Raw Food Diet FAQs

Raw Food Diet: 25 Frequently Asked Questions

Many people are curious about the raw food diet, but have a lot of questions before they get started.  With all the conflicting information out there, you may even be asking yourself, “is raw food diet healthy?”  Here are 25 of the most common questions asked about the raw food diet:

#1 What’s this business about saving the enzymes?

The foundation of the philosophy of the raw food diet is that there are important enzymes in the fruits and vegetables we eat that help our body use the energy to its full capacity.  When you cook food at over 40 degrees C or 117 degree F, those enzymes are destroyed and the molecular structure of your food changes.  Raw foodists believe that those enzymes are important to our body’s health and we would be better off eating our foods in their purest form – enzymes and all.

#2 Should I only eat organic food if I’m eating raw?

If you’re eating your food raw, you’re not cooking and destroying the harmful pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides and chemicals that go into industrial farming.  These substances reduce the overall nutritional benefit of the food you eat by counteracting it with these harmful substances.  In addition, organic fruits and veggies just taste better.  You’re going to be eating a lot of it, so you may want to buy organic.  You don’t need to buy organic to eat raw, but it’s certainly a better option if you can afford it.

#3 Can I just rinse pesticides off industrial grown food?

Rinsing off your fruits and veggies will get rid of some of the harmful pesticides, but it certainly can’t get rid of all of it.  Some of those harmful chemicals have been absorbed into the plants directly.  Foods to watch for if they aren’t organic are strawberries and bell peppers, while carrots and avocados are generally safer.

#4 What is the difference between raw food and a vegan diet?

With a vegan diet, you are probably eating a whole lot more cooked foods.  Someone who is eating a largely raw diet is not cooking their food over 40 degrees C or 116 degrees F.  You also can eat meat and animal products on a raw food diet, but consumption of raw meat is never recommended.

#5 Do I have to eat everything raw to be on this diet?

Some people call themselves raw foodists but only eat about 70-80% raw.  That’s okay!  In fact, many professionals say eating a diet that’s 80% raw but still cooking some of your meals is actually better for you in the long run.  You can benefit from a raw food diet without missing out on some of your favourite healthy cooked meals – you just won’t have as many of them.

#6 How much does it cost to eat raw?

One of the common myths of the raw food diet is that it is super expensive.  While you can spend quite a lot on this diet, you can also be very careful with your budgeting and not spend any more on this diet than you would any other.  Raw foodists often get excited about many appliances and “super foods” that can be very expensive, but if you stick with the basics, it shouldn’t be any more expensive than your typical diet.

#7 Is raw food diet healthy?

There are very few experts out there contesting the fact that, at its foundation, that the raw food diet is healthy.  Any time you increase your intake of fruits and vegetables, you’re probably moving in a more healthy direction.  Some experts say it can be difficult to get the amount of calories you need and all the nutrients you need if you eat a strictly raw diet.  In general, yes, the raw food diet is healthy, but you want to make sure you’re doing it in such a way that is well-rounded and getting you all of your essential nutrients.

#8 Is raw food diet safe?

Yes, the raw food diet is absolutely safe.  Most experts would say increasing your intake of raw foods is healthy, and there is no doubt that this diet is healthier than the average American diet.  You may have to adjust the raw food diet for your own needs and tastes to make sure you’re getting enough calories and nutrients, but overall, you should see a boost in your health from switching to this diet.

#9  Is there enough protein in raw food diet?

According to the World Health Organization, humans need about 5% of their daily calories to come from protein.  Fruits are typically made up of about 5% protein, veggies are made up of about 20-50% protein and seeds have about 10-25% of their calories from protein.  If you’re eating a healthy arrangement of these items and getting plenty of high protein veggies like broccoli and spinach, you’re getting plenty of protein.

The most important thing to remember is that you’re getting enough calories, because many fruits and veggies are much lower in calories than the foods you are used to eating.

#10 Is there enough calcium in raw food diet?

As long as you seek out the right foods, you can find plenty of calcium with a raw vegan diet.  Some food items that contain high volume of calcium include:

–    Sesame seeds
–    Chia seeds
–    Almonds
–    Leafy greens like kale and collards
–    Seaweed

#11 Is there enough iron in raw food diet?

It can be a challenge to get enough iron on a raw food diet, but once again, if you know where to look for it, you can get away with not needing a supplement.

Some foods which are rich in iron that you should include in your daily diet are:

–    Leafy greens
–    Zucchini
–    Nuts and seeds
–    Sunflower seeds
–    Sesame seeds
–    Sprouted legumes
–    Raw chocolate

#12 Why is cooking bad for you?

