Why I Like It Raw
Prepare for over sharing.
By August Wright, College of Charleston
Probably eight or nine years ago, one of my aunts had gained a considerable amount of weight, partly because she was pregnant and partly because her husband used to be a chef.
My aunt needed to lose the weight because, you know, we all told her that we thought she was going to die, so she and my uncle took up juicing.
Juicing is one of those all-liquid diets that, when mentioned, makes my mom want to beat someone senseless with her pasta roller or an extra-crusty loaf of bread. Typically, liquid-only diets tend to be pretty dangerous and usually the diet plan choice of anorexics everywhere. But unlike sipping one can of diet soda for hours, juicing actually ensures that the dieter is taking in all their vital nutrients. The one difficulty in juicing, however, is that you have to buy a juicer (which can be very expensive), and it takes a lot of fruits and vegetables to make one glass of juice.
My aunt and uncle both lost a lot of weight and, more impressively, they’ve pretty much kept the weight off. My boyfriend and I, surprised by their results, decided to watch the documentary, “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead,” a funny/educational movie about a morbidly obese guy who decides to drop the weight by juicing. This movie had initially sparked my aunt’s interest in the liquid diet and eventually was what convinced us to give it a try.
Unfortunately, juicing is hard.
We had a juicer, but you basically need to own your own supermarket to have enough fruits/vegetables for juice. We’re cheap, which is why we stole the juicer from my boyfriend’s parents, and also why we decided to not juice, but instead eat raw foods.
On our raw food diet, we ate fruits, vegetables (lots of salad), nuts, fish and eggs. Giving up dairy, red meats, crackers, chips, packaged foods, etc. was actually pretty easy, but sweets was an issue. My boyfriend is one of those people with something called “self-control,” so he can resist cake that’s sitting right in front of him. But I’m a normal human being, and if someone offers me a moist, double-layer yellow cake with chocolate buttercream frosting and a mug of frosty cold milk on the side, obviously I’m going to vacuum-suck that into my face.
Sweets were especially hard to forgo because I eat a lot of candy. You know on Halloween how you’d fill up that pillowcase with candy and then spend the next month eating it? I probably eat that much candy every week. I just love candy. I could write a book about candy because I’ve tried a lot of different candies from all over the world. On an unrelated note, I have a lot of cavities, which I assume is pure coincidence.
Yonana turns frozen fruit into delicious, sherbet-like ice cream. I don’t know what sort of witchcraft goes on inside that machine, but you shove a frozen banana into it, shove other frozen fruits in on top (cherries are my favorite) and watch as the machine squeezes out a weird non-solid, non-liquid mass of frozen, poopy goodness. I know I used the word “poop” to describe it, but it’s really tasty.
During our raw diet phase, which lasted about three months, I lived off the fruity goodness my Yonana dumped out. But I would also make a huge salad with bib and iceberg lettuce, romaine, kale, spinach, fresh herbs, carrots, radish, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc., at the beginning of each week. In the evening, I would thaw out fish, and my boyfriend and I would eat that with salad. I’d also usually make our lunches for the next day, which consisted of nuts, fresh fruit and—you guessed it—salad.
Planning out our meals was really important because if we didn’t, we’d end up eating garbage. When I say “the raw diet lasted three months,” I mean more like, “We ate raw 99 percent of the time, but 1 percent of the time we ate like it was our last day on Earth.”
There’s nothing wrong with taking a day off—and you absolutely should no matter what diet plan you’re on—but scheduling that day off and your other food choices helps minimize bad choices. If I knew my boyfriend was planning on taking me to Party City to buy giant Lemonheads, Pez and Airheads, I would be more conscious of my food choices during the week. Also, having something to look forward to is always fun and rewarding (treat yo self).
During the raw diet, I noticed a couple of pretty significant things. First, I have horrifically bad acid reflux and a pretty crappy gastric system in general (seriously. I’ve been scoped more times than most 60- and 70-year olds). But eating raw really cleared up a lot of my problems. Stomach pain that I would have normally went away. My acid reflux was better controlled without having to double or triple my medicine. Obviously eating raw means a lot of natural fiber, but that doesn’t translate to “many emergency poops.” Eating lots of raw fiber kept mine and my boyfriend’s systems moving at a very natural pace. I mean, a lot of pooping was happening (it wasn’t all just the Yonana), but none of it was uncomfortable—and I promise I’ll stop over-sharing now.
Eating raw also helped both of us slim down in terms of body fat. I was eating more sugar (fruit) than he was, but both of us had much better musculature and less fat, especially in the usual “problem” areas like the stomach and thighs. We frequently go to the gym, and eating raw was a nice supplement to our normal bodybuilding routine.
Raw diets are a good idea, but I don’t think it’s a diet you could totally subsist off of forever.
Sure, it’s healthy, but it’s also expensive. Eating the same fruits and vegetables all the time gets old, and you end up doing stupid shit like buying cactus leaf to “spice things up.” FYI, when you bite or cut cactus leaf, it oozes a gel, and the resultant texture is crunchy, pokey and slippery—as if it’s been spit on a lot. Also, it tastes like aloe.
One word of advice for anyone wanting to try a raw diet: When you go back to eating your normal rotation of food, incorporate a fiber supplement or enough fruit/vegetables to ensure you don’t end up hurting yourself when you poo. Metamucil is a good product to get things moving again, and it’s definitely worth trying if you’re experiencing “The Clog,” “The Clog 2: The Unmovable,” and/or “The Clog 3: The Enema.”
Okay, now I’m done over-sharing.