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How to Eat a (Mostly) Raw Food Diet

You probably know that a 100% raw food diet is AWESOME when it comes to weight loss, nutrition, enjoyability, and simplicity.

However, there may be reasons why you can’t (or don’t want to) eat all raw foods all the time.

Perhaps you live in a cold climate and do not have access to enough fruits and veggies year-round.

Perhaps you can’t afford a varied diet of all raw produce.

Or maybe you just have no desire to go all-raw and would like to include some cooked foods in your diet.

No matter what the reason, there is a way to include some cooked foods on a raw food diet and still experience dramatic health results.

Here’s how you do it.

Eat Mostly Raw

Sorry to rain on your parade, but I did say some cooked foods. You can’t expect to see dramatic health improvements eating cooked foods all day with an apple or a small salad thrown in.

The majority of your calories should ideally come from raw foods. And when I say raw, I don’t mean so-called raw products like nut bars and chocolate truffles. Nor do I mean complicated gourmet raw recipes full of fat and salt.

I mean fresh produce, specifically fruit and easy-to-digest vegetable matter like spinach and celery.

Eat the Right Cooked Foods

Not all cooked foods are created equal.

As I discussed earlier this week, there are many cooked foods that are just empty calories (e.g. french fries), but there are several others that really aren’t so bad at all (e.g. steamed potatoes).

Let’s start with the empty calorie group:

Processed Foods

First and foremost, you want to avoid heavily processed foods. I’m sure you know what I mean, but I’ve included a few examples in case you remain blissfully unaware. ;)

  • Pastries
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Chips
  • Corn dogs
  • Frozen waffles
  • Candy

For the most part, if it comes in a box, bag, can, or jar, stay away!

Animal Products

Second, you want to avoid animal products:

  • Meat (e.g. chicken, beef, and fish)
  • Dairy (e.g. milk, butter, and cheese)
  • Eggs

At the very least, remove all dairy from your diet and eat minimal amounts of grass-fed, organic, minimally processed meat and eggs.

Sorry Southerners, no fried chicken or BBQ allowed. :cry:

Cooked Carbohydrates

Now for the foods you want to focus on: carbohydrates.

Besides the fruit and vegetable varieties that can be eaten raw, cooking your food provides a few more options. These include:

  • Squashes (e.g. butternut, acorn, and turban squash)
  • Roots & tubers (e.g. potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, and beets)
  • Grains (e.g. brown rice, oats, quinoa, and millet)*
  • Legumes (e.g. garbanzo beans, pinto beans, black-eyed peas, and lentils)

*It’s best to stick with gluten-free grains and pseudograins such as the ones listed above.

Cooking

You want to process your cooked carbs as minimally as possible, enough to cook and soften the food to make it edible and that’s it.

Not only will your food retain more nutrients, but less acrylamides (cancer-causing chemicals) will be produced as well.

Choose steaming over boiling since nutrients in the food are leached into the cooking water when boiled (or use the water if you can).

Fat

Just like with a 100% raw food diet, you want to keep your diet low in fat, around 10% of total calories overtime. Notably, this means limiting high-fat foods such as avocados, nuts, seeds, olives, and oils.

You can use a food log resource like cronometer help you keep track of your calories and overall fat intake.

Condiments

Salt should be used sparingly or not at all. Stick with healthier alternatives like lemon juice, sun-dried tomatoes, herbs and celery powder to add a bit of extra flavor to your foods.

Putting it All Together

Here’s an example to show you what a healthy mostly raw food day would look like:

Breakfast – As much sweet fruit as you like (along with greens if you want)

Lunch – As much sweet fruit as you like (along with greens if you want)

Dinner – A large raw salad followed by (or along with) a cooked meal of steamed wild rice, sweet potato, and broccoli.

The amount is up to you, since it should be tailored to your caloric needs. You should feel full and satisfied after each meal.

If you find that you are still hungry after dinner, the best options are to add another fruit meal between your lunch and dinner meals or add some fruit to your raw salad to up the caloric intake.

Otherwise, you can add more rice, sweet potato, beans, or other relatively high-calorie starch to fill you up. Just remember to keep your fat intake low, your carbohydrate intake high, and to get the majority of your calories from raw, sweet fruit.

