Thursday, June 24, 2010
Old Post # 8: How Do I Get Started?
How Do I Get Started?
Everyone is different. For some people, they need to quit cooked food cold turkey, otherwise they'll never do it. If you can do it this way, that's what I recommend. Less temptation. We are truly addicted to cooked foods.
I've noticed even when I'm not that hungry, if I give in and have a bite of cooked food (say, when I make my kids lunch), I have a sudden and uncontrollable urge to shove it all in my mouth, like an addict in withdrawal! I never feel that way when I eat raw, even if I am starving. I rarely stuff myself with raw food, whereas I will now fill myself to discomfort when I eat cooked...and I was never prone to binging before. Overeating, yes, but not binging. So cold turkey is best.
If you can't do it all at once, then start by eating raw fruit in the morning, a salad and sandwich for lunch (using only organic, whole foods when eating cooked food), and a big salad with raw veggies for dinner, with a very small amount of brown rice and organic chicken breast. That's how I did it the first few days. You'll still feel a difference right away. [Edit: I would now recommend starting with smoothies, working up to as many greens as you can tolerate, taste-wise, as quickly as you can. That will get you craving other raw foods.]
If you are going to eat things like whole grain breads and rices, look into the Nourishing Traditions book, and websites online about this way of eating. They recommend you soak or sprout all grains, nuts and seeds before eating. This is because grains, nuts and seeds are protected by phytic acid, which keeps the grain or seed from breaking down until it is planted. By soaking or sprouting it, you have broken down the phytic acid and made it more digestible and safer to eat. Many people who can't eat wheat can eat it if it is sprouted or soaked first. It is the phytic acid that they are reacting to. [Edit: This is one reason why there are so many people nowadays with irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, etc. Eating grains, nuts and seeds with the phytic acid still intact isn't good for you.]
Try to minimize the meat and dairy you eat. When you do eat dairy, eat raw dairy. It can be hard to find. Try realmilk.org or ask around at health food stores, or advertise that you are looking for sources of raw milk. Be sure that it is both unpateurized and unhomogenized. Laws vary from state to state. Find out what your state laws are. Don't just listen to what someone says. I had someone insist raw milk is illegal in my state. That person is ignorant. Our laws clearly state that raw milk can be sold, but only from the farm it is produced from, the farmer cannot advertise it publicly (which is ridiculous), and the buyer must bring his own sterilized container (also silly--if the farmer's container isn't already sterile, it doesn't matter if the customer brings her own sterilized container).
Check out the place you buy your milk from to make sure you are comfortable with the farmer's operation, especially that it seems sanitary. I can almost guarantee that commercial dairies are probably worse. Also ask what the cows are fed, if they are fed grain, if the grain is organic, and if the fields they eat on are treated with chemical fertilizers or pesticides. If they eat supplemental hay, ask where that hay comes from, and if it is treated in any way ("certified weed free" = sprayed with poisons). Also, is the field located next to or downhill from a conventional farm? If so, the grass may be soaking up pesticides and fake fertilizer. The field may also be watered from a well that shares the same water table/aquifer as the conventional farm.
As I said, though, cold turkey is better. The first day I felt a bit of hunger throughout the day. Not an "I'm starving" feeling, but more like "I could really go for ___". After the first day or so, it went away. I made sure that I stuffed myself with as much raw food as possible, to avoid temptation. At the slightest sign of hunger, I ate. The second day I already felt so much better, physically.
The first two weeks I kept it simple, eating plain fruit, or cut-up fruit salad, or green salads. When I ate a sandwich, it was usually a whole grain pita, some egg salad, and as many veggies as I could stuff into it--baby spinach, red onion, cucumbers, red peppers. I burst the "seams" of the pita a few times, lol. I really looked forward to adding those veggies in. It made for great flavors. My tastes started to change, too. I started getting braver, and adding fresh tomatoes. I don't usually care for fresh tomatoes, but I tried it. I'm starting to kind of like them.
After two weeks, I knew I had to mix it up or get bored. I wanted a Vita Mix badly, but they go for around $400. Don't buy expensive stuff til you've been on it at least two weeks, and know you will continue. The Vita Mix is great, and you'll probably always find it useful, but it isn't necessary right away. The biggest tip I can give is to sit down one evening while you have someone to talk to, or a tv or radio program on, and spend an hour or two leisurely cutting up fruits and veggies and putting them into baggies or containers. This was a tremendous help to me. One night of chopping, and I had about four days of veggies ready to go. I put the chopped veggies into mini Glad containers, and stacked the containers in larger plastic baskets--one basket for salad veggies, one for cut fruits, another for uncut fruits that were washed and ready to eat. It keeps your fridge much neater and helps prevent "losing" stuff in the fridge and having it go bad. Want to make a salad? Pull out the salad veggie basket, and you're ready to make it! Perfect for the lazy person (like me).
