I became aware of the link between diet and health at the age of 16, when my mother introduced vegetarianism into my family. She had decided to make some changes in her diet in order to lose some weight. Suddenly, whole wheat bread, tofu, seitan and other strange items made their appearance in our fridge. Meat slowly disappeared.
My mom’s interest in nutrition quickly spread to me as I started to read the books on the subject that she had bought. I gradually became a vegetarian without calling myself one. A couple years later, the final blow came when I read the book Diet For a New America, by John Robbins. It convinced me to become a vegetarian and gave me all the right reasons to do so.
Vegetarianism was fun for me. I remember the excitement of discovering all these new products; of shopping at health food stores for the first time; of learning to make new foods; and of trying to impose my new beliefs on friends and family at the first opportunity. It was fun. But vegetarianism didn’t turn my world upside down.
Raw food did.
By chance I found a little book by Herbert Shelton called Food Combining Made Easy. It made a strong impression on me. Shelton stated that humans, like other frugivorous animals on the planet, are meant to live on fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and nothing else. For a grain-based vegetarian, this statement drilled a big hole into my comfortable, newly found vegetarian box. I thought I had found the ultimate diet. But here came this guy saying that not only would I have to give up meat and dairy, but also grains, beans, oils, salt, seasonings, as well as everything cooked and processed! I felt assaulted. I thought that I had to find out more about this stuff, because it couldn’t possibly be right.
On the same shelf where I found Shelton’s works, I came across some strange-looking books in French by a gentleman named Albert Mosséri. I was shocked to discover that he was saying the same thing. Our natural diet should be composed of fruits and vegetables, and maybe some nuts and seeds.
Beyond these matters of content and instruction, these books on Natural Hygiene were saying that each of us is solely responsible for his or her health. They stated that all the sickness we experience is the result of wrong living — primarily the wrong diet. And that by returning to a simple raw food diet of fruits and vegetables, with fasting (if necessary), we could not only heal from all these diseases, but we could also go back to our pristine, natural state — nothing less than exuberant health.
So, I kept reading more about Natural Hygiene. I remember the feelings I had looking at the photo on the cover of Mosséri’s book. In the photo there was a bowl of fruit, a few chestnuts, and a strange looking squash. It seemed so austere, yet so attractive. I remember the conflict that went on inside of me. “I know this is for real. What these people are saying makes a lot of sense. But then to actually do this requires that I change my life around and make it go in a completely different direction than what I had planned.” That’s what a twenty-year-old guy was going through somewhere in Quebec, Canada. And I thought I was all-alone.
So I went into this on my own, and without much success. I kept going back and forth. My diet was chaotic, and too much had been stirred up inside of me that I didn’t know how to handle it. I needed to meet some new people, to get the hell out of my hometown, and find out what was going on elsewhere. So one night on the internet I found out about a book called Nature’s First Law: The Raw Food Diet by Arlin, Dini, and Wolfe.
Nature’s First Law seriously motivated me to go all-raw. I got in contact with the authors in San Diego and arranged for a meeting. I went all-raw for six months in Canada, got a couple of friends into it, and worked to save money at the same time. Then I packed my stuff, since I needed to take my time to absorb all of this, and boarded a 72-hour, six-layover bus to California.
In California, I found the raw-food movement fresh and young, but also confusing and full of contradictions. I found myself going along with the wave, being part of what was happening. Along the way I got the idea that the raw food diet was the answer to everything. I thought that it would not only solve all of my problems, but it would, in the long run, also solve all of humanity’s problems. Perhaps this enthusiasm was necessary to get me started (like many others, I’m sure), but it certainly was misleading.
In California, although I was trying to maintain an air of balance and enthusiasm, my health was going slowly downhill. Too bad for a young guy like me! I found that I was constantly running out of energy. Often I felt spacey, unable to concentrate and unable to find the energy needed to go on with normal daily activities. I thought I was going through a detox and that this would stop one day — that I would finally feel “paradise health”. Unfortunately, that day never came. The “detox” was never-ending.
