A summary of Frederic Patenaude's book: The Raw Food Controversies. This book was still a refreshing read with lots of interesting insights, after I had read some 30 raw food books, many other alternative health books, and spent two years experimenting and reading about raw foods on the internet.
"When I get the question, 'Will eating raw food improve my sex life or make me sexy?' My answer is a definite, 'maybe'."
- Roe Gallo in 'The Perfect Body' (quoted by Frederic Patenaude)
"Over the years, I have earned a reputation for my common sense approach to the raw food diet, in a field where many are often led astray by the latest scam. Although I do believe it's valuable to question established knowledge, it's also wise to not fall for any particular health philosophy as the 'ultimate and undisputable truth'."
- Frederic Patenaude, p. 405, location 5619
Frederic got interested in raw foods while growing up in Canada and got invited to California to hang out with David Wolfe's raw food crowd. He collaborated with Wolfe in the early days of the raw food movement and has good stories to tell about the scene and the characters in it. And it is partly critical, as well. He exposes some very weird characters he met along the way, who had 'spiritual' ideas and believed in raw food, yet had highly immoral lifestyles. He doesn't really have dirt on David Wolfe himself, however, just a couple of silly comments he made in his early days of raw food enthusiasm.
The reason I think the book is a good read is because it shows how many of the raw foodist beliefs are just that: beliefs. And certain ones of those beliefs can be dangerous. The three main dangerous beliefs the book attacks are:
"By putting together this book, I'm trying to do a little more than tell my story. The raw-food diet has been this dysfunctional love affair that's been part of my life for almost 15 years. She was the love of my life, but after a few years, my life and my health fell apart because of her. I tried to get rid of her many times but I realized I could not live without her. Each time I went back running towards her, it was with a renewed promise of trying to do things differently this time! Sound familiar?
"The strange thing I realized when writing this book is that almost everybody that I met who was doing raw foods 12 years ago has either stopped eating raw or has changed their diet to the point of being unrecognisable from what they were eating back in those days."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 4, location 110
"The reason this book is called 'Raw Food Controversies' and not 'The Raw Food Diet Myth' is that this is not an anti-raw book. [...]
"The reason we go back to the raw food diet after having seen it fail so many times, like the poor souls lost in toxic relationships, is that most other diets don't work either!" (p. 5, location 121)
"... I'll take you through a journey spanning 15 years, from the moment I discovered the vegetarian diet, through my discovery of raw foods, across all the various experiments, trials and errors that I made along the way, to where I am now." (p. 7, location 160)
"There is nothing today that could convince me that eating steamed broccoli represents a health risk, or having a massive amount of acidic, unripe pineapple would be better than eating a few cooked potatoes if I had a choice.
"I simply no longer believe that everyone has to be 100% raw to be healthy.
"However, I also continued to believe that it's possible to eat 100% raw and feel absolutely amazing and be healthy, as long as the diet is done properly.
"In boxing-ring contest between cooked yam and a fatty, raw lasagne, the yam will win hands-down, as far as how it will affect your health and energy."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 302-305, location 4158-4172
"Low-fat, high-carb cooked foods, such as potatoes, brown rice, corn, root vegetables, butternut squash, and so on, are better choices than all the high-fat raw recipes. A diet based on these foods would be healthier in the long-term than an extremely high-fat raw diet.
"There is a lot of value into knowing exactly what to do to be healthy, do it 100%, and never look back. If you can do it and do it well, I can't argue against that.
"Other people find it easier to eat mostly raw foods, but with some selected cooked foods that, through careful personal observation, they've noticed make them feel good overall and bring them more variety and enjoyment.
"I know some people who eat a mostly raw diet, but a few times a week, they will have cooked sweet potato or squash. Albert Mosseri eats only three cooked meals per week (once every other day) of usually potatoes and vegetables.
"Others can't live without eating some vegetarian Thai foods. A few times a month, they go out to their favourite restaurant."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 308, location 4224
"It's best to stick with low-fat foods all the time, whether it's raw or cooked, rather than with a high-fruit diet that still contains too much fat. In any case, a low-fat, raw diet is still the best." (p. 309, location 4238)
"Research done on diets rich in animal products prove that eating a lot of animal protein is detrimental to health. However, if one eats a small quantity of 'clean' animal products (equivalent to less than 3-4% of total calories), like our cousins the great apes do, there is no evidence that this would be a major detrimental force. The big question is: are there any benefits in doing so? I haven't concluded through my personal experience that there are any, but other people may disagree."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 312-313, location 4283-4297
"By not eating cooked foods you've already eliminated 99% of common culprits that damage health, such as: fried foods, excess animal protein and fat, grains, wheat and gluten, refined soy products, MSG, preservatives and excitotoxins. Therefore, most of the benefits of the raw food diet come from the avoidance of these products and not from the fact that the food eaten is raw. However, there are a few benefits that are specific to the 'rawness' of the diet. There is no science to back it up, but the experience of raw foodists all around the world shows it's true to some degree. [...]
"The main pro of the 100% low-fat, raw vegan diet is a greater sense of vitality. Most people report increased energy and a better mood, with fewer ups and downs. You'll wake up feeling better in the morning, without needing to drink a cup of coffee to lift you up. You'll feel lighter after the meal and are ready to get going, without needing to rest to digest.
"Raw foods often require less energy to digest than cooked foods. Also, raw foodists tend to eat fewer total calories. For that reason, I believe that many people eating a 100% raw diet report needing less sleep, on average 1-2 hours less per day."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 321-322, location 4383-4395
"CONS of 100% Raw. What are some of the negative aspects of the 100% raw lifestyle? Let's take a look [...] The aspect of social isolation [...] Quantity of food needed [...] A raw food diet costs more than other diets [...] Growing your own vegetables and having some fruit trees can make you save a bundle, but the most important trick to save money is to buy in bulk. [...] The more pure your diet is, the more sensitive your body becomes. [...] A fruit diet may be more cariogenic than many other diets [bad for teeth] [...] sometimes, you get tired of eating sweet foods all day and crave something more [...] However, besides these difficulties, many people find a way to make it work in their lives, because the benefits outweight the negatives." (p. 322-324, location 4395-4423)
Benefits of eating mostly raw (not 100% but 'high raw'):
"To qualify as 'mostly raw' the diet should be at least 80% raw by volume and at least 70% raw by calories. [...] In order to work, this mostly raw lifestyle should:
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 326, location 4449
"There is a certain lightness of being that only seems to be possible on a 100% raw diet. Digesting most cooked foods will make one feel more tired than digesting most raw foods. I've noticed that the 100% raw food diet is better at lifting up moods and making one feel energetic, but also, that this feeling is lost when eating a high-fat, raw diet."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 328, location 4487
Another article weighing the pros and cons of 100% raw vs. high raw diet here.
