Monday, November 9, 2009

The Honeymoon Phase

 I switched over to a raw food diet in August and did a six week "cleanse" that ended in October where I cut out gluten, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, etc. I did the cleanse mostly all raw except for one vegan cooked meal with my family. I am currently in what is known as the "honeymoon phase" where it's all new and exciting. I'm losing weight for the first time in a long time (slow as it is for my stubborn system) and I fully acknowledge that I am annoyingly in love with my new crush - I promise I am doing my best not to gush, I just want to share. 

Because I am that geek who has always had a pile of cookbooks by her bed at night. I rarely follow a recipe exactly, even the first time I make it. I've worked as a grill cook, a pantry chef, and a wine salesperson. I attend chocolate tastings. I care about public health when it comes to nutrition. I read books and watch movies about our current evolutionary timebomb that is obesity. As a photographer I love to photograph food. Yes I am a food geek. I can't help it, it's in my blood; I come from a family of food geeks.  

So why am I so in love? What is so miraculous about a bunch of raw vegetables, nuts and seeds? Why do people seem to have this religious fervor towards raw food? I am not sure exactly, but I do know that even growing up with a garden for most of my life and eating mostly vegan for the past few years did not prepare me for the way I would rediscover produce eating this way. My sense of smell has increased, and my taste buds have changed. I swoon over the scents of the autumn apples at the farmers' market as if I have never smelled them in my life. It has changed my body chemistry for certain. I feel so much more energetic, physically and mentally, and I can see why people start to pray at the alter of raw food and sometimes leave their common sense behind.

But even in the throngs of young love I can see the chinks in the armor. The information available on raw nutrition and nutrition in general is filled with misinformation. Arguments for and against the raw diet are filled with emotional language and unsubstantiated claims that, in the end, amounts to the reader knowing not much more than they did before. Forget math, biochemistry is hard, so let's all stop pretending to have the answers shall we? 

I believe the raw diet principles are generally sound. There is lots of evidence to prove that fruits and vegetables are good for you and we know that cooking them (especially over-cooking them) destroys some of the nutrients. But that's not the case all the time. Scientific America wrote an article on this very thing stating that determining whether raw veggies or cooked veggies were better for you is complicated. But the raw diet does point us away from processed foods, sugar, and gluten and pushes lots of cancer-fighting organic greens. It also points us away from lots of wasted food packaging.

Basically, I love my new diet. I love that raw food has so much flavor and that I can have tasty meals in minutes. I love that it is teaching me how to include lots more available nutrients through food. But I haven't thrown out my pots and pans. I will likely make a big roast of winter vegetables dressed in olive oil, lemon zest and rosemary at some point. Today I am very excited about the possibilities of my new cuisine and feeling blessed to be forever changed and not quarantined by it.

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