As a follow-up to my last post earlier this month, I thought I’d take some time to write about several big lessons I’ve learned along the way whilst eating a 100% raw foods vegan diet. Never in my life did I think I’d go fully raw like this, let alone be able to maintain it for months! Yet here I am 2 months in and what’s more, still loving it! If you’re curious to try this way of eating either as a short-term cleanse (highly beneficial!) or even longer, here’s my personal experience so far along with some recommendations.
First I’ll explain a little of what I’m doing exactly, as there are a few different ways of eating raw vegan. The path I’ve taken revolves almost entirely around fruits and veggies. No grains, no oils, no sweeteners. I’ve recently started introducing a small amount of nuts and seeds in but kicked off the first month without them to really do some deep cleansing.
Interestingly enough, I just recently discovered there’s a diet out there that basically sums up what I’m doing which is called 80/10/10. This consists of eating 80% carbs, 10% protein, 10% fat (from whole food sources only). This 80/10/10 format is more or less what I’m following. I’m not a fan of adhering strictly to set diets out there but I AM adhering to the protocol given to me for liver cleansing and healing – which is to eat extremely LOW in fat (think no more than a couple spoonfuls of nuts or 1/4 avocado per day), as well as incorporate specific healing foods into my diet everyday.
The low fat part is the #1 most essential key to what I’m doing and also the big reason why I’ve chosen to make this a raw foods diet for myself over a cooked one. Without the addition of fats in the form of oils, meats and dairy, let alone no grains in the diet as well, I don’t feel any strong pull to eat cooked food. That’s just been my personal choice!
Ok so now that you’ve got the gist of it, onto the lessons and revelations…
1). SO MUCH ENERGY
Right away I noticed a huge SOAR in my energy levels on this diet. It was fabulous!! I felt like I could run a marathon. And it was a lasting stable energy, not a frenetic bouncing-off-the-walls type that you might think of when someone says they are feeling energised. I’ve been on diets before that had me running sky high on adrenaline, to the point where I was unable to fall asleep at night or stay asleep. This way of eating thankfully hasn’t taken me in that direction! Just lots of great sustained energy, a lightness of being and soaring positive feelings all day 🙂
I feel like this would be the BEST diet for any kind of athlete out there (if you haven’t yet seen my post on Insta where I talk about running, check it out!) I know it may not seem like fruits and veggies = strong athlete but that’s only because we’re so used to hearing protein protein protein emphasised in our culture. We actually don’t need that much protein to really thrive is what I’m learning. Here’s the thing though: I would say the “raw” part of this diet is what makes all the difference. The energy levels would not even be remotely the same if this were a cooked vegan diet. The raw aspect is what makes it truly magical and game-changing.
Many people experience a lot of detoxing on a raw foods diet initially before their energy gradually builds. For me, the real detoxing took about a good 3 weeks to kick in.
2). Detoxing – it happens!
I’ve experienced all kinds of strange detox reactions so far and who knows, maybe there’s more to come still! Among what I got: a swollen lymph node on one side of my neck, super sensitive bleeding gums (to the point where they would bleed every time I brushed my teeth), a bout of intense acne across my forehead, a red blotch in one eye. By the way, how do I know these were detox reactions and not a sign of a real problem? Because they all cleared up within a week or two and now I feel even better than before. Interesting enough, most of the reactions I had showed up on only one side of my body.
