Have you noticed that many raw food leaders, who once proclaimed that the 100% raw food diet is ideal no matter what, are now coming out of the closet and revealing that they themselves are eating some cooked food?
Raw foodists tend to make a big deal out of it, like when vegans give up and say that eating meat is okay, or politicians revealing that they do some drugs occasionally.
I’ve been looking forward to a new book by Victoria Boutenko. It finally came out today!
The book is called “Raw & Beyond – How Omega-3 Nutrition Is Transforming the Raw Food Paradigm“. You can get it at Amazon.com, or Amazon Canada, or Amazon UK.
The book is actually co-written by three authors: Victoria Boutenko, Elaina Love and Chad Sarno.
Strangely enough, the first part of the book, written by Victoria Boutenko, reminds me a bit of my book The Raw Secrets (published in 2002), where I explained how the raw food diet made me sick and debunked the “raw food is law” paradigm.
It seems that many people, through painful trial and error, are coming to the same conclusion.
I give Victoria a lot of credit, because she’s the one who used to say that eating 99% raw was “not enough.” In her first book “The 12 Steps to Raw Foods,” she talked about her amazing discovery of the raw food diet and the health transformation that her family had following it. She said that even 1% cooked food was enough to keep the cravings alive.
In Green for Life, Victoria acknowledged that raw foodists often reach a “plateau” in their health. But technically, a plateau is when you stop making progress. In this case, she talked about how her family and many people she knew actually got worse on the raw food diet, after a few years of non-stop improvements. She attributed it to a lack of greens in the raw food diet, and recommended green smoothies.
In this new book, she finally says it: I thought 100% raw was best, no matter what, but now I think it’s okay to eat some cooked foods.
I’m paraphrasing, of course.
In her introduction, she reminds me a lot of what I wrote in The Raw Secrets:
“For many years the theory of the raw food diet seemed so flawless to me that I couldn’t find any errors in it . I was following a 100% raw food lifestyle and I was trying to inspire as many others as possible to follow. Years later, to my surprise, I found major flaws hiding in two of my favorite statements:
“Anything raw is superior to anything cooked”
“Raw food is best for humans because all animals in the world consume 100% raw food.”
She then goes on to talk about her experience with green smoothies, and how that made an improvement. But, it was not enough.
“Adding green smoothies to our diet still did not bring us perfect health.”
Finally, she blames her raw food diet as being too high in fat, particularly in omega 6 fats found in nuts, seeds and oils. The book presents some excellent research on the topic.
I’m so glad that Victoria finally agrees with the low-fat message, after all these years.
She even agrees that eating cooked foods is better than loading up on nuts and seeds, which is something, honestly, I never thought she would say, given Victoria’s strong stance against cooked foods.
I don’t agree with all of Victoria’s conclusions, such as the raw diet being harder to follow in colder climates due to lower quality produce, but her experience is nonetheless fascinating.
I think the raw food diet IS more difficult to follow in colder climates, but this has little to do with the quality of the produce. It has more to do with the colder temperature. Many people do manage if they find a supplier of imported tropical fruit they can buy in bulk.
In one chapter, she says:
“I still don’t know if it was a coincidence that my family first began to experience difficulties on a raw food diet after we moved from sunny Colorado to rainy Oregon. I think we would have avoided many of our health problems if we had included some cooked food in our diets right then, instead of loading on nuts and nut butters for several years.”
In the second part of the book, Elaina Love also comes to similar conclusion. She even says “I have noticed that, for whatever reason, I often don’t look as healthy while eating a 100% raw diet. I can’t explain why. When I’ve added some cooked food back into my diet, people often say to me, “You look great! What are you doing?” I find it interesting that when I’m eating some cooked food instead of only raw, I get more compliments on my looks.”
As a side note to this, when I was younger, maybe 25 or 26, I used to be a lot skinnier. My face looked quite thin. Occasionally, I would binge on cooked foods, and not always the healthiest kind. The next day, I would go to a party and people would say, “You look good — stronger.”
In reality, my face was just puffy! But to people, that looked better than a skinny face.
I’m not saying that this is the same that Elaina Love experienced, but I’m just relating some of my experience on how people have perceived my looks based on their own weight expectations.
Chad Sarno: High Cholesterol on a Raw Food Diet
My favorite part of the book was the chapter written by Chad Sarno.
Chad is an amazing chef. I met him in Portland almost 10 years ago, when he was getting started and would design raw food menus for restaurants in London.
At the time, Chad would often eat large salads with kale and oil, and thought it was healthy.
