Healthy looking skin is something that almost everybody desires.
Your skin, along with being the largest organ of your body, is typically the first thing people notice when they see you. Considering it covers you from head to toe, healthy skin means more than just a healthy complexion.
Check out this video today where Dr. John McDougall discusses the correlation between diet and the health of your skin, specifically acne.
In it you’ll learn:
- Why the health of your skin affects much more than just how it looks.
- Why it is that many people today still don’t associate their diet with having anything to do with acne or their skin health.
- Which study has been falsely credited as proving that diet has no effect on acne.
- How the standard Western diet many people around the world eat changes the production of hormones in your body and why these imbalances cause issues in the skin.
Many people around the world experience skin problems, and it certainly can cause a greater impact on their health and wellbeing besides just how their skin looks.
Your skin is important and deserves the right diet and circumstances to look it’s best!
What have been your experiences with acne, skin conditions, and your diet? Let us know in the comments below!
Okay, okay. I’ll say it: following a healthy raw foods diet is more expensive than eating your typical, standard Western diet.
Some people don’t like to hear this, but it’s the truth.
If following a healthy diet filled with an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other healthy items is what you want, it’s likely going to cost you more than the drive-thru meal you were used to!
At first, someone may think that eating fruits and vegetables would save you money as these foods are so easy to grow compared to the labor-intensive animal products and other foods so commonly eaten.
The main difference that makes a raw food diet more expensive is calorie density. Fruits and vegetables are extremely nutrient-dense, but have a low caloric density in contrast.
That means that to get the same number of calories you might need in a day from fruits and vegetables, you need to eat more volume. You may be satisfied after having a quarter-pound hamburger with cheese for lunch, but anything under a full pound of most fruits for a meal would leave most people quite hungry later.
Every human being needs a certain number of calories everyday to maintain his or her weight and overall health and vitality. If you eat below that amount, you will lose body fat. If you eat above that amount, you will gain body fat. Of course not all calories are created exactly equal, but this gets us close.
Let’s say you need to eat 2000 calories a day (to pick an average number that’s easy to calculate). How much would it cost you to get those calories from typical foods?
Foods like rice, beans, and even potatoes are incredibly cheap when you buy them in bulk.
For example, a 50-pound bag of long-grain rice at Costco costs around $18. Once cooked, that will yield over 100 pounds of cooked rice.
Each pound of cooked rice will give you about 590 calories, so your big bag of rice for $18 will be enough for 59,000 calories, or enough for 29 and half days. So for less than $20, you can eat for an entire month.
Now you could say that no one could live on just rice. Point taken. How about adding some beans to the equation?
A 25-pound bag of pinto beans might cost around $14, if you know where to shop. Once cooked those beans will about double in weight, at least. But let’s be conservative and double that to 50 pounds of cooked beans for that bag.
Each pound of cooked pinto beans will give you 650 calories, so your bag of pinto beans will give you 32,500 calories, or enough for over 16 days of eating, for just under $15. Combine half rice, half beans and you’ve got a diet that costs you less than $30 a month, or about $1 a day.
What about potatoes if you buy in bulk? Same deal. Your monthly cost of living only on potatoes will be just over $1 a day.
As monotonous as this may sound to those of us who are used to “courses” and could barely get through a meal without choosing from numerous side dishes, this isn’t far off from how much of the world actually eats every day.
Still, of course I wouldn’t recommend limiting your diet to such a high degree, especially when you have options!
But my point is that if you made the bulk of your calories come from these foods, you could eat very inexpensively. Throw in some added fruits, vegetables, and salads, and you have yourself an ultra-healthy diet that almost anyone could afford.
Why do you think the rest of the world lives on staples such as rice and beans (Latin America), rice (Asia), potatoes (Peru) or millet and corn (Africa)? Because they are cheap, reliable, easy and relatively healthy sources of calories and nutrients!
Why a Raw Food Diet Costs More
A raw food diet costs more because most of the calories will come from fruit, or fats such as avocados, nuts and seeds. Greens must also be consumed for their minerals and other nutrients, but they provide hardly any calories.
