Thursday
Oct222009

Raw Mistake # 5: Buying unnecessary appliances.

Today we're going to look at the fifth of The 7 Biggest Raw Mistakes.

Raw Mistake # 5: 
Buying unnecessary appliances.

The topic of appliances seems to confuse many raw foodists. They often get caught up trying to decide whether they should buy this juicer or that juicer, or what kind of dehydrator they need to invest in.  My advice to you is, 'don’t waste your money'.  You can absolutely succeed on a raw-vegan diet with minimal appliances. 

The fundamental point of eating raw-vegan is to embrace the simplicity of it.  You may hear all sorts of praise about how wonderful juicer ‘X’ is.  How it can extract every last drop of juice from a carrot or a blade of wheatgrass in seconds, or how it can launch an astronaut into space.  Don't let these glossy marketing claims sway you.  I'm not saying they're inaccurate or untrue.  I'm just saying, 'who cares?'.  Those machines may be impressive and great quality, but they’re offering something that you don't need.  In fact, in some ways they can even be counter-productive. 

One of the greatest benefits of a raw-vegan diet is that you’re eating whole foods.  That means the water and the fiber are still present.  When you juice your fruits and vegetables, you lose the fiber.  This causes several problems.  The obvious one is that, without fiber, your body can’t effectively keep your digestive processes moving at the proper pace.  We rely upon the fiber in our foods to allow our intestines to keep pushing everything along, so when you remove that fiber, things grind to a halt.  Another, less obvious, problem relates to blood sugar levels.  When you eat a whole orange, it’s digested at a certain rate and the sugars are absorbed and used by your body with ease. When you drink a glass of orange juice, however, the process happens too quickly.  There is virtually no delay in digestion because the fiber's missing.  The sugars are absorbed at an extremely quick rate and as a result your blood sugar level can spike, followed by a quick drop again as the ‘sugar rush’ subsides.  This quick rising and falling is unhealthy and uncomfortable — potentially causing energy swings and headaches.  Furthermore, it can be of significantly greater concern for people who already have blood sugar problems. 

I own several ‘elite’ juicers, but I never use them.  Instead, they're sitting in the basement in their boxes.  The only juicer I ever use is a simple citrus juicer for squeezing some lemon juice for the occasional dressing recipe.  I don’t own a dehydrator either.  Like I explained in Raw Mistake # 2, it’s tougher to digest a dehydrated, concentrated food.  Why spend a bunch of time and energy turning an ideal, hydrated, whole food into a concentrated, dried food?  Not only is it a waste of effort, but it undermines the whole point of what you’re trying to achieve, which is eating the most optimal foods in their most natural form.  I doubt that you’ll be motivated to make any of those long, drawn-out, dried recipes anyway.  As I learned in the early going, it’s painfully time-consuming and the results aren’t what you’re looking for anyway.  Simply put, I don’t recommend that you spend your time or money on expensive juicers or dehydrators. 

There is one appliance that's definitely worth the investment, however.  That’s the Vitamix.  From across the room, you might identify it as a blender, but once you get some hands-on experience, you'll discover right away that this machine is infinitely greater than any department store blender.  Vitamix blenders are the ones you see at virtually any commercial juice bar.  Their considerable power and their much greater size allow them to handle jobs that your typical blender would never come close to managing.  For these reasons, a Vitamix is the ultimate smoothie-making machine, and the convenience factor of having one at home will pay for itself many, many times over.  I literally use mine several times, EVERY SINGLE DAY.  If I ever lost mine, I’d buy a replacement immediately.  It’s that much of an asset to me.  If you want to take a further look at why I think a Vitamix is the only appliance a raw-vegan needs, I've dedicated a separate post to that topic right here.  

In summary, don't overspend on appliances for your new raw-vegan kitchen. The only appliance you’ll need is a Vitamix for making smoothies.  Other than that, you really won’t need anything.