"When I eat fruit with little fat, my blood sugar is very stable." (p. 329, location 4499)
"I don't believe that you need to eat cooked food to be healthy, but perhaps you may need them one cay when you fall off the wagon, aren't getting enough calories from quality fruit, or in social situations when there's literally nothing else to eat. [...]
"If you feel inspired to go 100% raw, do it! But you journey doesn't stop there. I implore you to learn about calories, learn how to make delicious, low-fat foods, be aware of the fat content in your food ..." (p. 333, location 4549)
Frederic Patenaude correctly points out the there are many controversies in the raw food movement, i.e. many conflicting camps and ideas. I agree that it can seem very confusing first. Add to that the fact that everyone's body and mind is different and will react differently to foods, and you can see how it may not always seem that easy to become a raw foodist. Although in my personal view it is fairly easy to achieve a comfortable and balanced healthy/ high-raw lifestyle if one takes the transition slowly and pays attention to the body's and mind's feelings. This is Frederic breaking down the raw food controversies:
"'For example, in the raw food movement, there's the fat camp and the fruit camp. Some people think we should eat mostly fruit, while the rest think fruit is bad.
"There are also people who believe we should take supplements and superfoods, while others say that we can get everything we need from bananas and lettuce. [...]
"The controversies are everywhere. We ask a hundred raw food 'experts' what should a raw foodist eat, and get a hundred different answers.
"The raw food diet itself could be divided into different factions, such as as the fruitarians, low-fat raw vegans, instinctive eaters, paleo eaters, living-foodists, nutritarians, liquidarians, sun-foodists... [...]
"Should you follow the green juice approach? What about the ideas of Dr. Robert O. Young that all sugar including fruit sugar is bad for you? Then, of course, we have Ann Wigmore and her diet of sprouts and living foods, an on the other end of the spectrum, people who live on fruit alone, with no vegetables.
"When some raw-gurus don't want to recommend a specific diet, they become just-do-what-works-for-you foodists; that is, they don't want to commit to any one approach, so just suggest to their readers to try all of them and [decide] for themselves which one works. I have found out through personal experience that this can be a long and painful process."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 3, location 94
I must say that although this bit has lots of truth in it, it seems to be written in an overly provocative manner. For example: "... while the rest think that fruit is bad". I haven't heard of one raw foodist who thought fruit was bad. Also: "... others believe we can get everything from banana and lettuce". I doubt any raw foodist is serious about health and pays attention to their body's feelings thinks that mono- or duo-dieting is good in the long term. In other words: in today's raw food scene it is commonly accepted that we need a varied diet.
Another example: "...on the other end of the spectrum, people who live on fruit alone, with no vegetables." Modern day fruitarians eat their greens. Perhaps many of these claims applied to the raw foodist 'beta version' - a couple of decades ago! But here Patenaude seems to fall into the same trap he is accusing others of: purposefully appearing to confuse the topic. But if we forgive him the exaggerations, there is a serious question underlying: As there are many different approaches to raw food - how can one pick the right one?
I must say also, that sometimes it is enjoyable to read exaggerated, extravagant stories! And this book IS entertaining, as well as useful, if you can go with the sarcasm and take it with 'a pinch of salt', like they say in the UK, in other words - don't take it dead seriously.
"After 14 years, I still haven't tried all the different raw food approaches and I was disappointed to find that most of them didn't work for me. So what works in the end? Do I have to try out everything to find out? [...]
"It would be easier if we had hundreds of scientific studies comparing the merits of various raw-food-diet approaches. Unfortunately, the scientific community has little interest in the tribulations of heath food nuts 'who obviously have an eating disorder', so they think."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 3, location 101
Later in the book Frederic Patenaude also debunks the olive oil liver flush, saying that the supposed gallstones one passes are just solidified olive oil. However, I know from personal experience that I get the same release of gall bladder/ liver stones by taking a coffee enema. No olive oil involved. So I think he got this part wrong... Though I would still personally recommend a (correctly done) coffee enema instead of the olive oil flush.
"I eventually went back every time to the warm embrace of the god of RAW and asked for forgiveness, because eating cooked foods burned me in the end too.
"Eat raw the wrong way, and you might not experience all the signs of health you were expecting, but unless you do it terribly wrong, you will still feel a certain vitality you never quite experienced in your life before.
"Start eating cooked the wrong way, and that feeling will be gone, replaced by a cloud of negative energy that gets worse and worse as time goes by."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 5, location 131
Frederic Patenaude doesn't believe in the enzyme theory or the life-force theory of raw foods. He provides some explanations but I remain unconvinced by his 'evidence'. However, he believes raw foods are nevertheless better for us than cooked foods:
"So, if raw foods are not better for us because of their enzymes and their life-force, then why is it that so many people feel better on a raw food diet? Again, the answer is pretty straightforward: Raw foods are not denatured. Therefore, they are unlikely to contain toxins that could be created as by-products of the cooking process. [...]
