What most raw foodists won’t tell you

Are you 100 percent raw?

ShhhCloseupSmushed-300x258.jpgI get that question a lot, from both clients and fellow ‘raw foodists’. And my answer is…no. Does that surprise you? Disappoint you? What most raw foodists won’t tell you…but I will, of course, you know me!…is that they’re not eating 100 percent raw food 100% of the time. So they really have no business making you, I or anyone else feel somehow less than perfect for that bowl of rice or any other occasional dip in the ‘cooked food’ pool.

If anyone makes you feel less than perfect just as you are, please ignore them. Or remind them that we all have our own paths to travel. And actually to my mind, there’s nothing wrong with having cooked food some of the time, if that means you are a happy person (see below). Nothing!

A gleeful admission…and a celebration

I am quite happy to crow from the rooftops that even though my personal preference is definitely raw food all the time (and that’s what I do at home most days), not only do I NOT eat raw 100 percent of the time every single day, but I feel quite happy about it. Why? Because…

Eating 50-80 percent raw works too!

People talk a lot about the benefits of a purely raw diet, but I haven’t heard many people talk about the advantages of ‘almost’. Somehow ‘almost’ is never seen as quite good enough, whereas in my book, it’s pretty darn good. In fact it can be brilliant.

I was 50 when the above photo of me was taken, and that was on 8 years of probably 60-80 percent raw. I increased the amount of raw food as I went along and discovered that the best way for me to progress was to look at the whole thing as a journey, NOT a destination. I started feeling amazing with incredible benefits of energy, skin, stamina, less need for sleep, no aches and pains…and none of that depended on me eating 100 percent raw. That’s why I help people add more raw to their diet but not necessarily all raw (unless that’s what they want), because even an increase can make a big difference.

I now go for long periods of 100 percent and then other periods of maybe 80, even though my personal preference is all raw.

What are the benefits of not eating 100 percent raw?

I personally choose to be flexible, and in fact I advocate this for most people who are living with non-raw family members or friends. Here’s why:

  • I can be relaxed. I don’t have to avoid events, people or places because of the way I would prefer to eat. Yes I do ring in advance and ask for a raw food dish if that’s practical, but sometimes it just isn’t. A few weeks ago I was at an event for entrepreneurs in Berlin and some of us decided to go out for dinner together. I had two choices: either make some compromises at a Thai restaurant while having fun with great people, or find a raw food place and eat alone. You can guess what I chose, right? I had a fabulous time and made some brilliant connections with wonderful people. I just made sure to choose food that I was happy to eat and then went back to all raw the next day.
  • I can be non judgmental, both of myself and of others. You won’t catch me glaring at someone who is ‘paleo’, Weight Watchers or even Atkins…though the last one does make me cringe inside, knowing what I know about the effects of so much meat on the body. However guess what? Even if you were to eat huge steaks dripping in grease (ha ha I couldn’t resist!), I could still be friends with you and we could laugh, party and enjoy each other’s company. I wouldn’t comment on your food choices, but I’d probably pop a big salad, wraps and guacamole on the table in addition to your steak if you came to my house. Then if you asked me what the yummy salad was, I’d tell you the ingredients. If you wanted to know more, I’d share, and if not then I’d keep quiet. Then we’d watch a movie or whatever and enjoy the rest of the evening!
  • I can be experimental. I can taste a super cool Korean dish recommended by a friend, or try out that beautiful looking Indian pudding, and say to myself, “Hmmm, how can I make this raw?” And then of course if I really like it, I can go home and create my own raw version. Then I can blog about it and share it with you!
  • I can be just plain chilled out. I can live in the moment. Now I’ll admit that when you’re experienced enough in raw food preparation (or if you’re happy with very simple foods), it isn’t a big deal to eat 100 percent raw at home, and that is definitely my personal preference. That’s why I have so many fast recipes – I want to eat raw but I don’t want to live in the kitchen! Plus I have teenage children who don’t eat raw all the time, and life is too short to be stressed out and beat myself up because I’m not conforming to someone else’s standard. I have no desire to alienate friends and/or family because they don’t see things as I do. By not forcing my children to eat raw all the time, they are curious, they don’t rebel against it…and they are secretly proud of me (yes kids if you’re reading this, I found you out!)

The stigma and the ‘shame’ of not eating 100 percent raw

A lot of people have this belief that if you aren’t 100 percent ‘raw’, you are somehow flawed, weak, lazy, uneducated, or just plain wrong. In fact the very word choice is interesting…we say ‘I’m raw’ rather than ‘I eat raw food’ as if it were part of our identity. Which it is, of course…but we can be whatever we want to be. We can be raw food lovers, enthusiasts, fans, fanatics…though I tend to steer away from that last one. I don’t think the world needs any more of those!

So what should my aim be?

That’s a fair question. I think you can aim to continue to be a learning, growing human being. Like me. Like many others. So please do NOT beat yourself up if you set yourself a goal of all raw all the time and yet you find yourself going for that bowl of rice with your veggies. I knew a girl who was disappointed in herself because her diet was all raw…apart from the occasional bowl of miso soup!

Set goals that are achievable for you and that make you excited. For example, learn to make one new dish a week. Or invent a new juice every Sunday. Or learn to use a dehydrator. Whatever is appropriate for you and makes you feel like you are learning, growing and having fun.

At least that’s how I see it!

What about you? Have you ever been made to feel like you’re less than perfect because of how you eat? Do you have a completely different viewpoint from me? Let me know in the comments below, it’s all good!

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