I’ve hung up my raw food hat.
Well, not entirely. I was doing the fully raw before 4 diet and ended up running into a serious flaw: my lack of willpower.
Basically, I ended up constantly craving hot food, whether it was healthy or not, almost always manifesting itself as me eating stuffed jalapenos from Jack in the Box. The cravings were so bad that I often overdid it, adding cheese and bacon to the jalapenos in addition to the buttermilk ranch. Something like 900 calories, 60g of fat, and almost 2500mg of sodium. No bueno.
So to manage the chaos and get myself back on track, I’ve made a few changes to my diet. Back in 2011 I had a ton of success by cutting fat out of my diet. Going from almost 200g a day to 35g a day, I shed 25lbs in about 2 1/2 months with regular exercise.
I love the fundamental benefit of the raw diet, so I’m going to keep raw foods as a strong component of my new diet, but I have to add a higher level of satiety.
I also just turned 30 on Sunday, and I’m ready for some real change. Positive change. So I started my diet yesterday. I’m keeping it simple so I don’t have to worry about keeping track of rules, but I’m also keeping it healthy.
These are the guidelines:
1. eat a vegetarian breakfast every morning.
I want to skip the breakfast meats because they’re too high in saturated fats and sodium, and as a result make me feel sluggish all morning. Generally I eat about 3-4 fruits, a Clif Bar, handfull of raw almonds or brazil nuts and a chocolate milk. I might replace the Clif Bar with brown sugar oatmeal and apples or craisins.
2. No more fast food. Ever.
It’s disgusting, culinarily-speaking, and it’s void of any useful nutrition. It’s only benefit is a misplaced sense of comfort that we acquired during childhood and are unable to shake decades later; addiction that rivals that of cigarettes. The way I feel after I eat fast food is never worth the few seconds of childhood nostalgia. If I want to feel nostalgic I’ll go play checkers.
3. If I crave a burger or steak or fried food, I’m going to make it myself.
There are multiple reasons for this. One, the required effort may serve as a deterrent to those foods. Two, if I’m going to eat unhealthy food, I may as well use the opportunity to practice my craft and build my menu for a food truck. Three, if I cook it myself I have more control over what goes into it. And four, for what I’d spend on myself at a fast food “restaurant” I could feed a family of four by cooking it at home instead.
4. No more soda.
There’s a lot of debate over the benefits of caffeine. I see caffeine as a drug (which it is), and given my past struggles with my addiction to the drug, I see it as something worth avoiding. Your body needs water to live, might as well give it water. This is another way to save money, also.
5. No eating after 7pm.
If I’m going to sleep, I don’t need calories or energy. If I ate an early dinner and the hunger pangs are making it impossible to get comfortable enough to fall asleep, I’ll eat a spoonful of peanut butter and a small glass of milk. So satisfying, and it keeps me from eating an entire bowl of chips and salsa, or leftover pizza, or cake or whatever. Late night hunger pangs aren’t always about filling your stomach, but about calming your brain. Peanut butter and milk works wonders for me.
6. Become Captain Obvious
Bacon, mayonnaise, ranch dressing, butter, cheese, oil (fried), etc are obviously not healthy choices. If I can do without, I will. I won’t ever eat a salad without dressing, so I may put a tiny bit of ranch on it to make it appetizing, or search for a healthier option like red wine vinaigrette or honey mustard. I don’t need to add bacon or mayo to my sandwich to make it edible. I opt for pickles and hot sauce to add a powerful and vinegary kick. Skip the fats and use texture and spice to keep your palate entertained. Cabbage, pickles, pretzels, etc are all good ways to add texture without fat. I put hot sauce on everything.
7. Snack smart
I snack on raw nuts or dried fruit (not freeze-dried). Or, as I do at night, I’ll eat a spoonful of peanut butter, which keeps me sated long enough to get to my next meal without being distracted by hunger. Nuts and peanut butter are great snack options because they last forever and you can keep them at your desk at work. Sometimes I’ll push it and eat pretzels or beef jerky. Neither is absolutely terrible for you, but they have a high amount of sodium, so moderation is encouraged.
One thing I learned while doing the raw food diet is just how bastardized our food system really is. It caters to commercialization and mass-production, leaving us with a product that’s barely “good enough” for consumption. It’s infuriating to know that there’s very little nature left in our food. The system itself requires us to cook the shit out of our food to stay safe.
Another sad reality is that small farms who aim to fight the food production giants aren’t viable enough to initiate a real change in the big picture. And their small size often results in prices the general public, myself included, can’t afford to pay. As much as I love raw milk, there’s no room in my budget to pay $11/gallon for it every week. It boils down to: if you want to eat truly natural raw foods, you have to grow it yourself or make 6-figures.
Defeated, I’ve adjusted my diet to something a little more practical for the sake of sanity. Rather than focusing entirely on raw, I plan to focus on eating 15+ servings of fruits and vegetables every day, raw, or otherwise (raw should probably be in quotes). By focusing on making manageable healthy changes, I’m hoping to segue into a more realistic diet with sustainability.
I want to weigh 215 or less on my 40th birthday. Whether I take 10 years to do it, or do it in the next year and keep it off for 10 years, my goal is to step on a scale on November 2, 2024 and see “215” or less. I’m starting now.