by Kait Fowlie
A raw diet can have transformation effects: weight loss, heightened senses, change in appetite, and glowing skin and hair, to name a few. While all this sounds desirable enough, raw food can be off putting. Many people assume its preparation is time consuming, complicated, and expensive. But even if you’re a grab-an-apple as you gracefully run out the door kind of snacker, you can still reap the benefits of many enzyme packed, cancer fighting foods. All you need is a passion for health and some ingenuity.
As a first-time raw food participant, I was skeptical. I have two jobs to focus on, a budget to stay on track with, and a social life I’d like to maintain. In other words, I can’t spend hours in my tiny kitchen concocting raw creations. Thus, I was happy to discover that embarking on a raw food cleanse would not compromise my schedule, my kitchen, or my wallet.
After a bit of research and a few trips to some different health food stores, I learned that eating raw is one of the easiest ways to improve your health. Toronto has options aplenty. Our growing selection of city-made brands make raw snacking easy, delicious, and affordable. There are also numerous helpful resources for the bolder raw enthusiast who wants to try their hand at making their own raw goods. This is a task that varies in degrees of difficulty. Whipping up a fruit smoothie or salad, for example, doesn’t require advanced tools or a great deal of skill.
For this reason, I spend the first few days of my raw cleanse whipping up some dark leafy bowls with soaked nuts, legumes and unrefined oils. I supplement this with some snacks made by the pros (granola bars, crackers, and dips) from my neighbourhood health food store. Rich and sweet, each bite of these grab-and-go treats packs a flavour punch owing to a dried fruit and nut content.
After only three days of eating raw, I feel lighter, somehow brighter, and quicker on my feet. Here’s why: raw food contains live enzymes which literally makes it digests itself inside the stomach, giving the body an extra opportunity to work on other processes like repairing cells, absorbing nutrients, and cleansing toxins. All of this is adds up to an immune system of steel. In general, the less often your digestive tract has to slug through heavily processed foods and the more energy it gets to devote to immune building processes, the better.
Kudos to any daring soul willing to tackle a total raw cleanse, because by day five, my desire for anything with a doughy texture starts to outweigh my newfound physical appreciation. There are some pretty convincing bread substitutes as well as creamy, cashew based dips, but the texture of a baked good is tricky to replicate. I last a week of raw and pat myself on the back.
I really notice a difference in the way I feel when I start eating processed foods again – headachy and sluggish. Every small bite has an effect on the body’s pH level. Consuming raw food helps keep that pH level on the alkaline side of things, (as opposed to acidic, which is found in processed and fatty foods). These levels have an enormous impact on our health, ranging from the way our bodies feel when we wake up in the morning to our ability to fight off disease in the long term. All science aside, through the act of preparing food every day and being sure that my body is the only system processing it definitely made my week a little more mindful. To me, that deeper connection is the best part of eating raw.