"Raw foodists avoid most of the foods that are the causes of human disease: animal products, bread, pastries, cakes, refined sugar, etc." (p. 148, location 2007)
"On any raw-diet, even the high-fat ones, I have experienced a certain lift in mood and overall vitality. This is not just a personal experience but also a widespread phenomenon. Eating raw food relieves depression in general. On any cooked food diet (unless cooked food did not represent more than 20% of calories consumed), I did not feel the same level of 'joy'." - Raw Food Controversies, p. 269, location 3665
"In spite of the crazy stories I told you, there's countless more stories of incredible recoveries and renewed health that represent the other side of the coin. Most raw foodists experience amazing, positive results in the first few years on the diet, but then, they are unable to succeed in the long run because of the reasons I outlined in this book [but can be overcome]." (p. 400, location 5563)
"The main issue is that vegans generally don't eat enough food to get the calories and nutrients they need."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 21, location 328
"There are many positive aspects to the raw food diet, and the issue of dental health is the real weak link. It is not to say that these problems are inevitable, but more that it is easier to create the conditions that will lead to an increase in dental decay on the raw diet than on most other diets." (p. 264, location 3569)
"Beans in their raw state - even when sprouted - should be avoided. Some kinds of raw beans contain a harmful toxin (the lectin phytohaemagglutinin) that can cause food poisoning-like symptoms. They also contain indigestible raw starch." (p. 158, location 2138)
"Buckwheat greens contain a substance called fagopyrin that causes the human skin to become hypersensitive to sunlight. Juicing buckwheat greens should especially be avoided, as it is easy to 'overdose'." (p. 159, location 2152)
"Raw Bok Choy contains compounds called 'glucosinolates' that have been found to inhibit thyroid function. One 88-year old woman in the USA was eating two or three pounds of raw bok choy per day and almost died from hypothyroidism because of that. This is not to say that raw bok choy should be avoided but should be used in moderation."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 159, location 2152
"Grains [are] acid forming and [are] the primary cause of mucus in the body. Therefore, [Albert Mosseri] said that if you stop consuming bread and grains you would never experience a cold in your life ever again."
"Nuts are extremely acidifying when consumed in large quantities, and eating fermented raw cashew cheese, along with raw hummus made with soaked chickpeas, was a recipe for disaster.
"Uncooked or undercooked beans contain lectins, which are toxic to the body. These toxins are destroyed when cooked properly, but when eaten raw, they can provoke a reaction and cause nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. [...]
"In all of his books, Mosseri told horrible stories of people who suffered terrible diseases after consuming generous servings of nuts on a regular basis. It has been my experience over the years that the high-fat content is only one of the negative aspects of nuts. Consuming an equal portion of fat in the form of nuts will do more harm than getting the same fat in avocados or even olive oil.
"Nuts are excellent foods when consumed in minimal quantities (one or two ounces at a time is enough)."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 165, location 2234
"While some [...] superfoods can have value, a few of them are clearly stimulants that have no place in the diet. Raw cacao belongs to that category. The negative aspects of cacao far outweigh any benefits from consuming it regularly..."
(p. 324, location 4679)
"Examples of low-glycemic carbohydrates [good carbs] include all beans, brown rice, sweet potato, most vegetables, and pasta. High-glycemic index carbs to avoid are: bread, white rice, white potato." (p. 390, location 5411)
"All successful populations that have lived on a plant-based diet have lived on a starch-based diet. [...] Every single society that's ever existed on a plant-based diet always ate a starch-based diet. You need the calories."
- Frederic Patenaude quoting Dr. John McDougall, as heard in conversation (p. 393, location 5443)
Frederic Patenaude also followed 'instinctive eating' for a while, which he read about in Guy-Claude Burger's book: "Manger Vrai" (Eating Real). The idea was that "humans never evolved to eat cooked foods. The source of most human diseases was found in the kitchen, since cooking altered the molecular structure of food and foreign proteins were getting in the bloodstream. More importantly, cooking foods messed up with our natural instinct, which could tell us exactly what to eat, when to eat it, and how much to eat. According to Burger, all cooked food was toxic, but the worst were dairy and wheat products. Confusion in nutrition was from the fact that our natural instincts could not work anymore when foods are cooked, seasoned, or even mixed together. In order for instinct to work, we had to eat foods in their natural state, without processing them, cooking them, or even mixing them with one another."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 106, location 1438
However, instinctive eating was eventually revealed to be a fad:
"Although Instinctive Eating sounded great in theory, it often failed in practice. The theories that Burger had about instinct and evolution were flawed. Nowhere in the history of the world did anyone have access to such an insane variety of high quality food that could be selected according to taste and smell. [...]
"There is certainly a part of instinct in all this, especially when it comes to the body's amazing ability to gauge and evaluate the number of calories consumed, and tell us when and how much to eat next. This instinct, like Burger correctly said, works best when we eat whole foods, but it is not necessary to go to the extent that Burger and his followers went in trying to separate everything and eat only one food at a time until the taste changes."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 109, location 1477
Frederic Patenaude also details how many of the stricter types of raw food proponents ended up living very bizarre, even immoral lives. He talks about various ideologies surrounding the scene. Then, there were also the raw meat eaters. This book review is too short to go to many of the entertaining anecdotes of Patenaude's journey to raw foods but suffice to say that it is good to understand how easily human ideologies can go overboard. A healthy dose of scepticism, morality, social interaction with non-raw-foodists, and personal experimentation should help keep a straight head while open-mindedly exploring various ideologies."
He also thinks that there were more problems with the diet the raw foodists were eating than was realized or openly discussed:
"One thing I hadn't figured out yet and none of these raw foodists were insisting on was the importance of calories. Instead, everybody said that you should just eat as much as you wanted. They said that during your first few months of raw, you would need to eat more. Over time, you would be able to eat less and less to the point where some raw foodists claimed they only needed to eat very little to feel great.
"Every major author was guilty of this magical thinking. Shelton dismissed the calorie theory and provided a menu plan that was seriously lacking in energy and too high in fat. Mosseri with his program of eating when you're genuinely hungry, promoted under-eating followed by large, never-ending evening meals to compensate. Hovanessian claimed he ate only two meals a day: a meal of fruit at noon and a large salad in the evening. Finally, the authors of Nature's First Law claimed they only needed a few pieces of fruit a day to thrive.
"In practice, the concept rarely worked. I have found over the years that under-eating in total calories and over-eating certain macro-nutrients (namely, fat) is the single biggest mistake raw foodists make with their diet. [...]
"Fortunately, under-eating for a few months, when you're still young and capable, is something most people can handle fairly well. They might even feel more energy as they are burning off their fat reserves and getting stimulated by higher levels of stress hormones to get them through the day."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 65-66, location 871-883
I find it contradictory that Frederic Patenaude here says that under-eating leads to body burning off fat AND stress-hormones. But at the same time he is a proponent of fasting, which puts the body in the same state of burning off fat reserves. And exercise burns off fat reserves too... So why the mention about stress-hormones? According to this reasoning, fasting should cause stress hormones too, but there is no mention of that in the fasting section of the book.
