In my travels throughout the last two years interacting with so many, I've been sincerely humbled. From the deepest part of myself, I truly wanted to help others feel the elation, the joy, the exuberant health I had when I was eating 99-100% raw. I came armed with my own personal experience, my personal research into health and nutrition, and lots of scientific data to back it up. I went out and spread the word about eating raw. I passed around my green smoothies so those brave enough could get a taste of the delicious concoction.
Then I started to get some feedback, some from the back door, about how the RAW DIET was not working for some people. Well, I must say that at first this BAFFLED me since I had read and been exposed to so many people in the Raw Foodist movement who are convinced that everyone can eat raw and should. According to some books, authors, and people in the movement, RAW should be the only diet on the planet. I was one of them for a time. In some ways I still am, however, my perceptions and understanding about the raw lifestyle have changed a bit during the last couple years after having been exposed to people who tried the raw diet and it sent them into more health issues. I have a few theories on this and I will expound on those soon.
Getting back to exploring if eating 100% raw is important or not.....
...this is a fuzzy subject....
I will say from my own personal experience that when I was eating 99-100% raw, I elevated my health to such a level I had NEVER experienced before, not even in my youth.
After my last semester where I had to attend classes in NH (May 2010), I moved and have been unsettled since then. Just recently I found my own apartment and moved in (October 2011). This has allowed me to unpack kitchen items, set up my own kitchen space, and prepare the foods I was eating initially when I started all this. During the summer of 2010, I kept making the smoothies every single day and experienced great health, but nothing like it was when I was almost 100% raw. During the fall, winter, and spring 2011 it was more difficult to maintain a high raw diet for me for various reasons. It took me a very long time to completely give up on even 50% raw. Of course, all the back pain, joint pain, fogginess, skin problems, thinning hair, breaking nails, monthly cramping and a slew of other maladies is ALL back in force.
I recently harvested the last of the produce out of the garden I built for my friends and we split the load. So with all that produce I made some soup to freeze for blistering cold, winter days ahead. I have decided that I am going to blend up and freeze some of the greens too - for use in the green smoothies later. The garden produce is way above the quality of even organic produce. It would be good to use later in my smoothies during a harsh winter.
Here are some quotes from The Live Food Factor by Susan Schenck, 2008
"...unless one is eating 100% raw, as opposed to even 99%, one will be tempted to eat more and more cooked food." (p212 The Live Food Factor - TLFF)
Author Susan Schenck remarks about herself, "When I was eating only about 90-95% raw, I personally noticed just how addictive wheat and dairy are. If I ate just a bit of either, I would crave it strongly the next day." (p185 TLFF)
One of Victoria Boutenko's friends who decided to eat 95% raw was still suffering with cravings eight years later whereas Victoria's family had cravings for cooked foods for only two months.
"A huge advantage of jumping into a 100% raw diet is that you will not battle temptations as much as a part-timer does." (p230 TLFF)
With all that said, Schenck offers suggestions for those who cannot bring themselves to dive in, even when well educated in the raw lifestyle. There are many ways to transition into raw; replace one meal with a green smoothie, then replace two meals, one with a green smoothie and one with a large salad...
Or eat 1/2 of every meal raw to start out, then do one meal totally raw, then two, then three......
Or cut out sugars first, then breads and grains, then dairy, then meat....then all processed foods.......
Do not be fooled to think that your willpower will hold you to your convictions to eating a raw diet. Eventually, willpower will wear thin. Our society is not set up to support you in this endeavor. A lot of people will think you are fanatical. You may not have any support at all, like a lot of us. What kept me motivated was thoughts of my own mortality - I was sick and I needed to heal or I was going to be in a lot of pain and eventually....??....have to have surgery to get my bladder removed?? For a free-spirited nomad like myself, thoughts of having to submit myself to the medical establishment rocketed me into the raw lifestyle.
What is driving you to do this? What is going to keep you motivated to remain raw? What plans do you have in place for social situations? Do you have any support? What about at work? Your coworkers will make remarks!
At my work, they actually make "yukky" faces and make noises "yek!" They ask me "How can you drink that!?" It's a form of harassment and I'm sure if I pursued it, I could get them to stop through the laws in place. It's not so bad yet that I am willing to expend that much energy over it. This has happened every place I take my green smoothies. There have been a few places where people were familiar with the green smoothies and have told me they drink them too. These times are when I know I am in the company of people who care about their health, have looked into it, and have decided to make some changes for the better. About the others......they don't know what I know yet......if the information is forced upon them it is not worth it. They have got to want the knowledge for it to be of any use.
I went raw overnight and had no second thoughts whatsoever. I got rid of all processed foods in my cupboards and threw out all non-raw food in the fridge. Then I was healed after three months. What was keeping me on the diet after that? I had done tons of research, I knew the facts, and I believed in this way of life wholeheartedly. Then I started to yo-yo and eat more cooked foods the longer I was in an unsettled state of limbo in my life constantly moving from place to place.
Now it seems another true test has come to pass -
How to STAY high raw
(which inevitably makes one PLAN PLAN PLAN!)
So I will say one thing more about being 100% raw; you will only see the kind of health benefits you've only dreamed of if you go 100% raw and the less raw you eat the less health benefits you will experience.
Now on to why some do not do well eating a more raw or a high raw diet.
