Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Raw Food Diets

I have recently been asked my opinion concerning the current popularity of "raw food" diets. These are diets which include about 90% raw foods, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and a few cold-pressed oils. The remaining 10% of the diet is comprised of a few cooked vegan foods, such as brown rice, potatoes, steamed vegetables or possibly a sprouted grain. No meat, no eggs, no fish, no dairy, no white flour or white sugar, no refined oils, and no soy.

For a bit of personal background here, we followed one such diet for about a year and a half towards the beginning of our marriage. During this time, I delivered my first child. We faithfully drank fresh Carrot Juice and consumed Barley Green. We drank lots of other homemade fruit and vegetable juices. We ate extremely large and varied salads for lunch and for supper. And we tried our best to enliven the fare by employing recipes from a giant raw foods cookbook. We did find a few "desserts" too!

By eating huge quantities of energy giving food, we kept our activity levels high. We were rarely lethargic, as far as I can remember. However, we did have to eat frequently in order to maintain this energy. Our jaws were easily fatigued from all of the chewing. It took us an hour just to chew up our lunch salads! All that said, we were slim, trim and active, eating nothing that would cause digestive sluggishness.

However, during that time, I had great difficulty in consuming enough protein. I tried fervently to combine enough raw foods to support the growing life in me. And I actually remember eating nuts while I exercised just so that I wouldn't get too famished during the exertion. After all my efforts, I delivered a full-term, five-and-a-half-pound baby girl.

At the same time, my husband contracted mononucleosis. We thought that all the mega vitamins we were getting through all our juicing and our impeccable eating habits would have strengthened his immune system. But, looking back, I can see that he also had a greater need for protein so that he could build cells -- everything from muscle cells to immune system cells. Without protein, our bodies can not use all of the other nutrients.

After Rainbow blessed us with her arrival, I experienced a very long, very intense post-partum depression. I read about all sorts of other women who endured the same thing. However, the more I read, the more I realized that my body was crying out for some fats and some proteins in order to properly regulate my changing hormones.

The final straw came when I took my 15-pound-one-year-old to her well baby checkup. The doctor diagnosed her with Failure To Thrive and recommended that I begin to give her some animal products, such as yogurt, milk, butter, fish and chicken. At that point, all three of us began to include some raw dairy products, some fish oil and some eggs in our diet. We have slowly added pastured meat products and more oils.

I believe that this expanded diet has benefited my growing children, my hard working husband, and my own child-bearing self greatly. Of course, we left out white flour, white sugar and other processed foods as far as we have been able. I have never experienced another post-partum depression and each of my children has maintained normal growth expectancies.

All that history laid out, I'll give a few conclusions... or, opinions to conclude:

  • First, I do think that a raw food diet serves an excellent purpose for someone who is fighting a major disease or even cancer. Such a diet fuels the body with lots of antioxidants and keeps toxins at a very minimum. It also allows the digestive system to move quickly and thus leave important energy for the immune system to work diligently.
  • Second, from my experience, it seems that women in child bearing years, young children and active men have a need for protein and fats that is very difficult to meet with a nearly all raw, vegan diet.
  • Third, I must say that being a raw-food-vegan enabled us to purge our diet of so many harmful processed foods. Our bodies were completely cleansed.
  • Last, the year and a half on this diet left its legacy on our lives. We live in true appreciation of raw foods and we continue to eat as many foods as possible the way God intended for us to eat them.
I hope my experience might be helpful to some of you who are weighing out the balances. I do see so much merit in what the raw food ministers say. Yet, I also see how valuable some cooked animal products can be, especially for the people in my family. Incidentally, the whole time we ate on this particular diet, my nagging question was, "If we are still supposed to be eating a Garden of Eden diet, why did Jesus feed his disciples fish and bread?"


Ilse said...

I just love your quote at the end.

MOMSWEB said...

Veeery interesting. I enjoyed visiting your bloghome and reading through some of your posts.

Michelle said...

This is very encouraging and helpful as I'm trying to decide whether or not to bring animal products back into my diet! I've read it through a couple times. Thanks!