He partly answers this seeming contradiction in his explanation about the difference between a starvation diet and fasting. Whereas starvation diet is extremely unhealthy, a fast, in contrast, puts the body in a different mode and when done correctly, can be very cleansing and healing. Unfortunately Patenaude concludes that many raw foodists are actually on a starvation diet, when they don't make sure to consume enough calories.
"For years, people in the raw-food movement have been brainwashed into thinking that whatever negative symptoms they were experiencing after going raw were due to 'detox' from growing up on cooked foods.
"In their minds they had poisoned themselves since childhood, and it would then take years for these 'poisons' to exit their bodies on a raw food diet.
"Although there is a bit of truth to this, in reality, a lot of what they called 'detox' was simply caused by their poorly balanced raw-food diet.
"For example, if you eat the typical diet promoted almost everywhere in the raw food movement, which consists mostly of fatty foods for calories (avocados, oils, nuts, seeds), salt and spices for flavouring and an insufficient amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, you are inevitably going to experience the negative consequences:
"The most common ones are: candida, lack of energy, drowsiness, inability to maintain weight, blood sugar instabilities, deficiencies [...]
"So the 'detox' that these people are experiencing is actually negative consequences from their current diet."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 113, location 1544
I can personally vouch for this. When I did my 100-day raw food challenge (diary here) I started feeling irritable and lacking energy because I wasn't getting enough calories. I have also increasingly been suffering from heart palpitations and pain in the chest, which was checked by the doctor, who suggested giving up alcohol and caffeine. Eventually I found out that the (fairly slight but uncomfortable) heart problems were due to an intolerance to carrots! Typically, all these symptoms would have by many been dismissed only as 'detox'. Any real detox symptoms I have experienced have felt more like having a cold, and have always been almost instantly relieved by taking an enema.
"When someone switches from a regular diet to a raw diet, the biggest 'detox' will come from the elimination of stimulants - mainly caffeine. During that time, one can experience headaches, depression, low energy, sleepiness, and a general feeling of 'spaciness'. It usually takes a month or two for things to be back to normal and for the person to feel even better than when they started.
"Besides stimulants, another 'detox' comes from eliminating junk food, fatty foods, chemicals and preservatives, animal products and other processed foods from the diet. However, this process usually leaves you energized rather than depressed. I always tell people to expect to feel a little 'off' for a few weeks when they first go raw, but if the feeling lasts more than a month or two, they're usually doing something wrong."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 132, location 1790
Frederic Patenaude reveals himself as a carbohydrate advocate, similarly to many fruitarians. I don't think many raw foodists today dispute the fact that carbs from fruit are brilliantly good for you - they give you energy and your brain needs them especially. Combined with fibre and/or protein natural (unprocessed) sugars can be broken down in a healthy way in the gut.
Frederic is decisively against excess fat consumption, however, which is a controversial topic these days. Yet, many raw foodists tend to agree that excess fat makes them feel 'heavy'.
Frederic Patenaude goes to lengths in this book to explain why excess fat is bad for you, whether raw or cooked. He promotes 10% of calories from fat, following Douglas Graham's approach.
We know that processed/ heated carbs and processed/ heated fats can be very damaging to your body. In their raw form, however, and in moderation, most consider them good and healthy source of energy.
Just to clarify this controversy further:
Dr. Douglas Graham is the most visible advocates of the low-fat raw vegan diet. His 80/10/10 diet is based on counting the percentage of calories one gets from carbohydrates/fat/protein. 80/10/10 being the ideal ratio. He has interesting things to say about the effect of excess fat in the body: He maintains that it disturbs insulin and other functions in the body, stops the utilisation of sugar causing blood sugar imbalances and candida, among other things.
On the other hand Dr Mercola not only deems fats essential, he also deems saturated fats essential for health.
For example, see his article: "7 Reasons to Eat More Saturated Fat".
I personally believe that Joel Fuhrman has seen the light by advocating eating more micronutrients, and limiting the intake of all calories, whether from fat, carbs or protein. He famously states that hunger can be satisfied by micronutrient-dense foods, not only by calories. For example, see this excellent video: "Live Longer and Better than Before - with Dr. Joel Fuhrman"
Also, here's my review of his book: "Eat for Health".
So the controversy on high-carbohydrate, high-protein, and high-fat diets remains open. Some, like David Wolfe, recommend that each find their own balance: some people require more fats, some more carbs.
But a few things relating to this controversy are widely accepted in the raw food community today:
In any case, Frederic does make a good case in his book for limiting excess fat, although he admits himself that he doesn't know whether it was fat or something else that caused his serious disease. He states, however, that he always felt better and had much more energy on a low-fat raw food diet. This could be an individual thing, however. Or it could be universal.
"We live in a society where diseases are primarily caused by excess, not by lack. Diseases that vegetarians experience are also generally caused by excess of the same macronutrients meat eaters eat too much of - fat and protein." - Frederic Patenaude, p. 22, location 335
I don't have an opinion on food combining as I have never tried it myself. If I find it one day to be necessary or beneficial, I will return here to report. Many seem to think that it has a lot to do with good digestion, energy levels, and making maximum use of the food eaten. I find it hard to believe that our digestive system was 'designed' to eat only one or two types of food at once. This is what Frederic Patenaude has to say:
"Food combining forced people to eat less and avoid complicated mixtures. However, I learned over the years that the body could handle almost every combination of food as long as it is in small enough quantities."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 35, location 507
"[Food combining] led to many complicated and unnecessary rules, such as:
"For half the rules that Shelton gave in his book, no reason or explanation was provided except that he found that his patients did better when these combinations were avoided.
"Shelton dealt with extremely sick and weak people at his fasting centre, and without a doubt, a simple, easy to digest menu was probably advisable."
- Frederic Patenaude, p. 34, location 494
(Ermmm, is it 'without a doubt' OR 'probably'? Funny...)
