Can you do what has been dubbed the world's most expensive diet on the cheap?
I have been slowly transitioning to the raw food diet over the last two years and find that I am actually saving money when eating raw food for any length of time.
But I want to be able to quantify the savings and pinpoint the causes of the savings and have decided to start a diary detailing what I ate each day and how much it cost. Thus the 100 day raw food challenge on a budget.
Scroll down to read the day-to-day diary on my progress.
Conclusions on how I think one can save money as a transitioning raw foodist are provided in this article, and some more conclusions here: "Raw Food Diet on a Budget - Conclusions".
The immediate savings on raw foods seem to come from:
The 100 day raw food challenge is less spoken of than the 30-day diets and 7-day detoxes, whether on raw foods or not. For me the 100-day raw food challenge is the ultimate challenge because it represents roughly a quarter of a year. I also noticed that I can't find many day-to-day accounts on such long raw food diet challenges online, especially detailing how much was spent and what exactly was eaten.
During my first raw food trials I was forever searching for such information on the internet.
It has been said that a 7-day raw food challenge is enough to experience more mental clarity and begin losing weight, whereas a 30-day raw food challenge, when done correctly, is able to set new habits, get people off certain medications (notably insulin), increase energy, and improve looks and concentration in general.
The 100 day raw food challenge, however, is of a different nature altogether. I figured that if I don't experience enough raw food diet benefits by quarter of a year, then the diet is not for me. So in that way I consider it the ultimate challenge. But while the changes are very gradual, small miracles are already happening and as this way of eating is starting to become a habit, I'm already starting to wonder whether I ever want to return to cooked foods.
In preparation for the 100 day raw food challenge I first undertook
an 18-day test challenge last summer, to see how much I would spend and how I would feel. I did pretty well apart from eating out at an expensive raw food restaurant once, which distorted the figures a little bit.
But key to developing a raw food lifestyle - albeit on a budget - is to make it comfortable and enjoyable. So my goal expenditure of £5.47 (€6.34, $8.55) per day must always include foods that I enjoy and feel happy about.
I have been slowly transitioning to raw foods over the last two years. My longest continuous period of being 100% raw so far has been 40 days. I am continuing to log my 100 day raw food diet on a budget diary until January 2012, with a few cheat days in between. This challenge begun on Monday the 3rd October 2011 and the last day will be Sunday, 16th January 2012. In addition to the day-to-day diary there is a conclusion article on how to save money on raw foods.
Depending on my results I will decide how to continue from there, whether 100% raw or not. I will stop my diet, however, if I loose too much weight and can't put it back on staying purely raw. This is an interesting challenge in itself and worth another blog post of its own: Gain Weight on Raw Foods.
I have read various pieces of advice on this, ranging from slowing down your metabolism to eating celery and green smoothies, or just copious amounts of fruit. It would be great if I could stay at my ideal weight (52+ kg) (115lb, 8.2 stones) without having to rely on eating too many heavy fatty foods, which can make me crave cooked food and alcohol.
For those, on the other hand, interested in raw food diet weight loss, you have found the solution. You can eat a good amount of calories as long as they are raw and - as long as there is not a serious medical problem underlying - the pounds/ kilos will fall off. To achieve a healthy balanced raw food diet and be successful in losing weight, there are a few things to keep in mind, I will explain these here: Raw Food Weight Loss - Enjoy Maximum Benefits and Quick Weight Loss. In fact, it is difficult not to lose weight as a raw foodist. All you need to have is plenty of motivation, a little discipline and some spare time in the beginning when learning about new recipes and about where and what foods to shop for.
To succeed with a raw food diet, whatever your goals is, it is key to:
Exercise is extremely beneficial for overall well-being, but it is not necessary to feel the benefits of raw foods, which I'm sure is welcome news for some of those who lead very busy lives.
