Eating Responsibly and Well
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Here? Me? Raw?
Decoding the Raw Food Movement
By Arianna Theofan
Unless you have an abundance of perseverance and dedication, adhering to a raw foods diet can be a struggle. Raw food purists consume nuts or seeds, legumes, vegetables, fruits, grains and some fish. That’s it. Seriously.
The basis for the raw food movement is the belief that natural enzymes in raw foods, destroyed through cooking, are good for your body. Some nutritionists and doctors may question whether eating raw foods exclusively is a good idea, but for most anyone the addition of more raw food into diets will produce many health benefits.
To begin with, a raw foods diet guarantees that you will be eating lots of fruits and vegetables. In their natural state, fruits and vegetables are low in calories and fat and packed with dietary fiber, potassium, and vitamins A and C. According to the American Dietetic Association, vegetarian diets may lower cholesterol levels, blood pressure and reduce the chances of hypertension and Type 2 diabetes.
Willing to give it a try?
Start the day off with a smoothie made with both vegetables and fruits. Take spinach and two or three of your favorite fruits, combine it with ice, blend the ingredients and you have a healthy smoothie that explodes with vitamins and minerals and is packed with protein.
Making meals and snacks using strictly raw food can be both easy and tasty. Almonds or cashews can be a great pick-me-up snack as they are packed with protein and are very filling. Another great plus is they don’t have nearly as much fat or sugar as your favorite coffee drink. When choosing a nutty snack, be sure to get unsalted products to avoid taking in too much sodium.
Fruit and vegetable salads are another all-raw meal, but they can get boring very fast if you don’t accessorize them. Add nuts or fresh mint to a fruit salad, or peppers and olives to your vegetable salad for some extra flavors.
Look for opportunities to replace unhealthy items on your diet with options from the raw food list. Instead of making wheat pasta, try zucchini noodles (shredded zucchini) and pesto. It’s filling but lighter, so you won’t feel overstuffed after eating it. Plus pesto is a great sauce that can be made easily from scratch, or you can find it in your grocery store.
Hummus is great for snacking. If you like sandwiches, hummus can be a healthy alternative to mayonnaise. Try making a sandwich with hummus, spinach and peppers. Celery and carrots with hummus can be an appealing alternative crunchy snack.
Make sure you wash your fruits and vegetables well. Take care, however, not to remove the skin from produce, because most of the nutrients reside there. Also it’s best to buy organic produce that has not been exposed to pesticides and other chemicals.
If you are considering going on a raw foods diet, it’s a good idea to discuss this lifestyle decision with your doctor who may recommend ways to ensure that you continue to get the iron and protein you need. It is possible to acquire all the necessary proteins and amino acids from plant foods, according to the American Dietetic Association.
Ultimately, the best way to determine whether a raw foods diet is for you may be to give it a try and see how it makes you feel. Don’t be surprised if you experience energy levels you didn’t know you had.