 percent. Although this wasn’t the right path for me, it has worked well for some people I know. The people who tend to prefer this path are often at a point in life where they are ready for big change! Maybe it’s an illness that triggers the desire. Maybe it’s wanting to jump-start a weight loss plan. Maybe it’s just being fed up with not feeling the best and being ready for immediate change. Or, maybe it’s just that the person has an all-or-nothing personality. Whatever the reason, this path can be tricky but not impossible! If you have the will, excitement, and you’re prepared, then you can succeed with flying colors. How can you get prepared? My recommendation is that you get raw food books, read some raw food blogs, and understand what to expect with a raw food diet. Research local restaurants for options. Prepare your family if needed. Figure out where you’ll get your produce and what appliances you’ll need. And, get lots of great recipes. From there, you might start with simple raw foods so you don’t spend tons of time in the kitchen, unless of course you want to. Let your body get into the groove of raw food. Then, you can dabble with some more complicated recipes and enjoy this plan.
Whichever way you decide to start with raw food, here are my top take-home points:
Listen to your body and follow its lead. If you’re tired, rest. If you’re not excited about certain foods, then don’t force them. Find the raw foods that you love to eat and go from there. Your taste buds and preferences will change over time. Promise!
Remain flexible and don’t stress. There are five ways outlined above that can be used in moving to a raw diet. If one doesn’t jive with you, try another.
Surround yourself with raw. One of the best ways for staying motivated is with community and education. The community can be found online (raw forums, raw food blogs, and blog yourself!) and through meetups (check meetup.com for local groups). You can get a raw food coach as well, and more education can be found with DVDs, classes, magazines, etc. I’m constantly putting all of those things in front of me. And, every time I pick up a book or magazine, or read someone’s blog about what they’re doing with raw food, I’m excited and inspired.
MNN tease photo of vegetables: Shutterstock