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Raw Food Myths

Raw food lifestyles and diets have garnered a lot of myths that seem to pop up all over. It would be easy to dedicate an entire book to these myths and their exceptions, but I’d like to focus just on a few to clear up several misconceptions.

There is one raw food diet.

Those who have not tried going mostly raw are often confused when people talk about raw food diets. It is typical to hear someone casually remark, “Oh, I tried the raw food diet and it did (or didn’t) work for me.” This makes it sound like there is one way to eat raw foods, but raw just doesn’t work that way.

This way of viewing the word “diet” comes from so many fad diets hitting the market and the internet. We are used to hearing about some miscellaneously named diet that has specific foods to eat and not eat within very firm constraints. Raw food is too broad to get confused with fad diets. It would be like starting a cooked diet. This could mean pasta, bread, and mashed potatoes or soups and grilled mangoes. There’s more than one way to eat cooked, so there are many ways to eat raw too.

You must be 100% raw or nothing.

A 100% raw food lifestyle is admirable, but that doesn’t mean adding more fresh, raw, whole foods to your regular diet won’t do you any good. That makes no sense. If this type of logic worked then you would also have to eat 100% unhealthy to see any problems. Not how food works. Most people who follow some raw food diet are between 70 and 90% raw and they manage to reap many health benefits. Even those who aren’t ready for that kind of commitment could still see some paybacks in the health department by adding more raw fruits and vegetables to their food, even if it is a small amount to begin with.

Raw food diets prevent or cure all disease.

It is true that many who follow a raw food diet are less likely to develop certain diseases, mainly heart disease and diabetes, but that doesn’t mean they won’t ever get sick. It is true that cooked food often contains more carcinogens than raw food and many of the phytonutrients in raw foods help boost immune function, combat certain types of cancer, help prevent strokes, and slow the onset of degenerative diseases. Unfortunately, there’s still plenty of illness out there and no immune system is perfect. Even the best allow a few invaders past the defenses now and again. Raw foodies still get colds, flus, bacterial infections, and more.

Everything will be cold.

Raw food isn’t heated above 118 degrees Fahrenheit, but 118 isn’t exactly cold. Dehydrators and quality blenders can warm foods without going past the raw point. This mean you can eat warm raw soups, pasta sauces, and much more while still eating raw.

You will eat nothing but salad, veggies, and fruit.

Salads are definitely the staple of any raw food diet. There are millions of ways to make each salad unique and flavorful, but there’s much more to raw food than greens. Fruits and vegetables offer additional variety and can be made into many different meals. Add to these nuts, seeds, nut butters, sprouts, and sea vegetables. You would be surprised at how many things can be made from raw foods, like pasta, crackers, chips, and even cakes. A dehydrator and a good blender or food processor can make almost anything possible.

Raw food is expensive.

This one really depends on what food you buy and when. Of course premade raw food will be expensive. It’s specialty food requiring more time to prepare than many processed foods, catering to a smaller market, and possessing a shorter shelf life. If you buy the ingredients and make food yourself, it is much less expensive. Raw organic certified foods will also be more expensive for the same reasons, but there are many non-organic foods that do not contain many pesticides and are safe to pick up when your budget is tight. Environmental Working Group releases a list of the dirtiest and cleanest fruits and vegetables each year. Buying in season will also be less expensive than trying to buy foods out of season.

Raw food takes too long.

There are many raw food recipes that require hours of soaking, sprouting, fermenting, and dehydrating. These are not the only recipes out there. Just like with any cooked meal, there are plenty of quick versions to many different recipes. You can make raw pasta with warm marinara in minutes and that’s just the beginning. A good blender or food processor can make meal prep even faster.

Raw foodies live longer.

There is plenty of debate on both sides of this one. Raw food does contain many beneficial and age fighting antioxidants. It doesn’t contain the saturated fats and concentrated sugars that contribute to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. On the other hand, there’s much more to living longer than just diet. There’s activity level to consider, along with genetics. Then there are accidents that can hit anyone at any time. Many who follow a raw food diet believe that they live with more quality of life, filled with more energy and less disease, even up to the end. The arguments for and against longevity through raw food both rely on statistics that are hard to nail down. Really, you should eat in a way that makes you feel healthy and energetic throughout your life, no matter the length. What that means is up to you.

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