A new raw food challenge starts! It's a while since I've been on 100% (-ish) raw foods, although I have done juice fasts as part of the recent hormone diet experiment. The juice fasts do make my mind feel good, they clearly make my body stronger and they also seem to quickly eliminate menstrual pains!
This raw food diet was 25 days long. I eliminated everything that I knew for a fact to be bad for me: i.e. alcohol, dairy, starches and chemicals. In addition, this was a more strict diet plan than my previous raw food trials, at least in the beginning.
(Note: The initial introduction to this raw food challenge is after the summary.)
Day 2: Losing weight already, a little cold, a little tired, feel out of balance, crave fat, can't sleep well.
Day 3: Thick mucus, a little cough, generally feel good but not too energetic, no hunger, clearer head, heart palpitations.
Day 4: Acid reflux, phlegmy throat, stuffy nose, tastebuds changing (avocado tastes metallic), slight headache, mind is starting to feel more upbeat and stronger, a lot of dreams, yoga poses felt a lot easier than usual, red eyes, feeling phlegmatic and out of energy during the day, not tired at all in the evening, couldn't sleep, very nice 'soft energy' feelings in my body in the evening that I've never felt before.
Comparing 'paleo' and 'raw food' diets
Day 5: Feeling very tired through the day but awake at night, less mucus in the throat, a little cough, tastebuds changing, better flexibility, red face, suspect that I am eating too much sugar during this raw food challenge, raw foods may be too difficult to digest, blood electrification helps with sugar intolerance, angelica oil helps sleep.
B12 vitamin, C-vitamin and not sleeping well
Day 6: Had restless feet which points to dehydration or too much sugar, red face as well, deeper sleep since I cut out certain supplements, made raw pickles, feeling less tired today, low blood sugar/ sugar intolerance symptoms from raw coconut water, switching from 'high-fruit low-fat raw food diet' to a low-sugar raw food diet, easier to fall asleep, last day on no salt.
Raw food, fruit and blood sugar
Day 7: Finally slept well, feel good and rested, got red cheeks from pickled figs (too sugary), stevia experiment failed (don't like the taste), made a plan for low-sugar raw food meals, going back to eating salt today, felt unusually weak when running, added soaked oat groats to my diet (no longer grain-free).
Tap water is not raw/ the ideal 100% raw food diet
Pickled figs in small quantity are too sugary
Stevia doesn't work for me
Coming off the no-salt regime
My low-sugar raw food diet
Day 8: Extremely tired, feeling down and lazy, no motivation to do anything. Thinking of ending this raw food challenge. Up to now have been feeling much worse on this diet than usual.
Day 9: Short diary notes, but feeling much better than the day before. Made raw pizza to treat my tastebuds.
Day 10: A very good day, feeling many benefits. Almost feel like I am becoming alive again. Feel much better than usual, happier too.
Day 11: Did some exercises with heavy weights and feel a bit tired afterwards. The 'spine twist' exercise causes trauma release shakes to come on. Maybe not eating enough protein. Using my oven as dehydrator. My sense of smell is going strange. Taking B12 and iron late at night may have made me unable to sleep. Some heart palpitations and anxiety but found it easier to calm myself down than usual.
Day 12: Digestion problems and feel like something stuck in my throat. Wonder if too much olive oil in dishes is making me more tired. Feel into a deep sleep for two hours during the day. Low blood pressure. Feeling very well in the evening.
Day 13: Felt very well and normal this day. Not as affected by stressful events as usual. Felt a bit sick after drinking a smoothie too quickly. Started drinking hot drinks. List of possible benefits of eliminating hot drinks as raw foodist.
Day 14: Green salad with organic raw vegan pesto sauce tastes as good as normal pesto pasta. No need for cheese. Recipe. Slight sciatica nerve irritation.
Day 15: Belly is flatter but not completely flat. My face is puffy. No more problems with exercise or tiredness. Find it easy to fall asleep at nights. My mind is more calm, I work efficiently, and have good concentration. I don't have a need for stimulants to concentrate on even boring tasks. I feel like all aspects of my life are improving because of this diet. I have eliminated all my little health problems and greatly reduced anxiety symptoms and I worry less! My menstrual period started and there was a lot less pain than usual - no need for pain killers.
Day 16: Some stomach pain due to menses. Feel unflexible, out of energy and stiff. Very thirsty, unable to take stress, blush easily. My body is weaker again because of the menses and that's why these symptoms come back.
Day 17: No more menstrual pain. I seem to need a lot more sleep when I have my menses. Still feel very dehydrated. In the afternoon suddenly felt very exhausted, my eyesight got worse, and my eyes got watery as well (typical tiredness symptoms for me). Throatache in the evening, low immune system strength.
Day 18: Felt really good an upbeat in the morning, but got some menstrual pain in the evening, together with nausea and diarrhea. Very tired and out of energy afterwards, feeling cold despite a warm house and lots of clothes. Feel like a cold coming on.
Day 19: Slept 11 hours! Feel worn out, my body seems to need a lot of rest during this menstrual period. Blocked and runny nose. My usual worries have come back. Perhaps during the menses my mind is weaker too because my body is weaker. Running felt only a little more difficult than usual. Couldn't breathe properly. Mucus clearing. No belly ache today. Face is starting to look good, much less puffy. Feel like giving up the diet because I feel like I am constantly tired - but I promised myself not to give up on an impulse. Had to take a nap during the day. Keep feeling cold, weak immune system, feeling sorry for myself. Listed nutrients typically missing on a vegan diet. Feel very confused about what to eat. My body and mind do not feel in balance or satisfied. Body and muscles feel weak. A bit irritable.
How to Know Good Olive Oil, Part II
Day 20: Skin feels softer than usual. Puffy eyes. Eye-lashes have grown longer on this raw food challenge. Eyebrows are a little fuller as well. Felt good all day, perhaps because of skipped breakfast and only a green juice for lunch - or maybe because of eating a lot the day before. Still sometimes have a cough after eating. Maybe the best approach to raw foods is to eat very light and easy to digest in the morning, eat a lot in the afternoon, and only small protein-rich snacks in the evening, if anything.
Day 21: Using the oven as a raw food dehydrator. Ate non-raw unsoaked almonds in a pate. Couldn't sleep for a while, maybe because of eating slightly sugary pancakes. Starting to worry about complete vs. incomplete proteins. Last day of menses.
Alcohol, Sugar or Starchy Foods Lead to Binge-Eating
Day 22: Slowly fell into a trap of eating non-raw nuts. Bad quality, non-raw nuts seem to cause mucus. I ran out of olive oil and can't afford raw nuts. Felt better all day, more normal. Been ensuring I get more amino acids. Some chest pain due to sugary pancake the day before. Feel more 'grounded' since eating protein on every meal. Sugar tolerance increasing, clear sign that my body is getting stronger.
The Problem of Raw Nuts on This Raw Food Challenge
Plant-Based 'Complete' Protein Sources
Should Humans Eat Meat?
Day 23: Getting bored of this diet, want to eat cooked food. My taste buds feel like they need some love. My brain feels like it needs a boost, my body feels out of balance. Had a guarana fake coffee drink (a stimulant). Took digestive enzymes. Suspecting that I need to eat warm foods like the Chinese Doctor suggested. 'Vata' body types (ayurvedic doshi) apparently don't do so well on raw foods. Feel lazy, demotivated and a bit down. I have a thirst that doesn't go away with drinking water. 'Irritable energy' feeling in my whole body. I think it's important for health to eat tasty foods so that you get enough saliva to help with digestion! Have symptoms of indigestion.
Day 24: Felt quite fresh all morning, eating easy-to-digest foods. Don't feel like eating fruit or vegetables. Worried that smoothies don't digest properly because they are not 'chewed'. Heavy feeling in my belly and feel like something is stuck in the throat. My face is starting to look younger. Felt a bit stronger than usual when exercising, either due to raw foods or creatine supplements.
Day 25 - Last day of the Raw Food Challenge:
Felt phlegmy, not well rested and a little nauseous in the morning. Found it difficult to decide what to eat. Ended up giving the diet up later in the evening. Tired of feeling low on energy. Benefits and downsides of this diet listed. Feelings of indigestion and possibly acid reflux.
Acid Reflux on Raw Foods?
Adrenal Fatigue Behind Raw Food Tiredness?
