A summary of this diet is provided here: 100 days raw food summary.
I took six cheat days in the middle of the 100-day raw food diet. I generally feel the cravings get worse when coming off a juice fast, so the recent fasting week may have contributed to this. This post is about the cheat days before returning to the raw food diet on a budget notes.
After the juice fasts I started feeling increasing cravings for cooked foods. These were mental cravings, as my stomach was by then very used to eating lightly. It didn't feel too difficult but every once in a while a glass of wine or a pasta/ potato dish would cross my mind and I was looking forward to when I could eat it again.
Later note: It may have been that my body was craving something it was deficient in, even though I thought they were purely mental cravings. Perhaps I was just not getting enough calories. Or it is possible that the fact that I kept eating foods I was intolerant to caused an imbalance in my body. In some point during my diet diaries and general reflections on my own body's feelings, I realized that I often used alcohol as a way to cover up any negative feelings I would have, e.g. food allergy symptoms. Or it could have been that I was stressed out about my lifestyle, not treating my taste buds enough, or in need of some quick-reward brain energy/ feel-good hormones, which both wine and starchy carbohydrates can give.
While believe that being disciplined is important, I don't believe in forcing oneself to do anything. The purpose of this diet is not to prove that I can do 100-days in a row, it is to transition into a high raw diet permanently... If it seems to work for me during this initial trial.
So I took the decision first to have some organic wine on a Friday night (it is raw), and then, to eat cooked food for a few days after. I have found that a short break really helps with the mental cravings... But why?
Because when you allow yourself to, and really concentrate on eating, say, pasta, you notice that you don't actually get great enjoyment out of it. You are satisfying an urge but the eating itself is not that enjoyable. This is something I learned from Allen Carr's "The Easyway to Stop Smoking", which did, indeed, help me and many others to stop smoking, against all odds.
Later note: Although eating cooked foods, especially starchy carbs, did usually cause me to go on a binge for a few days or longer. It may be true that these foods are addictive.
Apart from ridding myself of a nasty habit and gaining a feeling of personal achievement and freedom, I learned some things from Carr's book about the nature of my mind. Namely, when you resist things they gain power. The same principle is explained in energetic terms by the Law of Attraction: "Your thoughts are things", and whatever you put your mind to, becomes true and manifests in your life. In other words, if I constantly kept thinking about the foods I wasn't 'allowed' to have, the cravings would only grow stronger. The key then, of course, is to find a way to stop thinking about the cravings.
So I decided to test myself. And I did learn quite a bit from the experiment. Here are some thoughts:
First of all, alcohol really does effect my mood. I drank a big part of a bottle of organic white wine (organic wine is raw) after 40 days of being raw and the first sip tasted awful! That was with 50% of sparkling water mixed in! It was a clear taste of 'spirits', only not as strong so that it didn't burn your tongue. I found this to be quite a strange experience. So I can say that I actually didn't like the taste at all.
I also didn't feel much of a hangover the next day, so we can add this to the list of benefits of raw food: if you choose to drink alcohol, expect hangovers to become more tolerable! I can only explain this by the body being stronger. Personally, however, I found that I was on a sour mood the next day, which seemed to be a direct effect of the alcohol. It has been said that alcohol is a depressant.
[Also, read this: Hangover Remedies]
I really don't think that this substance either suits me or is necessary in today's world. But read more of my thoughts here: Benefits of Long-Term Alcohol Detox.
I thought a little bit of organic wine as a social thing would be fine and not a problem on a raw food diet but found out that it clearly was a problem for two reasons: firstly, because of the mental hangover the following day (and tiredness) and secondly, it made me crave heavy foods the next day. It definitely threw me off balance.
Since I've been eating cooked foods I feel more tired, more irritable, and cycling feels a lot harder. I've also had nightmares about different things.
In addition, I don't really enjoy eating the food. My skin has suffered instantly and my previously superflat belly seems to be swelling slightly. I spend much more money straight away, as I buy pastries in town, take-away lunch and often take-away dinner too, with sometimes a couple of beers. In addition to this, I feel the need for snacks. A psychological need, nothing to do with hunger. I think yesterday I spent around £12 and I didn't eat especially well. And that included a cheap raw smoothie breakfast, still.