"My main recommendation for food combining is eliminating high-fat and high-protein foods or only consuming them in small quantities. This is in itself enough to improve overall health and digestion, and it's not necessary to follow the complicated food combining rules that, for the most part, have no scientific basis."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 36, location 520
Patenaude followed Shelton's diet for a while but went off it because 'Shelton created a diet where most of the calories came from fat'.
Frederic Patenaude read 'The Science and Fine Art of Fasting' by Shelton, which he says was 'a fascinating book on the history of fasting, its use in religion and in the animal kingdom, the physiological changes that occur when someone fasts, and how to use fasting to improve one's health.'
"Although the type of fast Shelton recommended involved absolute rest in bed, he also gave examples of people who fasted up to 40 days on water and kept working during all that time. It almost sounded like fasting was something anyone could do, and it would not affect your normal life at all, as if eating was just an optional choice.
"After reading the book, I decided to try fasting for 3½ days on my own. I didn't rest in bed, but instead, I stayed active and continued my life as normal.
"I found that fasting was a lot easier than I thought. The first day was really easy, and I had a great amount of energy.
"I was biking everywhere with no difficulties. [...]
"On the second day, I was very hungry, but energetic. The thought of eating an apple made my mouth salivate. Things got more difficult by the morning of the third day.
"The morning of the third day, I felt less hungry and less energetic. I had discovered that my body was adjusting to the physiological effects of fasting and quickly moving in the ketosis state, where it was starting to feed of its own fat reserves.
"During that stage, hunger disappears, along with energy. I've noticed over the years that the only people who feel amazing and energetic throughout a fast are overweight people. Skinny or thin people feel lethargic as soon as they hit day three.
"What this fasting experience proved to me was that it was definitely possible to live for a while without food without harming the body."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 38-39, location 557-569
"In my high school biology class, I had learned that the human body would die after 3-4 days without water and only 7-8 days without food.
"I don't know where my teacher had gotten that information, but when I fasted for 23 days on water in 2005, I certainly disproved her assumption!" (p. 39-40, location 569-582)
"The reason why Natural Hygienists use fasting is not because fasting itself cures anything, but because it allows the body to get enough rest (from digestion and physical activity) so that all its energies can be directed towards healing." (p. 44, location 621)
Patenaude also explains from experience, that fasting is not always easy (I assume he had some underlying problems at this stage, which needed to be addressed):
"My first few days on the juice fast went well, but on the third day, I felt like my blood sugar was all over the place. As soon as I drank a juice, I would feel a rush of sugar to my brain, and I felt hyperactive and was unable to concentrate. Then an hour or two later, I would 'crash' and feel depressed.
"It was suggested by Gabriel to switch to only green juices instead, but when I did, I felt I had absolutely no energy to do anything at all."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 206, location 2840
Frederic Patenaude later did a water fast of 23-days under the supervision of Douglas Graham, at his fasting retreat in Costa Rica.
"During the fast itself, the one thing that impressed me the most was the mental clarity I had after 7 days. I had some of the most vivid dreams I ever had in my life, and during the day, I would write down elaborate plans and ideas for things I wanted to do after my fast." (p. 286, location 3919)
He was not entirely uncritical of the fasting experience, however. During the fast he had some worrying symptoms, possibly due to a deficiency in B12 or another nutrient. He also found that it took a long time to recover from the fast and that getting used to eating solid foods after was difficult, as his digestive system was having trouble. On the other hand he found that his energy and sports endurance improved as a result of the fast. The book includes day-to-day diary notes and much elaboration on the fast, as well as the periods before and after it.
"Doug warned us to 'not make any major life decision' during the fast, because when the brain runs on ketones, our thinking is not the same" (p. 289)
"I did experience great mental clarity during the fast, but I also felt extremely concerned about each little thing that was happening in my body.
"The vulnerability that is associated with fasting comes from the fact that the faster is indeed in great danger during this critical period. As the body burns through its reserves, it becomes weaker and weaker. When the fast is broken, extreme care must be taken for re-feeding. [...]
"During the fast, you must have 100% trust in the person taking care of you. If, for any reason, anything were to happen, you will not be able to take care of yourself as usual. For example, you can't simply decide to break the fast on a whim, pack your bags, and leave. The further you go into the fast, the more delicate the situation becomes, because the body is weaker and weaker and more sensitive. Any drastic influence (such as the reintroduction of a food it is not ready to digest) can have dire consequences.
"A person who is fasting is extremely vulnerable because an amount of drugs that would have a normal effect on a normal person can have devastating effects for the hyper-sensitive body of a faster. Therefore, it is absolutely critical to not end up in the hospital for any reason during the fast, as doctors who have no experience with fasting might make drastic decisions that could have fatal consequences."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 290, location 3974
Personally, I have done juice fasts in the past, which are more like juice FEASTS, because I drank unlimited calories in the form of fruit and vegetable juice. I found that these feasts were very beneficial and I could keep my energy, cycling to work. I did notice that it was very important to take enemas every couple of days, otherwise I would get cold symptoms (i.e. detox). As soon as I would take the enema, the symptoms would disappear.
On the other hand, Paavo Airola explains in his books how he promotes juice fasting, and thinks (for well explained reasons) that water fasting is too hard on the body. According to Airola, all the same benefits can be achieved by juice fasting as can by water fasting, while being gentler on the body. I have a review of his book here for more information: Paavo Airola: Juice Fasting: the Age-Old Way to a New You!
Patenaude's account does make water fasting sound quite scary:
"On the first few days of the fast, I still had enough energy to walk to the pool, which was about 50 meters away from my room and down a few stairs. After 5 or 6 days, I didn't feel like going there anymore, and did not bother. After around 14-days of fasting, I needed to use a chair to take a shower; otherwise, I could black out from the sudden drop in blood pressure if I decided to get up after picking up a bar of soap."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 292, location 4001
"Even though avocados and nuts had done me in before, it was hard to think rationally after breaking the fast. I was starving. I ate all the watermelon I could for breakfast, but I was hungry a few hours later. For lunch, I ate 7 or 8 medium Costa Rican bananas [...] and I could not eat any more. Two hours later I was starving again. So, when it came time for dinner, I couldn't help myself, I ate a bunch more fruit and then a large salad topped with lots and lots of avocados or nut dressings. I had this insane craving for vegetables, which I think were needed to re-mineralize my body." (p. 291-292, location 3987-4001)
"Just like Mosseri had said, people who started the fast with the most weight to lose had the easiest time during the fast. One person lost over 30 pounds during the fast, starting with what could be considered quite overweight. At the end of the fast, she looked at least 10 years younger."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 293, location 4015
"When I got back to Canada, I wrote a letter to Albert Mosseri, telling him about my difficulties with the 'after-fast', and he wrote back a classic response, telling me that 'your fast was ended too brutally.'
