Kat Green shares her Top 7 Tips for transitioning to a raw food diet. Kat is a certified nutritional practitioner with a passion for helping others achieve their optimal health. Experience as a 20-year-long vegetarian, organic farmer, Hippocrates health educator, juice feaster, six-year raw foodist and raw vegan chef have all informed her low-fat raw vegan recipe books.
Kat is living and loving the 80/10/10 raw vegan diet and aims to inspire others to include more raw fruits and vegetables in their life. Find her on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.
1. Clean house. You will eat what is in the house so donate those cookies and chips in your pantry and that tub of ice cream in your freezer. When we are hungry, we become less discerning and will grab whatever is around, so it is important to build an environment that will support the diet you want. Don’t leave your fridge empty, welcome an abundance of your favorite produce. Pick foods you are excited about and make sure to get enough to meet your caloric needs.
Remember that you don’t have to say, “I’m never going to have chips again,” but simply work on shifting your focus to be primarily on fresh fruits and vegetables. Crowd out junk food by filling your life with fresh food. Once you start to satisfy candy cravings with sweet fruit and salty cravings with mineral-rich vegetables, you’ll find eating to be a joy, not a compromise.
2. Engage in self-talk. Be reasonable. Know yourself and your tendencies. Are you someone who likes to jump into the pool or wade in? Some people can go from burgers to bananas overnight, but for most it takes time. Be patient and compassionate with how you react to the changes ahead. Be mindful of the self-talk that arises when you face diet-related challenges. When you “slip up,” do you beat yourself up about it or are you able to call on understanding? Shift into this space where you can be more empathetic of yourself. This might sound like:
I made the best choice I could at the time.
To dwell on it now is not going to change the past, only make me feel worse.
I have made recent steps in other areas that are moving me toward health. This, although it was a slip-up, is still a higher low than my slip-ups were in the past when I was binging on chicken wings, not vegan stir fry.
None of these are an effort to condone any one behavior but to recognize that we are human beings and that sometimes our reality simply doesn’t match our plans.
3. Make friends. If you are surrounded by people who would likely not understand your new choice, don’t mention it. It is enough for yourself to take on these new habits, let alone the hassle of trying to explain them to everyone. Transitioning can be a very vulnerable time in which, although you are excited, you might not have the confidence that comes with experience on the diet. So, it can be overwhelming to have your friends and family pick apart your choices, scoff at your diet, act defensive about their own, probe you for scientific evidence, etc. Be quiet, be patient and allow the results to speak for themselves.
Gain a supportive raw vegan community. Try finding potlucks and fruitlucks on Meetup.com; check out 30BananasADay.com for other fruit fans in your area; mingle at farmers’ markets or your local raw food café; and sign up for any of the worldwide fruit festivals.
You’ll see that opening up to a raw vegan diet is opening up a can of health worms. Most people become interested in health beyond diet—exercise, mental state, spirituality, creative expression, etc. So remember that friends don’t even necessarily have to be people who are raw vegan; they can be supportive of the healthier changes in other aspects of your life like fitness, art, work, your emotions, etc.
4. Educate yourself. Learn about common pitfalls to avoid. Remember to learn from others who have gone before you but don’t take anyone’s word as gospel. Your body and power should never be given up to a doctor, guru or another person. Be your own researcher. Experiment and be as objective as possible about your results. This will cement a trust and an understanding of your own experience.
Watch Kat Green Explain the Top 15 Mistakes Beginners Make on a Raw Food Diet
5. Explore fruit. It is so important to learn about what makes each fruit good, ripe and tasty. I often encounter individuals who’ve naïvely been eating unripe or bland fruit. After teaching them simple tips, they are able to eat the same variety of fruit but in a whole new way!
These tips include:
Bananas are at peek sweetness when they are freckled, not when they are hard and yellow.
For some varieties of blueberries, the big ones are the sweetest.
Certain nectarines are extra-sweet and flavorful when their skin has ‘sugar spots.’
Many apple varieties will be more flavorful when they have a yellow underglow to their skin rather than a green one.
Dragon fruit is sweetest when the flesh is more translucent than white.
Persimmons are best when almost as soft as a water balloon.
Learn how to use all your senses when picking. Most fruit will be somewhat soft to the touch, smell fragrant, look deep in colour, taste sweeter and even have a particular sound in response to tapping when ripe. Research online, ask your fruity friends or inquire with your produce vendor.
Keep trying new fruits because you really don’t know what you are missing. Every bite of your food should blow your mind. I introduced a friend to some quality tomatoes (ones that tasted like marinara sauce or ketchup), and they changed her world. No longer could she settle for the bland conventional varieties. