Sunday, February 15, 2009

Which raw diet is best?

I'm so glad you guys are interested in adding more raw foods. :) I am so excited with the talk in the forum and the emails I'm getting.

I was surfing around today, and have been reading a lot. I realize the "raw food world" might be pretty confusing to new people. So I wanted to share share something with you.

It's that there is no ONE raw food diet. There are high-fat raw food diets, low-fat, high-fruit diets. There are diets that allow some lightly cooked items, some that don't. There are some that allow beans, others that call them poison.

There here I come confusing things, saying I personally believe we need to look at the wisdom of the diets of some indigenous cultures before the Spanish explorers arrived, calling specific attention to the Tohono O'Odham and Pima Indian early traditional diets. Enough to make your mind spin! Sorry!

Currently there is a big split happening in the raw food world. At one end are the diets that say you can eat anything as long as it's raw - eat as many high-fat avocados and nuts as you want. At the other end are the ones that say, no you can't, this is way too much fat, eat fruit instead (like the 80/10/10 raw food diet). The former leans a lot on "gourmet" foods, superfoods, and manipulating raw foods into copycats of old favorites. The latter says, how can anything be or taste better than a fresh pineapple?

I know, it's confusing. So what is the RIGHT diet? The right diet is the one that makes YOU feel food and you see positive benefits from. As diabetics, of COURSE you know, we are all unique and different and what works for one person won't necessarily work for another. We know that all too well. 100% raw might not be right for you. Maybe you are someone who can handle a lot of fat. I personally can't. While my blood sugar numbers and blood pressure went down to normal eating raw foods, my cholesterol numbers did not go down to normal - they DID decrease, but not to normal. So I have to cut some more. Also some diabetics can have tahini (raw sesame seed paste) with no ill effects while others will have their blood sugar numbers skyrocket.

It's important to keep records and be observant (another curse of diabetes, haha). Pay attention to what you eat and then how your blood sugar reacts. Just because it's raw doesn't necessarily mean it wont effect your sugars. Pay attention to foods that might be irritating your digestive system - because in the end it's all connected via our hormonal systems.

MOST have to work with your health care team. Ask your doctor before starting a new program and ask what foods you might need to avoid because of complications, medications, or any special conditions you may have. For instance, if you are on Coumadin/warfarin, you shouldn't be eating ginger - and maybe even limit the dark leafy greens. Let your doctor know what your plan is and have him or her work with you on your drug dosages and strategy. Don't make changes on your own.

So what should you do? How should you start? The basic thing these diets all can agree on is - get more raw fruits and veggies, especially green leafy vegetables into your diet. So, that is a fantastic starting point. Figure out simple ways to get more of these things into your diet. Take baby steps and see how you feel. In the meantime, research! Pay attention to your basic needs - carbs, fat, protein, calories, vitamins, minerals, water - make sure you aren't deficient or extreme on any of these. We need balance.

You can add green juice or a green smoothie. You can decide to have fruit or veggies for breakfast or replace a meal with a big salad. You try a raw recipe once in a while. It doesn't have to be complicated, and it's best to make it simple and go slow. Anything you do will be an improvement and as long as you are headed in the right direction, don't worry too much about how fast you get there. Enjoy the ride. :)

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