After a week or two, be sure to start experimenting. At first all you need is a sharp paring knife, a vegetable peeler, and a large kitchen knife. A blender is helpful if you want to make smoothies. I bought a good quality smoothie maker with ice-chopping blades on sale for $30 at Target. [Edit: I ruined those blades after just a few smoothies. They won't hold up. Get a BlendTec. If you absolutely can't afford one, then remove the tough stems of kale, etc. before blending, and just add more water and blend in smaller batches while you're saving for a real blender.] Long-term you'll want a Vita Mix, it makes much smoother smoothies, and is pretty necessary for green smoothies (you really need to make sure greens are well blended), but you can wait a little while for that. Try ebay, craigslist.org, or your local classifieds to find a used Vita Mix. I wouldn't get one more than a few years old. [Edit: I HIGHLY recommend getting a Vita Mix model with the dial in the middle, which allows you to control the lower speed of the blender--or other high speed blender with an equivalent feature. Otherwise when you add powders like cacao, they will puff up when you turn it on, and it ends up all over the lid, wasted. You can try to put the cacao in first, but trust me, you'll forget sometimes. Then, poof.]
The first gadget I want is a Spiral Slicer, formerly known as a Saladacco. It is inexpensive, and seems to be a favorite amond raw foodists. You can use it to turn zucchini, carrots, and other veggies into "pasta". I had a dish like this at our local raw food restaurant (I'm SO happy we have one of these). It was a bed of spinach, with cut strawberries, walnuts, and balsamic vinegar, with zucchini angel hair "pasta" and a spicy sun-dried tomato marinara. The first bite I wasn't too crazy about it, but by the third I LOVED it! So I want the spiral slicer so I can create a similar dish. [Edit: Got one. It only does angel hair and spiral slices. Spend a little more and get one that does other sizes, like linguini noodles. I'm sorry I didn't spend the extra dough.]
I also want an Omega Juicer. I have a cheap one, but the Omega can do wheatgrass also. Wheatgrass Juice is an amazing thing, SO healthy for you. Though I warn you, it is disgusting. I usually chug a shot of it and chase it with a whole smoothie. But I've heard after you start having green smoothies, the wheatgrass juice isn't too bad. The green smoothies are supposed to make you crave raw foods, and I had my first one the other day. It wasn't too bad!
I'm also hoping to get an Excalibur Dehydrator. [Edit: Had one, loved it, highly recommend it. Had to sell it for the money. I could cry.] It comes highly recommended, as it has a controllable thermostat. You can use this to make "breads" and "crackers" from things like nuts and seeds. I had some spicy crackers from that restaurant. They're actually pretty good...and REALLY spicy! Another item I'm wanting is a separate fridge. My husband and I have talked about this before, since we have a big family anyway. We want to get an all-fridge refrigerator...no freezer. I plan to use that for my raw foods, and maybe overflow from the main fridge. That way, no hunting for hidden produce that has rotted in the back! I'd like to keep most of the produce in the fridge to keep it longer, but right now ours is too small.
It may sound like this is an expensive proposition, but you don't have to have all this stuff. I'd say just the spiral slicer and the Vita Mix would make your life a lot easier. As for organic food, it is becoming easier to find...shop around. There is a lot of advice to be found on the raw food boards as to how to find produce cheaper. Even eating conventional raw food is better than eating a SAD diet. Though there are TONS more nutrients and less toxins in organic produce.
My husband, I'm sure, was worried at first that this diet would be like the others, and anything I bought would go unused. But after two weeks of seeing me happier and healthier, and controlling my weight, he is now all for spending whatever it takes to keep me on the diet. We plan on using tax return money for the stuff we need to buy. At some point soon we hope to be able to put the whole family on raw food. He's not sure about giving up meat and dairy (he's a big meat-and-potatoes kind of guy), but neither was I at first. He's open to it, though. I told him it's his decision. If he wants to go only 80% raw and still eat a little meat and dairy, that's his choice. But I know he'll feel so much better on even just 80% raw.
Just remember to keep it simple the first couple of weeks, eat cut fruits and salads, maybe some fruit smoothies (good for on the go). After that, start experimenting, and find ways to make it more convenient. Get rid of your old food, or if you can't, such as if you're a wife or mother, be sure to eat BEFORE you prepare food for others. Keep raw snack food on hand, and DO NOT let yourself get hungry. Hungry brains don't think straight! I think after a few days on raw, you won't want to go back to your old life. It's just not worth it!