Packed with fresh fruit, vegetables, seeds and nuts, it is little wonder that so passionately about the positive impact that it has on their health and wellbeing.
The raw food movement has surged in popularity in recent years, with more and more people choosing to follow its principles, whether fully, or by incorporating some elements into their usual diets.
It is thought to increase energy, aid weight loss, promote healthy digestion and boost the immune system, as well as having countless other benefits. Raw food essentially means eating uncooked foods – anything that has not been refined, canned or chemically processed and has not been heated above 45°C.
One Step Ahead
By its very nature, the diet – which incorporates large quantities of fruits, vegetables and legumes – will ensure you are filling your body with essential vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants.
If you are juicing every day, then of course you are already getting plenty of raw foods and reaping the rewards, but if you are keen to go one step further, where should you start?
Raw food guru, health coach, yoga teacher and nutritional chef Victoria Adams says: “More and more people want to be healthy and look good. A raw food diet in its true form is one of the most natural ways of feeding and nourishing our bodies, involving minimal human intervention.
“The benefits of juicing and raw food are clear, and it is turning the heads of a growing number of people for good reason. In contrast to ready meals, junk and ‘beige’ food, raw food in its natural state is lower in calories and high in nutrients.
“The theory behind eating raw is that by cooking food above 45°C it denatures the liver enzymes that our bodies might have otherwise used for digestion. Raw food provides us with lock-and-key nutrition, aids digestion and is said to offer us vital life-force energy that helps break down our food and reduces the need to make demands on our body’s internal stores.”
Take It Slow
Victoria says that if you are looking to either switch to a complete raw food diet or start increasing the percentage of raw food you eat, it is essential you do it correctly and, most importantly, actually like the food you are eating.
“There’s no point in cutting out your favourite lasagne supper for raw carrots if you never liked carrots,” she adds. “Jason Vale says there is always another way and it’s true – if going raw, you must choose raw foods that you enjoy, otherwise it’s likely that you will eventually give it up. There will be a certain amount of experimentation, tasting and trust.”
For some, making the decision to switch to a totally raw diet can be incredibly difficult and can result in people giving up or not getting the benefits they wanted.
“Don’t throw yourself into the deep end,” says Victoria. “To see the benefits of raw food it might not be necessary to switch to a 100 per cent raw diet. Studies show that a diet that is at least 50 per cent raw food will aid the body’s immune system and its ability to heal.
“If you live in a cold climate, your body may crave warming food and drinks, justifiably. Do not rush to cut out all warm foods during the winter months; your body is unlikely to thank you for that. Consider guiding your body towards a raw diet rather than going all-in, coming from a place where you are nourishing yourself rather than depriving yourself,” she adds.
All In The Balance
There are several key ingredients which can easily be used in a raw food diet which have excellent health benefits, from leafy greens and sprouts to seeds, such as chia, flax, pumpkin and hemp, which are high in Omega-3 content. Switching to a raw diet will require some organisation and adjustment, but there are simple steps anyone can take to begin to make those changes.
“A great way to transition is by fusing raw food ingredients, such as vegetables, with your favourite cooked dishes: your favourite curry wrapped in collard greens instead of bread or wraps; Bolognese with courgetti instead of spaghetti; sprinkle sprouts on soups or replace packaged snacks for what nature gives us – a piece of fruit!”
Victoria, who is no longer 100 per cent raw or vegan and gets some essential nutrients from eggs and other animal products from time to time, says the most important thing about following a raw food diet is to find a balance which suits you and your body.
“Crowd in the good, don’t just focus on cutting out the bad,” she says. “There is no point in striving to be super healthy if it makes you super unhappy because in the end it won’t be sustainable and will inevitably cause you stress which is one of the most toxic things you can put into your body.”
“It is possible to do raw well, but do your research and find a balance to suit your tastes, your schedule, your lifestyle and your environment.”