"He suggested reducing the amount of fruit I was eating temporarily, avoiding raw salads, all nuts, seeds, and avocado, and instead eating a few steamed vegetables and potatoes at night. I was supposed to follow this very bland diet for a week or two. After that time, it would be okay to start eating more fruit and introduce salads.
"I followed Mosseri's advice and felt instant relief, as the digestive issues went away. I stayed on his bland diet for a little while, and then added more fruit to my diet. This time, I felt a lot better.
"Overall, the fast was an incredible experience, but it was also a very demanding one, both physically and mentally. It took me a few months to get back to normal, but once I did, I had more energy than ever. However, my digestion was still poor.
"While in Costa Rica, I wrote down many notes about my life after the fast. Once I got back, I was very inspired and energized to put all of my ideas into action.
"This made 2005 one of my most productive years ever. [...]
"Fasting, to me, was like dying, and then being reborn again. It felt like I had just spent a year in prison, brewing in my head how I was going to enjoy my freedom once I got back." (p. 294-295, location 4035-4047)
"The main benefit from the fast was the incredible mental clarity and feelings of positivity and renewal that I experienced."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 296-297, location 4061-4075
Patenaude followed Dr. Albert Mosseri's purist raw food diet for a while. Mosseri had been a student of Dr. Herbert Shelton. He believed in 100% raw food, water fasting, no supplements, or condiments, including salt, spices, pepper, garlic, and onions. He rejects all grains. He recommended a fruit based diet and eating only when you feel hungry. In his summary of Mosseri's ideas, Patenaude mentions that he also advices against eating too many fats. Mosseri was a great influence to Patenaude in his early days of raw foodism but now it seems he keeps some of the advice but also warns against the dangers of Mosseri's approach:
"The main problem in Mosseri's diet is the implementation. Because Mosseri is not concerned with counting calories and often recommended to wait for true hunger before eating, he created a framework that encouraged eating disorders. I know some people who took the 'wait for true hunger' advice literally and would wait until 2 p.m. every day before they started eating. To compensate for the lack of calories during the day, they overate all evening, which made them feel bad the next day. Every day, they continued this unhealthy cycle of fasting, followed by overeating. In my opinion, it's better to create a stable schedule of meals and follow it as best as you can, even if that means eating without being ravenously hungry every time."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 48, location 687
I think this is very important. Whether the true solution to keeping the body happy and energies going is to eat enough calories (macronutrients) or enough micronutrients, I think it is important to at least get one or the other. And beginning raw foodists - before learning to read their bodies' feelings - should definitely ensure they get both.
Although I am very careful about going step by step with raw food, transitioning slowly, and 'listening' to my body's response, I also fell into this trap in the beginning. It is true that the feeling of hunger changes and it is easy to go without food for long periods of time. Then you feel lazy sometimes and can easily skip a meal. Before you know it, your energy levels decline and you start feeling the first effects of malnutrition. You can read on my early raw experiments here: "My Raw Food Journey - How I Came to Know the Good Life"
There is truth to what Mosseri says in that overeating is very harmful, but Patenaude rightfully points out how Mosseri's advice can lead to equally dangerous under-eating. It is important to understand that under-eating becomes a lot more easy on a raw food diet and that one needs discipline to ensure one gets enough food. Perhaps the easiest way achieve this is to stick to some kind of meal plan and to count calories.
"When I experimented with Mosseri's diet, I discovered that by waiting for true hunger, I would really appreciate the fruits I was eating, and I thought it was the best meal on the planet. Many days, I would only start eating at around noon or 1 p.m.
"In the evening though, I would get very hungry, and I would often make a massive salad or eat a giant bowl of potatoes with some lettuce.
"I found that I really enjoyed the taste of the foods I was eating (even without spices or salt), but I had trouble making the diet work. [...]
"Because the diet was difficult to maintain, I would often fall off the wagon and eat some junk food. I would then pay for it the next day by feeling terrible, which led me to fast even longer, often all day, before I felt true hunger again."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 49, location 697
Frederic Patenaude states that his body temperature is a couple of degrees lower on a raw food diet, compared to his cooked diet body temperature. He states that this can be beneficial for other things, but a challenge during cold winters. Patenaude's advice on how to stay raw during winter is based on eating raw foods in his native Canada:
I would like to add to this a surprising way to increase your resistance to a cold. It is not a miracle cure and you won't be able to track through snowy landscape's in a t-shirt, but together with a good, warm clothing it seems to help me quite a bit: cold showers.
I will write a separate article about this since it is important to take the cold showers in the correct way - and quickly - to get the benefits and actually enjoy the experience. I love my cold showers! It gets your blood circulating and makes you feel very awake and alert.
"T.C. Fry arguably turned more people onto the raw food diet that anyone else in history. He was the inspiration behind the book 'Fit for Life' by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond, a best-seller that promoted Natural Hygiene and raw foods. Many of today's leaders in the raw food movement were inspired by this book. [...]
"Then, in 1996, the year I first learned about raw, T.C. Fry died. He was just 69. I remember discovering T.C. Fry's writing in a book by Mosseri, and then learning the next week that he had just died. Like many raw foodists, his untimely death left me confused.
"When T.C. Fry died, he was overweight, had gastric problems, with a heart and lung condition, and bad teeth.
"Since his death, many articles have been written to explain his death. The former vegans claimed that he died from lack of B12, while others said that he simply lacked protein in his fruitarian diet. According to Dr. Fuhrman who saw his blood work, his B12 levels were severely deficient and the lowest he had ever seen.
