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Coming Out of the Closet

Published: (January, 2012)

Coming Out of the Closet

I am sure in the last few months you received several emails asking this question in one form or another: 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 are eating some cooked food?

Obviously, this reference is not to a falling off the wagon scenario. Coming out of the closet is being applied to raw food authors who have revealed or no longer conceal that they're now eating some cooked food. As if one gossipy recovering alcoholic were saying to another: You know, Bob's drinking again--I saw him. As if a sacred rule had been violated. A holy text blasphemed.

What people do in search of health is their business, but what surprises me is the implication of some secret. It's no secret. If you are observant, you can often recognize an attained raw foodist just by looking at the person. And, correspondingly, recognize someone who has made a significant departure. 

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My experience is that over a period of several years, raw foods literally transform you into a different specimen. Just as there are biomarkers of "normal" aging, so, I submit, there are identifiable biomarkers of a healthy long-term raw foodist, which you can recognize simply by observing a person who follows a 100% raw food lifestyle.

Every rule has exceptions, and so does my list. I'm sharing it only in the hope that you will find it helpful to know what to expect in yourself if you stay on a 100% raw course. Continue reading How to Recognize a Raw Foodist at First Sight...

Going Beyond Raw

I've received many emails similar to this one:
"Below is a quote concerning a new Victoria Boutenko book Raw and Beyond. Will you be making any comments?" 

Green Smoothie Queen' Victoria Boutenko re-envisions the raw food diet under the lens of important omega-3 science. Chefs Elaina Love and Chad Sarno show that a diet consisting exclusively of gourmet raw food cuisine may not be so great for your health. All three authors have put their reputations as raw food gurus at stake to share the important information they have discovered.
--Dr. B. J. Adrezin, CEO, POTENT FOODS, Inc.

And since I've been asked, let me share my comments...

When authors share their experiences, their ups and downs, their concerns and insights in a genuine, open way with us, we admire their courage and become all the more willing to learn from them. Victoria relates in Raw and Beyond: "I choose to be healthy instead of being 100% raw. But I still believe that raw food is the most natural and ancient way of eating for humans. By explaining the pitfalls in my own raw food journey, I hope to motivate many more people to try a raw food diet."

That same spirit of honesty compels me to share my point of view, because without respect to everyone's experience, we'll never achieve a universally valid picture of the raw food movement in its essence, with its successes and failures.

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While I was working on my book Quantum Eating in 2006-2007, the working title was Beyond Raw. Ultimately, I rejected that title, but for a time, I was quite in love with it. At that time I'd been 100% raw for almost a decade. I felt inspired to write my third book because something remarkable was happening to me.

I did go "beyond" the mere eating of raw foods as daily choices. Rather, "raw" became a lifestyle. The word beyond, it seemed to me, nicely reflected the new direction, the new and farther extent of my journey at the time--onward, I thought and still think, to a "farther side."

My raw food lifestyle was changing me dramatically, on every level. Once drawn to 'gourmet' raw foods cuisine, to the many recipes which produce raw equivalents to and imitations of traditional dishes, I'd decided to abandon all that fancy stuff. My body was thriving on simple whole raw foods--delightingin them. Cravings vanished. And it seemed I needed less food altogether. I stopped eating at night - this change alone was taking me beyond the benefits of a common 100% raw food diet, which generally means eating up until bedtime.

A truly raw lifestyle is only partly about food. My health journey went beyond(with its meaning in addition to) food-related practices. Exercise was a vital component. I don't think it is even possible to achieve any degree of success as a raw foodist without regular physical practice. 

I am convinced it's hot yoga (Bikram yoga), which by itself is a powerful anti-aging practice, that helped me to avoid pitfalls in my raw food journey. Of course, I had setbacks, but they were never serious enough to make me question my 100% raw choice. Quite the opposite, often during my Bikram yoga class my ever-increasing flexibility makes me marvel if my age is indeed turning back.

Many people comment on how difficult it can be to follow a raw food lifestyle in a cold climate. I couldn't agree more. Here is another way that hot yoga as a form of exercise can help. It makes it easier to practice a raw food lifestyle even if you don't live in the tropics. Fortunately, you can now find Bikram yoga studios all over the world.

That said, I don't want to give the impression that a 100% raw food lifestyle is easy. It's not. And I'm also not saying everybody should pursue it. I am sharing my own experience to encourage a creative approach in your own health journey. 

In May, 1997, I stopped eating anything cooked. Let me dig into a couple of gems that kept me going at the time:

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My experience has been that by eating 95% raw food, I received 95% of the amazing results. After comfortably eating 100% raw food for several years, it seemed that I was receiving 1,000% of the results.
--David Wolfe, The Sunfood Diet Success System

...For those of you who are on raw foods 99%, you may consider food comforting and pleasurable for the rest of your life. Hanging on to that 1% cooked food in your diet keeps you craving cooked food. It's like someone who quits drinking but consumes one shot of vodka every Saturday. Is this person truly sober?
--Victoria Boutenko, 12 Steps to Raw Food

Now, after nearly fifteen years on 100% raw foods, I've found these sayings so close to my own experiences that I feel I could have written them myself. 

The authors of the book Raw and Beyond are, like me, essentially ordinary people seeking health. We write no sacred truth, no gospel, nor claim to. We're simply individuals who were brave enough to open up and share our own experience.

That experience--and the experimentation that delivers it--is the essence of the raw foods movement. Those experiments and experiences are personalIndividual. Learn from every raw food book, but find your own path. There is no other way.