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What is the Raw Food Diet?

raw food diet list
Last Updated on July 2, 2022

The raw food diet, also known as raw veganism or raw foodism, consists of largely or entirely raw and unprocessed foods. If food has never been heated over 104–118°F (40–48°C), it is considered raw. Also, to be considered raw,  It should not be refined, pasteurized, pesticide-treated, or processed.

Raw Food Diet: Benefits and Risks

raw food diet fruits

There are numerous advantages of a raw food diet, both individually and communally. However, as with any diet, there are associated risks to be aware of. 

Benefits 

First, you will save a lot of money on electricity as you cannot prepare any food above 118 degrees Fahrenheit. Furthermore, you can eliminate toasters, microwaves, and ovens, decreasing your energy consumption and freeing up space in your kitchen. 

You will also drastically diminish your environmental footprint because consumer foods are easy to produce and require little energy to arrive at your table. However, cultivating green peppers is much easier than raising cattle. 

Risks

The main risk with the raw food diet is the same as any other diet — getting the necessary nutrition your body needs while staying faithful to the restrictions. Raw food diets are closely associated with veganism, and getting enough protein is the primary concern. 

Another risk associated with any restrictive diet is how easy it is to develop an unhealthy relationship with food. Labeling foods as good or bad creates dangerous thinking patterns that are difficult to overcome.

What Are the Types of Raw Food Diets?

raw vegetable salad

Raw food diets are very straightforward due to the limitation of not being able to cook. Raw food diets closely align with veganism and the aversion to animal products in favor of minimally- processed, whole produce. 

Some raw food diets will require only 75% adherence and will allow for foods such as eggs or fish to provide extra protein and variety in the diet. 

What Can You Eat On the Raw Food Diet?

Foods included in the raw food diet are:

  • Uncooked vegetables 
  • Fresh and dried fruits
  • Nuts
  • Seeds 
  • Grains
  • Legumes 
  • Nut milk

In some cases, the following foods are also included:

  • Meats
  • Oils
  • Seaweed
  • Sprouts
  • Raw eggs
  • Fish

What Can’t You Eat On the Raw Food Diet?

Any food that has been processed or cooked at a temperature over 118 degrees Fahrenheit is off-limits. These include:

  • Animal products
  • dairy  
  • Dairy- or meat-based proteins
  • Heavily-processed foods such as sweets or sodas
  • Coffee (due to the heat required for brewing) 
  • Refined flours and sugars
  • Pasta
  • Pastries
  • Chips
  • Cooked or baked food items 

If you can’t find it on a walk in the woods, chances are it isn’t included in the raw food diet.

What Are the Health Benefits of a Raw Food Diet?

There are considerable benefits to eating more whole, less-processed foods. Increasing the number of vegetables and fruits in our diets is a guaranteed way to get more nutrients, especially when they derive from a wide variety of sources and colors.

Most of the vitamins and minerals we need and the fiber our gut needs to stay healthy and regular are found in good, quality produce. 

What Are the Health Risks of a Raw Food Diet?

Fruits and vegetables cannot give our bodies everything we need to be healthy and fit. A desperate lack of protein will remain a risk of the raw food diet that can compromise the health of its followers. 

Health goes far beyond our appearance and the number on a scale. Health is more about what our body can do and whether or not it can function properly. We need protein to maintain muscle mass and bone density, replace broken-down tissue, transfer energy and nutrients, maintain proper hydration and hormone levels, and keep our immune system working correctly.  

How To Start a Raw Food Diet

Starting slow is the best advice for a couple of reasons. First, rapidly increasing the number of fruits and vegetables can shock the digestive system and cause diarrhea and gastric distress. 

Second, grains need to make up a large portion of a person’s diet, and a sizable portion of the population has difficulty digesting grains, especially when they are uncooked. The combination of lots of grains and produce can be a challenge. Start with one meal a day for a week or so and gradually increase your adherence to the level with which you are comfortable. 

What Is a Sample Daily Raw Food Diet Menu?