"The strict raw foodists attributed Fry's death to the fact that the man himself was not following it strictly enough, and he sometimes ate coleslaw drenched in mayonnaise, or had been seen on a few occasions eating macaroni and cheese.
"Others mentioned that he was a workaholic who only slept a few hours a day, and that's what probably killed him. [..]
"Finally, some people were actually impressed that he lived that long, because at the age of 45 his health was failing dramatically and his doctors had told him that he didn't have much time left to live. Maybe his change to Natural Hygiene gave him an extra 25 years of life [...]
"Most likely, all of the above is true to some degree. His death does not necessarily prove anything, other than that our heroes are sometimes more vulnerable than we think. T.C. Fry did some things wrong but he also did some things right. His idealism and extremism probably led him to make some wrong choices, and combined with an obsessive nature and pre-existing health issues, everything together led to his untimely death."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 101-102, location 1358-1386
'Raw Food Controversies' is an interesting read and it portrays one-man's journey through various health experiments at a time when eating raw was not yet popular or widely understood. Here are a few snippets of that journey but I do recommend to read the whole book...
"I went through a full circle, by discovering Natural Hygiene first and then going to 100% (high-fat) raw.
"I'm 34 now, but I was only 20 when I discovered natural hygiene and the raw food diet. My mentors were a few dead guys who wrote some books, and an old Egyptian living in France. Although I tried my best to apply the principles in my own life, I failed to find role models that I could relate to. At the time, I honestly thought I was the only raw foodist in the entire province of Quebec. [...]
"When I discovered the Californian raw food movement, I finally found people of my own age I could relate to. I saw the 100% raw food lifestyle as a better way than the antiquated ideas of natural hygiene. It was cool, fun, and trendy."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 130, location 1776)
"Ever since I had come to California, I had lost the feeling of purity, lightness, and health I had first experienced on the raw food diet. Instead, I started to feel worse and worse as each month passed. I was attributing it to detox, when in fact I was just getting sick by what I was eating. At the same time, I was living the greatest adventure of my life, and the excitement of my travels shifted my focus so that I did not notice as much what was really happening.
"That week at Juliano's 'Raw' [restaurant], I got sick for the first time on raw food. My sore throat didn't go away. It was like having a cold, but without sneezing all the time. I felt tired, my body ached, and I wasn't hungry. In spite of my lack of appetite, I could not resist eating more of the food served at 'Raw', and each day spent at the restaurant, I felt progressively worse. Even after I left, it took me over a month just to recover from my cold symptoms." (p. 141, location 1896)
"...one day [...] I got seriously sick. I didn't tell anyone of what was going on [...] because raw foodists were not 'supposed' to get sick.
"The circumstances of this mysterious illness are so strange that even today, I still wonder what exactly happened.
"I was walking uphill in the area near Stephen's place, walking towards the bus stop, and suddenly I felt like something hit me. I felt an extreme soreness in my lower back for no apparent reason. [...]
"... I felt all the energy had been drained from my body. I felt like I had aged 60 years in about 60 seconds, as all of my vitality was drained and my back was aching so badly.
"When I got back home, I did not have the energy to do anything. So I went straight to bed and rested, even though it was only 4 p.m. I stayed in bed all night.
"When I woke up the next day, I noticed something was terribly wrong. One of my testicles had swollen up to around 250% of its normal sie, and it felt abnormally firm. It didn't hurt, but it was really, really big. I was confused and terrified.
"What was going on? I didn't know who to talk to, and I was literally too afraid to go to the hospital, thinking that they would probably kill me with their drugs. [...]
"I didn't want to tell my raw friends, because it was too embarrassing, and I was supposed to be this super healthy raw foodist. I preferred to hide and pretend that everything was fine instead of exposing my weaknesses and showing that I had a problem.
"My faith in Natural Hygiene was enough to give me enough confidence that if anything was going to cure me; it was going to be my own body. No doctor could give me a remedy that would do anything other than camouflage the symptoms, and possibly make me even worse in other ways.
"After about three weeks after eating only a small amount of fruit and resting, I started to feel a lot better. My energy was coming back, and my testicle had even returned to about 90% of its normal size. However, it took almost two months for my body to go back to feeling normal. It took me even longer than that to return to my regular self in health and energy.
"Most likely, my mysterious illness was caused by malnutrition. I consulted a family friend, who's finishing a PH.D. in medicine, who told me that when we are malnourished, our bodies become unbalanced at a cellular level. [...]
"Although I'm not sure what happened to me, I now blame the excess of fat I consumed over a period of several months, including the large amounts of nuts I ate."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 161-165, location 2181-2234
"Even though I had recovered a lot after my mysterious illness, my energy levels were mediocre at best. I still went through several ups and downs during the day and did not feel high levels of energy.
"As long as I did not eat any food, I could focus and work, but as soon as I ate food, my mind became blurry and I could barely concentrate for hours.
"My skin was still breaking out, and I would frequently feel as though my stomach was killing me. [...] "All around me, other raw foodists were complaining of various other issues. There was something else that was often talked about, which was by far the biggest bane of the raw-food existence: cravings." (p. 172, location 2316)
"Although this juice fasting experience was not a complete failure, it made me realize the direness of my situation. For over three years, I had been following the path of raw foods, initially with Mosseri's diet, and then with 100% raw diet in California.
"Yet, I felt worse than I ever had in my life, and every attempt I made, trying to make things better by cleansing and following the advice raw-food experts gave me, failed." (p. 206, location 2840)
"At Raven's place, I started drinking copius amounts of green juices made with her Green Power juicer. Again, green juices represented another ray of hope that could perhaps turn my health around and make me experience the fabled benefits of raw foodism. [...] Besides green juices, I tried E3-Live, a form of liquid blue-green algae, sold in a bottle and frozen. It tasted nasty, gave you a little boost in energy inititally, but otherwise, it did nothing else positive that I could notice. Now I think of E3-Live as basically a supplemental stimulant and don't recommend it."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 220, location 3008
"For over three years, I rarely brushed my teeth with a toothbrush. I did not share that decision with anyone, because everybody was convinced that if you didn't brush your teeth, you would automatically have terrible breath. Instead, I found that on the raw food diet my breath was naturally sweet and not bad-smelling at all, even though I didn't brush." (p. 240, location 3230)
Both Frederic and his brother ended up having lots of cavities from eating raw foods.... He managed to stop the decay of his teeth by going back to cooked foods, as well as by improving his dental hygiene.