Remember:

  • We aren’t cooking anything.  
  • We aren’t dehydrating because fruits containing their natural moisture are much more readily digestible. 
  • We aren’t juicing because a whole fruit is vastly superior to fruit juice. 

When you look at it that way, how many appliances do you really need?

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Mike Dillman has lived a raw-vegan diet since 2004. Because he's experienced the learning curve firsthand, he wants to save you from making the same mistakes yourself. You can visit Mike's blog at Real-World-Raw.com to learn how easy it can be to make a raw-vegan diet fit your busy lifestyle. You can also download his free eBook, "The 7 Biggest Raw Mistakes", where Mike lays out the major missteps beginning raw foodists make that undermine their success and tells you how you can avoid them. To get your free eBook click here.

Tuesday
Oct202009

Raw Mistake # 4: Not getting enough calories.

Today we're going to look at the fourth of The 7 Biggest Raw Mistakes.

Raw Mistake # 4: 
Not getting enough calories.

No matter what type of diet you're on, it’s important to make sure you're eating enough calories to fuel your body. If you don't, you'll always feel hungry and your diet will fail.  One of the common frustrations of inexperienced raw-vegans is not getting enough calories.   They start out eating fruits and vegetables, but they always feel hungry.  This leads to cheating with cooked foods.  Eventually, they end up eating lots of dried fruit, nuts and avocados because they’re the only raw things that seem to keep them feeling full.  As we saw in Raw Mistake # 2, a diet high in fats and heavy foods is hard to digest.  If you eat this way, you'll experience digestive problems and feel tired after every meal.

This inability to escape heavy foods is due to a simple misunderstanding...  If you’re getting most of your calories from nuts, fats, grains, or meat and you stop eating them, of course you’ll feel hungry.  That's basic math.  The thing is, you shouldn’t have been relying on those dense foods in the first place.  Remember, we want a vast majority of our calories to be coming from simple carbohydrates — in other words, fresh fruit.  What you need to keep in mind is that fruits and vegetables have a high water content, which is why they’re less dense than dried foods.  Because of this you need to eat a larger volume of fruits and vegetables than you would eat of denser foods in order to get the same amount of calories.

It will likely surprise you just how much fruit you actually need to eat in a day to supply your body.  It may even take your stomach a while to get used to the volume, since it may have shrunken a bit after years of a concentrated, cooked-food diet.  But don’t despair — you’ll get used to it fairly quickly.  I've found that it can be really helpful if you figure out your personal daily calorie quota.  It differs from person to person, but a ballpark number for an average-sized person with an average activity level is around 2000 calories.

To give you a general idea of how much fruit that is, you could get 2000 calories from the following combination:

  • 10 bananas
  • 3 apples
  • 3 pears
  • 1 cup berries
  • 1 mango
  • 1 avocado

This may sound like a lot; especially if you aren’t used to eating a raw-vegan diet.  It's really not though.  I actually eat about 50% more than this on most days.  Keep in mind that your size and activity level will determine how many calories you personally need to consume.  You’ll be able to fine-tune this for yourself later, but for now we’ll keep with the 2000 calories figure as a good starting point for the average person.  I’ll show you how easy it can be to eat this much fruit in Raw Mistake # 5

What I want you to get from this article is that you'll need to get used to eating a larger volume of food than what you've eaten in the past.  This is simply because of the water content in fruits and vegetables.  Keep in mind also that some fruit like bananas have more calories than really watery fruit, like citrus fruit and melons.  Bananas are the main ingredient in my smoothies, which comprise the bulk of my diet.  What it comes down to is, if you don’t eat enough calories, you’ll always feel hungry.  That’s basic logic.  It’s simply a matter of making sure you eat enough fruit to satisfy yourself.  Eat plenty of fresh, raw fruits and vegetables and you'll always feel satisfied and full of energy.