One thing we all have to realize is that GREENS should not be in the same category as VEGETABLES!!!
Some of the vegetables are in the Brassicaceae Family of vegetables also called the Crucifereae or Cruciferous family (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy, collard greens, turnip roots and greens, arugula, radishes, daikon). It means they are more tough, fibrous, and harder to break down. For those who have little digestive issues in the stomach - normal levels of stomach acid and so forth - these veggies are easy to eat raw. For those whose stomach acids are low, these veggies are very hard to digest causing stomach pains and/or gas production.
One thing we should watch out for when switching to a more raw diet is not doing enough research. If you are "fearful" that you will not be getting enough protein and then start eating handfuls of nuts, you will probably get constipated and/or alter your normal digestive process resulting in indigestion.
And if you have not discerned greens from vegetables yet, it's time to do so. Do not eat buckets of vegetables. Eat buckets of greens instead. Much easier to digest. I get several servings of greens in my morning green smoothie. Efficient. Delicious. Effective.
From Schenck's book, "Eating too many raw nuts or vegetables can result in indigestion." (p235 TLFF)
Also, from the "insights" tab on my youtube channel, I have noted that most of my audience ranges in age from 45-65 years old and most are women. From this, I can gauge how long most of the audience has been eating the Standard American Diet or S.A.D. - 45 to 65 years. I cannot gauge how many have been raised on and are eating a mostly raw diet. I would assume not many since this movement is fairly new to me and has influenced only those in the health movement of the 60's and 70's time frame.
Upon reflection into the S.A.D. way of life, we only have a certain amount of time we can last on a diet like that before we "catch" a disease and pass on. If one is in their 20's and eating S.A.D., their overall body is more apt to be able to handle a switch to an all raw diet quickly. They will have high digestive enzymes and the degradation through eating S.A.D. for many years will not have taken it's toll yet.
If one is in their 30's, there may be some organ, system, or gland issues in the body. IBS, gluten and lactose intolerances, Crohn's disease, adrenal weakness, liver weakness, menstrual issues, fatigue, hormone imbalances....the list goes on and on and on! The raw diet may not be so easily tolerated and so a period of building up the organs, systems and glands would be wise. Then embarking on a more raw diet could be more easily tolerated. It just depends on the person and their personal level of health. Each person and each situation is different.
As we move forward in age, 40's, 50's and 60's....digestive enzymes are half or less of what they were in the 20's and more time has elapsed in order for the S.A.D. to take it's toll on the body. To jump into a raw lifestyle at this stage would probably not be wise, unless you are the hardy sort and have little symptoms of ill-health. If you have diabetes or some other chronic and degenerative health issue, you must take care of that first by building up the thing that is breaking down. You also must, and so must everyone, go through a period of "detox" from the S.A.D. where you unintentionally consumed pesticides, herbicides, preservatives, man-made chemicals, food colorants, and many forms of toxins. The detox period allows these to reemerge from where they were stuffed in your cells, reenter your blood stream, and be released via defecation, urine, sweat, or breath.
As you can see, the earlier one can decide to live a raw lifestyle, the better their chances are that they will not have to experience several weeks or years of building their ravaged bodies back up before embarking on this most exceptional path. The older one gets the more the digestive process works less and less effectively, often holding years of backed up and undigested particles causing too many symptoms to list here. The longer one waits, the more work is to be done - more research into symptoms and what particular organ, system, or gland is weakened or ill, then figuring out which alternative health approach would be best, spending the money to try that approach....use your imagination as to how long this will take.
All the while, any one of us could take up the practice of drinking/chewing/gulping the powerhouse of nutrition in the green smoothie. We can transition smoothly if needed by taking this small step towards improving our health. For those more hardy people and/or the younger ones, green smoothies are a good way to jump right in to the raw lifestyle.
My thoughts are this....a raw diet is for everyone. Do you want to see GRAND results? Or are you OK with feeling a bit better, having a little more energy? How old are you and what have been your eating habits up until now?
We've got to start where we are!!! If you do not know where you are, then how would a raw diet and lifestyle help you? Are you trying to start juggling without ever having caught a ball?
If your organs, systems, and glands are weak, then why are you going for the gusto of the raw diet and all the great things it promises?
First you have got to heal the pancreas or the liver or the thyroid or the kidneys or the lymph or the....
Do you get my drift! You have to spend the time to rebuild what is broken first. Then build on that until systems are working properly again. In order to do that, you must be able to listen INTENTLY to your body and what it's telling you. That's a whole other topic!!!
Then I am sure that eating more raw will help those who say the raw diet is not for them. They've tried it and it didn't work. It made them more sick.
My thoughts and intuition on this is "GOOD! You tried the raw diet - the living food, with it's high vibration, it's cleansing power, it's easier digestibility, it's unprocessed nature, it's ability to make you look and feel 20 or more years younger....and it didn't work! That tells you that you have a LOT of work to do to rebuild, heal, revitalize, and regain the health in your body....because something is wrong if you cannot digest a raw vegetable. The raw food is real, living food. We need to be able to digest this food in order to thrive in our lives. Otherwise we are just getting by and "aging" according to how we are told it's all supposed to go."
I'm sorry if that makes some people upset. I am just saying that if the raw diet isn't working for some, try to rebuild what's broken first. Self-education is key!