Looking back, I think the raw food diet was a bit of a traumatic experience for me.
While I was eating raw, I couldn’t get enough food into me to stop being rather continuously hungry.
The 80/10/10 Diet
I was following the 80/10/10 diet, in which you’re supposed to get almost all of your calories from fruit. Unfortunately, I had an allergy to bananas — the highest calorie fruit. Most 80/10/10-ers depend on it. Getting enough calories solely from other fruit was just not easy at all.
I think this feeling of constantly not having enough impacted me. For some time since I gave up raw food, I’ve focused a lot on higher-calorie foods (starches and fat), always trying to make sure I got enough.
Looking at it a bit better, though, I think it’s clear that I wasn’t having problems getting enough calories when I was off the raw food diet. After all, I have gained quite a fair bit of weight.
If I weren’t so nervous about getting enough calories, I could have eaten a little less starch and fat and a bit more fruit and vegetables. Ironically, my rebound from the raw food diet kind of counteracted what I’d been doing on the diet.
Now I don’t think the diet itself is necessarily wrong. I believe lots of fruit and vegetables are key to a good diet, and if you can get enough calories from them to live off just them, then more power to you.
But I do think that there isn’t much room given in the raw food community for people who function better half way. I, personally, tend towards all-or-nothing thinking, and am very committed to what I believe in, so if I could have made a 100% raw food diet work for me, I would have. But I just couldn’t.
The fact that I couldn’t make 100% raw work doesn’t mean that eating fruit and vegetables isn’t still GOOD for me. But seeing things in all-or-nothing terms made it hard for me to benefit from raw food principles when off the diet. I tended to only see things in terms of “normal” diets and “raw” diets, feeling guilty when I thought about adding more raw food into my “normal” diet because I wasn’t going to be 100%.
Not Compartmentalising Your Diet
Nowadays I want to apply my “Don’t Compartmentalise Your Life” philosophy to eating. I don’t want to put off eating raw food into a future where I can follow a 100% raw diet without problems. I want to eat more raw food, here and now, combined with the other food I eat.
As well as this, I think not compartmentalising my life would change the 3-meals a day pattern I’ve been trying to follow.
This was a habit I picked up from reading about the 80/10/10 diet. I now think it really isn’t such a good idea – it feels so restrictive.
I’ve noticed that when I try and shift all my eating into strictly only 3 meals a day, I lose the Now. I live in the future, or in “should“-space. I don’t flow with inspiration, then.
I think by avoiding the 3-meal-a-day structure it should be easier to get in more fruit and vegetables. When I’m eating a serious meal, I want it to have quite a few calories so I can last for some hours, so I’m not going to focus too much on fruit and vegetables. But if I can eat more meals in a day, I can make them less calorie-intensive, and some of them can even be exclusively fruit and veg.
Overall, I think that there was the same issue in the raw food world as I’ve experienced in the vegan world: elitism. For example, thoughts such as, Our diet is the one true diet. Anyone who doesn’t fit into it strictly is just not “one of us”.
Well, I sometimes make small exceptions to my vegan diet. Never very big ones, but if I’m offered a particularly good milk chocolate, sometimes I will indulge with one or two.
For many, I would stop being a vegan the moment those touched my mouth. But that’s ridiculous; I make a huge effort to support animal rights in my food choices, and for all intents and purposes I eat nothing coming from an animal.
If you think that still doesn’t make me vegan, I am happy for you not to think of me as vegan. The rest of the world will be behind me in my usage of the term.
I know my limits here. I would personally never eat more than a negligible amount of animal foods unless something really radical happened, like somehow I would die if I didn’t. But I will still support people who want to minimise the impact of their diet on animals without (for whatever reason) quite eating as I do.
For sure, if that incompleteness is coming from an inconsistency in their thinking, I will probably tell them I think so. But one way or another, consistent or not, I will support them in their efforts to minimise harm.
And I think, in the same way, that raw food proponents should support people in finding out exactly how much raw food will work for them in their diet. The raw food proponents should not abandon them as soon as they say they’re not going to follow 100% raw.
I think there should be more awareness in the raw community that 100% doesn’t work for everyone, and more talk about how to create a non-100% diet which still follows raw food principles (e.g. raw food is good; eat lots of it).
Most of all, I think raw fooders should not look down on those who choose a non-100% raw diet. I think that is just basic.
Changing Our Approach
I think this elitism encouraged me to push myself to make 100% raw work for me even when it clearly wasn’t working.
As I’ve said, this experience seemed slightly traumatic, in that the shock of dealing with continuous hunger stuck with me for a long time.
For everyone’s sake, I think we should learn to move past all-or-nothing thinking, and think more in terms of principles than cliques or labels.
If any readers are thinking of trying the raw food diet, particularly the 80/10/10 diet, I don’t want to discourage you, by the way. I think you should try it if you feel drawn to it. But if it doesn’t work for you, don’t keep pushing yourself way beyond the time where it’s clear it’s not working.
I also think that partially raw diets can be a stepping stone, a transition, to a fully raw diet. And then again, they might not be, and that is just as okay. I think no-one has a right to make you feel bad about choosing either of these options.
So, good luck. Feel free to ask any questions about my experience with raw food if you’re curious.
Recommended book: The 80/10/10 Diet by Douglas Graham