Update: Actually, unless you live in a warm country I now believe it to be crucial for raw foodists to exercise, as well as to use hot water bottles and other ways to bring warmth into the body. Especially if you live in a fairly cold climate, and/or are 'vata' body type (ayurvedic term; 'cold and damp' in traditional chinese medicine) bringing warmth to the body is very important, as our bodies have learned to rely on the heat from foods, hot drinks, etc. This is much more important than I first thought. A Chinese Doctor I saw explained that animals are able to thrive on raw foods because they generate so much heat from running around a lot of the time, whereas humans who are used to more sedentary lifestyles cannot eat raw food only (that was her opinion). All the succesful long-term raw foodists I've heard of either live in the tropics or a warm country, or include huge amounts of exercise and movement in their lifestyle. Others get over this problem by not being 100% raw but including tea and basic healthy cooked foods in their diet, e.g. soups or bean dishes.
I'm still transitioning myself and am slowly starting to feel like a real raw foodist. But I still have a long way to go and my discipline is improving but laziness still presents a challenge. Cravings are not much of a problem anymore but making sure I eat enough and don't spend too much money are.
Little miracles and new challenges appear every week and you can read about these in more detail here:
So far the cheapest day's total expenditure has been £3.25 ($5.20, €4.00).
But generally, on other days, I still tend to include expensive, spontaneous comfort foods (mainly raw cheese and small snack bags of nuts) which raise the total closer to £8 per day (which, as you can see above, is most often my daily average).
My critical review of this 100 day raw food challenge and what I would do better next time is provided at my next raw food challenge, here: 2013 Raw Food Challenge.
I could easily get to my goal of £5.47/ day but the whole point is to get to it comfortably and in a super-healthy way! I don't want to starve myself to any degree and I also want to enjoy this lifestyle and not make it too hard for myself.
Anyway, my latest plan to achieve this is to eat more dehydrated sweet potato cakes and other dehydrated crackers, to prepare copious amounts of sprouts, including good sources of carbohydrates, such as sprouted millet and sprouted quinoa. On the other hand - and this won't help with bringing the costs down - I want to increase my intake of green juices and other live juices, as well as to start taking some superfoods (although expensive): spirulina, chlorella and wheatgrass powder.
But - this experiment is all about honesty. So if it is not possible to have the ultimate health diet on a budget - AND to do so comfortably - then I will just have to conclude that to do 100% raw diet you will need to spend £8-10 per day. But this will become clear soon enough, as I am now half-way through the diet.
It will be interesting to notice whether I get good results while not eating majority organic and while drinking normal tap water (sometimes filtered with a Brita filter). I assume I will, since raw food benefits seem to be as much about what you are NOT eating as they are about what you are eating. As my financial situation improves I will consider moving more into organic produce and getting a live spring water delivery at home. It will be interesting to see how much this will effect the daily costs.
I haven't experienced major detox symptoms, which has been good. In terms of discipline, it is surprisingly a lot harder to stick to the raw food diet during the weekend than during weekdays, as my daily rhythm is less orderly. I am trying to combat this challenge by having set eating times, always eating BEFORE I get hungry. E.g. upon awakening, then at 11am, lunch at 1pm, again at 3-4pm and dinner as early as possible but with later evening snacks if necessary.
Walking around town makes me want to join the budding London cafe culture. But as long as my belly is full the cravings are easy to beat. And by now I'm actually starting to enjoy parties and cafes without eating or drinking! This has taken a long time to learn but now I feel like I get more out of conversations and am more conscious of the ways of people around me. In a way I'm not distracted by constant eating and drinking. I suspect that this feeling will get even better with time.
Some emotional anxieties seem to come up as well sometimes, which are typically related either to emotional eating or to body detoxifying toxins, emotions and trauma. So far I've found that when such negative vibes or emotional challenges appear (feeling irritable or feeling down, etc.) it is best to go to sleep early and sleep through these, or to take a hot bath, or do something physically straining (Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) work very well).
[Later note: The low emotions were probably linked to deficiencies - e.g. too little good fats, too little calories, not enough natural salts, not enough protein/ amino acids, etc. Food intolerances which I found out later may have played a part. Magnesium and trace mineral deficiencies and vitamin deficiencies possibly also. Some of it may have been detox, so helping the body detoxify quicker, e.g. by taking enemas, could have helped. I am currently writing a diary on anxiety diet.]
Meditation works sometimes for mental anxieties but sometimes it really doesn't. I find that a good run, cleaning the house, gym, pilates home dvd, or any other physical work to be the best cure. I love reading so this often helps as well as it gets my mind off things.
