How Raw Foods Work For Me

by Susan on February 6, 2011

There is a huge debate going on in the raw food community right now about how to eat. Do you eat a 100% raw diet? 50% raw? Do you include cooked food, should you eat meat? Can you thrive on a 100% raw food diet? Have I failed if I am not 100%? Can I get any benefit if I only include small amounts of raw?

I find it all exhausting. Take another step back and include all of the information we get bombarded with on a daily basis from the food industry that is misleading and inaccurate, how is a person supposed to figure out how to eat? I have a suggestion. Become aware of what your body needs.

Everyone has a different constitution. You need to find out what works for your constitution. I have become very aware of what works for me. In the summer, I eat almost 100% raw. In the winter, I like to supplement with cooked food, but in a very specific way which I will talk about a little later. I am finding that this works for me. Do I stick to it all the time? No. And here is where it becomes interesting. When ever I do deviate, my body rebels, instantly.

Your body speaks to you, all the time. But you need to become aware and figure out how to listen. If you know my back story, I waited until my body was screaming at me. Shortness of breath, horrible acid reflux, weight gain, sore swollen joints and fatigue were all symptoms that I was experiencing from the way I was eating. I knew I needed a drastic change and I made one. I went 100% raw. Luckily, it was summer and many wonderful raw foods were available.

Here is what happened. I felt amazing. I lost weight. All of my symptoms went away. It was fantastic and it gave me a really good set point for how I could feel. I kept up pretty much a 90-100% raw diet for quite a while. It was amazing. Then some interesting things happened. The first thing was that I started missing some of the food that I was used to. Cooked food. I also was having trouble navigating social events such as dinner at friends, or eating out. Lastly, winter hit. I found myself craving warm, cooked food.

I went though quite a few “ups and downs”, good food times and bad food times. I have finally figured out what works for me. But before I go into that, what I really want to stress is that I had to figure out what it felt like to really feel good, before I could realize when I wasn’t. Make sense?

Once I cleaned out, after I was actually raw for a period of time, I created a set point. A point where I felt great. So, now when I eat food that isn’t optimal for me, my body tells me immediately. So my first and most important suggestion is to clean your diet up. Spend some time getting off of all processed food, grains, and refined sugars. Really up your raw food percentage and eat very clean for at least 21 days. See how it feels. Remember how it feels. Use that as your base line. (Check back in March, we will be doing a 21 day cleanse.) Learn how to listen to your body.

What works for me? 90-100% raw in the summer, with some supplemented cooked food in the winter. When I say supplemented, I don’t mean a completely cooked meal. I mean a meal that is mostly raw with some cooked thrown in for warmth and that hearty feel. Even in the dead of the winter, I don’t feel good consuming a completely cooked meal. Which makes sense because I love raw foods so much!

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Mindy February 6, 2011 at 11:16 pm

Great post. I was just on FB. A friend was commenting on the so-called “Great Health Debates” that are going on right now, and how disappointing the first one was tonight. I commented that I wasn’t into listening to these debates at all, because I feel like we give too much power away to experts, and then they themselves change their opinions all the time anyway. I went on to say that my personal emphasis was on eating vegan for ethical reasons, and beyond that, learning to really listen and pay attention to how my body responds after each meal or snack. Not taking a ton of time to mull it over, just taking a few moments to take note, and use that feedback to guide me in the future. I think we are not really in touch with our own bodies at all. We just want someone else to tell us what to do, it seems easier, But the only easy thing is to do what you say, and learn to listen and read the book of our own body.

Susan February 6, 2011 at 11:27 pm

So, interesting, the debate. I listened after I wrote this post. They did reinforce that we need to find out what works for our bodies, so that was great. There was some interesting information but everything gets so confusing sometimes. It is one of the reasons that I get ornery when people say they have THE answer. We all have to find our answers.

Cliff Champion February 7, 2011 at 1:12 am

Absolutely… the dogmatism and judgment that people have about something that is SUPPOSED to be so positive is astonishing. We need to do what is right for ourselves! No one knows you better than yourself. I appreciate this post!

Amy Oscar February 7, 2011 at 5:28 am

I loved this post, Susan. I lost 45 pounds on a low carb diet and, though I felt better, I still had health issues. When I started eating 50% raw – after reading your posts – it was like the lights went on. I loved the taste and textures of the foods. Food tasted like food again – brighter, more vital. Plus I feel better about the way that my food choices impact the world. Keep doing what you’re doing. It matters – and it’s making a difference.

Birit Trematore February 7, 2011 at 9:26 am

When people find out I eat a raw diet they always assume I mean 100%. When it comes out that I do include some cooked foods it almost weakens my arguement for raw. I have to stress the foods I do include.. corn tortillas toasted in coconut oil, quinoa, quinoa pasta. I’m not adding in chicken wings, for example.
I love the idea of getting people to experience what it’s like to feel really, really good. As a Pilates instructor I’m always waiting for people to get to that wonderful point at the beginning of an exercise program where they start to feel energized, strong and light on their feet. Same idea.
Susan, what are some of the cooked foods you add into your diet to get that wintertime warm comfort?

Susan February 7, 2011 at 9:30 am

I will supplement with beans, some grains, and some cooked veggies along with raw ones. My transitional recipes (80% raw) are a great example of how I mix it up. Interesting how you say that when you add cooked food it “weakens” your argument for raw. People are always looking for an excuse to point fingers.

Mindy February 7, 2011 at 10:11 am

It’s so true…once you get a taste of how good it feels to eat clean (baselilne), then it’s easy to want to come back to that place if you fall off the wagon. Susan, thanks for the great post! I love your approach:)

Toni February 7, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Amazing and so true post! Thank you for providing real, honest information that people can understand. I love your website and all of you amazing recipes!