A person needs to get their calories from somewhere (eventually!) if they are to maintain a healthy body. On a raw food diet, building your diet based on fruit as your main calorie source makes sense for a variety of reasons.
Let’s say you were able to get cheap bananas at 66 cents a pound, your daily cost for 2000 calories would still be $6.43 a day. That’s just under $200 a month.
That’s certainly not as cheap as the $30 a month it would cost you to live on rice and beans, but it’s not bad either.
If you decided to get lazy and get your bananas at Whole Foods, or live somewhere where bananas are expensive, and ended up paying $1.49 a pound for organic bananas, your cost for 2000 calories would be $12.78 a day, or $383 a month. Again, not a bad price considering how expensive raw food diets can be.
However, nobody lives on just bananas! Raw foodists also tend to eat all sorts of raw vegetables, lettuces, nuts, seeds, nutbutters, superfoods, and supplements that all costs something to acquire.
Focus on Inexpensive Sources of Calories
First, we must acknowledge that variety is important, both for nutritional variety and the psychological satisfaction we get out of eating.
However, if you try to simply divide everything you eat in a certain number of fruits and vegetables, your bills are going to add up.
For example, cherries are great. In the summer, there’s hardly anything better than feasting on Rainier cherries.
However, they tend to be expensive, and $5 a pound for those cherries is usually a good deal.
A pound of cherries, once you take in account the pits, will give you around 250 calories. Your cost per calorie will be relatively high, as it would cost you $40 a day to eat only those cherries if you wanted to get 2000 calories.
Let’s also consider blueberries, which yield only 230 calories per pound. If you get them at $3 a pound (good deal), it will cost you $26 to feed yourself for the day.
But as we’ve seen, cheap bananas — even when you didn’t get them for a really good deal, will cost you only $6.43 for 2000 calories.
If you buy oranges at Costco in bulk, it will cost you around $9.81 to feed yourself for the day, eating only oranges.
Avocados are usually $1.99 per avocado. You would need 7.22 avocados to get 2000 calories, so it will cost you $14.36 a day eating only avocados! (Note: This is NOT recommended!)
Once you’ve become accustomed to knowing which fruits provide the healthiest variety of nutrients while still being calorie-dense and affordable enough, it makes things much easier. There’s less to think about and you just eat!
If you’re in the market to save a little bit of money on the foods you eat, try looking not only at the costs-per-nutrients, but also costs-per-calorie. A little bit of research goes a long way.
What have been your experiences with saving (or spending) money on a raw foods/plant-based diet? Let us know in the comments below!
Quite often I get people asking me questions about how much fat they should be eating in their diet, or what is a healthy amount of fat to eat.
Someone asked me recently what are some differences between my approach and other types of low-fat diets, a low fat raw vegan style diet, for example.
The low fat raw vegan diet is a diet where the focal point of the diet is raw fruits, like bananas, dates, figs, cherries, melons, papayas, mangos, etc., followed by raw vegetables, like lettuce, celery, and tomatoes.
Although I’ve been aware of the dangers of high-fat raw food diets since 2002 when I wrote my book “The Raw Secrets,” it was not until 2005 that I really gave the low fat raw vegan approach a try.
I’ve learned a lot since 2005, and I have noticed that most people thrive on lower-fat, higher-fruit raw diets more than any other type of raw diet. Most other programs are just way too high in fat and don’t allow for near enough fruit to really be a healthy, long-term program. Short-term cleanse, possibly yes, but certainly not a way to eat for life.
Because I do not follow a strict low fat raw vegan diet as espoused by others, many people have been asking me what I think of it and what I would do differently.
I’ve found that most people who experiment with the raw food diet eventually either give up or find their own approach that works for them. In my experience, a low-fat raw food diet with a LOT of fruit and a LOT of greens works for the greatest number of people, but isn’t necessarily best for everyone.
My teachings are still very close to low fat raw vegans diets in many key areas, such as:
– The importance of the low fat diet
– Eating enough fruit, and not being afraid to do it
– Eating plenty of greens
– Fitness being just as important as nutrition for overall health.