By now I've learned to concentrate at work without tea or coffee but it took 2 years worth of weaning off caffeine, as well as some pretty unproductive 'skiving' days in between, where I was determined not to drink coffee or tea but couldn't face doing any work either ;) After three days of this I was pretty much back to normal. Now I go through periods of drinking and not drinking green tea, and occasionally struggle with getting readdicted again. But I know now that life is infinitely better without caffeine, for many reasons, most of all energy, so I know that I will eventually kick it for good. More on this here: "Quitting Caffeine".
By not ordering organic I should be able to afford the additional veggies and fruit for the juice. They say greens are the best mood altering food there is - they are supposed to give you a real, natural high. I think I didn't include enough of these in the past although my trials did go well.
The main result I would like to get from this trial would be more energy as currently I still tend to need 8-10 hours of sleep per day. I will endeavour to achieve energy levels where I only need 6 hours of sleep and wake up feeling fresh and energetic. I realise, though, that such a big change does not happen overnight and not while the body is cleansing itself. I definitely feel a lot better and have much more energy than a couple of years ago but I want more! I will report on my findings here: "How to Achieve Explosive Energy Levels, Sleep Less and Wake Up Fresh".
[Note that while the body is detoxifying, for the first months or more on raw foods, you will likely need more sleep than usual. It is important to try to respect this need of the body and ensure enough and good quality sleep.]
I will revise this article periodically with 'later update' notes so it will always reflect my latest knowledge of the raw food lifestyle. Hopefully I will, with time, be able to draw more conclusions and plan a permanent raw lifestyle for myself. Meanwhile, you can subscribe to my RSS feed to be notified of new articles as soon as I upload them. I will post most of the new articles on my Facebook site as well - and also additional motivational material, links to articles, videos, etc. The Latest Articles page of this website will have all the articles in time order.
A summary of the successes and failures of this 100-day raw food challenge can be found here: 100 Days Raw Food: Summary - includes a summary of this introduction and the diary notes.
Read also: The Best Raw Food Articles List
"Heal Thyself for Health and Longevity" by Queen Afua
An inspiring raw food book, especially good for beginning raw foodists. 'Heal Thyself' focuses on a high-raw diet (not 100%), live juice fasting, and other methods of detoxification to heal yourself. With a very spiritual focus, Queen Afua offers eating and fasting plans, inspiring words, and practical advice for everyday life.
'The Sunfood Diet Success System' by David Wolfe - a very inspiring read:
'Spiritual Nutrition' by Gabriel Cousens - quite heavy on very detailed spiritual information, not a light read:
'The Joy of Living Live' by Zakhah - description of a raw food community:
'Return of the Brain to Eden' by Tony Wright and Graham Gynn - how eating raw foods can have a beneficial effect on the brain:
"Raw Food Life Force Energy: Enter a Totally New Stratosphere of Weight Loss, Beauty, and Health" by Natalia Rose
This book outlines a weekly raw food diet plan which includes drinking green smoothies. Solid advice, and a worthwhile raw food book.
"Food Enzymes for Health & Longevity": Revised and Enlarged by Dr. Edward Howell
"The Remedy: The Five-Week Power Plan to Detox Your System, Combat the Fat, and Rebuild Your Mind and Body" by Supa Nova Slom
A raw food book on being 'a chlorophyllian' and transforming your life. The emphasis is on drinking plenty of green juice and exercising. Daily raw food diet plans are provided for both eating and exercising. Supa Nova Slom is the son of Queen Afua, the famous raw food author and lecturer.
"Jubb's Cell Rejuvenation: Colloidal Biology: A Symbiosis" by David Jubb - a very inspiring book though quite complex scientific theory:
"African Holistic Health" by Dr. Llaila Afrika:
A good, partly raw food book full of extreme yet interesting information for people open to non-mainstream interpretations of history. Some claims are hard to believe but Dr. Afrika has a plenty of important wisdom for those who are open-minded enough to listen. Natural cures and ancient teachings.
A summary of the successes and failures of this challenge can be found here: 100 Days Raw Food: Summary
Ulla is the Editor of Cheap Health Revolution, covering natural remedies and health solutions.