I noticed that I don't enjoy eating cooked foods. I can enjoy other things that come with it, conversation for example, but I enjoy the smells of the foods more than actually eating them. It may sound crazy and this would not have made sense to me before I started on the raw food path but there is not much enjoyment in eating, full stop. There are subconscious emotional reasons for wanting to eat, there are many foods which act as stimulants and there are the beautiful smells of cooked food. But tastes and eating itself are not enjoyable. It is a similar thing with alcohol and cigarettes, you enjoy the stimulation you get but not the act of smoking or drinking. Another proof that many (not all) cooked foods are addictive.
Now, you may be of a different opinion and insist that there indeed is such a thing as an 'orgasmic chocolate cake'. But if that is the case, then you can eat those cakes in a raw form as well. The cooking process is really not needed.
Having said that, there are some major challenges to eating raw foods and staying raw. For example, it can be often impossible to buy exciting raw food treats in town. Fruit is always available, however, so one does not have to go hungry. But when the cakes come out on a daily basis in my office I would like to be able to run across the road and purchase a raw version, before joining my work mates for tea.
The second problem is that it can be very expensive, which is a problem this website constantly tries to address (see: "Eating Raw on a Budget"). Raw food is normally of superior quality to other foods - both tastier and more nutritious - but in the end I can't eat everything I want because of budget restrictions.
The third problem can be making sure one eats enough and gets all the nutrients in a 'bioavailable' form so that the body can utilise them.
The first day I ate cooked food I quickly felt an urge to drink a smoothie! Egg and toast breakfast did not satisfy my hunger! My belly felt full but my body felt hungry for refreshing nutrients.
As days went by I began to understand this 'addiction' more and I understood that my cravings were not so much for 'extremely nice' cooked foods as they were for quick fix junk foods. So any need for cooked food was more because of laziness than anything else.
I don't get cravings when I have eaten enough and feel satisfied. I get cravings when I am hungry or haven't eaten enough.
Later note: Later note: Seems like I wasn't eating enough or often enough, I didn't have enough healthy foods and snacks prepared or available. Alternatively, I might have been protein deficient and craved for wheat and cheese for protein reasons, for example.
I have decided that I need to improve on my discipline on the raw food diet as well. I don't think I am getting enough nutrients on a daily basis because I tend to not eat enough. I have to get more organised. I reflect on this more on my 100-days challenge summary.
[Update: Also, my next raw food challenge diary will continue these thoughts: 2013 Raw Food Diet.]
Later note: I don't think there was much wrong with my discipline, I just hadn't found a balanced way of eating yet that satisfied my body's needs, avoided allergens, and was stress-free enough to suit my lifestyle.
Friday to Tuesday were full-on cheat days, where I ate anything I liked, and I used the following two days to ease back into the raw food diet and would only have cooked dinner, while being raw all through the day. Now it is Thursday night and from tomorrow I will be back on 100% raw and I can't wait, to be honest. I feel like I have overcome many addictions by observing and understanding them better. Also, it is clear now that cooked food has many disadvantages for me. Especially junk cooked foods like white flour-based products and alcohol. Which brings me to the next topic...
I think I am ready to cut certain foods completely out of my life now, such as pizzas, crisps and chocolate bars. In the future I am planning to be raw most of the time but include cheat days, perhaps one day per week or one every two weeks, because I don't want to alienate my body from being able to eat cooked foods. And also, I am not ready yet to forever cut out social events and all the meals my parents or my boyfriend cook for me! Having said that, this weekend I have a birthday party to go to and I will not drink or eat cooked food but instead bring my own salad with a "creamy" curry dressing!
Later note: A little bit of clean alcohol (e.g. spirits) might work with raw foods (although healthier to be without) if heavy (raw) food was eaten while drinking, and the morning after if needed - e.g. cashew nut butter or something else with fat and protein. B-vitamin complex, alkalising with lemons, 2 pints of water before bed, and a few other tips discussed in 'hangover remedies' will help a huge amount also. But the vibration-lowering effects of alcohol cannot be negated, at least I don't know how.
So when I do eventually allow myself to eat cooked foods again, I will make sure that it includes a lot less of the 'junk' type, for example, I might be ready now to give up white flour completely. But I will reflect on this more at the end of the 100-days.
Right now however, I am back to raw foods (it is Friday morning at the time of writing this) until Day 100. I will decide the future diet from there. Hopefully I won't need any more cheat days, apart from Christmas and New Year's Eve, which I have decided upon long ago. Even on those days I will try to have only cooked dinner and keep the breakfast and lunch raw, or majority raw.
A summary of this diet is provided here: 100 days raw food summary.
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Ulla is the Editor of Cheap Health Revolution, covering natural remedies and health solutions.