A Lifestyle Change, Not a Religion

A Lifestyle Change, Not a Religion
by Jennifer LB Leese

When was the last time you felt like making a healthy lifestyle change? When was the last time you actually went through with it? Well,
Tanya Ortiz, a raw foodist, did and here she tells it like it is.
What is a raw foodist?
A raw foodist is a person who consumes primarily raw food, or all raw food, depending on how strict the person is.
Raw foodists typically believe that the greater the percentage of raw food in the diet, the greater the health benefits. They generally believe raw food prevents and/or heals many forms of sickness and many chronic diseases. Freezing food is considered acceptable by many raw foodists; some choose to preserve nuts and seeds in a freezer.
Raw foodism is a movement promoting the consumption of uncooked, unprocessed, and often organic foods, as a large percentage of the diet. A raw food diet consists fully of foods, which have not been heated above a certain temperature. The maximum temperature varies among the different forms of the diet, from 92˙F to 118˙F (33˙C to 48˙C). Raw food diets may include a
select on of raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds (including whole grains), eggs, fish, meat and unpasteurized dairy products (such as raw milk, cheese and yogurt).
"Raw or living foods are those that have not been exposed to temperatures above 105˙F, thus maintaining their nutritional properties. This is a diet that consists of raw (uncooked) fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and berries. Your body is 70% water so shouldn't your food reflect that?" says Tanya.
The raw food vegan diet:
Raw vegan diets comprise three key food groups: sweet fruit, high-fat plants and green leafy vegetables. Raw food authorities differ in the proportions recommended, some suggesting that 2% of calories from green leafy vegetables (about 300 g of lettuce per day) is sufficient while others recommend that about 30% of calories should come from green vegetables. Similarly, recommendations on high fat foods such as avocados, olives, nuts, seeds and cold-pressed oils range from a few percent to about 40% of calories. The Hallelujah diet founded by George Malkmus puts particular emphasis on carrot juice and barley grass, which contribute about 15% of calories.
It is my understanding that those who follow this way of eating generally believe that raw foods contain enzymes and eating food without these enzymes may make digestion more difficult, thus depriving the body of enzymes, which may lead to toxicity in the body; that raw foods contain bacteria and other micro-organisms that stimulate the immune system and enhance digestion by populating the digestive tract with beneficial flora. Some believe that raw foods have higher nutrient values than cooked foods.
Why Tanya went from cooked to raw.
"I was getting married and went to [a bridal store] to try on dresses. When I looked in the mirror and saw my double chin and fat I wanted to cry. I did not want to get married looking like that. At that time I did not want anyone to see me walk down the aisle, I did not want to be in pictures.
"At that point in my life I knew it wasn't exercise, as I had exercised at the YMCA 3 to 5 times a week for an hour. In addition to that, I would walk my two dogs for 45 minutes in the morning before I would go to the Y. Looking in the mirror I knew that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing and expecting different results so I knew I had to do something different.
"About a year ago I knew that eating fruits and veggies was good for me, but I didn't have anyone to teach me how to eat predominately fruits and veggies without getting bored with it. I tried it for a week eating salads and then gave it up.
"After my trip to the bridal store I began to search the net and as an avid reader I began to read every book I could get my hands on about eating gourmet raw vegan dishes and about the raw food vegan diet. I started eating a raw food vegan diet because of excess weight, but now I understand that there are many more benefits than just loosing weight."
"Raw food, being the diet of almost every kind of animal for all time, necessarily dates to prehistoric eras, before humans began cooking with fire. Some believe that prehistoric humans were largely vegetarians, and thus that, the human digestive system is configured for raw vegetarianism." Others believe their primitive ancestors were chiefly hunters who ate raw meat.
Raw foods gained more prominence throughout the 1900's, as proponents such as Ann Wigmore and Herbert Shelton claimed that a diet of raw fruits and vegetables is the ideal diet for humans.
"The raw food lifestyle has gained acceptance, although not all nutrition experts condone it. Restaurants catering to this diet have opened, especially in large cities, and numerous all-raw cookbooks have been published. Celebrities including Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson, who have been known to follow a raw food diet, provide additional exposure. (Wikipedia)
The pros and cons
"The pros of eating a raw food vegan diet is you can look and feel younger, have more energy, lose weight, lower blood cholesterol, prevent and reverse heart disease, prevent and even treat diabetes, lower blood pressure and much more.