Behind the scenes, seeds and fats were taking over my diet. I was sometimes eating five to six avocados a day, as well as a lot of nuts and seeds. To pacify my cravings, I began to use oil, condiments, salt, garlic and other items that I had previously eschewed following Natural Hygiene in Canada. Since the last thing I wanted to do was eat cooked food, I created all sorts of replacements for the cooked foods I was craving. I went berserk with raw food recipes: raw pies, raw chocolate, raw lasagna, you name it. All raw. All organic. All healthy…right? But…
After a year, I got really sick for an entire month. But I told nobody, because I was this great raw-foodist and I was supposed to be incredibly healthy. I wasn’t supposed to get sick like that. So I hid at home and fasted until I felt better.
After that experience, things became clearer. I realized that the raw diet regime couldn’t be followed haphazardly. I was still clueless about how to do it. Excluding nuts from my diet for a while after the fast really helped, but I was still far from “paradise health”. Where was the boundless energy to dance all night? Where had the fire gone?
To top it off, I was this guy working at Nature’s First Law, world headquarters of the raw food diet. There, I had started my own raw newsletter, Just Eat An Apple, and I was on my way to writing a recipe book, having become quite a good raw chef along the way.
During these first few years I wasn’t always drained, but for a big chunk of my time as a strict raw-foodist in California I was trying to figure out why this wasn’t really working for me the way it was supposed to, according to the books. And I was not alone. I was meeting a lot of other people going through the same thing. But clouded by the ideal of raw-foodism, we wouldn’t admit to ourselves what was happening.
When I moved back to Canada in 2000, I’d had it. I started eating cooked food again, and – incredibly enough – I started feeling better. I started feeling better because I had stepped back from my position of being a strict raw-foodist and was able to see the raw food diet for what it was. I saw it as a tool, one that could be used poorly, or one that could be used properly. I just hadn’t learned how to use it properly yet.
Because I am given to excess, I re-explored the cooked diet just as fully as I had explored the raw food diet. Slowly and carefully, I tested cooked food on my body. I tried bread. I tried cheese. On dates at restaurants, I drank wine. I felt what it is like to order a croissant in a café in Paris. I realized that I had changed my body so much by eating a raw food diet that I could no longer eat the stuff I used to and feel “normal” like “normal people”. My body reacted strongly and rejected these foods. I needed to find something, and fast, because I knew that eating like this wasn’t for me.
Back to square one, I rediscovered Natural Hygiene. I carefully reread Mosséri’s and Shelton’s books, the ones I read before I went to California. These books had turned my life upside down and gave me the courage to go live somewhere else for two and a half years with only $600 in my bank account.
Having gathered all that experience, this time I could fully grasp the basic principles of health delineated by Mosséri. I could see them at work in everything that had happened to others and to me. I was able to see what had gone wrong for me and why. Through this new understanding, I was able to really experience the benefits that were promised to me by the early leaders of the raw-food movement.
To get back to the raw food diet, I began with small steps. First, I found that the most important thing was to eat mostly foods that are biologically specific to human beings: fruits, vegetables, and small quantities of nuts and seeds; and avoiding grains, beans and condiments. I had to pay attention to hunger, food combinations, and the quantities of fat, nuts and seeds in my diet. I also found that when eating baked roots or steamed vegetables, I felt much better than when I was eating lots of nuts and seeds or complicated raw recipes.
This book is a summation of the secrets I have discovered about the raw food diet. Each chapter contains a lesson, a message to myself about the subject that helped me see the whole picture again. Some of the chapters are combative, reflecting the struggles I went through. Some are more positive, reflecting the insights that occurred to me.
I understood that the raw food diet is not so simple to put into practice. You can very easily damage your health eating a raw food diet, probably without being aware of it at first. If you’re new to it, you can count yourself lucky to have found this book. There’s a lot of misleading advice out there, and I’m glad you found the right guide first.
My main problem for many years was lack of energy. I often felt drained, even though I was eating the best foods in the world. It took me a long time to figure out what was going on. Unfortunately, the only advice I received from raw-foodists was, “Keep on eating raw until you get through the Detox.”
I have met all sorts of people doing this diet, from the sensible to the fanatical and everything in between. I met some people who ate what they called a Raw Food Diet for many years and then went back to bread and meat. Others who had sworn in the name of Raw that they’d never go back to cooked food were later found enjoying hot bean burritos without a sign of guilt. How did this happen?
Some people tend to quickly figure it out on their own. For them, it takes four days to see what others like me take four years to sort out. Their reason and intuition are in good order. But imbalanced or extreme people (a lot of us) don’t find it so easy, especially when our only guides are a few books filled with wrong advice. Sadly, most of the books on the raw food diet fit this description. I offer The Raw Secrets as a good guide to the raw food diet.
