Going raw vegan is in itself a pretty massive lifestyle change, even for someone like me coming from a whole foods vegan diet. Besides all the amazing health benefits that I have gotten, many things have also changed around my eating habits, mostly gradually, and without much effort. These are all actually pretty huge in and of themselves and I could write an entire blog post for each of them. Anyhow, here are the 9 most significant ways in which my eating habits have changed as a result of going raw vegan:
No need for caffeine
I used to be a coffee addict. In University I would turn on the coffee maker the first thing in the morning and down two huge mugs of strong coffee into an empty stomach. After about 6 months on raw when I was over the worst detox hump, I started having constantly high energy levels throughout the day. As a result, whenever I would drink anything stimulating, I’d feel as if I was overdosing: my heart beat and sweating would increase, and my hands would feel shaky.
It’s like previously I was living with below normal energy levels and I needed caffeine to drag me back to a level where I can function, while now I am always operating on a high energy frequency. After about 2 months without any coffee or black/green tea, I drank a big glass of strong green tea at 5 in the afternoon. I did not sleep the entire nigh and went to work without one hour of rest. I have not had any stimulating drinks since then.
No desire for alcohol
All I can say is that the raw vegan diet and alcohol do not go well together. Over time your body becomes so clean and well functioning that a poison like alcohol feels like a betrayal. Your body is becoming more sensitive, opening up to all the nutrition, and when you put in something like alcohol, it shocks the system. The result for me is a horrible brain fog, loosing the ability to focus, and feeling a decrease in my awareness, and of course a hangover the next morning as if I’d taken poison (which, technically, I did)
No more sugar cravings
With all the fruit sugar in my diet, I no longer crave treats with processed sugar. And when I do eat even a small amount of it I feel my blood sugar peak. I notice that the only times I crave sugar, is when I eat predominantly savory things throughout the day, such as salads, or salty foods in a raw vegan restaurant. Also, when I was still occasionally eating cooked foods, this would often trigger an insatiable chain of cravings that would usually look something like: Cooked food → chocolate → roasted peanuts → dried fruit etc.
Decreased salt intake
I have come to realize that cooked food does not taste much like anything, it’s only by adding all kinds of spices, herbs and flavor enhancers that it becomes tasty, or even addictive. Also, in almost all the cooked foods there is some degree of salt in it, whether we can taste it or not, and throughout the day the salt intake accumulates. As I have replaced cooked foods with raw fruits and vegetables, also my salt intake has dramatically decreased. I still occasionally add pink Himalayan salt in salad dressings, but this is a fraction of what I used to consume.
Drinking less water
This is partly a result of eating less salt, as excessive salt intake results in high sodium content in the extra-cellular space requires water intake to dilute it. Another even more important reason why I drink less water, is that all the foods I eat have a very high water content. Most fruits and vegetables consist of more than 80% water, while the body’s water content is about 60%. This means that on my current diet I get more water from my food than what digesting it requires. Compare that to eating a slice of bread with only 15% water. You can imagine that digesting the bread will actually deplete your water resources rather than add to them.
Enhanced appreciation for simple flavors
This also relates partly to reducing salt intake, as salt tends to mask other flavors, but it also relates to all spices, oils, and food combinations that stimulate the taste buds. Eating mono meals (only one kind of fruit/veggie at a time) can in the beginning feel dreadful, but over time you start appreciating the simplicity more and more and begin to discover a whole new world of flavors. Now I can actually perceive what a tomato or a cucumber tastes like on its own. When of high quality, they are both salty, juicy and rich in flavor.
For me cooked food is and has probably always been sedating. It’s so relaxing and comforting to devour a Pad Thai or a lentil curry while falling into an unconscious state in front of the TV, Youtube or Social media. The thing with raw food is that no matter what you do, the sedating effect is not quite the same. It leaves you uncomfortably aware of your emotions, and therefore the combination of eating and staring at a screen is not as satisfying.
Because of this, I have learned to eat more slowly and to pay more attention to my food. I don’t need or want any distractions. I focus only on tasting, feeling and enjoying my food. Last time when I broke a 48 hour dry fast with coconut water, the enjoyment was so great that I had to even turn off the music, so as to give my full presence to the experience of drinking it.
Easy to go long periods of time without food
I remember when I was eating cooked food, my stomach was pretty much always digesting something. I would wake up hungry and have breakfast at 8am, then eat every 2-3 hours throughout the day and have my last night snack at 10pm. If I went more than a few hours without food, I would feel like was starving, my blood pressure would drop and I would get distracted and impatient.
Now I am able to do intermittent and longer fasts without feeling like crap. In fact my body even asks for it. Counter to the common belief “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”, I no longer eat in the mornings because my body is not hungry. This gives my digestive system a nice 14 to 17 hour rest between dinner and breakfast.
I can no longer handle large amounts of fats
In the past I would try to maximize my fat intake in an attempt to gain weight or at least to not lose any, as I have always been quite slim. Now fats, especially in processed form and in excess, make me nauseated and my stomach turn. I also feel drowsy, heavy and my heart rate increases and my face feels hot. This is especially the case if I combine fats with fruits. Some raw food specialists claim that fat traps sugar in the blood, resulting in increased blood sugar levels, which would partly explain my reaction.
All of these changes have come as a side effect of the raw food diet and were not sought after. All of them have come to me gradually, but without any desire of effort. Luckily, I would consider all of these changes positive, and I feel that they are another indicator of the suitability of the raw vegan diet for the human species.