Here are the few areas where our viewpoints differ:
1- No obsession about being 100% raw. I’m certainly a big fan of fruits and vegetables, and both still make up much of my diet, but I’m not strict about being raw like I had been in the past. I’ve found that healthy cooked foods like potatoes, vegetables, and whole grains are actually far healthier than the overabundance of fats and oils found in many raw food recipes. Plus I’ve found that some people just feel better including choice cooked foods in their diet.
2- Fat. I allow more than 10% fat, over the course of a month. Although I have done the “less than 10%” thing for a while, I prefer to stay in the 12-18% range, with 15% being a good target for most people.
Many low fat raw vegans have such a fear of fat that they’ll avoid all nuts and seeds. Thus they end up eating only fruit, or only fruit and little greens. However, there are important nutrients in nuts and seeds, such as essential fatty acids and minerals that are hard to get from just fruits and vegetables. So if your fat is coming from healthy sources, especially certain high-omega 3 seeds such as hemp, chia or flax then it’s fine to go above 10%.
3- Supplements. I am no supplement whore. In fact, I’m one of the few raw food promoters to never have launched a line of supplements. That’s because I find that 99% of what’s on the market is useless in comparison to fresh foods.
But, certain supplements can be intelligently used, and it would be hard to argue that they don’t have their place.
I’ve explained in the past why most raw foodists and vegans should consider taking a vitamin B12 supplement to avoid any possible deficiencies that could lead to disastrous results. Vitamin D can also be an issue for some people, and intelligent use of a supplement is often advisable when you live in a northern climate year round.
4- Condiments. Although in theory I agree with the idea that a condiment-free diet is best, most people, myself included, find such a diet too boring and ascetic.
In practice, I have found that using some fresh herbs, spices, and even some raw hot peppers can make food much more enjoyable.
I also don’t mind using some “non-raw” condiments sometimes, such as salsa in a jar, as I find it to be a more suitable way to add zing to a salad rather than using a fatty dressing.
The most important thing is to eat a lot of greens and vegetables. If you find it easy to eat them plain, then by all means go for it. But if you’re like me and find your salads and raw soups more palatable and enjoyable with a bit of spice, then don’t feel guilty for not being “perfect.” It’s far better to eat salads and soups more frequently with a little seasoning than rarely and stay 100% natural hygiene. Eating more fruits and vegetables is really what matters.
Some people can take these to extremes and even formulate “low-low-fat” diets, where no overtly fatty foods like nuts, seeds, or avocados are eaten, resulting in less than 10% of total calories coming from fat.
Even though nuts and seeds should be limited, let’s not forget that they contain important nutrients that cannot easily be found in fruits and vegetables, and I personally don’t recommend following any of these ultra-low-fat diets for any considerable period of time, outside of short-term cleanses.
It’s also noteworthy to consider that the low fat raw vegan diet is rather new, and almost no one in the history of mankind has actually eaten that way for more than a couple of decades.
Therefore, it’s quite obvious that not *all* answers have been found and that although I think that the low fat raw vegan diet has much to offer, there’s still room for improvements, such as food quality/variety and individualization.
Ultimately there are a lot of overlaps between what I promote and many of the principles found in other low-fat raw and vegan regimes, I’ve just modified it over the years to allow for more individualization and long-term health.
So the best thing you can do to find out what works best for you is to experiment with different approaches and giving yourself permission to do so. Ultimately what matters is how you feel and the conclusions that you’ve reached for yourself.
Supplements and their merit or demerit is always a bit of a passionately discussed topic. On one end you will find people who have shelves and closets full of all kinds of bottles, boxes, potions, pills, and perfumes, and they swear by every single one of them. They also spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on these supplements every month.
On the other hand, you have the naturalist: the people who won’t even think about taking anything that was isolated or altered from it’s natural state, meaning vitamin pills are out of the question. I’ve had personal experience and observations that I’ve experienced over the years on both sides.
