Saturday, May 17, 2008

Raw Food Transition

Taking it slow...
There are many ideas of how to transition to a raw food diet. Many people like to transition in a fast way. They hear all the great results that you can get (and there are many) so they decide to jump right in and go 100% raw overnight or in a week. There really is no right or wrong way to transition. But in my opinion if you are 100% dedicated to doing this type of diet for any length of time, then there is no rush, and you should take it as slow as possible. If you're in a healing crisis like cancer you unfortunately, don't have this luxury.

Why is it better to transition slow rather than fast for most people?
Transitioning to a raw food diet is not easy for your mind or your body. The current diet that we had before going raw was probably in the least, about 20 years old. That means even if we got into raw foods at a young 20 years old, that's still fighting against 20 full years of our relationship with food. Assuming two people were in love, do you think a person who was in that relationship for 20 years could overnight start a brand new relationship without any emotional issues? It's just not possible. Many times the best thing for a person that is getting out of a long term relationship is to just be alone for a while. Why is that? Most likely because they need to see what life is like without that person. Food is no different. Everyday we have eaten all our lives, it has left its imprint on us whether we like it or not. Just ask anybody who has an eating disorder or a person who has food addictions. The longer a person has gone eating the traditional diet, the longer they should take to transition.

By taking it slow, you're also giving your body a chance to recalibrate itself when needed. We all need to find a new level of homeostasis every time we make changes. Don't get me wrong, it is possible to change overnight, people have done it. I'm just telling you what has worked for me. If you set a long term goal, years out for example, that you're one day going to be all the way raw then this is the best approach.

Because we've abused our bodies for many years we have low hydrochloric acid levels in our bodies. Because of this it's not easy to break down the roughage and fiber that comes in when we start introducing raw foods into our new diet. If we suddenly shock the body, we start feeling sudden symptoms of detox. The food is not being broken down and upsets our stomach etc. Also when people transition too fast they sometimes swing back and forth. They'll be 100% raw for a week and then eat no raw foods the next week and it becomes this pendulum swinging back and forth. We're moving towards the slow and steady approach.

As you are changing your current diet, your body will pull minerals out of your body to keep itself in balance and a sudden change can be too much of a shock for most people. Be kind to your body. You don't like waking up to an alarm clock do you? It's a shock to wakeup that way and not very natural. So give your body time to readjust itself over the long term. Thinking long term will help because you won't be focused on things like weight gain or weight loss or any of the other things that we think about for right now. You're in it to be healthy and you're in it for the long term and long term health.

It's all about small changes that you can get used to and being okay with whatever level or "rawness" that you achieve. I never thought to myself that I'd be 100% raw one day. I just new I wanted to start eating healthier and it just happened by accident really. I never tried to do it. That may sound strange. I never struggled. I never felt hungry all the time. I never felt detox and it was always fun. It took me 5 years to get to 100% raw. I was addicted to meat, sandwiches, pizza, burgers and my all time favorite, the chocolate chip cookie.

So how did I do it?
Well my first goal was to clean up my breakfast habits. I used to wake up starving. Now I wake up and can go till 4pm on just water and not even feel hungry. I'm telling you, your stomach changes and your need for food diminishes unbelievably. We eat because our body wants minerals. We can get them in half the amount of foods now that we eat raw. In any event, I read Fit for Life and decided to eat fruit until noon. But I was addicted to my two bowls of cereal and peanut butter toast. For a week I just ate 1 piece of toast. Then I'd have only 1 bowl of cereal with one piece of toast for a few weeks. Then I'd just have cereal. Then I did the fruit until noon trick and just did that and only that for a good year. I didn't care if that's all I ever did. But at that point I signed up for and started learning more and reading more raw food books. Tip: Learn as you go and experiment in the kitchen as you transition as well. There are a lot of great raw foodists out there. I've learned a lot from Daniel Vitalis and the Raw Vegan Radio Show.

At this point I thought I'd tackle lunch. I'd eat a salad with my turkey sandwich and chocolate chip muffin. But hey, my lunch meal was now 50% raw! Then I'd have a veggie sandwich with my muffin and salad for 6 months of more. Then for a good year I was raw at breakfast AND lunch, amazing. Then again at that point if that's all I ever did I was happy with that. No struggle, no addictions, no stress. It was easy as can be. Then I thought...."hmm if I can take care of dinner that's the whole show!" Then it took me a long long time to tackle the dinner issue and I'm telling you, it was the easiest way to transition ever.

What was my approach?
Fruit only for breakfast
Salads with lunch and dinner
A daily green juice and/or green smoothie if I had time.
Then all the cooked food I wanted, as long as I did the above things each day.

If that's all you did, you'd be eating healthier than just about any average American. Just imagine if all you did was have a green smoothie for breakfast for the next 20 years instead of bacon, eggs, hash browns and cereal. That one change alone saves your body 7,300 toxic meals. Isn't that amazing? If it takes you 5 years to transition to 100% raw", don't you think that is better than going on the seesaw diet constantly going back and forth struggling and fighting addictions? In the grand scheme of things taking 5 years to change 20 years of habits isn't so bad.

In order to do the whole show all the way you really have to have a mindset that this is what your eating program is going to be about. But it's really not important to be 100% raw or 90% and count percentages here and there. The point is just to keep adding and introducing healthier foods into your diet.

What do you do about addictions?
Having a sugar addiction is no fun, or any addiction for that matter. If you’re transitioning, just slowly lower the number and amounts of bad things you eat. For example, if you're craving 5 fresh out of the oven chocolate chip cookies, then tell yourself you can eat them only after you have a green juice before or perhaps a nice fresh salad, and try to eat only 4 instead of 5. The key is making yourself eat the salad first and then have the cookies. And be happy with that. No big deal. Pretty soon, and before you know it, you'll be eating a nice balanced healthy diet without even trying. Remember don't focus on avoiding foods, focus on adding the good stuff. More toward things, not away from things.

No struggling, no addiction and no effort. Make it easy and make it fun. Life is about way more than food anyway.