I will say it hasn’t been the easiest going at this diet alone without the guidance of a health practitioner or coach; I’ve had no one to ask about bizarro things coming up, no one to cross-check with to see whether my symptoms are normal or not. When my red eye lasted for over a week with no signs of clearing up, I had many people urging me to see a doctor. And I almost went too… but then I asked myself what was I hoping to gain by visiting a doctor anyway? They would either tell me I’m fine, tell me they’re not sure what’s going on, or (most likely) they would give me some sort of antibiotic medication to take which I knew I wouldn’t use. My intuition was strongly telling me that my eye was simply detoxing and I needed to let it run its course. Still, I was fed up with the constant redness so I finally buckled down and did an energetic healing process – and the bulk of it cleared up within 24 hours!! THIS is why I love energy work – it cuts right through it all and delivers results FAST. At the end of the day, everything is energy and if we know how to work with it, we CAN clear it. (**mental note to self: put in the time to do more energy work on self!**)
3). Flow and freedom over force
This is one big thing I’ve learned about myself, I do not do well with rigidity (and I imagine many others out there are the same!) When I first discovered that this was the diet I needed to be on to fully heal, I really didn’t think I’d be able to do it. It’s hugely restrictive and just not even close to how I was normally eating. ONLY fruits and veggies? Who can live like that?! Plus how can you survive and feel satiated when eating a few slices of avocado as your ONLY source of fat for the day?! What about my grass-fed butter?? How can I LIVE without butter?!?! LOL it seemed impossible and a recipe for starvation. I didn’t write it off though. I didn’t force myself into it. And I didn’t even think of it as something I HAD to do. I made it very clear to myself that this diet was a choice… I could choose to do it and see what happened and potentially heal a lot of things. Or I could continue my status quo.
I allowed myself to gradually test the waters and move into eating raw instead of going full force right away. I started experimenting with cutting fat and oils out of my cooked veggie meals – would I be satisfied with just steamed potatoes and herbs instead of adding my usual olive oil? Yes, actually.. yes that was fine! I started experimenting with replacing the steamed veggies with a raw veggie soup and sprouts. Would I be satisfied with this as my dinner? I didn’t think so.. but turns out I totally was and it felt great! As soon as I took the pressure off myself to eat fully raw, I went fully raw. It’s a bit funny but sometimes when we set out being super rigid about something, we automatically push against it and don’t do it.
4). Drop the fear of fruit!
I used to limit my fruit intake due to warnings from so many nutritional teachers out there – “fruit is high in fructose sugar, too much sugar of any kind damages teeth, it contributes to candida, it spikes blood sugar levels, it’s hard on the adrenals.” You’ve probably heard at least some of this out there. If there’s one thing I’ve learned on this diet, it’s that fruit is not the enemy. Fruit is what keeps us going! It’s what protects the body and helps fight against viruses, parasites, bacteria. Health problems do not result from eating a TON of fruit in a day. If you don’t believe me, I don’t blame you… I have been schooled for a long time in the nutrition world that fruit is something that’s of course healthy but should also be limited… especially very sweet fruits like bananas which are high in fruit sugar. Nutrition teachers have definitely NOT encouraged or promoted eating several kilos of fruit per day!
From personal experience of eating a majority of fruits everyday for the past 2 months, I can say that I haven’t experienced any detrimental effects from this, only incredibly positive ones… and my mind is officially blown. I have to do a separate post soon on what exactly I’m eating and how amazing it’s making me feel! In fact, it’s been extremely freeing being able to eat as much fruit as I want and not have to worry about blood sugar. For someone who used to suffer from hypoglycemia in my teens (which is the onset of diabetes) and was told by doctors to beware of consuming too much fruit sugar, this revelation is nothing short of incredible!
5). Be open to shaking things up and going against the norm
One thing that I’ve had to really adjust to on this raw foods diet is how often I end up eating. I’ve always been accustomed to having three sizable meals a day, with an occasional snack in between. Our entire culture operates around this 3-meal idea: a breakfast, a lunch, a dinner.
That eating outline doesn’t really work on a low-fat raw foods diet – you’ve got to adopt more of a grazing technique since you WILL get hungry every 2 hours or so without fats to keep you satiated longer. I’ve heard of a few people on raw foods who manage to eat just a couple times a day and feel fine but in my experience that hasn’t happened. I eat a LOT of food and I eat until I feel full… but because it’s fruit and veggies, they burn through my system relatively quickly. I’ve had to learn to carry a few snacks with me at all times, even if I’m only going to be out for an hour or two. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve left the house feeling totally full and within 2 hours feel VERY hungry again! This has gone counter to everything that I’m used to but it doesn’t mean it’s bad – it simply requires an open mind and lots of flexibility on my part. Which are just excellent qualities to cultivate in life in general!