Check out Dr. John McDougall’s take on supplements and whether or not they really are healthy, let alone necessary. You’ll learn:
- The difference between taking things that are actually good for you vs. taking them on faith.
- Why you might actually be flushing hundreds of dollars down the toilet each and every month.
- How some nutrients, and a surplus of them, may actually cause more harm than good.
- Why those big bottles of vitamin supplements could actually lead to cancer and heart disease.
- How the food you eat and the nutrients in them all work synergistically together, not in isolation from each other.
I’m somewhere in between the gradient scale of the extremes of the naturalist and the superfood connoisseurs when it comes to supplements. Some people can greatly benefit from taking specific supplements, even isolated supplements, during certain times or for specific needs. Vitamin B12 is a great example of this.
But at the same time I don’t think you need to spend hundreds of dollars on all kinds of potions and pills to be healthy, either. Eating a varied diet filled with an abundance of fresh foods will take you much, much further than any amount of supplements ever could.
Dr. Michael Greger is someone who really does keep up-to-date on all the latest nutrition information, and he’s passionate about sharing it with people. He has been a medical doctor in the plant-based nutrition field for years and always presents his information in an easily digestible way.
Low carbohydrate diets are a diet fad that has been around for years. Whether it’s Atkins, paleo, primal, or anywhere in between, there have been people writing books saying that eating bacon and eggs, in lieu of starches and vegetables, is the panacea of good health. Some of us may have an idea as to why that’s not really the case, but not everyone understands the real health challenges people can face on such diets.
Check out this video of Dr. Greger explaining the pitfalls of low carb diets, how to avoid them, and more:
- Understand what the insulin index is and how certain foods’ different indexes directly affect your health.
- Take a look at why beef, a carbohydrate-void food, actually spikes insulin levels higher than that of white potatoes, bread, or pasta.
- What exactly causes diabetes and how what you eat can either help with or cause it.
- Why your insulin sensitivity is so important to your overall health and how this common practice can actually wreak havoc on it.
- How treating the cause for diseases like diabetes vs. simply treating symptoms is the only way to allow people to become truly healthy.
There will always be fad diets out there claiming to offer all the health benefits and absolutely none of the pitfalls. The reality is that there really is no perfect one-size-fits-all diet that you can box every single person into.
That being said, sausages and eggs for breakfast every morning may not prove to be the healthiest for anyone involved.
But with a combination of common sense and modern science, we can say that eating more whole fruits, vegetables, grains and other plant foods in your diet will almost always be for the better.
Every single macro-nutrient (carbs, fats, and proteins) has been demonized or ostracized by different people for different reasons, but none among them have taken a beating more so than sugar, a carbohydrate. Whether it is crystalline in a glass jar on a café tabletop or cooked into candies and lollipops, refined sugar is everywhere, and people are eating a lot of it.
Check out this video by Dr. Michael Klaper to hear his findings on excess sugar in the diet:
- Take a look at why your arteries are so vitally important to your overall health, and why you are “only as young as your arteries”.
- How the insides of your body (including your arteries) can become “glycogated”, or sticky, as a result of excess refined sugar in the diet.
- When looking at a loaf of bread can give you insight into what actually happens in our body when we eat excess amounts of sugar and protein.
- Understand the significance of “Advanced Glycation End products” in your diet and how they can actually age you faster.
Most people will unanimously agree that refined sugar isn’t good for us and we should probably eat be eating less of it, but still not everyone agrees that only refined sugar is the issue. Some people may include fruit sugar in this “Sugar = Bad” category, but I haven’t seen any convincing information that fruit sugar eaten in healthy quantities is really an issue. Weaving out the refined, processed sugars in your diet and replacing them with whole fruits and vegetables is always a good idea!
I recently received the following question from a reader:
“How do I buy fruits and vegetables that are closest to the way our ancestors ate them? I don’t want to be eating these hybridized apples and giant unnatural strawberries, etc. How do I go back to finding original types of fruits before they were altered? How and what should I be shopping for? I trust my instincts, but my instincts tend to push me away from the extremely sweet, weird-tasting new fruits. What should I shop for and where should I be buying? I live in Illinois.”
