To most people, I think the idea of starting a raw food diet is intensely intimidating.  No more fries?  Pasta?  Cookies????  Why would I want to give up all the things I enjoy about food?  It’s a valid response for sure, and one I had myself when I first became intrigued with idea of going raw.  The idea of never being able to enjoy a leisurely dinner out with my friends, or have a slice of birthday cake, or even watch a movie with a big bowl of buttery popcorn literally made me want to cry.  And then I realized how screwed up that is.  Because what I was actually doing – and what I think many, if not most people do – was associating all of these pleasurable activities with food.  Linking food and fun together in such a way that to separate them seemed….well, absurd!  Realizing the strength of this connection is what can empower you to make positive, dramatic changes in your diet and lifestyle because suddenly you begin to understand key motivations behind the behavior you want to change.

In my pre-raw days, my favorite way to end of a long day of work was to come home, put on a movie and eat the entire way through it.  I would eat entire cartons of ice cream, bags of chips, trays of homemade french fries – all before the end credits even rolled.  And then I would find myself totally stuffed to the brim, yet still wondering what else I could find in the kitchen to munch on until bedtime!!  I hated myself for it the next morning, but I forgave myself just in time to do it all over again the next night.  Why was it, after countless years of struggling with my weight, with food, with body image issues, that I was still caught in this endless cycle of binging-eating and ego-bashing?  Why hadn’t I grown up and figured out how to control myself when it came to food?  Why did stuffing my face full of fatty foods always seem like the most enjoyable thing to do?  I knew I needed to make a big change – and that’s where the raw lifestyle was my knight in shiny green armor.

A raw diet is the absolute perfect way of life for someone who is obsessed with and addicted to food.  I certainly was.  I believe most people are.  It’s not even totally our faults really.  American culture is obsessed with food in the most perverse ways if you stop and look around you.  Deep fried burgers, bacon-flavored milkshakes, that disgusting looking “sandwich” mess at KFC that used fried chicken for buns???!!  We are reaching a point, collectively, of unprecedented disease and death in this country because of the way we eat.  The United States of America is not going to be overtaken by any other country, because she is soon going to die – alone on her couch eating Fritos – from heart disease.  This is the sad truth in the S.A.D (Standard American Diet…what a coincidence).  The food we consume is loaded with toxic chemicals, preservatives, and pesticides.  The majority of the food that Americans consume has absolutely NO nutritional value – so it’s no wonder we are always hungry, even after we’ve just devoured half of the frozen foods aisle!  Our bodies are sending us hunger signals not because we need another pound of Twinkies, but because we need real nutrition.  Vitamins, minerals, enzymes, essential fatty acids, etc.  So a big part of our need to binge is due to this major lack of nutrition in our food.

So how can eating raw make any difference?  Let me count the ways!  First of all, when food is cooked – even organic veggies – the heat depletes the nutritional value in the food.  Vitamins A, D, E and K, for example, are all destroyed by heat, while the levels of Vitamin C and the B Vitamins are all notably reduced when heated over 130 degrees.  And enzymes begin deteriorating at 116 degrees.  We so commonly forget that the only reason we truly need food is for nutrients to build, maintain and heal our bodies.  When we eat cooked food, lacking nutrients for our body to use, we build sickly, weak, disease-prone bodies.  Think about it, we are living beings, so shouldn’t we want to eat living foods?  Cooking is killing, my friends, so in essence when you eat cooked food, you’re eating death.  How will that give you a vibrant, thriving, radiant body and life?  It won’t.  The truth is, our bodies were designed to eat a plant-based diet.  This is what we are biologically designed for, and when you begin to respect this intelligent design, you will see your body transform in the most miraculous ways.

A raw diet consists of vibrant, living foods – succulent fruits, rich avocados, crisp veggies and nourishing nuts and seeds.  Grains and legumes aren’t typically big players in a raw diet (and die hard Raw Heads would never touch them), but in moderation they are acceptable.   When the majority of your diet consists of living fruits and vegetables, imagine the surge of nutrients you will be feeding your body on a daily basis!  The nutritional value of this diet is through the roof, and you will feel better than you ever have in your life!  Plus, because you are eating nutritionally dense food (as opposed to calorically dense food), you will be eating large quantities of it – which is great news for ex-binge eaters like myself!  The raw food diet has allowed me to convert my obsession with food into a passion for food, and my ravenous appetite has finally been sated.  And on top of all that, I’ve never looked better!

Going raw, or changing your diet in any way for that matter, doesn’t mean that all the fun and pleasure will be instantly zapped out of your life.  Quite the opposite actually.  On a raw diet, you find more pleasure and beauty in food than you ever have before.  You see, when you go raw, you can begin to make the psychological distinction between food for fun, and food as nourishment.   Food is for feeding, not entertainment, and if you ever want to achieve true, radiant health, you have to start to live by this mantra.  You can have all the fun in the world and still eat raw, because the food was never the reason for the fun.  You just have to disconnect those two concepts in your head.  Eating raw assists you in making that mental change, and after years of feeling discouraged by your eating, you can begin to feel inspired.  Doesn’t that sound great?