"I do believe that the body can heal itself. As Hippocrates said, " Leave your drugs in the chemist's pot if you can heal the patient with food." Many diseases listed above are according to T. Colin Cambell, PHD from the book The China Diet are considered "diseases of affluence" meaning that here in America, we are affluent and we suffer certain diseases because of an unhealthy, largely toxic diet. Eating the highest quality of foods will produce the highest quality of health in your body. Most people do not equate the two together. Personally I have lost 35lbs in six months, coming from a family with a history of diabetes, erased having hypoglycemia, and have more energy now at 34 than I did at 24. I used to think having arthritis, being borderline diabetic and being overweight came with age, but now I know different! I don't even suffer from allergies and now that is not an issue for me."
The cons: "I do not know of any cons of eating a diet of raw living fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and berries. The only con I know is that in the beginning of starting to eat this way my friends and family thought I was crazy. That was until six months later they saw the weight come off and saw the improvement on my appearance! On occasion I will have a craving for cooked food. My body is used to digesting the highest quality of foods, so when I eat a cooked meal I feel lethargic and bloated. At that point, I remember how good I feel only eating raw vegan meals."
Tanya says she had to adjust psychologically. "No matter how full the plate is with fruits and vegetables, many of us are trained to think that without meat that the plate is not a real meal." When she shopped for groceries "it took a lot to get used to only shopping in the produce section and to bypass everything in a box, bag, or can."
What are the benefits of the diet?
Tanya Ortiz says, "I would encourage anyone that wants to improve their health and well being to be on a raw food vegan diet. I say vegan because it is a diet devoid of any and all animal products."
Wikipedia states that the benefits include: a stable body mass index, clear skin, more energy, and minimizes a range of common illnesses, from the flu to obesity.
What about cooking and eating out?
Whatever your taste buds, there is something for everyone. There is a vast range of vegan foods available. These shops provide everything from delicious vegan chocolate ice cream to vegan fishless scampi or smoked salmon-less pate.
Tanya eats out about once a week. "Depending on how I feel, sometimes I will just order a salad and take liquid braggs aminos to put on it instead of the processed dressings that are offered at restaurants, other times I just order a regular meal and then feel the consequences of it later. I see this diet as a lifestyle not a strict religion."
Tanya's tips
* Eat more fruits and vegetables.
* Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.
* Mixing it up is important for getting all the necessary nutrients and for maintaining your interest in the diet.
* Get raw food "un" cook books.
* Take a one-month challenge! They say if you do something for 30 days it becomes a habit. If you eat this way for a month it will be a habit, a way of life.
* Stop eating all foods in a box, bag or can!
What some experts have to say.
"A raw food vegan diet may be defined in various ways, but usually entails at least 80% by weight being raw plants. Many people report feeling healthier and more energetic on adopting such diets, but there are too few long-term raw food vegans for direct evaluation of the success of raw vegan diets versus other diets. We can, however, evaluate such diets against known human nutritional requirements to gain a better understanding of the ways in which appropriate raw vegan diets could benefit health." (Stephen Walsh, PhD (The Vegan, Autumn 2002)
"Cooking can alter the structure of phytochemicals, resulting in very different health effects. In some cases cooking increases the availability of phytochemicals, while in others it is reduced. For example, lycopene is better absorbed from the cooked tomatoes than from raw tomatoes. Cooking can also change phytochemicals, giving them entirely different properties. For example, when garlic is cooked in water, vinyldithiins are produced; when cooked in oil, ajoenes are formed. It looks as though we are best to include a variety of both raw and cooked foods in the diet." (Becoming Vegan" by Vesanto Melina, RD and Brenda Davis, RD)
"Contrary to popular belief, there is no real advantage to eating only the foods that can be consumed in a raw, unprepared state. Rather, cooked foods are often more easily digested than raw (raw foods advocates will likely contest this point, I know, but it is true) and nutrients are sometimes better absorbed from cooked foods than raw. Too much cooking at high temperatures is bad, of course, but some cooking can be very beneficial. Cooking greatly increases the variety of foods available to us. While we don't have any particular requirement for grains and products made from them, they do make it much easier to meet nutrient needs. The same is true for legumes.
These foods also make diets more interesting." (Virginia Messina, RD)
If you're ready for this type of lifestyle change, contact Tanya Ortiz at 240-409-8888 or you can visit her website for more information: www.missrawdiva.com.
She also teaches people easy, quick, and affordable ways to eat a raw food diet and hosts potluck dinners for her students. "One of the biggest reasons that I teach people how to eat a raw food vegan diet is so people can be more in control of their health, that they don't have to settle for diseases just because of their age or weight. Most people relay on drugs to turn their health around instead of the food they eat."
Be sure to talk with your doctor.

Source: The Vegan Society, Wikipedia.org, Raw Food Life, Healthy choices on raw vegan diets - by Stephen Walsh, PhD (Autumn 2002), and Beyond Veg.