In his chapter, he talks about his first blood test he got done after he was hired to be a chef for Whole Foods Market. He discovered that his cholesterol was high, and that his triglycerides were off the chart.
So what did he do? He decided to go on a 100% whole food diet, with no agave, no maple syrup, no coconut oil, no olive oil. He focused on greens, beans and grains.
In four mouths, his cholesterol dropped by 100 points and his triglycerides went back to normal.
Chad was eating a typical raw food diet with some gourmet dishes, and his blood test was showing him that he was at a high risk for heart disease, even according to American standards, which are not the healthiest in the world.
The he talks about his change in diet, and why he’s living an oil-free lifestyle (I just came up with that phrase!).
He eats beans, grains, whole foods, some avocados and nuts. It was not clear how much fruit he eats now.
Finally, the book includes a ton of great recipes. Most recipes don’t include any nuts and seeds, and the chefs have even chosen to include some lightly steamed foods in some recipes. That’s cool with me. I thought the recipes would be oil-free though, and they are not. So this is a bit strange given than oil is the highest source of fat you can eat. Personally I would omit all of the oil from the recipes. I NEVER use any oil and our food is still delicious.
Raw Food Leaders Coming to Terms With Reality
I think Raw & Beyond is a very positive book for the raw food world. It’s about time that raw leaders wake up and realize that a lot of what they’ve been saying for years simply isn’t true.
I now feel like an old-timer with the low-fat message. I personally went through a similar process, when I first wrote my book Raw Secrets in 2002. That’s almost 10 years ago! Back then, I was already talking about the concept that just because something is raw, it doesn’t mean it’s healthy, and why raw foodists eat too many nuts and seeds.
At the time, I didn’t get it completely. I still used some oils, and did not ban them completely from my diet until 2005 or so.
The list of former raw foodists is growing every year now, and I know many people are confused and wonder why people who used to be strict raw foodists are now eating cooked food.
The reason is simple: They’ve grown up!
If you look at a lot of the advice given by raw food experts, it simply doesn’t hold water.
In my last book Raw Food Controversies, I spent 400 pages debunking many raw food myths. I used to be one of the lone voices on the subject, but now many others have joined. Thankfully, the 80/10/10 Diet by Doug Graham is becoming really popular and many are waking up to the reality of fat and oils not being a health food.
In the end, I still believe that fruits and vegetables are the best foods we can eat, but as I’ve said many times, eating a low-fat diet is more important than eating an all-raw diet.
What About the 80/10/10 Diet?
Someone familiar with the 80/10/10 Diet might read Raw & Beyond and analyze it in a different way. For example, a case could be made that Victoria, Elaina and Chad never tried to eat a true low fat raw food diet, which would be a very high-fruit diet, with no oil and minimum amounts of nuts and seeds.
80/10/10 people eat a ton of fruit to compensate for the lack of nuts and seeds, or cooked foods, and many do extremely well on this diet.
I personally have had great results with the 80/10/10 diet. In fact, I eat an 80/10/10 diet in terms of my ratio of calories (I get less than 10-12% of my calories from fat on average). The only difference is that I no longer eat an all-raw 80/10/10 diet.
That’s my preference. I go through different phases of eating more and less fruit seasonally depending what’s available.
As I’ve explained in my book Raw Food Controversies, there are pros and cons to each approach. Some prefer and feel better eating 100% raw, while others, like me, prefer to also include cooked foods.
Of course, if someone eats both cooked and raw foods, they’re no longer a raw-foodist, according to a true definition of the term, which would be “someone who only eats raw foods.”
So be it.
As I’ve said many times, it’s better to be healthy than stick to a philosophy just for the sake of it and suffer.
On the other hand, you’ll always have many people who will claim to feel a lot better on a 100% raw food diet. That’s okay too.
Here’s what matters:
1) Eat a plant based diet — get rid of the dairy, meats, and other animal products.
2) Get rid of the oil — eliminate all olive oil, flax oil, coconut oil, or other refined oils. They do more harm than good. They’re just refined foods, and can put you at risk of heart disease just as fast as animal products.
3) Limit fats — that includes avocados, nuts, seeds, etc. Eat them in very small quantities, like 1-2 ounces of seeds in one day, or half an avocado. Don’t eat multiple fatty foods a day.
4) Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
5) Eat your greens!
7) Enjoy your food!
I think the new book Raw & Beyond will wake up some people, thanks to Victoria’s popularity. Make sure to check it out.
It just came out today, so you can already order it: