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When I first got into raw food back in 1993 there weren't a lot of myths floating around as there weren't many raw foodists or raw food philosophies floating around either!
Since then my, how things have changed! There's more books, resources, foods, theories, promoters, restaurants - you name it, there's more of it! And yes, ultimately this is a great thing... the only thing that frustrates me just a little are the myths that are created out of thin air and then get passed around like Chinese whispers and are taken as gospel! So because I'm keen for people NOT to sign up to a "truth" that's not true, here's my contribution to blowing these myths out of the water.
Myth #1: Talking about "THE" Raw Food Diet
The first and most misleading myth is that there is such thing as "a raw food diet" - there's really not. If I were to say to you that I eat "a cooked food diet" would that tell you very much? Of course not! I could eat burger and fries twice a day (like I used to), or I could eat beans and rice with steamed veggies (which I later switched to) - obviously very different foods that will affect my health, energy and body very differently - but they're all "cooked".
And so for me to say "I eat a raw food diet" is equally unhelpful. I could major on greens, salads and sprouted foods (which is, loosely speaking, the ideal in my opinion), or I could eat predominantly complicated raw gourmet dishes mostly made in the dehydrator followed by raw chocolate cake every night. Again, very different foods which will definitely result in differing levels of health and vitality - but all raw foods nonetheless.
So, when someone says to you "I know someone who tried the raw food diet but it didn't work for them", try asking them what exactly that person was doing or eating. I've found that usually after a little probing it becomes clear that really most people don't know what they are doing (some of the stories I have heard have been pretty scary!), many have not been eating a wide enough variety of foods (or of good enough quality), but moreover most if not all have failed to figure out and follow the 7 Steps that I teach in my Raw Food for Beginners book and classes - which is why I wrote the book! There is a method to all of this and it pays to learn it - that way success lays, and when you've made it happen for yourself you'll know that there really is no such thing as a raw food diet, but there is such thing as YOUR raw food diet!
Myth #2: "If You Eat Only Raw Food You'll Never Get Ill"
The second myth that needs busting is that if you eat all raw food you will never get ill. This is simply not true, although generally speaking eating lots of first-class raw foods certainly keeps people healthier and more able to shake off things than the average diet. But while diet is undoubtedly a very important part of the health puzzle, Step 1 of The 7 Steps to Going and Staying Raw is to learn, understand and acknowledge (as discussed in last week's issue) that "Going Raw is a Whole Person Journey."
Eating right (which to my mind is at least 80% raw vegan) is a brilliant tool for creating amazing health, but if you are overworking or are constantly stressed out, if your emotional needs aren't being met, or if you don't get enough fresh air, water, rest, sleep, sunshine or exercise then your body simply isn't going to thrive as well as it could because other vital nutrients are missing (of the non- food variety). In fact, stress is more acidic to the body than some of the worst junk food; it can literally poison the system, regardless of how well you might be eating. So, yes, when you go raw you need to be watching more than just what you eat - you need to be taking good care of yourself right across the board and feeding yourself optimally on all levels - but that's a good thing, right?!
Myth #3: "You Have to Go 100% Raw to Be Your Best"
The third and final myth that I really want to bust is that going raw has to be all or nothing. No, not at all. Over the years I have been at all places on the dietary spectrum, from eating all junk and lots of meat to all raw vegan - and everywhere in between. Nowadays I eat pretty much 100% raw vegan all the time (there are a few occasional exceptions, but these are a very rare event), but that's simply because I feel and look my best when I do - but I don't treat eating raw as a religion. When eating raw becomes a "must do" rather than a "want to", that's when it starts to become unhealthy. So being clear on your values and having your Big Why at the core of your eating habits ensures that you keep your emotional energy high which will greatly assist you in eating more raw and feeling happy about it - but what level you choose to go to is entirely personal to you and can and most likely will change ongoingly as you and your diet evolve. The key criteria for all of this has to be that you are happy with what you're doing, and are consistently feeling better for it in every way, otherwise why would you do it?
(c) 2008 Karen Knowler
About the author: Karen Knowler, The Raw Food Coach publishes "Successfully Raw" - a free weekly eZine for raw food lovers everywhere. If you're ready to look good, feel great and create a raw life you love get your FREE tips, tools and recipes now at http://www.TheRawFoodCoach.com
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