For many, the Raw Food Diet is only the latest in the endless litany of diet trends du jour.
From all carbs to no carbs, cookies to cabbage, it seems like every few months someone is advocating for a new way to eat and lose weight.
While the Raw Food Diet seems to be the new kid on the block, this diet and its benefits have actually been around for 200 years. The first known proponent was German doctor Maximilian Bircher-Benner, who started to look into the benefits of raw foods after a bout with jaundice that seemed to clear up with the more apples he ate. He founded the Vital Force clinic in Germany, which is still treating patients today.
While medical research is varied in its opinions about the benefits of raw diets, most studies agree that consuming a mostly raw diet can help with weight management, increase energy, boost the immune system and provide the body with many vital vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.
However, there are caveats, like the proper handling of food to avoid harmful bacteria like salmonella as well as planning meals to ensure the proper balance of nutrients, ensuring you eat the recommended daily allowances.
The Raw Diet, Defined
What does a Raw Diet involve? It depends on the path you want to follow. There are three main types of Raw Diets:
1. Vegan: Eating all raw fruits and vegetables, no animal byproducts like eggs or dairy.
2. Vegetarian: Raw fruits, vegetables, eggs and dairy are OK, but no meat.
3. Omnivorous: A little bit of everything — all plant and animal products are allowed.
Each type offers its own advantages and disadvantages. A vegan diet can be high in nutrients, low in cholesterol and high in fiber — but it can also lead to calcium and iron deficiencies, as can the vegetarian diet. However, both can be done in a nutritionally sound way with careful planning and supplements. Omnivorous diets can offer more balanced nutrition, but it also offers challenges when it comes to eating raw meat.
For these reasons, dehydrators are popular with many who choose to follow any type of raw diet. Dehydrating food simply removes the water, without cooking the produce or meat. After food is dehydrated, it can last for months, weeks and even years.
For those following a raw diet, this is a godsend. After all, who wants to make a daily trip to the market for fresh produce when they can go once a week or less? Who hasn't tossed a vegetable or fruit from the fridge that went bad before you ate it? Imagine the volume you might have to toss on a raw diet.
Thus, the convenience of preserving foods saves time and money.
Also, the low heat that dehydrators use is ideal for preserving meat while maintaining its rawness and thus its nutrients — and in many cases making the meat much more palatable.
For those who plan to commit to a raw diet as a lifestyle choice — and it is a lifestyle commitment to consume raw foods every day — choosing the right dehydrator is important. Think of the purchase as an investment, in yourself and your health. This is an appliance of equal importance and value to a microwave or oven, and likely one that you will get just as much use out of. You don't want something that isn't reliable, and isn't producing high-quality products.
Out With the Old, in With the New
Starting a Raw Food Diet, is really starting a new way of life, a new way of eating. One of the primary tenets of devotees is to eschew all processed foods, and all things cooked. So before you stock up, it's time to deplete your stockpiles.
Clean out the pantry of everything that you will no longer be eating. Either toss it, donate it to a local soup kitchen or fix yourself a good-bye to processed and cooked food dinner.
Stock up on the sorts of food you will be eating. Some items on the Raw Diet include:
-Fruits and vegetables
-Meats, if you'd like.
Once you are ready, it's time to start the Raw Food Diet. The easiest way to begin is simply to jump in with things that are familiar. After all, we all eat some raw foods every day. A morning fruit medley and an afternoon salad are great ways to get started. You might also want to research some Raw Food Diet recipes — there are plenty all over the Internet as well as several good cookbooks on the subject.
In your planning, don't forget your snacks. They may seem inconsequential, but snacking can derail the best of diet intentions if you aren't prepared for it. While nuts and raw vegetables are both great solutions, this is another area where a dehydrator can be helpful. You can preserve fruits, vegetables and meats and store them in your purse, office desk or even car. That way you can be prepared for regular snacking needs as well as "snacking emergencies" when you are on the go. This will help you fight off both hunger and cravings before they happen, so you can stay on track with the Raw Food Diet.