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Mike Dillman has lived a raw-vegan diet since 2004. Because he's experienced the learning curve firsthand, he wants to save you from making the same mistakes yourself. You can visit Mike's blog at Real-World-Raw.com to learn how easy it can be to make a raw-vegan diet fit your busy lifestyle. You can also download his free eBook, "The 7 Biggest Raw Mistakes", where Mike lays out the major missteps beginning raw foodists make that undermine their success and tells you how you can avoid them. To get your free eBook click here.

Monday
Oct192009

Raw Mistake # 3: It's a single-lane road.

 

Today we're going to look at the third of The 7 Biggest Raw Mistakes.

Raw Mistake # 3: 
It's a single-lane road.

If you want to experience great digestion on your raw-vegan diet, here's something you should keep in mind: The order in which you eat your food can have a big impact on how well you digest it.  It's important to eat in the order of the quickest digesting foods first, followed by the slower digesting foods last. You might be tempted to say this sounds silly, but believe me, it really does make a huge difference.  I'll paint you a picture to help you see why.

Visualize your digestive tract as a single-lane road.  All the traffic (food) shares the same lane, and there’s no room to pass.  Let’s say you eat an avocado and shortly after that you eat a banana.  Because this is a single-lane road, the quick-to-digest banana is caught behind a slow-to-digest avocado and will remain stuck until the next exit (quite a while away…)  In the course of this trip, the banana will be broken down must faster than the avocado but will be unable to move along the digestive tract at its proper pace because it must wait for the avocado to get digested. By the time the avocado gets to the end of the process, the banana will have spent far more time in your bowels than it should have and will have fermented, causing gas and bloating, as well as irritating the intestines. This problem can easily be avoided with a little foresight.

It’s important to keep in mind the order you eat things.  It may take a little while to start thinking about food in this way, but given some time it becomes automatic.  As a general outline, I tend to eat almost exclusively fresh fruit (smoothies) for the majority of the day and then have my greens later on.  If you tend to use salad dressings or heavier foods like nuts and seeds, you shouldn’t eat a lot of them in the earlier part of the day (i.e. before the fruit).  Save them for the evening. This way you’ll automatically take care of eating things in the most digestible order. 

Your stomach will feel much more comfortable, and so will those sitting next to you.

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Mike Dillman has lived a raw-vegan diet since 2004. Because he's experienced the learning curve firsthand, he wants to save you from making the same mistakes yourself. You can visit Mike's blog at Real-World-Raw.com to learn how easy it can be to make a raw-vegan diet fit your busy lifestyle. You can also download his free eBook, "The 7 Biggest Raw Mistakes", where Mike lays out the major missteps beginning raw foodists make that undermine their success and tells you how you can avoid them. To get your free eBook click here.

Friday
Oct162009

Raw Mistake # 2: Eating too much dried fruit, nuts and fats.

Today we're going to look at the second of The 7 Biggest Raw Mistakes.

Raw Mistake # 2: 
Eating too much dried fruit, nuts and fats.

Years ago, when I first started going raw, I found myself eating a lot of dried fruit and nuts.  If you're eating a vegan diet, there's a pretty good chance that you've felt this urge yourself.  Let me tell you right away that this isn't the path you should be heading down.  It took me a while to break the habit, but now that I eat an optimal raw vegan diet I keep very little dried fruit or nuts in my house.  I rarely eat them and I don’t crave them.  In fact, with very few exceptions, I feel much better when I don’t eat them.

Nuts and dried fruit really aren’t that much better than cooked foods.  They’re dense and dehydrated, and hard to digest.  To explain that a bit better, just think about the basics of what happens when you eat.  You chew and swallow, and the food ends up in your stomach.  Then, in order to be absorbed, the food needs to be broken down into a liquid. Depending upong what you're eating, this can either be a lot of work, or a little. 