Raw foodists may not go so far as to say that cooking is bad for you, but they would say that eating raw is much better for you.  Because of the many enzymes and nutrients in raw foods that can be killed through cooking, people who believe in the raw food diet would say cooking your food is wasting the beautiful nutrients that are naturally in it.

#13 Is raw eating good for the planet?

The vegan raw food diet is one of the most environmentally friendly ways to eat out there.  First of all, it eliminates animal products, which is a huge source of carbon emissions (in fact the largest in the nation).  In addition, you’re probably going to eat largely organic foods if you’re eating a raw diet, so that means you’re staying away from harmful pesticides and chemicals which have strained the environment.  Finally, you’re not wasting any extra energy or gas cooking your food!

#14 Should I eat 100% raw or mostly raw?

This is contested territory.  Many experts would say that you should make sure you are also eating cooked foods, because they may be easier to digest and allow your body more overall energy.  However, some raw foodists say raw foods are actually easier to digest and always better.  You may need to experiment with this yourself and see what ultimately feels better to you.

#15 What are the kinds of raw food diets?

There are many, many kinds of raw food diets.  Here are just a few:

Fruititarian – consuming mostly fruit
Sproutarian – consuming mostly sprouts
Omnivore – consuming a mix of meats and raw foods
Vegan – consuming no animal-based products

#16  What are the major benefits of the raw food diet?

There are a number of benefits that are widely accepted as part of the raw food diet:

–    Better nutrition
–    More energy
–    Clearer skin
–    Better hydration
–    Better sleeping habits
–    Better immune system

#17 Can I drink coffee on a raw food diet?

Many people who start on a raw food diet report feeling like they don’t need coffee in the morning.  One of the major benefits of the raw food diet is an increase in energy, and that includes waking up more quickly in the morning.  That being said, though, some raw foodists would say caffeine is a drug and no good for you, there’s nothing wrong with having a cup of coffee in the morning on a raw food diet.

#18 Is starting a raw food diet difficult?

The raw food diet is one of the more challenging diets out there, but it’s certainly not too much to handle.  It takes completely rethinking the relationship we have with food and finding new ways to consume your nutrients.  It takes patience to learn new recipes and it takes dedication to stay committed to forming new habits.  So yes, starting a raw food diet is difficult, but so is everything that is good for us.

#19 I have a very busy lifestyle – can I still go raw?

Yes!  It’s a common misconception that you can’t go raw if you don’t have 8 hours a day to think about your food consumption.  With excellent meal planning, preparation at the beginning of the week and foresight, you can plan out your weeks with beautiful raw foods without taking any more time than any other diet would take.  What takes longest is the research, so it will be hardest in the beginning.

#20 Do you have to worry about diseases with a raw food diet?

Some people wonder whether it’s actually safe to eat raw food when diseases and bacteria are often cooked out of food before we eat it.  Simply using refrigeration, hydrogen peroxide and vacuum sealing, we can actually prevent most of the issues that we may imagine could cause a problem with a raw food diet.  So no, this is not a major concern, especially if you’re staying away from raw meats.

#21 What’s the best way to start transitioning to raw food?

The best way to begin your transition is to gradually start eating more raw meals.  You may want to start with the easiest meal to eat raw: breakfast.  Breakfast is a good time to eat your raw fruits, so you can whip up a delicious smoothie with your favorite leafy greens and fruits.  Eating this in the morning will begin to get your body used to raw foods.  Then, you can start eating nuts and seeds throughout the day, maybe a salad for lunch, and slowly just eat more and more raw foods until you have made the transition.

#22 Do I have to calculate nutrient percentages and calorie intake every day?

No, as long as you are eating fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds and some kind of grain every day, you can be sure you’re getting the right nutrients for the most part.  You will want to do your research on the raw food diet in the long run and make sure the foods you buy and plan throughout the week give you all the nutrients you need.  You will also want to make sure you’re eating plenty throughout the day, as fruits and veggies are very low calorie.

#23 How can I get enough calories?

There are several ways you can approach this.  If you want to be exact, there are smartphone apps which can help you count your calories throughout the day.  Make sure you eat several high calorie foods like avocados and nuts, and make sure your fully raw fruit and veggie meals and piled high, and you should be okay.

#24 Isn’t too much fruit bad for you too?

No, this is largely a myth.  Though fruits are made up of sugars, these aren’t the same sugars that your doctor warns you about.  Fruits are a mix of fiber and sugar, making them a simple carbohydrate rather than a complex. These carbohydrates give you healthy sugars and energy that your body needs while also being easier to digest.  That being said, eat your veggies too!  They’re very important.

#25 Will the raw food diet make me lose weight?

Yes, you will most likely lose weight on the raw food diet.  If you are already at an average weight, be very careful to eat enough when switching to a raw food diet.  You can actually lose too much weight because you simply aren’t getting enough food.