This is an interesting question, and my answer may surprise you.
First, my follow-up question is: “Why would you want to eat foods close to the foods your ancestors ate?”
It’s probably because you’ve been told that those foods are somehow better, healthier, and more nutritious. They contained less sugar, more fiber, and perhaps more antioxidants.
You probably also have bought the common myth that hybridized foods are bad for health.
But let’s put things into perspective.
Our ancestors ate foods that they could find in their environment, and over the course of thousands upon thousands of generations, they altered these plants by selecting the ones that they preferred.
Our ancestors always preferred foods containing more calories (natural sugar), a manageable amount of fiber, and fewer natural toxins.
The plants we cultivate today are the most nutritious and digestible foods that humans ever had access to.
Trying to go back to wild foods entirely would not only be a mistake, it would actually be counterproductive. While it’s true that some wild plants are nutritious and offer some health benefits, designing a diet around wild plants would be extremely ill advised.
If you tried to live on wild fruits, such as the ones that chimpanzees live on, you would actually become sick and eventually die. That’s because humans are not adapted to live on wild plants. We are genetically adapted to foods with more available calories, fewer tannins and fewer natural toxins.
Richard Wrangham, from Harvard University, writes:
“Evolutionary adaptation to cooking might likewise explain why humans seem less prepared to tolerate toxins than do other apes. In my experience of sampling many wild foods eaten by primates, items eaten by chimpanzees in the wild taste better than foods eaten by monkeys. Even so, some of the fruits, seeds, and leaves that chimpanzees select taste so foul that I can barely swallow them. The tastes are strong and rich, excellent indicators of the presence of non-nutritional compounds, many of which are likely to be toxic to humans—but presumably much less so to chimpanzees. Consider the plum-size fruit of Warburgia ugandensis, a tree famous for its medicinal bark. Warburgia fruits contain a spicy compound reminiscent of a mustard oil. The hot taste renders even a single fruit impossibly unpleasant for humans to ingest. But chimpanzees can eat a pile of these fruits and then look eagerly for more. Many other fruits in the chimpanzee diet are almost equally unpleasant to the human palate. Astringency, the drying sensation produced by tannins and a few other compounds, is common in fruits eaten by chimpanzees.
(…) Astringency is caused by the presence of tannins, which bind to proteins and cause them to precipitate. Our mouths are normally lubricated by mucoproteins in our saliva, but because a high density of tannins precipitates those proteins, it leaves our tongues and mouths dry: hence the ‘furry’ sensation in our mouths after eating an unripe apple or drinking a tannin-rich wine. One has the same experience when tasting chimpanzee fruits such as Mimusops bagshawei or the widespread Pseudospondias microcarpa. Though chimpanzees can eat more than 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of such fruits during an hour or more of continuous chewing, we cannot.
(…) The shifts in food preference between chimpanzees and humans suggest that our species has a reduced physiological tolerance for foods high in toxins or tannins. Since cooking predictably destroys many toxins, we may have evolved a relatively sensitive palate.”
I’ve spent a lot of time in Costa Rica, and I’ve had the chance to look at what monkeys eat in the wild. The monkeys in Costa Rica are not like great apes, but fruit constitutes most of the diet of some of these monkeys.
What always puzzled me is that whenever I saw the fruits these monkeys ate, and by accident some of it was dropped on the ground, it always looked far from edible to me. Whenever I tried to eat some of these fruits, I found them to be quite repulsive.
In his famous book “Guns, Germs and Steel” author Jared Diamond writes extensively on the domestication of plants.
