Many diets come and go, but one diets that seems to continuously make a comeback is the raw food diet. The raw food diet consists of cutting out meat and preservatives and only consuming organic fruits, vegetables, and grains.

The diet comes from the idea that if you cook food, you strip it of the nutrients that help your body. That’s what makes it raw; everything must be eaten in its natural state.

Proponents on this diet claim that it will clear up issues associated with eating cooked food, such as fatigue, headaches, and minor pains.

Research does support these claims. Nutritionist and healthcare writer Sandi Busch found that foods cooked at higher temperatures for a long period of time do lose out on important nutrients such as vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamins B-6 and B-12, niacin, and folate.

Water-soluble vitamins get soaked into the cooking water, so vegetables especially lose a lot of their vitamins when cooked or steamed. However, mineral loss in cooking is more negligible, with steamed vegetables and other foods retaining 90% to 95% of their minerals.

However, turning to a completely raw diet does seem like an extreme reaction to the lack of nutrients. The raw diet is restrictive in nature; you cannot consume any foods with the slightest hint of processing or cooking. This means you have to cut out junk foods or snacks, baked goods, pasteurized milk, store-bought juice, and alcohol.

In addition to that, cooked foods are easy to digest. If you end up going on this diet, whether cold turkey or gradually, you will likely experience indigestion at the beginning.

On the other hand, the raw diet does retain all of the nutrients lost in cooking. Thanks to its healthful emphasis on vitamins and lower calorie content, it usually leads to healthy weight loss. The lack of preservatives has also been proven to help with improved mental clarity and a better sleep cycle.

The raw diet’s effectiveness depends entirely on what you can handle. If you feel it is too restrictive, there are alternatives to keeping your essential vitamins while cooking your food. You can avoid soaking vegetables in water while preparing them. Save the cooking water and use it in soups, sauces, or gravies because it holds all the leached nutrients. If your diet is heavy in meat and preservatives, try replacing some of your foods with a raw option. Instead of cookies for a snack, opt for some grapes once in a while.

If you do think you can handle a raw diet, don’t quit your current diet cold turkey. It
will take time for your body to adjust. Here’s some ideas for a raw diet that will help
you get into a routine:

Breakfast sets the tone of the day, so start off with a simple chocolate and strawberry smoothie. Use coconut oil and protein powder for the protein and nutrients, and add the hemp, maca, almonds, and strawberries for flavor.

A vegan taco would be perfect for lunch. Just add a spicy nut and seed crumble and a fresh, organic salsa to leafy greens.

For a snack, keep it simple and make a mini fruit salad. Incorporate all of your favorite fruits and mix it all together. Bonus points for adding a nutty topping for some crunch.

Written by: Malia Thomas

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