The first time that I heard about raw food was through a casual acquaintance who tried it for a few days. It was about a year later that I ended up trying it out for myself. I did the typical thing and searched the web for YouTube videos and websites for information. I started following some of the popular raw foodists on YouTube for inspiration. I decided that I would keep things simple and start off slowly integrating raw foods into my daily routine.
My goal was to be 100% raw for 30 days.
In order to reach that goal I created a prep plan that would ease me in to eating 100% raw. My plan was to gradually introduce more and more raw foods into my diet to the point where I was replacing my cooked/processed meals with raw meals.
Breakfast: I started out making fruit/veggie smoothies and eating mono meals (making a meal out of one type of fruit/veggie)
My favorites smoothie: 4-5 Bananas, 1 cup frozen pineapple, handful of spinach, coconut water (about 530-630kcal)
My favorite mono meal: 5-6 Ataulfo mango (about 535-645kcal)
As I progressed I added more fruits and veg to my smoothies. I learned the hard way that I needed about 600-750 calories to be satisfied. I originally started off only using 2 bananas but I ended up starving an hour later because that amount did not provide me enough calories.
The amount of these snacks varied. On average I was consuming about 2 cups worth or fruit/veg.
Apples and dates
During the first week of my prep I consumed a raw breakfast and snacks during that time I consumed cooked lunch and dinner. During the second week I transitioned from a cooked lunch to consuming half raw and the half cooked/processed for lunch and a cooked dinner.
My favorite transition meal: 1 cup soup and a veggie sandwich with hummus and/or avocado
(sometimes I went to subway and bought a 12 inch veggie delight on wheat with no cheese and extra veggies)
After the second week of fully raw breakfast, half raw/half cooked lunch and cooked dinner I transitioned to fully raw lunch and half raw/half cooked dinner.
My favorite raw lunch: Fresh watermelon/cucumber juice with ginger (pictured top left) and zucchini pasta salad (inspired by Susan Voisin of Fat Free Vegan Kitchen)
During week three I was consuming a fully raw breakfast, fully raw lunch and half raw/half cooked dinner.
My favorite transition meal: grilled veggies, guacamole and pico de gallo lettuce wraps, and a salad.
My favorite raw meal: Giant salad, with spinach, romaine lettuce, raisins, mandarin oranges, sunflower seeds, jalapeno, red onion, etc with a balsamic vinaigrette
On week four I transitioned my half/raw and half cooked dinner to fully raw. The end of that fourth week for my prep marked the beginning of my raw food cleanse which I maintained for 30 days.
What I learned
Physically my body went through several changes. There were times when I felt sick or had headaches and breakouts but that was due to my body ridding itself of all the toxicity and trying to heal the damage that I have caused to myself over the years.
Most people want to quit after the first sign of being uncomfortable...don't quit.
I pooped out a lot of intestinal buildup.
I wasn't camping out in the bathroom with explosive diarrhea or anything but I pooped more frequently and a lot of weird stuff came out (weird stuff? o_O ) ...yeah. It was an experience but well worth it.
My skin transformed into hydrated and balanced perfection. My oily t-zone balanced out and my large pores and blackheads almost vanished. I was amazed because I have always had issues with my skin.
I learned that it takes time for the body to adjust to the increased amount of fiber. I would feel full after eating 2 bananas for breakfast (about 200kcal) and then wonder why I was starving an hour later. 200 calories is definitely not enough to sustain me for a meal, I felt like I was going to die! I had to figure out the calories through trial and error. I used cronometer to keep track of my calorie consumption.
I learned that it took about 600-750 calories for me to be satisfied for a meal. Sometimes my caloric needs increased depending on my level of activity for that day. I consumed an average of 2500 calories. I did not restrict my calories, I ate as much fruit and veg as I wanted until I was full.
I lost 10-15 pounds. However, weight loss was not my goal, I already maintained a healthy weight and I exercised regularly...the weight-loss just happened due to the dietary changes. This occurred over the course of 2 months (my prep phase and the active phase of the cleanse)
Mono meals are awesome!
I ended up consuming mono meals for breakfast and lunch during the active phase of my cleanse, it was easy for very convenient and delicious!
Water is still important! I drank a bottle of water as soon as I woke up. I tried to drink about a gallon of water per day.
During the process of this cleanse I was doing all of the research that I mentioned in part 1, 2, and 3 of this series. I made the decision to become vegan towards the end of my cleanse. Although I already made the decision to stop consuming dairy products before this cleanse, I never intended to stop eating animal flesh...it just happened. I could not ignore all of the articles, test studies and documentaries and the Dr. Klaper's Food that Kills presentation sealed the deal for me. The cleanse prepared me in a way that I did not realize at the time. Since I hadn't eaten any meat or dairy while on the cleanse my body had worked out a lot of those addictive cravings I had for meat and I truly believe it is the reason why my first steps into veganism were successful. There was still a lot that I had to learn then and I am still learning now, three years later. I will continue to reflect on my journey to vedgedom and share my experiences here. There is a lot more to being vegan, vegetarian and plant-based than just eating a bunch of fruits and vegetables. It is a mindset. It is an effort towards food justice and environmental change.
What are your thoughts on a raw food detox? Have you ever tried it?
Have you thought about or attempted transitioning to vegan, vegetarian or plant-based?
~"Be Veg. Get Fit. Live Well."~
Jessica Ivory Sutton