“How did certain wild plants get turned into crops? That question is especially puzzling in regard to the many crops (like almonds) whose wild progenitors are lethal or bad-tasting, and to other crops (like corn) that look drastically different from their wild ancestors. (…)
“Many wild seeds evolved to be bitter, bad-tasting, or actually poisonous, in order to deter animals from eating them. Thus, natural selection acts oppositely on seeds and on fruits. Plants whose fruits are tasty get their seeds dispersed by animals, but the seed itself within the fruit has to be bad-tasting. Otherwise, the animal would also chew up the seed, and it couldn’t sprout. Almonds provide a striking example of bitter seeds and their change under domestication. Most wild almond seeds contain an intensely bitter chemical called amygdalin, which (as was already mentioned) breaks down to yield the poison cyanide. A snack of wild almonds can kill a person foolish enough to ignore the warning of the bitter taste.
“Since the first stage in unconscious domestication involves gathering seeds to eat, how on earth did domestication of wild almonds ever reach that first stage? The explanation is that occasional individual almond trees have a mutation in a single gene that prevents them from synthesizing the bitter-tasting amygdalin. Such trees die out in the wild without leaving any progeny, because birds discover and eat all their seeds. But curious or hungry children of early farmers, nibbling wild plants around them, would eventually have sampled and noticed those nonbitter almond trees. (In the same way, European peasants today still recognize and appreciate occasional individual oak trees whose acorns are sweet rather than bitter.) Those nonbitter almond seeds are the only ones that ancient farmers would have planted, at first unintentionally in their garbage heaps and later intentionally in their orchards.” (…)
“While size and tastiness are the most obvious criteria by which human hunter-gatherers select wild plants, other criteria include fleshy or seedless fruits, oily seeds, and long fibers. Wild squashes and pumpkins have little or no fruit around their seeds, but the preferences of early farmers selected for squashes and pumpkins consisting of far more flesh than seeds. Cultivated bananas were selected long ago to be all flesh and no seed, thereby inspiring modern agricultural scientists to develop seedless oranges, grapes, and watermelons as well.”
As we can see, humans have always had very good reasons to domesticate plants. The wild versions of most domesticated plants are either inedible, low in caloric value, or toxic.
If you attempted to live on wild plants, you would not thrive for very long. Almost every advocate of a “wild diet” still gets most of their calories from domesticated plants (and often animal products).
In the case of strawberries that are the size of small children, it’s true that sometimes the tastes of the public have pushed industry to create even bigger and tastier versions of common fruits. You may prefer the taste of smaller or even wild strawberries, but there’s absolutely nothing indicating that there’s anything wrong, health-wise, with big strawberries, as long as they haven’t been sprayed with a lot of pesticides.
Similarly, there’s absolutely no reason to avoid modern varieties of apples.
The problem with industry is not hybridization. The problem is that the marketplace has forgotten about older varieties of some plants, like apples or tomatoes. There are literally hundreds of varieties of apples and tomatoes, but only a few are available commercially. However, every single one of those varieties are still domesticated and “hybridized.” They’re just less desirable for commercial reasons, either because the fruits don’t keep as long, or some other rationale like this.
Lately, there’s been a resurgence of interest for Heirloom tomatoes. Those varieties of tomatoes generally taste a lot better, although sometimes look “weird.” They’re just older varieties of tomatoes but are certainly not anything like the wild versions. They are still domesticated plants.
Seeking to eat what our ancestors ate isn’t practical or beneficial. First of all, most of the plants they ate no longer exist. Over the course of evolution, they’ve selected the plants that best suited their needs. The initial wild varieties of those plants may still exist somewhere in nature, but you’d be shocked at how inedible those are!
A few exceptions come to mind: wild berries are generally excellent. But that may be because people, throughout history, have always picked wild berries, and “selected” the best-tasting varieties.
If you want to be healthy and stay healthy, eat foods available at health food stores, farmers markets and supermarkets. There’s nothing wrong with the organic produce sold in those places. If you have a garden, you could try planting Heirloom varieties of some vegetables, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that those foods have anything to do with what our ancestors ate, tens of thousands of years ago.
I’ll be honest: I don’t eat much organic food.
That may make me an oddity in the raw food world, or just someone who will admit to it.
At the moment, I would say that 75% of the food I consume is not organic.
Around 25% is.
Most of the fruits and vegetables I buy are not organic.
Most of the grains, condiments, and any animal food I may occasionally consume are organic.
