The Raw Food Diet: Should You Try It?

It seems that every few months, we hear about a new diet that, like all the others, promises to yield fast and tempting results. Is the raw food diet any different, and, if so, how?

I started researching the raw food diet a few years ago. The basic premise is that you consume only raw foods that are in their natural state—uncooked and unprocessed.  When you heat food beyond the allowed (by raw food fans) 118 degrees, the food becomes less nutritionally dense. You might wonder what raw foodists eat if they aren’t consuming the traditional American meat-and-potatoes diet. The answer is that they eat fruit, veggies, beans, nuts, and seeds.  Some consume dairy and meat products, but only in a raw state.    

I became interested in raw food because, as many of us know, diabetes makes you desperate. I was struggling with extremely high pre-period blood sugars despite increased insulin doses, more rest, and a lower carbohydrate diet.  I was willing to try anything to feel better. Upon further research, however, I realized that many raw foods contain a significant amount of carbohydrate (think beans and many fruits and vegetables). Adhering to a raw food diet, therefore, wouldn’t alleviate my blood sugar struggles.

Before you write off the raw food diet, however, know that its followers are getting a few things right.  For one, we should all be consuming more raw fruits and vegetables.These powerhouse foods contain many vitamins, an abundance of fiber, and a slew of other benefits. Furthermore, they are filling (thank you, fiber and water content), so we’re likely to lose weight more easily eating them than consuming an equal amount of calories as white bread or pasta, for example.    

For another, raw food diet followers are eating proteins that are lean and fiber-full.   Beans, although they do contain carbohydrates, also contain an abundance of protein and fiber that help us stay full and lean. Meat, the go-to protein in the American diet, can be laden with saturated fat, sodium, and preservatives. Darker beans are also rich in antioxidants, which do everything from fighting cancer to making our skin and hair healthier.

Raw foodists also understand that we overcook our foods. Even worse, we often smear them with butter and dump salt on them, decreasing their nutritional value further. Why not eat raw baby carrots?  Why not eat an apple instead of drinking apple juice (much of which is only 10 percent juice), or have celery sticks with raw nut butter or hummus?  

Overall, raw food consumption can be helpful to someone with diabetes who is attempting to better her nutritional intake and consume more fiber and vitamins. I won’t be joining the raw food movement any time soon, but I have incorporated many of its principles into my daily diet.  The result has been more energy and the satisfaction of knowing that I’m treating my body well.  

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