When I tell most people that I am on an 80% raw food diet, I get a few different reactions:
“Oh wow, I’m sorry."
“Good for you!"
“You’re crazy, man."
“Isn’t that expensive?"
“Does that mean you eat raw meat?"
Here are my typical responses:
I laugh, then I say, “No, it’s awesome."
“Thanks! You should try it."
“I know, but didn’t you always know that?"
“Produce market, man, produce market."
No, I do not typically eat raw meat. I did have Sashimi a few weeks ago and I’m a big fan, it’s just a little out of my price range.
The raw food lifestyle is a great way to increase energy, decrease clouded thoughts, and to feel better about yourself. This article is about my experiences with raw food and why I chose it to be a major part of my life. There are also a lot of great positive applications of raw food in the ways of creativity and intuition that I would like to share. Let’s get started.
What is Raw Food?
Raw food ( also called living food
) is anything nature-made that has not been cooked above a certain temperature. There are debates on how high that number actually is. The highest number I typically see is 115 degrees F. It is thought in many raw food communities, that many foods lose a significant amount of their nutritional value after the food has been cooked that much. So that takes out roasted nuts, steamed vegetables, and apple pie :).
For me, the main staples of this raw food diet are fresh fruit, like apples and pears, fresh vegetables, mostly carrots and greens, raw nuts, like almonds or raw almond butter, and raw honey. I’m a little lazy when it comes to creating fancy raw food diet concoctions, but there are a lot of recipes out there that essentially use three main appliances to build all of their meals. Those appliances are a food processor, a juicer, and a food dehydrator.
The food dehydrator is like a raw oven of sorts, it “airs and warms" food under the 115 degrees in order to give things a cooked appearance without taking any of the nutrients away. Often, food that is put into the dehydrator takes over 10 hours to reach completion.
There are countless
raw food diet
communities throughout the country with raw foodist pot luck dinners and classes to teach new recipes. Raw food is a big deal. So…why?
What’s this stuff gonna do to me?
The first couple of days that you go on a mostly raw food diet (like me, 80%, more on that later) or a full raw diet are kind of tough. While you almost immediately notice an increase in energy you also get a headache and you feel a little bit cloudy. As far as I can figure it, that is your brain saying, “hey, where are those amazingly gross preservatives that you usually give me?" As with caffeine withdrawal, your brain doesn’t always know what’s best for it and just because there’s a little discomfort, doesn’t mean you should stop.
You will also have…wait for it…increased bowel movements, yay!
Depending on what you had been eating before all of this, these increased bowel movements could be drastically different. For me, who had been mostly off preservatives and had done the raw diet before, it wasn’t a big deal. The first time I did the raw diet (which was 100% raw) I felt like I was in the bathroom probably 3 to 5 times more than normal. What happens during these first few days (and throughout the duration in a diminishing way) is that your body is cleaning house a bit. For the most part, your body had been using a particular system. Eat cooked food, use energy to digest it, process what you can before the next round of food comes in.
Food on the raw food diet is a little bit different. Raw food has not had any of the natural enzymes removed from it, which is the case with cooked foods. By the time raw food gets down to the stomach, it has already begun to digest with minimal energy needed by the body. The enzymes in the food help to digest the food itself. Thusly, your body can move onto other tasks. One of those chores is the deep cleaning it’s been putting off for…oh, I don’t know, how old are you :)?
Like a mother with empty nest syndrome, your body begins to throw all the old crap away. If you’re a big dairy drinker, you may have heard that milk doesn’t digest well in humans. The body typically starts with that and continues on through anything else you may have had trouble breaking down over the last few years. The first few days are the most extreme, but you will notice feeling increasingly cleaner as you continue onward.