So what’s my excuse for not being organic?
1) I get better non-organic fruit
I live in Montreal, close to an awesome market where I purchase the best-quality and best-tasting fruit imported by Italian grocers. They truly get the best stuff from all over the world, and it’s not organic. In my case, I choose quality over organic. The taste of the fruit, how long it lasts, and the variety are more important to me than the organic certification.
I do buy organic apples, bananas, and a few other items.
2) I don’t believe eating organic is necessary
Do I think that organic agriculture is better? I personally think that it’s not a main factor in health. Some people believe that organic food contains more vitamins and minerals, but a recent study showed that it’s not the case.
Others still think that the consumption of pesticides will lead to long-term health consequences, but so far that has not been established. If you eat at the bottom of the food chain (fruits, vegetables, etc. — exposure to pesticides is low, especially if you avoid the most-sprayed produce).
Some people eat organic because they want to avoid GMOs. That’s a discussion for another day, but I will say that I’m not worried about GMO fruits and vegetables. I will explain why in a separate e-zine, at the risk of being lynched by half of my readers.
3) I don’t live in a good location for organic food
When I lived in Vancouver or California, I ate a lot more organic food because more of it was available. Now, in my current city, I find the organic selection and prices to be lacking, but I’m much happier about my fruit selection overall. I’d take good quality commercial fruit over low-quality organic fruit any day.
In the end, what I think really matters in health is your overall diet (your percentage of fruits and vegetables, fiber intake, avoidance of stimulants, percentage of fat, and overall how clean your diet is), your fitness activities, and a few other factors.
Eating organic is not a factor that really impacts health in any major way.
At least, that’s my opinion about it.
You can do it because you want to promote organic agriculture. You can do it because you prefer the taste. But overall, I say that it’s a personal choice that will have limited impact on your health if you eat a diet composed mainly of fruits and vegetables.
There are a few foods that I would recommend purchasing organic, though: all animal products, as well as certain heavily sprayed fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries. You can find a list of those foods online by searching for it on Google.
If you can afford organic food and want to invest in it, then of course I don’t have anything against it. Go for it!
In my case, if I ate everything organic it would easily double or triple my overall food expenses. And at the same time, I would eat fruits that would taste worse, be less fresh, and not ripen properly.
So, I choose taste and convenience over something that hasn’t been proven to be a major factor in health. And I use the difference that I save to pay for a personal fitness coaching session once a week, for example. The latter has had a much bigger impact on my health than switching to organic food would.
You can certainly do this lifestyle without organic food!
To find out more about the high-raw lifestyle, check out:
Last week we talked about foods to eat and avoid at a raw food restaurant.
Not everybody lives close to a raw food restaurant. However, most cities will have at least one or two vegan restaurants.
Generally speaking, vegan restaurants use a lot of oil. However, you’ll find some great healthy food there if you know what to order.
What to Avoid at Vegan Restaurants
Veggie Burgers – Generally, the burger patty is not the problem, but it’s what it comes with. A big bun, fried or roasted potatoes, and lots of vegan mayo in the burger. To make a healthier meal, replace the fries with a salad, and specify any creamy spread on the side.
Sandwiches — Generally, they are loaded with a lot of fatty mayo and are not nutrient dense (not enough vegetables).
Meat-Replacement Dishes — Dishes that try too hard to replace meat are generally loaded with fat or contain too much soy or gluten. For example, scrambled “vegan eggs” generally use an insane quantity of tofu.
What to Eat at Vegan Restaurants
Soups — Soups with lots of vegetables are generally fine to have. Creamy soups generally should be avoided.
Dragon Bowls — Many vegan places have a version of this bowl. It could be called the “dragon,” “buddha” or “macrobiotic” bowl. Generally, it includes brown rice, lots of raw veggies, some cooked veggies, and a sauce. So it’s a salad that mixes cooked and raw ingredients. It’s generally one of the healthiest choices at a vegan restaurant.
Salads — Salads are generally pretty healthy, but the dressing is usually very fatty. Ask for dressing on the side and order a bowl of rice for a complete meal.
