There are a number of myths and misunderstandings concerning the raw food and fruitarian diets. As with most things in life, diet is built upon habit. Those who are used to eating one thing, find it difficult to eat another thing. Out of a lack of firsthand experience, some confusion is created.
Coming from a conventional cooked diet and jumping into a raw and fruitarian diet requires a complete rethinking of our body, health, dietary habits, lifestyle, and understanding of how certain food and drink have powerful medicinal properties and effects.
Out of all the living beings on the planet, humans are the only ones who cook their food. The rest eat food raw, in a natural unadulterated state - or if they change it, then its usually through internal mechanisms that produce the alteration, such as honey bees using digestive enzymes to produce honey out of nectar.
In both the raw and fruitarian movements, cooking is seen as a degenerative health process. Mainly because cooking is known to alter the molecular structure and vitality of the food by significantly reducing the amount of living enzymes, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and other nutrients available in their purest state.
A common counterargument by non-raw fooders to this is that plucking an apple from a tree or a carrot from the ground is also a form of ‘death’. Harvesting fresh food when it is ready is one thing, heating it above 42 degrees is another; creating a food industry that controls what we eat is quite a world apart.
Fresh herbs, vegetables and fruits are ‘storers’ of energy: they absorb sunlight and turn it into the energy they need to maintain life. This energy remains in the fruit or plant for quite a while after it has been harvested, unlike food that has been cooked, processed or irradiated for long transport. Once the cooking process starts, the damage is immediate and permanent.
Raw fooders and fruitarians stick to the ‘living energy’ principle by typically avoiding food that has sat around for weeks (in supermarkets), undergone irradiation to stay ‘fresher’ longer and been treated in all manner of unnatural ways.
Living food is easier for our bodies to digest. It requires less energy to digest and its vitality is instantly supplied throughout our body, which is why we feel lighter, more alive and our senses heightened after eating a raw meal.
Cooked food on the other hand has a reduced enzymic value, and depending on the cooking technique and temperature, is denatured. Our body requires more energy to digest this type of food, especially in the combinations and quantities we consume it in, and is seen by our immune system as a foreign substance.
We also usually need more cooked food to feel satisfied and receive the necessary nutrients, and have come to rely on seasoning and other condiments to make it appetising. A palate that lives on a raw diet is very sensitive to taste sensations, and experiences the vitality of food in a completely different way.
Of course not everything can be eaten raw. Not every physical body can digest or even tolerate the same thing as another. Health is firstly about learning to listen to our individual bodies, reacting to the messages we receive and taking full responsibility for determining what we need. Once we accept this as our basic prescription then we can help our body, and truly understand what creates illness and what doesn’t.
It’s certainly not easy transitioning or sticking to a raw food and fruitarian diet. And it’s next to impossible if we only follow this diet for reasons of vanity or fashion. The motivation behind our decision has to be enduring and reality based.
The food culture and climate we live in, makes it all the more difficult to make the transition to a raw food diet. The meat, dairy and medical industries would have you believe that you’d die if you only ate fruits or food in a raw state. So it’s a path we often do alone or in dedicated groups (often small).
We also need to keep in mind that diet is not something that remains consistently static. It changes with the seasons, availability of food, prices, our activities and our body’s condition and needs.
For example, if we live in a cold climate and freezing winters make it impossible to grow or source anything locally, and we’d rather not buy mass produced artificially grown produce that may have travelled from the other side of the world, then we need to find the next ‘clean’ alternative, e.g. reduce our selection down to locally sourced winter produce, continue with a diet of imported and local organic vegetables and fruits that are warmed or cooked, or eat our own fermented and dehydrated vegetables and fruits sourced locally in summer and autumn.
By understanding the principles of clean natural health, we never need to ask again what can we eat.
When changing our diet from one that is denatured, to one based on high raw quality, we set into effect a major cleansing reaction. This cleansing reaction, depending on the level of imbalance in our body, can be quite powerful and can even produce serious adverse effects. Basically, we need to know what we’re doing when we change diets.
Either we walk the diet together hand-in-hand with someone who has experience and training in that particular diet. Or, if this is not possible, then we educate ourselves and take it step by step.
Experiment. Test accepted truths. Read the history of medicine (all sides of it) and become familiar with those who have successfully used the raw food and fruitarian diets in healing. Read the anthropological studies on tribes and people, sheltered from the standard Western diet, who were/are far healthier than we are.
