When trying to decipher the often conflicting messages from proponents of different diets, it can be difficult to know which path is right for you. For many of us, the answer is to take the kernels of wisdom we find to be most valuable from a range of diets and apply them to our daily routines in the way that works best for us.
While a particular diet might not be right for you, most diets have a few lessons that can serve us all well, and raw foodism is no exception. Here are a few of the important insights we can learn from raw foodists.
1. Raw foods can be more nutrient dense.
Raw foodists do not heat their food above 115 degrees Fahrenheit. The primary tenet of raw foodism is that cooking food can break down vitamins and other nutrients and that, because they haven’t been cooked, raw foods retain much of their nutrient content. Raw foods, therefore, can be excellent sources of many vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Whether you’re going raw or not, it is important to include plenty of fresh produce and other plant-based foods in your diet on a regular basis. This is something that many of us simply don’t do, especially when we fall into the habit of turning to convenience foods.
2. Raw foods can be vitalizing.
Many raw foodists suggest that, largely due to the nutrient density of raw foods, they can help us to feel healthier and more energized. Indeed, this seems to be the case for some people. While going completely raw is not right for everyone, going partially raw, or entirely raw for a short period of time, may help you to feel more vibrant and energetic.
3. Raw foods help us stay closer to nature.
Because of its emphasis on fresh, whole foods, raw foodism reminds us of the fact that we are, after all, part of nature. When we’re consuming processed foods that come in packages and are filled with food dyes and artificial additives, it can be easy to forget that the main ingredients of those products once originated in nature—and that we are deeply dependent on the processes and cycles of the natural world. Eating raw helps us to remember that our bodies evolved to be able to process “real” foods that come from nature, and to understand why processed foods can be so damaging to our health.
4. Raw foods save on processing and can be more environmentally friendly.
Because they’re not produced in factories, which use resources and can be polluting, and because they don’t always come wrapped in plastic, raw foods are often more environmentally friendly than processed foods. It makes sense that a way of eating that would remind us of our connection to nature would also encourage us to be better stewards of our environment.
5. Raw foods can be very filling.
There is the common misconception that plant-based foods are less filling than meat and dairy. This is sometimes the case, but not always. Because raw foods are often so nutrient dense, they can also be very filling. This is an important lesson—when we eat nutrient dense foods, we often need to eat fewer calories to feel full than we do when we eat processed foods, which tend to be high in calories but low in nutrients, and therefore leave us feeling unsatisfied. And filling meals are also more satisfying on the psychological and emotional levels. As a result, we’re less likely to overeat.
Going raw is a significant decision that can have profound impacts on a person’s life. For some, it can be hugely beneficial, whereas others might experience better health by choosing a different path. Whether you decide to adopt raw foodism or not, there are a number of valuable lessons we can learn from this diet. In our pursuit of health, it is important to remember that we need to be open to all perspectives and willing to try new approaches, so that we can find out what makes us feel healthy. This will allow us to understand the unique needs that each of our bodies has, and to learn how to meet those needs.
The Institute for the Psychology of Eating
© Institute For The Psychology of Eating, All Rights Reserved, 2014
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