Going on a raw food diet can be a challenge if you enjoy cooking or eat a lot of processed, prepared and restaurant food. In most cases, raw foods are lower in fat and calories than cooked alternatives, so they can certainly help you lose weight. It takes effort to stick with a raw diet, especially when you're just beginning it, so devising daily meal plans can help.
Raw foodists do not eat any foods that have been cooked and typically do not eat anything that has been heated to a temperature past about 115 degrees Fahrenheit. For reasons of food safety as well as health, a raw food diet is usually synonymous with a raw vegan diet, meaning that it eschews all meat and animal products.
Types of Raw Foods
In addition to eating a wide variety of raw fruits and vegetables in your meal plan, you can eat nuts, nut butters, seeds, sprouted grains, legumes, fish, eggs or unpasteurized dairy products. Raw foodists believe they get more vitamins, minerals and beneficial compounds from uncooked foods because they do not destroy enzymes in the cooking process. "Cooking makes it harder for our bodies to break up and digest food," writes Alissa Cohen, author of "Living on Live Food" and "Raw Food for Everyone." "This food then begins to get stored in our bodies as toxins; which can lead to all kinds of diseases and illness."
For breakfast, try whipping up a green smoothie with 1 cup of fresh baby spinach leaves, 1 cup of cold water, a handful of crushed ice, a frozen banana and an apple or 1/2 cup of fresh berries. Another option is a fruit salad sprinkled with raw nuts or dehydrated coconut. If you miss cereal, try raw groats soaked in water and served with a mashed banana.
For lunch, try a nut loaf. With your food processor or a food mallet, crush nuts until they're crumbly and combine them with marinated vegetables and spices. A lettuce wrap that encases fresh fruits or vegetables is another healthy option. If you're up for something a bit more complicated, make a gazpacho soup by blending raw tomatoes, garlic, onion, olive oil and additional veggies and spices of your choice.
At dinner, have a large salad that includes healthy fats such as cashews and sliced avocado. If you have a pasta craving, indulge it by shredding zucchini into long, thin threads and serving the "noodles" with fresh, marinated veggies. Raw wheatberry bread can even serve as the base for a raw pizza with tomatoes and fresh basil leaves.
To lose weight, you must eat fewer calories than you burn, which you can do by eating lower-calorie foods, reducing your portion sizes or increasing the amount of physical activity that you do. One reason a raw diet is so likely to lead to weight loss is because raw foods contain fewer calories than prepared and cooked foods in a typical eating plan. Before you begin any new weight loss or diet plan, however, speak with your doctor for approval.