Molly February 7, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Thank you for confirming that even if I do not stay 100% raw I’m not a failure. It can be so difficult not to lay a huge guilt trip on myself because I chose to eat nachos at the super bowl party. Thank you. I really appreciate you!

jerrine verkaik February 7, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Great encouraging post. Since I live in Canada, I, too, feel the need for some cooked food in the winter. I also eat some (wild caught) fish, finding it necessary because grains, even when sprouted, can give me trouble. A small piece of fish helps satisfy my hunger when vegetables and nuts/seeds aren’t enough. I find that it’s enough to cut veggies thin enough that they can be barely warmed in a stirfry pan, thus losing very little nutritional value. But when I lok at my colourful plate beside those bland meat and potatoes plates so many people dish up I feel healthier even before I take a bite!

Elizabeth February 7, 2011 at 3:43 pm

I can totally relate to what you just said. I feel the same way. I have to be VERY careful when choosing a cooked side dish to go along with a 95% raw meal or else I suffer terribly. I too know instantly when I pick the wrong food. Our bodies are amazing, we just have to listen.
Peace & Raw Health,
Elizabeth

Jerry Cook February 7, 2011 at 3:46 pm

We are all programmed and condition to have beliefs from birth on thru to death including what, how and when we eat. We actually become addicted to these beliefs even while many of them make us ill, damaged and lead to early death.
What I find amazing is that NO SPECIES in the wild eats cooked foods . Zero percent. Only humans and our domesticated pets eat cooked foods..
My 2 cents worth..

RichG February 9, 2011 at 12:08 pm

I am curious. Do you consider all the soy based products, all the faux chicken, turkey, hamburgers, as processed food also? I do. Am I being too hard on myself? I just prefer plant based whole foods but once a week I may have a packaged faux chicken, organic meal and feel guility because I know it is not obviously raw and also processed. Your thoughts?

Susan February 9, 2011 at 12:35 pm

I am not a fan of the processed soy products. Yes, they are processed, and a lot of negative information has been coming out about them. I will be doing a post on this soon.

Jeani February 10, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Mindy or Susan, what is FB, please?

Susan February 10, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Facebook

Kyle Weber February 12, 2011 at 10:06 pm

I am definitely sharing this! Great article! I really enjoyed reading this from your point of view. My brother & I are trying to make a move toward more raw foods & trying to figure out what exactly is the right amount for each of us individually. Thanks!!

Susan February 12, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Kyle, it is so interesting, it warmed up (38 degrees and sunny) today and all I wanted to eat was fresh raw food! I am very influenced by the weather!

leelu February 14, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Susan, I love your website! Beautiful ! Your creativity speaks to me. I am inspired by your site. Thank you! I look forward to buying your new book when it arrives. I just have some “food” for thought…regarding the comment that-” no other animal in the wild eats cooked food” — true – but perhaps we as a species evolved right alongside cooked food.. I read somewhere-can’t exactly remember where-I do a lot of research ( I am a research junkie) but that our brains grew in size when we started to cook our food because we did not need such large stomachs to digest anymore – the energy we were using for digesting – could now be used for our development and growth- especially our brains. The food was broken down with the cooking,also unlocking many nutrients that were not possibly before the discovery of cooking. Anyway, I find all this very interesting , and of course I believe everyone should do what is healthy for them – what makes one vital and healthy and connected – is different for everyone. I love the sharing. I honor the diversity of life and I am amazed at the mystery of
it all-hoping to increase my understanding of the subtly complex nature of the genius of life. In love- warmly,
Leelu

Susan February 14, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Leelu Two points. First, we are not about only being 100% raw here. Anyone at any level of adding nutrient rich raw foods to their diets are welcome. Second, there are a lot of holes in that theory. You might want to do some research on-line. http://www.ecologos.org/wrangham.htm This is “passionate” response but there are many other ones out there that refute the findings of Richard Wrangham, the anthropologist who presented this theory in book form. Glad you like the site and all forms of civil debate are welcome here! :-)

leelu February 15, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Thanks for the response and that bit of interesting info. Also many holes in that passionate article. Every theory can be refuted-all theories are flawed. Yes- the human species- we do many unique things unlike most of the millions of life forms on this planet. I have a varied background. I have been 100% raw and vegan (many years) and not vegan – and everything in between- I don’t eat a SAD diet and have not since I was 16yrs.old – that is when I saw the wisdom of whole foods – nothing processed. I think there is only questions..no One Answer or Truth. And I think – what we think -(i.e-guilt -body hate-stress etc.) has a great deal- maybe 100% to do with how we feel and perhaps, how we create our reality. I do not have any answers. I enjoy reading and learning from everything and observing life and sharing that – and eating wholesome food.. I am passionate about organic/biodynamic farming and finding as many foods local as possible…..other than that I do not subscribe to any dogma… Right now -I am loving your raw food recipes and presentation. Yummy! So, an interesting question- why do we-or did we start to cook our food?? creativity? Artistic expression?? I wonder?

Susan March 8, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Completely depends on how hot the water is. A better way to warm them would be in water that you know is under 115 degrees. Then you don’t have to worry.

Jaime March 11, 2011 at 11:27 am

Excellent post!

I get really sick and tired of listening to or reading about “experts” that claim to have the answers that will work for everyone. Of course, the reason they exist and hold such prominence is because people (consumers) want quick and easy solutions. Despite being completely unreasonable, this is the societal expectation we have fostered.

We (me and my husband) are still learning about our individual bodies and what we can do within our budget given where we currently live. It’s not easy, but what we learn will be helpful to us for our whole lives, even as our resources and needs change.

Susan March 11, 2011 at 11:29 am

I completely agree with you. :-)

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