How can I eat a raw diet and make sure I meet all my nutrient requirements? Is there a programme I can follow? Do you recommend regular blood tests? I ask because I have friends who have struggled to maintain their health on an all raw diet.Vincenzo, Italy
Dear Vincenzo,When it comes to a successful raw diet, eating a wide variety of foods is important to make sure you are nourishing your body with the proper nutrients. This includes fruits (all of them), vegetables, sprouts, microgreens, herbs, wild foods, nuts and seeds (chia, hemp and flax are key). For vegetables I want to emphasise how vital it is to get your greens in. Things like tender lettuces, dandelion greens, spinach, swiss chard, baby kale, celery, cucumber, asparagus, fresh coriander and parsley. These are all amazingly dense with minerals that your body needs. When we look at cruciferous vegetables which are powerhouses for fighting things like cancer, you want to make sure you are either shredding, grinding, blending and/ or massaging them. These consist of curly kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts and collards. These vegetables are harder to digest raw so when we prepare them properly, it aids optimal digestion. If you think it is too much work, you can always lightly steam them; it is much better to get them into your body than to not. Other items I would suggest adding into one’s diet are turmeric and ginger root (great for digestion and fighting inflammation) as well as Hawaiian spirulina, barley grass juice power and moringa which all meet a variety of nutritional needs. Another helpful tip is to drink green juices that will ensure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals into your diet.
As for programmes, myself as well as many other health coaches put together specific plans based on the client’s needs and desires. Each plan is personalised for the client’s goals. It is not a one size fits all. Each raw food diet can have certain baselines that needs tweaks here and there to accommodate each person. Some people are looking for faster recovery times from athletics, detoxification, healing, toning, weight loss, more energy, more mental clarity and so forth. Drs. Rick and Karin Dina have a Mastering Raw Food Nutrition and Educator Course programme which is available as well. There are many programs to choose from. In addition, there is a range of what raw food is to certain people. To some, raw food can be high in fat which is more gourmet and contains lots of nuts and seed with the use of salt and olive oil. On the other side of the spectrum, there is the 80/10/10 diet that focuses on a high fruit diet where salt and oil of any kind are a big no-no. That programme also uses small servings of nuts and seeds sporadically. I think the most important thing is to figure out what feels best to you.
To touch base about your concerns with your friends, I don’t know specifically what plan or kind of raw food diet they are following. Cultivating good eating habits is essential. Eating in a peaceful setting, no distractions, eating consciously, chewing and breaking food down in the mouth instead of eating quickly all helps with assimilation and absorption. Your body needs to absorb what you are eating. Again, I want to stress the significance of how important it is to get as many greens in your diet as possible. They are super dense in minerals and eating as organic as possible is key as the soil isn’t as depleted in nutrients like conventional soils. It is also critical to make sure one is consuming enough food since fruits and vegetables aren’t as calorie dense as animal based foods. Getting to know how many calories a fruit or vegetable contains will help you get in the right amount of calories required for your body type. Start familiarising yourself with not only the calories but how much protein each food source contains, especially if you are working out. Using an app like Cronometer can be very helpful and I am always recommending it to people who are starting out on their raw/ vegan journey. To answer your question about the use of regular blood tests, they sometimes aren’t very accurate and a lot of them are outdated. The one you may want to look into is a B12 test which is actually a MMA urine test and not a blood test. D3 is also very important but it’s less of a diet issue and more of location issue. People who live in certain areas of the world with less sun need to supplement with D3. If you have any concerns about your health, always speak to a licensed doctor or physician who understands and respects your dietary choices.
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