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5 Common Mistakes Made on a Raw Food Diet

5 Common Raw Food Mistakes

So you’ve been on a raw food diet for a while now and you feel stuck. You have cravings all the time, you have low energy, you haven’t experienced the health and vitality that everyone talks about, and you definitely don’t have “the glow”.

You aren’t alone. There’s a reason you and so many like you are dismayed by your results (or lack thereof) from your switch to raw foods. You’re doing it all wrong.

But don’t worry, it’s an easy fix. Take a look at these 5 common mistakes made by raw foodists to see if one, two, or even all of them can be blamed for your raw food woes.

Mistake #1: Eating Too Much Fat

By far the biggest mistake made on a raw food diet is overdoing it on fat. You may think this is hard to do on only raw foods, but you are mistaken. Avocados, nuts, seeds, olives, and oils are all comprised of mostly fat (75%+)

What’s the problem with too much? For one, a diet high in fat is the true cause of high blood sugar, but it also interferes with the transportation of oxygen through blood and has been linked to several mental and physical ailments.

Plus, fatty foods just are not satiating. Even if you get enough calories, you will likely still experience tremendous cravings for foods like bread and pasta because your body need carbs. Lacking fuel, fatigue will set in as well.

Remedy: Limit your fat intake to no more than 10% of total calories. It’s okay to have some days that are higher in fat, but the average should be around 10%. This typically means one to two ounces of nuts/seeds or half to three quarters of a medium avocado.

Mistake #2: Eating Too Little Fruit

The reason it’s so hard to maintain a diet of mostly fat (raw or not) is because your body naturally craves sugar-rich carbohydrates. Your entire body runs on sugar and everything you eat, carbohydrate-rich or not, has to be converted to simple sugar before it can be fully utilized by the cells.

Now, I’m certainly not telling you to go chow down on pasta or garlic bread. Grains should definitely be avoided for optimal health. What I’m saying is that you need to eat more fresh, whole, ripe, raw, sweet, delicious, nutritious, and simple sugar-rich fruit.

If you want to succeed on a raw food diet, you have to get the majority of your calories from fruit.

Remedy: Eat as much fruit as you want for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Make sure all the fruit you eat is good quality and at the peak of ripeness.

Mistake #3: Eating Too Much Salt

Besides eating far too much fat in the form of avocados, nuts, and oils, raw foodists are known for consuming too much salt as well.

If you REALLY want to see your health soar, you need to severely limit or eliminate salt (yes, even “healthy” sea salt) from your diet. You can get all the minerals you need, including sodium, from fresh fruits and greens.

Remedy: Turn to ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes, lemon juice, herbs, and celery powder to add great flavor to your savory raw salads, soups, and sauces.

Mistake #4: Eating Too Many Refined Foods

Even though many raw foodists love to claim that they eat a 100% raw and natural diet, the simple fact is that the vast majority of them eat way too many refined foods. Dried fruit, dried nuts and seeds, and refined sweeteners are used in abundance to make everything from flax seed crackers to chocolate mouse.

Remember, this is a RAW food diet we are talking about here. Refined foods, even if they are only sun-dried, are no longer truly raw.

Remedy: Keep refined foods like dried fruits to a minimum. The bulk of your calories should come from whole, fresh foods.

Mistake #5: Eating Complicated Recipes

Finally, a huge mistake in the raw food movement has to do with complicated recipes that ignore food combining. To show you what I mean check out this popular raw dessert:

Raw Brownies

Brownies

  • 1 cup ground pecans
  • 1 cup dates
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar

Icing

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon avocado
  • 1 tablespoon agave
  • 1/2 tablespoon cacao powder

Not only is this recipe high in fat (over 50%!), but it’s very poorly combined. It’s full of sugar (dates and agave) and fat (pecans, coconut oil, and avocado) which do not digest well together.

It’s okay to have a complex recipe with multiple ingredients every once in a while. But these should never make up the majority of what you eat.

Remedy: Keep recipes simple by limiting the number of ingredients used (the fewer ingredients, the better) and always remember to follow proper food combining rules.

Staying Raw is Simple

If you want to see fabulous results and succeed long-term on a raw food diet, you’ve got to limit your intake of fatty and dehydrated foods, cut out the salt and poorly combined recipes, and increase your consumption of fruit. Only then will you start to see dramatic and lasting health improvements.

Go raw and be fit,

Swayze

P.S. So you’re keeping your fat intake low, your fruit intake high, cutting back on refined foods and complicated recipes, and avoiding all salt. You’re doing everything right, but there’s a problem…

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6 comments

1 catherine forest { 02.28.11 at 8:08 am }

Great post, Swayze… I badly needed to be reminded of that (even if I know it very well…). Winter is just tough on me… The poor quality of fruits is a biggie here in Canada…

Swayze Reply:

Have you tried wholesale produce distributors? I don’t know where in Canada you live, but Frederic lives in Quebec and apparently there’s a great distributor there.

2 Hanlie { 02.28.11 at 8:59 am }

I find it hard to get people to understand that I’m not “that” kind of raw! I just want to eat my fruit and get better!

3 mike { 03.02.11 at 11:51 pm }

I really enjoyed this post, it has many good tips for those starting up raw, like myself. I’m somewhat confused though, because I know raw vegans who eat 6+ avocados a day, and I even have a friend who eats roughly 8 or 9 coconuts a day. They all seem to be in perfect health (including blood sugar levels, triglyceride levels, etc.) and say they feel great and don’t have cravings. They eat fruit, vegetables, and nuts & seeds as well, but are definitely above the 10% daily fat level you discussed.

I’ve also read a good deal about older raw foodists who have lived on average well into their 80′s and 90′s. Many of these people were advocates of raw cultured dairy (kefir, yogurt, etc.), which is obviously high in fat. I don’t understand how there high-fat consumption allowed them to live a long and vibrant life. I’ve read some of the studies you provided above and liked what I read. But by the logic of these studies, all of the above people I mentioned should not be healthy and should not have had abnormally long life expectancies.

I hope this comment doesn’t come off as bashing this post or your overall philosophy. I’m honestly just searching for some clarity in my confusion. I find a great deal of validity in much of what you’ve said, like eating more fruits and avoiding grains completely. And many people, myself included, have made some of the mistakes you’ve mentioned, so I appreciate you addressing them.

Mike

“If everyone obeyed every piece of advice on what not to eat, we would all eat nothing.” -Anonymous

Swayze Reply:

Hi Mike,

Definitely don’t rely solely upon individual experience for your nutritional layout. First, you’ll never known exactly what people are eating or how they are living. Second, there are many people who eat a standard Western diet and yet they seem perfectly healthy (e.g. thin, good energy, clear skin, etc.) and live long lives.

My great grandparents lived on typical southern fare their whole lives (e.g. fried chicken, mashed potatoes, banana cream pie, etc.) and yet they lived to be 99 and 98 years old. The human body is amazingly resilient. :)

mike Reply:

Hey Swayze,

Thanks for responding. Yeah I know what you mean, my pop-pop is 90 but has eaten the typical SAD diet his whole life. But he did have heart surgery about 15 years ago and has eaten better since then so im sure that has something to do with it. I have been keeping in mind much of what you laid out on this post and I honestly feel like its helping my raw transition so thank you for that.