By the end of the first week, the cloudiness and headaches should be completely gone. But you will definitely be hungry. It will be very tough to consume the 2,000 US Daily Recommended Calories if you are eating a raw food diet. Luckily for me, most of my raw food trials have been attempts at weight loss well. This diet is some of the most natural weight losing you can do. I believe I’ve seen several articles on CNN about people who lost over half of their body weight on the raw food diet. And don’t worry, they started at over 300 lbs., no anorexia stories here. You will begin to wake up more easily, not weighed down mentally by the cooked food or the caffeine. Focus becomes a much easier task. Also, your capacity for creativity increases at this point, which may give you more ideas than you are used to receiving. You may also notice heightened emotions, and not all of them are good. In the research I’ve done, I have found some theoretical reasons why.
The brain is a very powerful tool. When you use it for acting, you can utilize a technique that my college acting teacher Joan Darling taught called sense memory. Essentially, you are making the effort to remember how a place affected your senses and allow that to inform your performance. You use the sense of touch to place your hands in a position that might be used to feel the top of that table you broke up with your girlfriend at or your smell to try to remember what it smelled like. It’s pretty powerful what you can get from that stuff. The technique can really bring you back to the time when you went through this stuff, positive or negative. But, with this process, you are somewhat guiding it…
When your body processes food from your past, sometimes your brain will go to places from your past without telling you. I know this sounds a little bit scary, but you will sort of be reliving experiences emotionally without really knowing what is being processed. In the first couple of weeks of my raw food diet trials, I have noticed occasional fear and anger. The first two trials, I didn’t realize that this process was occurring, so I just assumed I was cranky from the diet. This time, now that I was aware of what was going on, I was more able to control it. Be aware, that if your partner or friend is pissing you off and driving you crazy while you’re on the raw food diet, that it is more than likely you :).
When you have gotten through a couple of weeks of the raw food diet, you will notice an extreme clarity and intuition. This probably has to do somewhat with the clearing of all that old junk from your system. Also, the allocation of resources away from your stomach and toward the other parts of your body will play a role. The nest egg syndrome mother has cleared all of the junk out…what else can she do? If you are on an exercise plan (and I really do recommend that) you will notice an increased ability to do pretty much everything. Don’t hurt yourself, but the energy will be flying through the roof. Use some of this energy to write. Now that you’re feeling a little clearer, these prompts might serve you well.
If you continue to stay on the raw food diet past the first month, you will continue to heighten your clarity and creativity. It’s building like a muscle and at this point you are approaching mental power lifter status. You will continue to lose weight, if you desire. You can increase your fat content astronomically in your diet and you will still lose weight (avocados, coconuts and raw nuts are kings for the fat with raw food).
How can I use this extra energy and these new abilities?
Use them to write! Feel free to get up early (you won’t be as tired anymore) or to put in a few hours after work. If you ever feel tired, instead of a soft drink or coffee, just grab a little bag of raw almonds, throw some raw honey on them and you’ll be rejuvenated in seconds. That’s the great thing about the raw food diet, when you eat food it doesn’t tire you out. It does the exact opposite.
Use your increased intuition to study characters and the people around you better. Use your increased exercise energy and loss of weight to get in better shape to even further increase your energy. Start using this new clarity to brainstorm and do some real thinking (thinking article) about your life and times.
There so many applications that you’ll have to just stumble upon some of them yourselves.
Now with any diet or exercise plan, you should do some research and make sure that it is something you can handle. There are plenty of raw food articles and experts on the web and many of them would be very happy to welcome you to their ranks.
Why don’t you do 100% raw?
I don’t do 100% raw for a couple of reasons. One of them is for financial reasons. At the time of writing t his article I am simply unable to turn down free cooked food . Another is the social aspect. While I don’t mind eating raw while everybody else eats cooked food, my girlfriend and my family feel a bit weird about it. Thusly, I can eat some cooked food with them so that they feel like I’m still trying to include them in that part of my life. Thirdly, I have a tendency to lose and gain weight very rapidly. By not being 100% raw, I can ensure that my weight loss is not as quick, which will be better on my heart. Many raw foodists recommend that the first time you try the diet, you transition slowly into raw foods.
This raw food diet has changed my way of looking at food and I hope that you give it a try. Even if it’s just for a month and then you never go back to it again. In my opinion, every creative person should try it for a short time and note the increased abilities they receive.