The menu for a raw food diet will include raw food. A daily cuisine sample might consist of the following:

  • Breakfast – Raw granola made from sprouted grains and a green smoothie 
  • Lunch – Avocado (for healthy fats) served on a salad consisting of vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fruits 
  • Dinner – Veggie burger patty served on a bed of lettuce with a side of soup
  • Snacks – Fruits, nuts, raw crackers, or seeds can be eaten during the day to help satisfy cravings and remain on track

Of course, you can always adjust the menu according to your personal preferences.

Does the Raw Food Diet Work?

It depends on what you want it to accomplish. If you want to build muscle and perform athletically, the answer is no. However, if you want to eat more fruits and vegetables, it will help you achieve that goal. 

Before starting any diet, it is essential to clearly articulate your objectives and timeline to achieve the desired outcome. The raw food diet is no different and needs to be followed accordingly. The perfect diet for everyone does not exist; therefore, it is crucial to determine the right way to eat according to your lifestyle goals and nutrition needs.

Does the Raw Food Diet Help You To Lose Weight?

Most people will lose weight on the raw food diet. Removing processed foods will automatically eliminate a great deal of added sugars and unhealthy preservatives. Calorie-dense foods like cakes, cookies, and ice cream are off-limits, as their absence helps people lose weight.

Maintaining a calorie deficit is the key to losing weight, and foods low in calories such as fruits, vegetables, seeds, and whole grains make that an easy task. Keep in mind that, with the weight loss, there will be a loss of muscle mass and bone density. These two factors contribute to overall health and longevity, which you may not want to sacrifice.

Is the Raw Food Diet Considered a Healthy Diet?

Again, it depends. It may be healthy for some people to consume only whole, less-processed foods. However, everyone would benefit from eating more fresh produce and less processed foods. 

It is complicated to proclaim that the raw food diet is healthy for everyone. There is simply too much-lacking nutrition-wise to suggest that everyone follow it. 

The main missing piece is protein. Our bodies use protein as the basic building blocks for muscle repair and cell damage replacement. Protein makes up a significant part of our immune system and muscle mass.

Is the Raw Food Diet Expensive?

Raw food diet advocates will encourage eating organic, ethically-sourced produce. It will invariably cost more than purchasing a regular bag of apples at your local big-box grocery store. 

Almost every follower also emphasizes the importance of a quality blender, which will set you back over $500 and possibly double that amount. 

On the other hand, you will be saving money by avoiding meats and dairy products which can add up when selecting the same high-quality produce. 

The raw food diet is like any other nutrition plan, which can be as expensive as you want to make it. If it works, and you have fewer trips to the doctor or require less medication, the cost may prove beneficial and can be considered an investment in your long-term health. 

Is a Raw Food Diet Healthier Than a Cooked Food Diet?

At the risk of sounding like a broken record again, it depends. Apples and oranges are raw and are far healthier than Twinkies. Almonds are healthy when eaten in moderation, but if consumed too often, they are just as bad for you as other less-healthy options because of their high-fat content and indigestible components. 

Certain foods, such as tomatoes, become healthier when cooked. Eggs and proteins are safer to consume after being cooked, and a raw food diet will either allow you to incur this risk or force you to eliminate the benefits of these foods.

What Other Diets Are Similar to the Raw Food Diet?

Vegans and vegetarians align most closely with the raw food diet. In addition, pescatarians have a good deal of overlap, as do ovo-vegetarians, who follow a vegetarian diet and allow for eggs. 

Remember, the diet you choose will depend on your personal preferences, health goals, and dietary needs. Preparing yourself with the correct information is essential to making a decision about the best possible diet for your overall health.

References

Taylor Jones, RD, The Raw Food Diet: A Beginner’s Guide and Review, retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/raw-food-diet 

Dr. Edward Group, The Health Benefits of a Raw Food Diet, retrieved from https://explore.globalhealing.com/benefits-of-raw-food-diet/

Laura Jane, The Rawtarian, Raw Food Diet Meal Plan, retrieved from https://www.therawtarian.com/raw-food-diet-meal-plan

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