"[After going back to cooked foods] I felt a real physical depression, a sort of dark cloud in my mind, and heaviness in my brain, but at the same time, I had energy. I wasn't lethargic, but I felt like doing nothing for days.
"At the end of the summer, I came to a very sad realization: the raw food diet did not work, but cooked foods did not work either. What was I going to do?" (p. 271, location 3691)
Eventually, Frederic Patenaude got back on track with his health by reducing his fat consumption on raw foods, taking a long water fast and by eating a raw food diet with some cooked foods included.
"I continued travelling the world, and even fulfilled a dream of mine and lived in Costa Rica for almost a year. I have since then moved back to Canada, although I do spend a few months of the winter in tropical countries such as Thailand, where there is a great abundance of fruits.
"In all the years that have followed my fast in Costa Rica, I have continued preaching the same message: eat more fruit and eliminate the fat. I've also stressed the importance of eating enough food to get all the calories and nutrients that are necessary for optimal health. This shouldn't be a starvation diet!
"In 2006, I discovered the benefits of green smoothies through the work of Victoria Boutenko, and I have been spreading the word about them ever since."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 300, location 4133
"Raw foodists commonly brag about how few calories they need to eat, and there are many legends of long-term raw foodists being so clean they can apparently survive on a few peaches a day while enjoying amazing health.
"In my experience, over the last 12 years and in dealing with thousands of raw foodists all over the world, I have come to the conclusion that raw foodists experience strong cravings for the simple reason that they are following a semi-starvation diet.
"If you eat enough carbohydrates and enough food in general, you will NOT experience physical cravings."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 179-182, location 2440-2483
Frederic Patenaude prepared recipes for David Wolfe's book: 'Sunfood Cuisine'...
"Suddenly, I had become a mad scientist in the kitchen every day. Although never in my life had I ever figured how to cook, the raw food diet unleashed my creative power, and I suddenly understood how to make foods taste good. [...]
"I discovered that by combining certain basic tastes together, I could make anything taste amazing. My formula for making a tasty salad was to combine the following categories of ingredients together:
Crunchy/ Bitter - Green vegetables
Tangy/Sour - Lemon juice, lime juice, or apple cider vinegar
Fatty/Creamy - Avocado, oil, or nut butters
Salty - Sea salt, sea vegetables, Nama Shoyu, or tamari sauce
Sweet - Fruits, dried fruit, or honey
Spicy - Garlic, onion, or hot peppers
"Unsurprisingly, my 'amazing discovery' was one that most chefs in the world have made at some point or another. Even Thai cuisine explicitly advises this sort of flavour-combination in most dishes (in particular sweet, sour, salty, and spicy altogether)."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 189, location 2578
"In Maui, I learned many new recipes, such as Jeremy's famous sprouted wild rice salad. It consisted of raw wild rice, soaked almost a day to make it soft (until the rice 'opened'), and then seasoned with a good amount of olive oil and avocado, vegetables, some salty seasoning, such as Bragg's Liquid Aminos, and the sweetness of maple syrup (which was not really raw, but widely used as a vegan alternative to honey)." (p. 189-190, location 2578-2592)
"... once you go raw, you can never go back..." - Frederic Patenaude quoting RC Dini, p. 271
The main idea here is that our digestive system gets used to the food we eat, and to return to cooked foods after a long period on raw foods will cause problems, unless it is done very gradually.
Frederic quotes his own book, 'The Raw Secrets':
"Understanding the Law of Vital Accommodation may be one of the most important lessons in this book. It will help clarify many blind spots. The law states that when a poison is introduced into the organism on a regular basis, to a degree beyond the body's capacity to expel it, the body adapts to this invader by insulating itself from it. This is done at the expense of normal body functioning. For example, if you smoke, your body will prevent absorption of the toxic fumes by hardening the lung membranes to avoid intoxicating the body beyond a certain level of toleration.
"If you take a less-than-fatal dose of poison every day, after six months you could take a more-than-fatal one and survive. The body will resist the poison by avoiding absorption at all cost. But this also means that general nutrient absorption will be diminished.
"In Orthobionomics, Shelton wrote, 'Toleration to poisons is merely a slow method of dying. Instead of seeing in the phenomena of toleration something to be sought after, it is something to seek to avoid the necessity for."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 271-272, location 3691-3704
"Some people have taken this Law of Vital Accommodation very seriously. The author Fred Bisci, whom I mentioned earlier, often talked about the danger that raw foodists face when going to the hospital.
"He claimed that because raw foodists eat such a pure diet, they become ultra-sensitive to every drug. Therefore, if they are given the same amount of anesthetics of other drugs than other people, they could get seriously ill or die." (p. 273, location 3733)
"Some raw foodists are excessively obsessed with purity. Any sign that the human body is 'working', such as feeling little tired after a meal or any gas, is viewed as 'bad'. They want to feel completely pure, so as time goes by, they tend to keep simplifying their diet.
"For example, in 2003, I met a guy in Spain who was a complete fruitarian. He looked extremely skinny and had no energy, yet he continued his restrictive diet. He got to the point where he felt that even certain fruits like bananas and figs were too 'heavy' and only consumed the light, juicy fruits like melons. [...]
"The tendency towards extremism is strong in the raw food movement. If we find that a low-fat diet is great, then a no-fat diet must be even better, right? Just feeling better and more pure is not always the goal. We must give our body everything it needs."
- Raw Food Controversies, p. 274, location 3747
You have just read a summary of the following book:
Frederic Patenaude: Raw Food Controversies: How to Avoid Common Mistakes that May Sabotage Your Health: A Personal Journey; Kindle Edition (Raw Vegan, Canada 2011)
Patenaude's blog post explaining about the idea behind 'Raw Food Controversies':
The Raw Food Myths: Getting My Feet Wet in California
Frederic Patenaude: "Why I'm Mad at the Raw Food Movement"
Ulla is the Editor of Cheap Health Revolution, covering natural remedies and health solutions.