February 17

Raw Food Fanaticism

Filed under More Than Raw Foods, Raw Food & Health, Raw Food Controversies by Frederic Patenaude

I started experimenting with my diet back in 1996, and ever since I’ve been searching for the healthiest, yet most practical way to eat and live.

I first went on a very strict (and confused!) natural hygiene diet. From there I began making my way into raw foods and experimenting with various types of raw food diets.

After that I experimented with cooked foods again, then back to raw foods, and have since been fine-tuning my diet to find the ideal.

There was a time when I wouldn’t have touched a piece of bread with a 10-foot pole, but was perfectly fine with gorging myself with fancy raw recipes and avocados, just to make sure that I wouldn’t awaken my “cooked food cells” and stayed raw.

There was a time when I did everything in my power to eat the freshest, best organic raw foods there was, yet was not feeling the vitality or mental clarity I had before I was even a vegetarian.

There was a time when I binged on all sorts of cooked foods I had sworn never to eat again, out of the frustration that the raw diet was not working for me, and the shame I had for not having succeeded.

I now look back at these difficult days and realize that all of this turmoil was unnecessary. I worked things out using the empirical approach — that is to try everything out in order to come to my own conclusions. This is a time-wasting technique, but it did allow me to truly learn these things for myself. 

In that process, I learned that:

  • The means is not the end. Being a raw-foodist for example, is not the point. We shouldn’t focus on that.
  • We have to keep in mind what we’re doing this for. In that search for the perfect diet, we’re doing this to be healthy and enjoy life more — not to achieve an “ideal.”
  • Willpower is not enough to maintain, we need knowledge too. You can have the willpower to climb 10,000 stairs, but why waste so much energy when there’s a lift that will take you to the top in no time? Using the lift is like utilizing proper knowledge.

My Introduction to Rawdom

In 1996, I was 20 years old and quite easily impressed by what appeared to be logical or scientific information.

The piece of advice that I came across when I first heard of the concept of raw eating seemed logical, but proved to be quite misleading to others and myself. It went something like this:

“Eating raw foods is the most natural way to eat. All that you have to do is follow your instincts and eat as much as you want, as long as you are eating fresh raw fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds.”

Impressed by the simplicity of this system-less-system, I embarked on a journey that led me through deep nutritional imbalances.

But first, the advice worked. I packed my fridge with fruits and vegetables and was eating all day long. I didn’t know about recipes or durian. I ate lots of food and went through a quite intense period of detoxification. I went through it and was feeling mostly good, even though I was still struggling with cravings. My will was as strong as could be and I was ready to be a raw-foodist for life and change the world along the way.

The next part of my journey took me to California, where I discovered raw food recipes, an exciting world where all my repressed cravings could express themselves again.

Pizza, chocolate cake, and pasta were back on the menu again. All raw of course.

I was eating lots of fat, lots of raw food recipes, and lots of fruit, and I was just not feeling right.

More Misleading Advice

Two new pieces of raw food lore would prove to be fatal for me. The first was, “Anything raw is better than anything cooked” and the second, “it’s probably detoxification.”

So I kept eating and eating and kept saying to myself: “well, it’s raw.” I kept feeling bad and kept saying to myself: “it’s probably detoxification.”

The Raw-Food Movement

Since then, the raw-food movement has been changing the way that it’s presented and many of the ideologies behind it.

Yet many raw food books are still filled with made-up facts, bogus science, anecdotal evidence that just isn’t relevant to everybody.

One person says that eating fruit will make you sick; the other one says that you should only eat fruit.

One says that eating oil is bad for you; the other one recommends that you should eat lots of oil.

Here are a few false statement made by raw-foodists I’d like to clear the air on once and for all.

“Cooked food is toxic.”

Statements like this are what tend to give the raw food movement a bad name.

Cooking food doesn’t immediately turn it into something toxic. If this were as true as some people say, no one would be alive!

It is true that certain methods of cooking, such as frying and barbecuing, create many carcinogenic substances in the process.

But claiming that all cooked food is toxic is just silly.

“Anything raw is better than anything cooked.”

Reality check: Many raw food meals prepared at most raw restaurants do not fall in the category of “healthy food.” Many of them contain unnecessarily high amounts of salt, oils, and spices.

The fact that a food is raw doesn’t make it necessarily healthy. There is more to a healthy diet plan than just eating raw, just as there is more to health than just eating.

“Fruit is bad for you.”

Most raw-foodists are living on such a high-fat diet (often more than 60-70% fat) that they can no longer handle fruit anymore. It has been proven that high-fat diets decrease insulin sensitivity (the effectiveness of insulin in carrying sugar to the cells), and thus raise blood sugar levels.

So those living on high fat a diet, that is most raw-foodists, will inevitably experience more blood sugar swings when they eat fruit.

Thus, the myth has spread now that fruit is not very healthy and that we should all aim at eliminating or reducing the quantity of fruit in our diet.

Fruit is definitely one of the healthiest (and most palatable!) raw foods you can eat.

So whenever you hear a bold statement that is the contrary of all common sense, such as “fruit is not a healthy food” — don’t take it for cash. Study the facts first and decide for yourself.

Raw Food Hype

The raw food diet has become more and more popular over the years. Celebrities are now jumping on board; raw food restaurants are popping up in most major cities, the media is talking about it, and articles have been published in many magazines and newspapers.

Raw-foodists usually rejoice when they see another article in the mainstream about the raw food diet, yet many of the time the message being conveyed to the masses really isn’t the healthiest one.

Many of these articles start by quoting raw-foodists (mostly out of the context) expressing statements such as “cooked food is poison” or “cooking kills your food,” then they go on to talk about all the movie and pop music stars who are supposedly into it, they mention raw gourmet cuisine and raw-restaurants, and then conclude the article with a few nutritionist bashing and scoffing at the whole theory.

