I’ll be upfront with you here. I come from your average Anglo background, where my mother (who was an awful cook, bless her) cooked meat and 2-3 veg every night. Mum’s idea of curry was using Keen’s curry mix and adding in pineapple and sultanas. Her brussels sprouts were cooked beyond all recognition and could be hurled as weapons at my annoying younger brother!
Up until a few years ago, a green smoothie, to me, was to be avoided (I mean, who puts spinach or avocado in a smoothie??) and raw food? That was just salad, wasn’t it? Thankfully, I’ve come a long way with my food education since then!
How Long Has Raw Food Been Around?
If you think about it, raw food has been around for centuries, since our prehistoric days, but has really only become popular in modern day since the 1930’s. It became even more popular when celebrities such as Woody Harrelson and Miranda Kerr became known for their raw food lifestyles. It’s also become popular with people who choose to eschew animal products, with vegan and plant based diets becoming popular, often incorporating a large element of raw food.
What Is Raw Food Exactly?
So, what is raw food? Pretty much any raw vegetables, fermented foods, fruits, nuts and nut pastes, grain and legume sprouts, seeds, plant oils, sea vegetables, herbs and fresh juices. It can also include raw meat, fish and cheese. Think uncooked and unprocessed, cold or warm, as long as it doesn’t go above 47°C. But is it healthy, and is it beneficial for your digestion?
All Raw, All The Time?
There is the question of whether or not cooking does destroy nutrients, and a lot of proponents of raw food diets will point to this as a justification for eating raw food. It turns out that not all food is better for you raw.
Foods high in beta carotene (e.g.: sweet potato) which the body needs to produce vitamin A for example, need to be cooked in order for them to release their bountiful goodness, as do tomatoes in relation to the antioxidant lycopene. Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflowers and broccoli are better for you steamed, especially if you have any thyroid issues, as they can interfere with the production of thyroid hormones if raw. Spinach, when cooked, has more magnesium, iron and zinc that’s available for absorption than when raw.
It’s About Digestion
The whole process of cooking food breaks down some of the plant fibres, which make it easier for your body to digest, and to absorb nutrients. It also improves the taste and aroma of food. The smell of food cooking often kick starts your digestion process by triggering the stomach to make digestive juices.
Overcoming Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
As someone who has had Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and who has other health challenges, a completely raw food diet is not something I think I’d do well with, but I do like the idea of incorporating elements of it into my day to day routines.
For me, it was important to find ways that made it easy, tasty and I didn’t have to think too hard about it. Whipping up a batch of bliss balls to keep in the fridge solved the midmorning snack challenge, and some hummus (whilst technically not raw but I include it in my version) and carrot sticks take care of any afternoon nibbles.
A raw slice is also something of a delight, giving you a sweet hit without all the loaded processing that normally goes into the food we eat. A word of warning though. Raw food slices and bliss balls do have a number of benefits, however they are also very energy dense, and, as they are hard to resist, can lead to unwanted weight gain.
Raw Slices are made up of whole food plant-based natural ingredients blended together in the food processor to form a sticky dough that gets transferred to a bread loaf pan, put in the freezer, and later cut into slices.
– Goodie Goodie Gluten Free
Ideally you will work out which diet, or way of eating, suits your body, your lifestyle and is one that is easiest for you to maintain.
Here are some quick and easy ways to add a bit more ‘raw’ into your life:
- Whip up a guacamole and dip into it with carrot and celery sticks;
- Have avocado and greens with your meals;
- Try a smoothie for breakfast or lunch. It’s a great way to add in extra fruit and vegetables, and gives your digestion a bit of a rest;
- Try making bliss balls – you can make them using dates, apricots, cashews and coconut, but it’s really up to you;
- Try making an avocado chocolate ganache or mousse – it’s not as bad as you think it’s going to be and tastes great!
Your body will love you for dropping the processed stuff, and reward you with more energy and vitality, healthier skin and better digestion, which is, frankly, what we’d all like!
I am an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach specialising in those pesky hormones that can cause such havoc in our lives.
Before that, I was a corporate worker bee, grinding it out. It was so very easy for me to destroy my health without even realising it, as all I was doing was living a “normal” life, doing what everyone else was doing. The consequences of not being aware, of not paying attention, were that for the past 20 years, I’ve dealt with weight, adrenal, thyroid, fertility and menopause-related challenges.
There’s a lot of information out there. Anyone can Google what diet should I be on? Why is my tummy bloated, and what can I do about it? How do I lose these kilos that have suddenly appeared? And they’ll be swamped with information! It’s confusing, scary, and you don’t know where to start. That’s where I come in.
I was inspired to start coaching because of purpose. I didn’t want to accept that all that I’ve been through has been for no reason and that I needed to go out there and make a difference in women’s lives!
My goal is that women everywhere get the information they deserve and need, make the best decisions for themselves, and help them figure out how to make health work for them daily.