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How to succeed with the raw-vegan lifestyle

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20 Tips for Sensible Eating
by Frederic Patenaude

One of our readers sent us the following letter: "I have been trying to become a raw-foodist for the last two months, but after each two-week stint of going 100%, my brain chemistry seems to change dramatically: I become very depressed and paranoid, and then of course, I cave! In that state of mind, absolutely nothing matters. Doing this alone is difficult. Being told by everyone that I am crazy for what I am trying to do is not easy. Getting suggestions that I should not eat oats, rice, and other raw starchy foods by some raw-vegans certainly does not make things easier for me. It only confuses things. I do hope you understand where I am coming from. What you are doing is great, and my belief in the diet grows by the day. I have so many questions to ask; including why there is such a conflict in ideas between your philosophy and that which I recently came across from England. P. S. Maybe living on a desert island might help, with all the tropical fruits!"

Frederic’s Answer: You seem to have a strong goal to succeed, but feel lost in the nutrition jungle. It is very normal to be confused because there is a lot of contradictory information out there. But realize that you will have to experiment a little to see what works for you. I personally have found that what really seems to work for many people is the following.

• Forgo of all the processed foods containing additives and chemicals. Instead, reach for the fruits, vegetables, sprouts, and nuts.

• Avoid starches. If you are still eating bread, try making it out of sprouted grains. They sell sprouted-grain bread at many health food stores. Cooked yams seem to be better than white potatoes.

• Make salads and experiment with the recipes in my book The Raw Secrets.

• Do not eat too much sugar. By "sugar," I mean both the refined stuff (white sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, dehydrated sugar, etc.), and also sugar in the form of sweet fruits, dates, honey, maple syrup, etc. Too much sugar can lead to problems. If you do find yourself eating sugar, work to counterbalance your diet by eating a lot of raw, organic, green leafy vegetables. Be sure to get some good quality raw fat everyday, such as cold-pressed, organic olive, hemp, or flax oil.

• Exercise. Food is only part of the health picture. You need to get out there and actually move your body. Start lifting weight, do push-ups, take yoga classes, go to the gym, etc. If you can not get outside to swim, jog, bike, skate, hike, or walk, perhaps you may consider jumping rope. Yoga and martial arts can also be done anywhere, and are great forms of exercise. Yoga and martial arts videos are available for purchase or rental at many stores. They are the oldest forms of structured exercise.

• Avoid eating only fruit. Eating only fruit and nothing else does not seem to work for most people (with some amazing exceptions of course!). Many pure fruitarians I have met have experienced problems, including dramatic weight loss, dental problems, mental imbalances, and more. Understand that there is no such thing as a 100% fruitarian in Nature. Eat a rounded diet that included green leafy vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

• Eat plenty of green leafy vegetables, such as kale, lettuce, sunflower sprouts, spinach, chard, collards, celery, etc. Green vegetables are your source of minerals, high quality proteins, and many other nutrients. Once you start eating more green vegetables, your health will improve dramatically. Make it a habit to have green vegetables with everything you eat. Don’t ignore sea vegetables (such as dulse, nori, kelp, etc.), which are very nutritious.

• Drink green drinks. Get a juicer that can juice green vegetables, such as kale, spinach, and celery, and drink two 8-ounce glasses of green juice everyday. This alkalinizes the body. Many health food stores sell green juices.

• Do not become overly concerned with your diet. If you are talking about it all the time, your friends will likely get sick of hearing about it. Do not expect others to agree with everything you say. Do the best you can, where you are, and strive to become better everyday. But do not make food a religion.

• Follow a vegan diet. If there is one area where you should not compromise, it is this one. Forgo all animal products, including milk and dairy. Forgo flesh, including chicken, fish, and seafood. Meat is contaminated with hormones, farming chemicals, antibiotics, germs, and heavy metals. In addition, meat contains saturated fat, which has been shown to play a major role in heart disease, cancer, vision problems, and many other health problems. The mass breeding of farm animals uses up enormous amounts of resources, land, and water, and plays a major role in many problems we are experiencing on Earth, such as the extinction of species, ruining of habitat, desertification of the land, and pollution. Raising animals for food is also a horrible thing. Being a vegan is a statement against all of that. The best way to start improving the world is to begin with the person in the mirror. A book that may be of interest to you on this topic is Beyond Beef, by Jeremy Rifkin. John Robbin’s Diet for a New America is also a book that you may want to read.

• Get your produce as fresh as possible. Grow a garden if possible. Get foods directly from the farmers by shopping at farmers markets. If you always eat foods out of a store, you are depriving yourself of much vitality. Foods start to loose nutrients after being cut. For where you live (Ireland), I would definitely recommend growing sprouts in your home. Some of the best sprouts to grow are clover, sunflower, and buckwheat lettuce. You can become an expert at growing your food, and teaching others to do the same.

• Eat organic. Support the organic food industry. Learn about the organic farming movement in your area, and participate in it. You can always volunteer to work a weekend or more on an organic farm near your city or town.

• If there is no organic food market in your area, consider starting a food co-op, and order directly from the organic farmers and organic distribution system in bulk. Find a few people in your area who will order every week, and that way you will have enough money to get bulk discounts.

• If you wish to eat something warm, have a miso soup, instead of a steaming plate of cooked food. Have a cup of herbal tea. These liquids do not clog your system, like bread or starches do. So if you crave something hot, have something liquid that is hot.

• I suggest that you invest in a good quality blender, and start experiencing the cleansing qualities of blended foods. You can make delicious smoothies, raw soups, and raw dips with a blender. Try fasting two days a week while consuming nothing but liquids. If you are doing it with high-quality vegetables and/or fruits, it will be very nutritious. It will also help to cleanse your system. I have found that the best blender is the Vita-Mix. It is quite expensive, but will last you a lifetime.

• Do not try to convert anyone. Rather, I suggest that you just live your life, eat your food, and don’t talk much about it. Do not try to convince people about your way of life, or seek their approval. If they come to you for information, then that is different.

• Become educated. But realize that no one has the answer to everything. Nobody is 100% right. So it is normal to find contradictory information. Just take the best ideas from wherever you find them.

• Create your own philosophy and live by it. Do not just take someone else’s word. Some people just become "followers" of a particular health guru, and use their book as a bible. You will have to find something that works for you. Develop your own, original philosophy that helps you live healthy and happy.

• Finally, keep an open mind. Listen to every idea you are exposed to with this perspective: "What could be true in this?" Be willing to abandon everything you think you know at any moment, and just listen. Follow your gut feelings, your intuition.

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