“It is easier to change a man’s religion than to change his diet”
anthropologist Margaret Mead
Switching from a cooked-food diet to a raw-food diet can be challenging – it requires a great deal of commitment and planning, as well as a willingness to educate oneself. Luckily, it has been done, many times over, and so it is possible to save a lot of time and effort by taking advantage of the learnings of those who have gone before you.
There are many approaches that may be taken.
1) You may be so driven to make the change that you are prepared to make it ‘cold turkey’ – an overnight change from your current way of eating to a 100% raw food diet. A key advantage to this approach is that it will probably be the most effective in dealing with your addiction to cooked food. Another advantage of the 100% approach, for transitioning to raw food, or for quitting smoking, or for most any major life change, is that it is, in one respect, the ‘easiest’. The questions that would come up with a gradual change – “I’ve been over 90% raw today, so can I have that steak?”, or “I’ve only had two cigarettes today, so can I have one more after supper” – don’t come up with cold turkey transitions.
On the other hand, if you’ve been following a standard cooked food diet for a lifetime, you may not have all of the kitchen appliances that would make 100% raw a little easier (a vitamix, a food processer, a juicer, a dehydrator…), and you may not yet be familiar with the raw recipes and techniques that prove most effective.
If you choose to take this approach, you may want to try it as an ‘experiment’ (I will go 100% raw for 90 days, and see how that goes, before I decide to stay raw forever), and you will certainly want to take advantage of the many books and websites that provide recommendations for living raw.
2) If one of your motivations to going raw is toxicity, you may want to kick off your transition to raw by first undertaking a cleansing juice fast, from 10 to 30 days long. This could help you do some serious detox’ing before your transition, and will provide a ‘buffer’ between your old cooked-food life and your new raw life.
3) If a juice fast seems a little extreme, you could consider a green-smoothie ‘fast’ instead, or possibly transition to raw via a gradually change to the ‘Green Smoothie Diet’, as espoused in Victoria Boutenko’s book “Green for Life”. Start with replacing your current breakfast by four cups of Green Smoothie, and then gradually replace all other meals by Green Smoothies (and gradually cut back on the quantities of nuts and seeds). This could help you kick the cravings for processed foods quite painlessly, and without feeling especially hungry.
4) Another option may be to gradually eliminate cooked foods from your diet, by choosing a different ‘type’ of cooked food to eliminate each week. You could start by leaving out processed foods, then dairy, then meat, then cooked grains.. until eventually all that is left is raw.
5) If a gradual change appeals to you, then the ‘one meal at a time’ approach may be best. Start by spending a month replacing your current breakfast by a raw one. Use this time to come up with a variety of raw breakfast options – fresh juices, green smoothies, fruit salads, raw cereals… The next month also replace your lunches with raw ones – soups, salads, spreads, crackers, breads… Then spend a month with half of each dinner being raw – a large salad along with steamed vegetables and grains… Finally omit all cooked foods.
A key advantage to this approach is that you have the time and opportunity to come up with a large repertoire of raw foods for all occasions, so that once you have gone completely raw, you already know exactly how to do it.
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One raw resource that I strongly recommend is the book “The Live Food Factor” by Susan Schenck. A veritable ‘bible’ of raw foods, this hefty book is overflowing with information about going raw – including a substantial section entitled “Raw Passage – Your Journey to Raw Life”.