Smoothies — Smoothies at vegan restaurants are generally okay, but avoid those containing syrups or added nuts and seeds.
Juices — Most fresh juices are fine to have.
Additional Guidelines for Vegan Restaurants
The menu at vegan restaurants tends to vary a lot more than at raw food restaurants. Your main concern will be to avoid fried foods and dishes containing too much oil. Often, ordering from the “sides” menu is a good idea, when completing a meal with a salad. You can often order simple steamed vegetables and brown rice to go on the side.
Of course, if you want to treat yourself, eat whatever you feel like! But if you seek health and want to eat vegan food that’s actually better for you than regular food, stick to whole foods, with lots of fruits and vegetables, and try to avoid foods loaded with oils.
Lately, I’ve been enjoying the fact that I live fairly close to a raw food restaurant here in Montreal.
It’s called Crudessence, and they have two locations in Montreal. They’re probably one of the most successful raw food restaurants in the world, and have done things the right way. Other raw food restaurants didn’t survive in sunnier parts of the world, so the fact that this one is thriving in a cold city says a lot about it.
I don’t live in walking distance, but it’s often on my way when I run errands. So, in the past month I’ve been going there every week, usually to pick up a few raw food items for the rest of the week.
I’ve criticized raw food restaurants in the past for offering food that’s too high in fat, too gourmet and generally unsatisfying.
But raw food restaurants can be a tremendous resource for improving your eating habits, especially if they offer take-out.
Raw foods don’t tend to go bad quickly, and don’t need to be reheated (obviously!), so you can pick up a few items at the start of the week and eat them throughout the week.
I recommend being careful with the menu at many raw food restaurants. A lot of their items are too high in fat and just not worth it.
So, here are my recommendations.
Raw or warm soups are generally okay to eat.
Get: Sushi Wrap. This is sometimes called a “Nori Roll.” Essentially, it’s a nori sheet with a nut pâté, filled with veggies and cut like a sushi. It’s pretty healthy.
Get: Corn tortillas wraps. If they’re made with fresh corn and not just nuts and seeds, those can be a good choice as long as they’re filled with mostly veggies and not a ton of “macadamia cheese” or whatever it’s called.
Get: Wraps. Sometimes wrapped in a collard leaf or something like that, and filled with a nut pâté and a ton of veggies.
Get: Salads. Most salads at raw food restaurants are very big and more satisfying than salads at other restaurants.
Get: Noodle dishes. Called “spaghetti” or other noodles, the sauce is generally good and it’s a good way to eat more raw veggies!
Avoid: Sandwiches. This is the raw version of a sandwich, usually made with sprouted grains or nuts and seeds. Tough to digest and mostly fat.
Generally Avoid: Burgers and Pizza. Again, the burgers and pizza crusts are generally made with sprouted seeds and nuts and seeds. It’s dry and personally not to my taste, but the burger at some raw food restaurants is okay.
Generally Avoid: Lasagna. Generally contains a tremendous quantity of macadamia nuts or cashews along with outrageous quantities of oil.
Get: smoothies containing fruit, green vegetables, and almond milk (in any combination).
Avoid: Smoothies with added nuts, cacao, syrups. And watch out for matcha, a green tea powder often added to smoothies in some raw food restaurants. It contains a lot of caffeine, so if you’re sensitive, make sure to avoid those smoothies.
All juices are generally okay to drink. I like the ones that are half-sweet.
Most desserts in raw food restaurants should be avoided. They are often loaded with coconut oil and generally contain more calories per serving than the cooked version they are trying to replace.
Desserts made with fruit, such as “banana ice cream,” are generally okay.
Watch out for the cacao craze. Raw food restaurants generally use raw cacao in every single dessert. Cacao is loaded with caffeine (theobromine, actually, but the effects are the same), so if you’re sensitive, you should be careful.
Anything that tries to imitate a cheesecake or key lime pie — two popular raw food dishes — will likely be loaded with coconut oil and the extra calories will negate the benefits of your entire meal!