Improvements Needed for My Next Raw Food Challenge
Later Update: Aspergillus Infection
[These notes were written before the raw food challenge begun - my initial intentions.]
There are few things that I am quite sceptical about but which I will try in the beginning - these are: having no added salt (not even natural salt), having no hot tea, having no beans (because of starches), not much spices and having no grains whatsoever (including no raw oat groats). After a little while I may try to add some of these to my diet and see how my body reacts, as many long-term raw foodists do eat these. The only reason to avoid them would be because 1) the spices and salt are concentrated and 2) starches and grains may cause cravings, heaviness, and digestive problems. There are arguments against the whole grains but there are also recent research showing that they are good for you. So this will be an experiment as I am not sure where I stand with this yet.
This raw food challenge will be fairly low budget, out of necessity, as I am working on this website full-time now and so far have no income, so I am living off loans and have to be careful as my money is running out.
Nevertheless, I am trying to be more strict about 100% raw this time, and being more careful with olive oil, frozen food, dried fruit, etc. than I have been before. I won't use soya sauce that is not raw and I will also be careful with nuts. I think trying out only truly organic and raw nuts is important because many nuts seem to cause mucus in my throat. So regardless of the fact that I won't be able to afford many organic, truly raw nuts, I will try small amounts. More explanation in the diary.
The primary reason of this diet is to firstly, cut out everything that I know for a fact to not benefit my body and, secondly, to give the raw food diet another honest, proper try. I hope especially that I will get the mental benefits as I have before.
I am worried about losing too much weight and I will try to combat this with heavy weight training exercises, as well as with some exercises using lighter weights and my own body weight. Perhaps including raw fat sources will help to some degree too.
I know that to be a proper raw foodist, one has to stick to it for a year or two, because the cleansing process takes a long time. I know for a fact that there are strong benefits of raw foods, because juice fasting makes me feel so good and any time when I did a raw food challenge/ ate near-100% raw foods, my looks improved quickly and my body got stronger (blood sugar not so easily thrown off-balance, not so tired from eating starches, etc.). However, I am only at this point committing to one month raw and expect to feel benefits already in that short time. In fact, I know I will feel benefits.
But long-term, although I think I am now ready to eliminate all the foods that I know are not good for me, I am not ready to stick to a 100% raw food diet only because of theoretical benefits (or philosophical reasons). Meaning, that even though I know there are very practical, concrete benefits from raw foods, these benefits may not disappear while adding a few healthy cooked foods.
In a way it will be a type of an instinctive eating experiment, where I try to learn to listen to my body very carefully - i.e. see how the food tastes, how I feel after eating it, and how I feel the following day.
I still don't know what to think about eating some cooked vegetables and small quantities of organic/ wild-caught meat - at least I know that those are not some of the worst things we can put in our bodies (chemicals and white-flour products, as well as sugar, may be far worse).
So after this initial 100% raw food challenge I will try for another 25 days (in February) to add foods - one new food every two days - and see how it makes me feel. I will also take my pulse after eating each food to monitor for food intolerances. This experiment will include some trials with organic meat. The reason I am doing this is because on some of my previous paleo-type diets I felt quite good (energetic and confident) and because many very healthy-looking nutritionists recommend small amounts of organic meat.
However, on previous paleo diets I also got bad skin and constipated, which probably means that I ate too much fat and too much meat. This time it will be a "50% raw, little bit of organic meat and plenty of cooked vegetables" kind of diet, including green juices and sprouts, too, etc. In other words, the best kind of meat-eating 50% raw food diet that I could conceive of.
If I feel bad after introducing any of the new foods, I will then eliminate them again.
Hopefully my findings will provide some clarity to the raw vs. paleo debate going on out there, although I do recognize that what works for me might not work for everyone.
The full experiment will last at last two months, and hopefully I will get very clear results this time. In any case for the minimum of two months (and hopefully for the rest of my life) I will stay away from substances that I know from experience to be harmful to my mind and body: white processed wheat, chemicals, non-raw dairy, caffeine and alcohol. And I really hope that I will be much clearer about what works and what doesn't by the end of this experiment. So far it has seemed that each diet challenge or experiment I did got me a little bit closer to understanding perfect health but also raised new questions and sometimes also new confusions.
Ulla is the Editor of Cheap Health Revolution, covering natural remedies and health solutions.