Friday, July 24, 2009

Moving in the Raw Direction

As I've written before, the biggest single factor I attribute my weight loss and maintenance to is switching to eating a mostly raw/vegan diet. I don't say eat only raw, vegan, but try to move in the direction so that, eventually, the majority of your diet is raw/vegan.

I generally aim for my diet to be 60-70% raw vegan. My basic mantra is "raw until dinner," although I do make exceptions. The point is that you need to be flexible, so that if you're invited to that afternoon barbecue, brunch, or lunch out with the girls, you can enjoy yourself, and not be a pain in the ass to your friends and relatives.

Here's the deal, I generally try to eat fruit for breakfast, and a salad consisting of only raw ingredients for lunch (although I also like raw veggies and dip for lunch as well). I try to exclude all meat, fish, eggs and dairy for my first two meals of the day. For dinner, I try to incorporate a raw element, such as a salad or making a pasta dish with a raw sauce, but I generally allow myself to enjoy cooked food, meat, fish, dairy and eggs.

If I go out to restaurants, I try to always start with a salad with a vinaigrette dressing, and stick to lighter fare such as fish, grilled meat or vegetarian dishes.

And, while I generally try to avoid processed sugars, corn syrup and artificial sweeteners, I do actually love dessert from time to time (who doesn't). I just try to save it for those times when I know the dessert is really worth the calories or if I'm at some one's home and it would be rude to turn down their home-made confection (although I usually just ask for a small sliver.)

On those occasions when I "cheat" and have cooked food and/or meat, fish, dairy, or eggs, for breakfast or lunch or have dessert, I look for ways to go completely "raw" later in the week for dinner. Perhaps I'll make hot dogs for the family (which I don't eat) while I have a raw salad for dinner.

Besides weight loss, eating raw offers a lot of health benefits. If you want to read up on the benefits of going raw both "The Raw Food Detox Diet" by Natalia Rose, and "Rainbow Green Live-Food Cuisine," by Gabriel Cousens are good reading.

I'd probably never go to the raw food extremes that both those authors recommend (I don't see myself substituting raw zucchini for pasta anytime soon or making "cheese" from nuts), but you can achieve both the weight loss benefits and health benefits just by eating more fresh fruits and vegetables.

And, I also don't recommend going "cold turkey" and drastically changing your diet either. That's how you feel deprived.

Instead, move in the direction of going raw. Perhaps start out by singling out one or two days a week to eat fruit for breakfast or having a raw salad for lunch. If you're not eating any raw food meals right now, perhaps aim, initially for 20% of your weekly diet be raw/vegan. Over time, increase the number of times a week you do this. Substitute fresh fruit, dried fruits and nuts for processed snacks (only by careful with the dried fruit and nuts because they contain a lot of calories).

Over time, you'll find you will lose weight, and feel better too.

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