6). Eating fully raw is costly… but then again, so is poor health!
Add to that eating organic which I do think is very important on a raw foods diet, as there’s no chance of pesticides being cooked out. Since discovering that so many of my health issues stem from pesticide buildup passed down through generations of my family, it’s especially important to me to always choose organic foods. Unfortunately there’s quite a hefty price tag associated with eating organic produce! I’m trying to find ways to ease the cost – for example, shopping in bulk at a discounted health store but it’s proving difficult as I don’t own a car. So for now, I’ve got myself on a weekly budget that is truthfully higher than I’d like but workable and I’m doing my best to stay with it.
At the end of the day though, food costs won’t stop me from eating the way I feel best, as I believe health is first and foremost THE MOST important thing in life. Without our health we have nothing. And having the memory of being unable to walk is a constant reminder of how precious good health is: We simply cannot live a full and vibrant life without it.
What is more important to put your money towards than your health? For me at least, the answer is nothing!!
7). Finally, ANY diet out there is only sustainable if you truly love it
I should note that I’m not new to eating raw – about 6 or 7 years ago I was largely but not completely a raw foodist, eating about 60-70% raw foods. I was close to being vegan as well. I don’t really remember the particulars about what I was eating then.. there were definitely a lot of green smoothies involved but also a TON of packaged raw snacks that I was relying on to “stay raw.” Mostly I remember not doing well on that diet. I was ALWAYS cold. I developed signs of anemia as well as joint pain and a number of injuries from yoga that just would not heal. I began to despise the watery ice cold green smoothies I would always make and force myself to drink first thing in the morning. It was a diet that I was pushing on myself instead of a diet that I was in love with. When I finally went back to eating meat I was absolutely ravenous and my body felt starved for nutrients.
This time feels COMPLETELY different. This time I know a heck of a lot more than I did when I first started out. And having to avoid almost all forms of fat means that I cannot rely on packaged foods at all. I cannot rely on things like oils and nut butters and dehydrated coconut or grain snacks to keep me feeling satiated. It’s fresh fruit and veggies all the way. This time eating raw feels almost effortless. It feels natural and it feels right for me at this time in my life, aligned with where I’m at. I ADORE the foods I’m eating, I ADORE the high-vibrational feelings I get from all my meals, I ADORE that this diet improves my meditation and spiritual practices, I ADORE spending a lot less time cooking and washing dishes. I feel this is so important with any way of eating you choose to follow. If you don’t genuinely love it, you won’t be able to stick with it long-term.
So that’s where I’m at right now!
I really really love eating raw foods. I loved it back when I first discovered this way of eating 7 or 8 years ago and no matter how I’ve eaten since, raw foods have always held a special place in my heart. As of right now, I want to continue. The feeling that comes from eating 100% raw… the vibrancy, the lightness, the soars of energy, the boundless positivity… it’s unparallelled and I don’t want to give it up! It’s not the most convenient way to eat – but I’m not in this for convenience. Convenience is fast food. Convenience is eating all your meals out and relying on other people to do everything for you, while being totally disconnected from where your food comes from, what’s in it, how it’s made, etc.
I’m also fairly sure I’ll have to make some changes here and there come the colder weather but I’m not worried about it right now. My aim is not to be perfect or rigidly adhere to a label but to nourish and heal my body. That’s what’s most important ♥ So I will adjust as needed when the time comes!
How about you? Have you ever tried going raw? What was your experience like? I’d love to hear your thoughts and what did/didn’t work for you! ♥
I’ve also been posting many pics of what I’ve been eating lately over on my instagram… if you’re not yet following on insta, it’s time we became friends don’t ya think? 🙂 This place, along with my newsletter, is where I share all my best stuff!
Dive on in, more updates to come :)))