There is more validity and merit to the raw food diet than just a passing phase for the media to take advantage of or for celebrities to temporarily hop on board with!

“Raw Food” Means Really Raw

Raw foods are fruits and vegetables in their natural state, not dehydrated for hours and turned into crackers, raw cookies, and cakes.

Prepared raw foods can still have a place in a healthy diet, but it really isn’t what the whole prospect of eating raw foods is really about.

A plate of steamed broccoli is closer to being a natural food than a raw cheeseburger or raw cake sold at a raw restaurant somewhere.

Eating raw is about filling our bodies with an abundance of natural vitamins, minerals, organic water, fiber, and all the nutrients needed to meet our needs, both for energy and maintenance. Time and time again, these needs are met the best with foods that are in their freshest, most natural form.

Beyond Fanaticism

If you are 100% raw and feel wonderful and someone comes along to tell you that what you are doing is killing you, I recommend you don’t waste any time discussing it. Just go along with your life and let them think what they will.

If you are eating 50% raw and feel great and some annoying raw-foodist comes along and just, “can’t believe that you don’t eat 100% raw” — just forget them too. You are here to eat and do what makes you feel your best, not rise to the expectations of others around you.

What are you doing this for anyway? Because you want to call yourself a raw-foodist or a vegan? Hopefully not!

Hopefully, you are eating and living the way you do because it’s what feels right to you and allows you to look and feel your very best.

Eating raw is not the end-all, it’s simply a means to get you where you want to go.

What have been your experiences with raw-food-fanaticism and everything in between? Let us know in the comments below!

12 Responses to “Raw Food Fanaticism”

  1. Béatrice Kinzl says:

    Good article you sent today about food fanaticism, and I fully agree, it becomes a ‘religion”instead of serving a person to live a better life.
    thank you for spreading this good article?

  2. Rashnu says:

    I agree that one should experiment with what feels best. Do not let any idea of how things should be according to some authority influence you. Everybody is different and has different needs, not only nutritional but all sorts of needs. Do what makes you happy. If it feels good, you’re on the right track. But it takes strength and courage to be wholly authentic, because you’ll often have to deal with pressure from the environment to conform to what is normal and/or accepted.

  3. Chris Harmon says:

    Totally agree !!! Couldn’t have written a better opinion.

  4. Dawn says:

    Thanks Frederic for another honest and practical upfront article. it’s so easy to become obsessed by diet to the exclusion of everything else! and in my experience it doesn’t make me feel well. I totally agree that fruit in its simplest unprocessed form is the easiest to digest and gives more energy.

  5. Anne says:

    I enjoyed reading this article, Thank you, you cover many useful points.
    I think everyone needs to find the diet that works best for them and fits in with their person ethics, and lifestyle; and just because something works splendidly for one person does not mean that it is the ‘best’ diet for everyone.

    I believe when a diet is really working well for you, then you have an inner peace and happiness, and you do not feel a need to criticise or judge other people’s diets if they differ from your own.

  6. PeachesQ says:

    When I eat cooked food my body rebels… when I eat raw I feel absolutely awesome, so I eat what makes me feel good, not what others tel me I should be doing. I use the next pays off the information given and plot my own course! Silk a work in progress, but that’s what learning is all about?

  7. carina says:

    Frederic you’re not preaching to the converted,only talking sense.Thanx.

  8. Yes I agree with you, there is tons of do’s and don’ts out
    there and I have just started seeing what others who are
    successful that are doing and seeing how my body is reacting
    to it. Since I got end stage Lymphoma, went through six-
    months intense chemo therapy and trashed my immune
    system and got other health issues.

    Have had to implement a total new healthy lifestyle and
    now have candida also. It has been trying but with Gods
    grace I am making it since my doctors gave me 4 months
    to live. That was in Sept 2012, Little by little I hope to be
    back to my better self.

  9. Gene Louis says:

    Having experimented since I was a teenager in the 60’s, I can see how various diet tweaks can be used to create optimum health. It is also interesting to note that the optimum diet changes as you age. For that reason, tweaking is a process that lasts until death.

    The reason that I’ve become interested in your articles and materials is because you recognize that there can be no diet that fits everyone. I would go even further. As I mentioned in the comments on another one of your blogs, many people in my family have lived into their nineties on a high meat diet. I’ve found that I feel better with some meat. I just saw an article about a 115 year old woman. Her doctor says that she is in good health. She says that she eats three eggs per day.

    So, it would be interesting to learn the best ways to constantly tweak and modify for maximum health.

  10. Cheryl says:

    Thanks. A well written article. I feel better about eating less and eating mostly raw or all raw but stick mostly to raw fruits and vegetables.

  11. babz says:

    Patrick, Thank you for objective thinking. I was a “Vegetarian” for 17 years relying on the “SOY” lie for protein & knocked my thyroid gland out in the process. I agree, a little bit of cooked, healthy veggies & fruits, etc …good to diversify foods to keep digestive enzymes & intestinal flora challenged.

  12. semira says:

    Thanks Frederic for another awesome article.
    I lived with a raw food guru back in 2000, who would secretly bake potatoes and onions in the middle of the winter, asking me to keep silent. He also had many toxic thoughts about people who were not ‘raw’ calling them aweful names, that I won’t repeat here. I had to kick him out after a year, to save my sanity.
    Since then, my motto has been, what we eat is the most intimate relationship we may have with life. If I attack someone based on what they eat, how will I help them digest properly?
    Also, I love fruits and vegetables, am weary of someone who wants to sell me superfoods all the time. I like those for specific boosts..

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