Go (mostly) raw and be fit,

Swayze

P.S. Looking for healthy raw recipes to get you through breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Check out my low fat raw vegan recipe e-book:

“Low Fat, Fruit Filled, High Fun Raw Recipes”

Delicious and Healthy Raw Vegan Favorites for Every Meal

www.fitonraw.com/low-fat-raw-vegan-favorites

9 comments

1 Sylvia { 05.27.11 at 1:31 pm }

You are such an inspriation. You are part of the reason I’m on my journey to a low fat raw vegan lifestyle. You’re doing a great job at speading the word and keeping us informed about true health and I thank you.

Swayze Reply:

Aww, thank you! You just made my Sunday. :)

2 Luis Medrano { 05.27.11 at 4:25 pm }

Swayze, great article. I like reading your articles because they are straight forward and easy to follow.

I have a question: You said “Just like with a 100% raw food diet, you want to process your cooked carbs as minimally as possible; the less heat and time spent cooking, the better.” I like to eat steamed yams or sweet potatoes. Since these really cannot be processed “as minimally as possible” (otherwise they would remain hard n’ crunchy), is there any benefit to including these in my diet?

Was that clear? :)

Thanks,
Luis

Swayze Reply:

Hi Luis,

When it comes to starchy foods like potatoes, “as minimally as possible” means steaming, since these foods cannot be consumed raw.

3 Nick { 05.27.11 at 4:29 pm }

I eat 100 % raw most of the time. But on occasion I’ll eat some cooked lentils, Especially in the winter, to fill me up and save on food bill. Which can be expensive eating raw all year round. I live in New Jersey. Thanks for the info, when I do eat cooked, I only eat things you have listed with no condimends. I just use lemon or orange juice for added flavor.

Your articles are always good and helpful, they make it easier for me to stay raw and eat healthy.

Thanks, Nick

4 stillewaters { 05.30.11 at 8:28 am }

Very nice overview and formulation of things to focus on

What i try to do each time , is to combine ( ordinary ) potatoes
with a half-cooked carrot

Carrots combine well with starcy food ( they are moderate starchy ) and are rich in the betacarotene , a precursor of the vitamin A

( if raw carrots are not finely sliced , for my own personal likings they are too hard to eat this way , maybe rabbits love them , but human dental system is still more that of a fruitarian )

Sometimes i also cook ( ordinary ) potatoes morningtime and eat them cooled late-afternoon/ early-evening
in this way their resistant starch content is almost doubled :
cooked potatoe = 5 – 7 % RS
cooked and slowly cooled potatoe = 10 – 13 % RS

Raw potatoes would be impossible to digest well : 75 % RS

next comment = something on RS + some links

5 stillewaters { 05.30.11 at 8:45 am }

” …. Some foods , like unripe bananas , raw potatoes , plantains , … have a type of starch which our digestive enzymes can’t break down … ”

Resistant starch RS , is starch that is not digested in the small intestine , but is fermented in the bowel

The other types of starch are RDS ( rapid digestible starch ) and SDS ( slow digestible starch )

RS is supposed to have some additional health benefits :

- improved glucose tolerance next day
- better mineral absorption of minerals , especially calcium and magnesium
- promotes “good” bacteria in bowel and supresses ” bad” bacteria
in bowel
- some protection against coloncancer

More info and health-benefits on one of the many google-links :

http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/nutrition/a/resistantstarch.htm

http://www.healthyeatingclub.org/info/articles/nutrients/resisstarch.htm

Hope the links are without spelling mistakes :-))

6 CanCan { 06.11.11 at 1:43 am }

I generally follow this plan except I try to eat more vegetables at lunch…is there a reason for ordering it this way, for not having the grains at one of the other meals? I just eat raw at lunch b/c I pack lunch for work, but if I was home I might prefer to have my grain then.

Swayze Reply:

For digestion’s sake, it’s better to have fruit earlier in the day and then your cooked meal in the evening. But as long as you’re keeping you cooked starch meal simple without extra fat, condiments, etc., you should be fine having it for lunch.