In my experience with coaching people to eat more healthily and incorporate more raw foods into their diet, I have noticed a few trends that cause people to fail in their attempts to be high or 100% raw. These are common pitfall, but they’re easy to avoid, if you are aware of them.
1. Not eating a variety of foods. I am a huge believer in eating a rainbow of food with every meal. I get excited when there is a plate or bowl in front of me that is full of colourful fruits or vegetables. I know that by eating this colourful array of goodness, I am getting a huge range of different nutrients from the food I am eating.
What I have seen happening, however, is that many people tend to stick to just the same foods every day, and often these are not from a range of colours or food groups. This leads to malnutrition, which has symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, and hunger- so of course when people feel like this, they blame it on the fact they are eating raw foods.
The raw food groups of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, seaweeds and living and fermented foods provide an array of nutrition when they are eaten in abundance. Aim for a nutritional balance each day that includes things from each of these groups, and don’t get stuck on one favourite dish- mix it up and rotate the fruits and veg that you consume each day.
2. Not eating mindfully. This is actually a problem not exclusive to raw foodists. When was the last time you actually sat down, without any distractions, and really savoured your food? By savoured, I mean you took the time to look at the food you put on your fork, before shovelling it in your mouth? To eat mindfully, you slowly put the fork to your mouth, and slowly and carefully eat the food. You chew it, at least 50 times. While you are chewing, you taste the flavours, feel the textures and bring your full attention to the taste. Also notice what thoughts you have in your mind and be aware of what is distracting you.
Too often, we sit down to eat- or even worse-eat on the run. When you eat in a rush or while we are stressed, it confuses your brain and senses, and you might experience feelings of still being hungry, even though you have eaten a full meal. If you eat on autopilot mode you aren’t experiencing the food and can end up feeling unsatisfied and wanting to snack more, even though you don’t really need to.
Eating with mindfulness can really have an amazing effect on how you feel after eating and can make you feel satiated, and not hungry, after every meal. Make sure you eat away from the TV and other distractions such as reading and mindfully consume your plate; I am sure you will notice a difference in how you feel afterwards.
3. Forgetting about exercise. Something else I have noticed is that people get so focussed on their diet, that they forget about other aspects of their health. The most important one not to neglect is exercise. There are an abundance of benefits to having a regular exercise routine. I find that when I exercise, I don’t get food cravings, it boosts my mood, I get a buzz from the endorphins that makes me feel really good (for people who go to food for emotional nourishment, this is a big one), and it also burns calories and fat.
Not everyone is sporty, and not everyone likes exercise. It is about finding what form of movement works for you. It could just be taking a 15 minute walk after dinner, or walking up and down the stairs, doing yoga or pilates, joining a sports team or taking up a new sport like tennis or kickboxing. Other less conventional activities might be hula hooping, skipping, or a martial art. Whatever works for you.
For me, I mix it up every day, so in one week I do spinning, yoga, Body Pump, and a cardio and weights session. I like variety, and this is definitely good. If you are new to exercise, just try doing 20 mins of some form of movement to start with and build from there.
4. Relying on the dehydrator. This is something that I myself am guilty of. When I first got my dehydrator I was experimenting like crazy and eating loads of raw crackers and dried fruits. However, I have since realized that dehydrated snacks are good in a pinch- better than many other kinds of snack out there for sure- but to rely on dehydrated foods is robbing your body of the many benefits that can be had from eating food that is fresh. The best way to get the most nutrition from your food is eating food that is fresh and organic. Use your dehydrator with discretion and don’t rely in it for all your food.
5. Loss of motivation. Like with all diets, when people start eating raw, they have a lot of gusto and enthusiasm. But once life sets in, this motivation can wane, and slowly, people go back to eating the same way they used to. I don’t look at eating a high raw diet as a “diet” per se, but as an actual lifestyle in which I choose to feed myself the healthiest, freshest food that is available to me.
Even though I have a supportive partner, who is a vegetarian, he doesn’t eat all raw foods himself. So this can sometimes affect my motivation. I don’t always want to eat different meals at different times than him, and if I am not teaching classes for a few weeks, then sometimes I don’t meet any other raw foodists for a while. This is when I can lose a bit of motivation and will start to eat more cooked foods- which often cause me to feel sluggish instead of light.
It can be highly beneficial to have a friend or partner to experience the raw journey with you. It can be highly motivational to know that you are not alone. These days, there are so many great websites with forums that you can join to talk regularly to like-minded people. I also recommend joining raw food classes running in your local area, so you can meet other people nearby to you who are interested in their health and eating raw. Look up your local paper and find out about any raw or vegan pot lucks that might be going on which you can join. Check meetup.com to see if there is a raw food group in your area. And share your passions and experiences with other people- get your friends involved if they are interested in their health- but don’t be pushy, as you don’t want to put any friends offside.
Being conscious of these issues which can cause you to fall off the wagon is really important so that you can experience the greatest success and happiness from eating raw.
Are there any problems that you have experienced which have led you to start eating more cooked or unhealthy foods?