Just as the book Fit For Life misled people years ago, making them believe that they were practicing Natural Hygiene just because they were combining bread or chicken properly, new raw-foodists on the scene are being misled into thinking that they are eating a healthy raw food diet just because the foods they eat are unheated.
There are plenty of ideas and talk but a lack of facts and wisdom. There is definitely a lack of basic principles. And this leads to major confusion. When people go to raw-food festivals or raw-food conferences, they come home very inspired, and sometimes also very confused. Why? Because although all the speakers promote a raw food diet, they disagree on what it consists of. One says that fruit is the best of all foods, another says that fruit feeds internal mold. One promotes supplements, while another says that no supplements should ever be consumed. One guy recommends water fasting, while the other says it is dangerous and that we should take juices instead. And so on. All this confusion exists because most raw-foodists — teachers and students alike — are unaware of the basic principles of health. The lack of basic principles in any science will lead to its disintegration. This lack is particularly obvious in the raw food movement, whose leaders cannot agree among them on what constitutes the raw food diet.
Nonetheless, these basic principles do exist. They were rediscovered 170 years ago by the Natural Hygienists in the United States, and by the members of the German back-to-nature movement. In this book, I present some of the basic principles of Natural Hygiene and how they apply to the raw food diet, undermining some raw mythology along the way.
This is pretty new stuff for most of us, and we’re bound to make mistakes and commit excesses, even heinous ones. But at the end of the mistakes comes a period of ordering and cleaning up, and the first part of cleaning is taking out the garbage.
For many people, raw-foodism has become a sort of religion where cooked food is evil and raw food is salvation. Many books have exaggerated the benefits offered by the raw food diet and neglected its practical application. Some raw-foodists even think that anything raw is better than anything cooked. They think that all they need to do is to eat raw foods and avoid cooked foods at all costs. However, as many have discovered the hard way, health and natural diet are not so simple.
An old saying goes, “Better is often the enemy of the good.” In common parlance, we say that someone “can’t see the forest for the trees.” By trying to be too perfect, you can sometimes lose your mind. Many raw-foodists, including myself, have promoted the concept that my friend, Dr. Doug Graham, calls the Raw/Not Raw Philosophy. It is an oversimplification of all health principles into one criterion: “Is this raw?” Rather than wondering, “Is this healthy for me?” or “What do I experience in my body after eating this?” Some raw-foodists only want to know, “Is this raw?” For vegans, the question is, “Is it vegan?”
An adherent of the Raw/Not Raw Philosophy would, for example, shun steamed vegetables, but will not hesitate to eat a jar of raw almond butter in a week, or even in a day. He eschews all cooked food, never thinking that some of his ‘raw’ eating habits could harm him more than some ‘cooked’ diet plans. A convinced vegan will avoid all animal products, but he or she might use salt, oils, sugar and processed foods out of a factory, as long as they are “vegan”.
Natural nutrition asks for more clarity. Raw-foodism is not a religion. How you eat should be based on rational principles of physiology, not an over-simplified mantra.
Raw-foodism and veganism are valid, but not the way they are sometimes practiced, especially these days. In this book, you will learn how to eat a raw food diet in a way that is sustainable and vitalizing.
October, 2002, revised March 2006
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Order Your Copy of
"The Raw Secrets."
Without a doubt, The Raw Secrets is one of the most useful and enlightening books you will ever read. For only $24.95 plus shipping, you will receive the brand-new, hard-copy edition in the mail.
For an extra $9.97, you can also have access to The Raw Secrets Book Bonuses, over over 300 pages of useful information on the raw diet ($92.08 value — only valid when you order it with The Raw Secrets).
Choose your option:
Option #1 Regular Customers $24.95
For $9.97 more you can get over $90 worth of additional e-book bonuses on the raw-food diet.
Option #2 Raw Health Inner Circle Members $14.95
CLICK HERE TO ORDER
(you'll have to log in)
NOTE: A Raw Health Inner Circle Membership is only $19.95 per month, and it includes monthly ebooks, monthly raw food menu planners, recipes, interviews, and discounts on our product. Click here to find out about becoming a member and you'll be able to order the Raw Secrets for only $14.95 from the member's area.