Saturday, August 14, 2010

day 5 raw: How Much Raw Is Enough? A Synopsis.

My apologies for not posting this yesterday... But here is my word on day 5:

So, yesterday was my last day of the raw food experiment. I felt great! No more nausea, not as much sneezing, and I noticed something I'd heard can happen when you go raw: my complexion was looking really smooth and my eyes appeared brighter and clearer. Also, my cooked-food cravings were not as prominent. I did have a craving for strawberries, though, and in the early evening, I ate almost a whole package of them.

As for other changes, I know that often, people lose weight on the raw food diet, and so I'm sure some of you are wondering if that happened to me. Well, I'm sorry to report that I haven't weighed myself and I don't plan to do it any time soon. (I will say, though, that I do "feel" lighter.) There are a few reasons for this. First, I don't think 5 days is long enough to be able to accurately measure such a thing, what with the normal fluctuations that occur in one's body. Second, I mean to write about a lifestyle, not a weight loss plan. Raw foodism may be used for healthy weight loss, of course, but it's so much more than that. I think that often, weight loss is secondary to other necessary changes that occur, and trust me, weight loss will happen if it needs to. So, if you're looking to lose weight through raw foodism, just be patient and trust your body to do its work! Finally, I do not feel that weight is a sufficient measure of health and beauty, as there are so many factors that go into determining health (and well, beauty is subjective!).

I should also mention, again, that I'm not a medical doctor or nutritionist. These are simply my personal opinions, based on observations of myself and others and what I have read throughout the years that I've been vegan.

Onto some of what I made yesterday!

So, I'm really liking smoothies for breakfast. I think I might hang onto this custom. Smoothies are, hands down, one of my most treasured meals.

cheers! in my backyard
I've even begun to incorporate greens into my smoothies, something I haven't been able to successfully do until now (and by today, I mean post-raw food experiment!). In fact, this morning I made a smoothie consisting of 2 handfuls of kale + 2 bananas + 1/3 grapefruit + 2 handfuls of frozen mixed berries + 2 handfuls of frozen mango. A super healthy smoothie and I didn't even need agave for it!

Also of note, yesterday I took out my raw nori and made some delicious sushi out of long carrot shavings, spinach leaves, cucumber strips, and avocado slices. To finish, I sprinkled (non raw) sesame seeds on top and used tamari as dipping sauce. The results were really aesthetically pleasing to me. Oh! And I discovered that raw nori is high in iron, too!

A sharp knife is really helpful in such endeavors.
As you roll it, you have to really bunch the veggies up toward you. To "seal" it, I improvised by mixing a little water and avocado into a paste-like consistency, then applied it to the edge with my fingers before pressing to seal. This was instead of the rice and water mixture that I usually use to seal my sushi rolls.
To garnish: I placed the sushi on two spinach leaves and put some of the cucumber stripes and carrot shavings off to the side. For me, making sushi is like embarking on an arts and crafts project. I take my aethetics seriously. ;)
I have to say, it tasted great, too.

In my reflections of the past 5 days, I've formed the following, mostly tentative opinions:

1. More often than not, I think I prefer the taste of simple raw foods, like smoothies and salads, rather than more complicated meals like "lemon caper pasta with nut cheese and sprouted raw bread." But let there be no mistake: I do appreciate the aesthetics and extreme creativity that goes into the latter culinary sensations, and I do love me some raw, vegan cheesecake and ice cream (quite possibly more than non-raw vegan cheesecake and ice cream!).

2. I think the reason I didn't feel like going raw was a huge adjustment for me is because I'm already vegan (and have been for a long time). I eat a a decent amount of fruits and veggies as part of my normal routine. It's just that I also eat other things in addition to that - like Daiya cheese, sauteed spinach, french fries, Thai food, and Ezekiel breads, for instance - some of which are healthy, some of which are decidedly not.

3. Given point #2, I don't plan to abstain from cooked foods, at least not now. There are many, many days when I eat raw for 2/3 of my meals, simply because it's what I feel like my body needs (I say "what my body needs," but it's more like "what I'm in the mood for," which I think is the same thing for me).

4. It's a crying shame that certain raw foods, like nuts, are more expensive than their cooked/roasted counterparts. This is backwards!

5. Strawberries, blueberries, bananas, and kale are perfect, amazing foods that I could probably eat every day for the rest of my life and not get bored with them. Mangoes and avocados are close seconds.

6. I, personally, have to be careful not to eat too many nuts. I believe that this contributed to me feeling "off" on day 4 (and why I had a gag-reflex reaction every time I looked at the photos I'd taken of the more nut-laden meals I'd eaten lately!). In fact, if I were to go 100% raw, I think I'd feel better on a lower fat raw lifestyle, as I think this is more fat than I can tolerate without feeling nauseous/getting stomach sick. Something close to 80:10:10. This was similar to how I ate when I experimented with the Eat to Live lifestyle, and as I said, I remember feeling pretty great while doing that.

7. During this 5 day experiment, certain raw food dishes tasted almost *too* vibrant for me! On certain days (namely days 4 and 5), I felt like fruits and leafy greens were mainly what I could tolerate, but things like tomatoes and culinary concoctions like fancy casseroles were too much taste for me. I find this strange and wonder if it was simply my body's way of saying, "hey, no more nuts!" Anyone else experience something like this?

8. Overall, I think I'm more of an ethical-enviro-politico-vegan than a health vegan. This presents a bit of an internal conflict for me, as everything is interconnected, and one cannot truly be an "ethical" vegan without caring about the rest of the reasons for veganism (e.g. keeping as healthy as I can leads to less doctor visits, which contributes less to the rise of health care costs). Don't get me wrong - I care immensely about health. But a) I don't necessarily feel the need to be as absolutely healthy as I can, b) I think that "health" encompasses body and mind, and there are certain cultural elements of my life that I'd miss severely if I went completely raw, and c) while I do "believe" in raw foodism, I am still thinking about what "raw foodism" means - e.g., must one be "100%" raw to achieve the benefits? Or does the maximum value lie somewhere closer to, say, 75%? I don't know! Also, what does "raw foodism" mean for me versus someone else? I do think that people vary in terms of needs.

Unrelated #9: One of my roommates is growing his own kombucha! I'm fascinated by this. It looks like an ear in a jar! (I'm not knocking it - I love kombucha.)

I hope you've enjoyed peering into my raw food experiment. Please leave comments or send emails if you have any thoughts to share!


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