Many people who transition to a raw food dietreport feeling lighter, healthier and more energetic. These claims make diving head first into the lifestyle sound enticing, but it’s easy to make mistakes when you’re unfamiliar with raw foods. If you’re beginning to adopt an entirely raw diet, avoid these common pitfalls.
Transitioning Too Fast
Jumping right into a 100 percent raw diet can shock your body and result in symptoms such as chills, constipation, bloating, gas, headaches and skin problems. Often referred to as “detox,” these symptoms are the result of your body cleansing itself of unnatural chemicals, processed ingredients and other byproducts of a previously unhealthy diet. It’s smarter to begin by gradually increasing the amount of raw foods that you eat each day and working your way up to entire raw meals.
Eating Too Few Calories
Raw foods, especially fruits and vegetables, have much more bulk than their cooked counterparts. This makes you feel full faster than you’re used to and can lead to accidental undereating. Incorporating soaked and sprouted raw grains into your diet along with calorie-dense protein sources such as hemp seeds and chia seeds can help you meet your calorie goals without feeling like you’re stuffing yourself at every meal.
Eating Excessive Amounts of Fat
Although seeds and nuts provide a ready source of important nutrients, many raw foodies wind up consuming too many. For some, nuts and seeds can be hard to digest and may cause discomfort. These foods also pack high amounts of fat, which can lead to weight gain over time. A good way to make sure you don’t overdo it is to portion out daily amounts of seeds and nuts into bags or containers. Raw desserts made with nuts, seeds and coconut oil should be considered treats and only consumed on special occasions.
Having Overly Strict Rules
When some people go raw, they become obsessed with the concept and start to worry about consuming foods that have been heated above a certain temperature or those that were grown using conventional methods rather than organic. These kinds of rules turn the diet into drudgery and may wind up detracting from its health benefits.
Relying on Packaged Goods
Raw crackers, breads and other packaged raw products are convenient when you need a snack on the go, but remember that they’re essentially raw versions of the processed foods you’re trying to eliminate by going raw in the first place. Limit your intake to avoid overindulging in oil and salt.
Limiting Food Variety
Some raw foodies eat large quantities of a single food in one sitting instead of a combination of foods. While these “mono meals” are okay on occasion, too many of them not only limit the amount of nutrients that you get but also make a raw diet boring. Try new fruits and vegetables as you transition to raw foods to keep things exciting and introduce your taste buds to different flavors.
Making Preparation Too Complicated
Don’t let the quest for diversity make you feel obligated to spend hours in the kitchen preparing restaurant-quality raw foods. Enjoy foods in as close to their whole forms as possible to keep dishes simple and quick. Save meals that require a lot of chopping, marinating and dehydrating for when you feel like having a truly special treat.
Raw foods are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients that provide extensive health benefits. When you approach the raw food diet with mindfulness about what you eat and a willingness to learn along the way, you are ready to enjoy the amazing benefits of a raw food diet.