Let me give an example here.  Which do you think would be easiest for your body to turn into a liquid: A handful of trail mix (nuts and dried fruit), or an orange (fresh fruit)?  It’s no contest.  The orange is most of the way there already.  The amount of work that has to be done to liquify and digest the fresh fruit is comparably minimal.  Eating large quantities of dried fruit and nuts will be very taxing on your energy levels.  The process of digestion is one of the largest energy drains for your body, so if you can minimize the work load you’ll definitely notice the extra energy you save.

It’s not just the dried foods, though.  Fats are very much the same story.  That still means nuts, but also means oils and yes, even avocados to a certain extent.  It's significantly harder for your body to digest fat and protein than carbohydrates (such as fresh fruit) because, before it can use the food as fuel, it has to convert these energy sources into a simple sugar which is a usable form of carbohydrate.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying you shouldn't eat any of these foods at all.  I eat four or five medjool dates a few times per week, for example.  (As far as dried fruit goes, medjool dates are your best choice because they dissolve quite nicely.)  I also have half an avocado a few times per week -- usually mixed into a salad. 

What I am saying is that you definitely shouldn't be getting a majority of your calories from these dense foods.  You should give yourself a break.  By eating lots of fresh fruit, your calories come from the simple carbohydrates that your body needs in the first place.  Minimize the amount of dried fruits, nuts, oils and avocados you eat and you’ll feel much more energetic because of it.

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Mike Dillman has lived a raw-vegan diet since 2004. Because he's experienced the learning curve firsthand, he wants to save you from making the same mistakes yourself. You can visit Mike's blog at Real-World-Raw.com to learn how easy it can be to make a raw-vegan diet fit your busy lifestyle. You can also download his free eBook, "The 7 Biggest Raw Mistakes", where Mike lays out the major missteps beginning raw foodists make that undermine their success and tells you how you can avoid them. To get your free eBook click here.

Thursday
Oct152009

Raw Mistake # 1: Just because it's raw, it doesn't mean it's good for you.

Today we're going to look at the first of The 7 Biggest Raw Mistakes.

Raw Mistake # 1: 
Just because it's raw, it doesn't mean it's good for you.

For anyone starting a raw diet, this is a really important point to understand early on. 

Let me say it again...  Just because a food is raw (and vegan too, for that matter), that doesn't necessarily make it good for you.  A perfect example of this principle is the assortment of raw recipes that you’ll see in many raw ‘un-cook’ books on the market. They’re often loaded with oils and other fatty ingredients. Sure, they may be cold-pressed extra-virgin oils, but that's really not the point.  Most of those recipes are bad ideas.

I remember when I started out raw and a friend of mine was keen on making all sorts of weird raw-concoctions in the dehydrator, like veggie-loafs and so forth, but they made me feel awful (and her too, for that matter.)  There were several major dietary rules that these meals completely clashed with — primarily the issues of having way too much fat and committing food combining blunders.  If you wanted to, you could make a diet that was "raw" by definition but incredibly unhealthy.  For example, you could start a diet that was just raw meat, eggs, salt, cold-pressed oils and nuts, but you wouldn't make it very far.

What I want you to get from this first rule is the fact that the label “raw” isn’t everything.  What are you doing this for?  Remember why you're interested in a raw-vegan diet in the first place.  It's because you want to treat your body well and eat in the healthiest way possible, right?  Just remember to keep that in the back of your mind.  It’s not about “raw”, per se. It’s about being healthy.  Don't get so caught up in thinking about "rawness" that you lose sight of the big picture — feeling great!

Tomorrow we'll talk about Raw Mistake # 2: "Don't eat too much dried fruit or fats."

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Mike Dillman has lived a raw-vegan diet since 2004. Because he's experienced the learning curve firsthand, he wants to save you from making the same mistakes yourself. You can visit Mike's blog at Real-World-Raw.com to learn how easy it can be to make a raw-vegan diet fit your busy lifestyle. You can also download his free eBook, "The 7 Biggest Raw Mistakes", where Mike lays out the major missteps beginning raw foodists make that undermine their success and tells you how you can avoid them. To get your free eBook click here.