Start Your Raw Food Diet in 5 Easy Steps

Want to lose weight, have more energy, fight cancer, and boost your immune system? Vibrant health is the benefit of eating a raw diet. Most raw foodists are vegan (eating plant-based foods only), but some do use unprocessed dairy products. It is important to use high quality organic produce, particularly if you are ill, but it is possible to follow a living foods diet on a budget, especially if you have good sources of locally grown fruits and vegetables. Are you ready to get started? Follow these 5 easy steps and start your raw food diet today.

Raw Food Diet

1. Transition to a Healthier Diet

Give up fried foods but don't go cold turkey off a Standard American Diet (SAD) of fast food, junk food, refined sugar and white flour. Most people can immediately increase the amount of fresh vegetables in their diet without harm. Sweet juicy or dried fruits should be eaten alone on an empty stomach, so substituting them for breakfast is a great way to introduce them into your diet.

Give up red meat (pork and beef) and commercial dairy products. Fish (wild caught, not farm raised), chicken, yogurt or kefir and cottage cheese are better choices, as are lightly steamed vegetables and brown rice with a little tamari. If you drink tea or coffee, take it plain or sweeten it with stevia (a low calorie plant sweetener) or raw honey. Make your own fresh lemonade and drink that or plain water instead of sodas.

While living foods offer superior nutrition, some authorities within the raw food community recommend sublingual methylcobalamine (B12) supplements and stress that regular intake of sprouted seeds such as alfalfa and sunflower is essential to meet protein requirements. They caution against trading a high fat cooked diet for a high fat raw diet, a common pitfall for new converts.

2. Do a Kitchen Makeover

Clean your refrigerator and cupboards of all high fat, high sugar snacks. Sticking to a raw foods diet is easier with the right equipment. A powerful blender, citrus juicer, food processor, and dehydrator will help you make delicious nutritious foods that satisfy your cravings. Invest in at least one quality vegetable juicer too.

3. Make Real Salads

Make them your main dish for lunch and dinner! Get creative--no iceberg and colored bits in tiny bowls belong here. Get out your mixing bowls and use dark green leafy vegetables like romaine, spinach, greenleaf, and redleaf lettuce. Experiment with different types of kale and tomatoes. Add onion, avocado, cucumber, celery, beet, parsley, red cabbage, pieces of orange or tangerine slices, walnuts or pecans, red bell peppers, baby carrots, and sprouts.

For dressings, try lemon juice with a little sea salt, dulse seaweed flakes or balsamic vinegar with olive oil and herbs. Recipes for creamy dressings made from blended nuts can be found in raw food "cook" books and websites.

You can cure your own raw olives and pickles to spice up a salad. Canned hearts of palm, green beans, garbanzo beans or cooked quinoa (a high protein grain) are not raw but in the beginning they can provide a real treat that makes your salad more appealing.

4. Make Smoothies

These are filling and quick when you need a meal or a snack. If you haven't made your own apple, carrot, orange, or cucumber/celery juice you can make a good smoothie with water and ice. Add several bananas, stevia or honey, and vanilla--yum! Put in a big handful of clean baby spinach or kale too. The color is lovely and you'll never taste the greens! Experiment with adding strawberries, cinnamon, or nuts. Nut milk is made by soaking nuts overnight and then blending them with water. Strain the milk and chill. This rich creamy drink goes well with orange juice and vanilla.

5. Attend Raw Potlucks

Check on-line or at bulletin boards in your local health food establishments. Meeting other rawfooders is a great way to get support and collect recipes. Don't be intimidated, few people stick to a 100% raw diet. The important thing is that you are increasing the percentage of living foods in what you eat. Over time, your taste buds will change, your body will crave more nutrient rich foods, and that will have a positive impact on your health.

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