There’s a lot of buzz these days about “going raw,” which typically refers to a daily menu of plant foods, such as fruit, veggies, nuts and seeds, that are consumed uncooked in order to maximize their nutritional value. While health experts advise Americans to eat more fresh produce and plant-based protein, those who decide to consume only raw foods are frequently questioned about their diet and if it is a satisfying way of life.
Interested in learning more about this lifestyle? Explore this dietary approach with the following tips to assure that you will feel satiated and well-nourished during your raw foods journey:
1. Customize it
According to nutrition expert, Ritamarie Loscalzo, one way to ensure your success with this diet is to adapt it to your own lifestyle. There is no one-size-fits-all template, though the 80/10/10 regimen is quite popular. In this plan, 80 percent of daily calories come from raw fruit and some veggies, 10 percent from fats and 10 percent from protein. Followers tend to fill up mostly on fruit, with moderate portions of vegetables, and consume only small amounts of plant foods rich in protein and healthy fats, such as avocado, nuts and seeds.
This works well for some, while others find that they require more protein and fat to feel satiated after meals. As licensed nutritionist and professionally trained chef Monica Reinagel notes, age and activity levels should be also considered as you assess your needs for carbs, protein and fat.
2. Eat enough—and often
When you center your diet largely on fresh produce, you tend to consume a far greater volume of food. You may be amazed by the amount of colorful plant-based fare you are able to enjoy for the same calorie count as a small portion of cooked or processed items. That means you can eat your fill of (most) raw foods—guilt-free—at every meal.
For best results, aim for a nourishing entrée or snack every few hours, which helps to support healthy blood sugar levels and maximize your energy. For some great ideas, especially when starting out, check out this 3-day raw vegan meal plan.
3. Embrace new ways of preparing food
One reason all-natural natural juices and smoothies are so popular is that, along with being highly nourishing and delicious, they enable us to easily consume large amounts of fresh produce, which is especially helpful for raw foodies. Both a juicer and a high-speed blender may become your favorite kitchen appliances.
You might also enjoy dehydrated snacks (like these raw flaxseed crackers) to round out salads, soups and other raw entrées. A food dehydrator allows you to remove excess moisture from foods using low heat, typically below 118 degrees F, without damaging nutrients or enzymes, resulting in textures similar to chips, breads, crackers and cookies.
4. Incorporate healthy fat
Don’t forget about nuts, seeds, coconut and avocado! These healthy fats serve many important functions in our bodies and enable us to properly absorb valuable fat-soluble nutrients in our meals. Including some healthy oils on the menu also slows down the process of digestion and helps support balanced blood sugar levels, so that you feel comfortably full for hours after eating.
To take advantage of these nutritious foods, top your entrées and smoothies with nuts or seeds. You can also dip sliced veggies in fresh guacamole or toss your salads with homemade dressings such as our favorite creamy sun-dried tomato hemp seed dressing.
5. Pursue protein
According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, with the traditional Western diet, Americans on average may consume twice the protein their bodies need. While there is no need to go to such extremes, this important macronutrient serves many vital functions in our bodies, and also promotes satiety, which means protein-rich meals and snacks can help you feel happily full.
Nuts and seeds are excellent protein sources, particularly hemp seeds and chia seeds—both of which supply all nine essential amino acids—as are sprouted beans and legumes, dark leafy greens and raw protein powder.
With a little planning and experimentation, it’s easy to explore the raw foods lifestyle and feel happily well-nourished along the way.