Above all, use common sense and intuition. Blaming the diet for the powerful effect we experience, shows a lack of understanding on our part. Adjusting the diet to suit our individual circumstances, as well as continuously monitoring progress, shows understanding and respect for the powerful healing power the human body possesses.
Be surprised by how little food we actually need to be healthy and alive, while on a raw food and fruitarian diet. It’s much less than we currently eat on our standard or even cooked vegan diets. Basically, the healthier our bodies, the less food we need, and the more we can absorb from high quality nutrient dense produce, as well as from the environment through sunlight and breathing.
Questions are often raised concerning the humoral (hot, cold, dry, wet) properties of raw food and fruitarian diets as mentioned in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda medicine. Should we eat for our body type, blood type, personality type, humoral type, etc.? Rather than dismiss these concerns, we do need to consider them, including the concept of internal fire, life force and individual constitution.
Does raw food truly extinguish our internal digestive fire? Does it take more energy to digest raw food, due to its ‘cold’ nature, than it does to digest cooked food? It depends on what we understand by cold and cooking temperatures: in raw food we can warm food to no higher than 42 degrees Celsius. We can also eat food, spices and herbs that ‘warm’ us. So raw food is not always ‘cold’ - there are many variables to consider. A more relevant question is: how can a cold/damp condition develop and exist in the internal environment of our body and what can we do about changing it?
It’s certainly important to understand our inner humoral balance (relationship between hot, dry, cold and wet) and why we may have an imbalance, e.g. what have we done (foods eaten, lack of exercise, etc.,) that has contributed to the condition.
Any disturbance to our internal environment needs to be addressed before and during the transition to a raw food fruitarian diet, so that the body’s natural regulation and healthy inner fire can remain stable and constant. We also need to understand that, despite our genetics and inherited constitution, we can influence our body and the intelligence of our cells through the food we eat, the thoughts we think and the environment in which we live.
Cold or damp in the body, weak internal fire, aversion to raw food, all point to an underlying fundamental problem that is separate to the raw food. The source of cold or damp, and how this condition was created, needs to be determined.
Supermarkets are notoriously filled with an endless supply of food, all year round, regardless of season. We often eat the wrong food at the wrong time of year, as well as food that is not only overcooked but also artificially cooled. This practice does have an effect on our body, e.g. the constant consumption of chilled drinks or foods, etc., which can weaken our spleen energy.
Once the body doesn’t have to fight for resources to balance our inner environment, it can revert back to its natural healthy state – one where food is a healer.
The following are some easy rules for following a raw food diet:
- Eat raw fruits and leafy green vegetables / herbs / wild plants
- Try to source local, seasonal, fresh, biodynamic/natural, ripe food
- Eat food at ambient room temperature or heated up to no more than 38-43 degrees Celsius
- Be mindful while eating, e.g. proper chewing (digestion starts in the mouth), sufficient time to eat, attention at the table, in a relaxed and quiet environment
- Eat small amounts (avoid overloading the stomach)
- Try to stick to mono meals (only one vegetable or fruit at a time)
- If this isn’t possible, then proper food combination principles when mixing and keep the amount of ingredients mixed to a minimum
- Eat plenty of raw vegetables (including sea vegetables) and sprouts which are high in alkalinity or aren’t mucous-forming
- Moderate the intake of seeds, nuts and fats, as it is easy to overload the body on a raw food diet with all three and we only require a small amount each day and usually in a different form, such as sprouted or soaked
When none of the above is possible, then:
- Eat slow cooked (lightly warmed, baked or steamed) and/or fermented vegetables
- Everything in moderation; listen to your instinct and intuition
- If in doubt, always strive for a wholefood plant-based diet above all else
Raw food is about a natural balance. What we ultimately experience and learn on a raw food diet, whether fruit-based, vegetable-based, a combination of both, or our own individual mix, is that the human body is an intelligent self-cleansing and self-healing entity.
When our diet is natural, the body has time and energy to cleanse itself, ridding the build up of toxins and congestion. Be surprised by how much your body changes, finds its own rhythm and balances itself on a raw food diet.
Moreover the choice is not about which diet to take, but about genuine long-lasting health which breaks all the rules.
Any questions, please feel welcome to contact me on +61 (0)448 381 306 or by email.
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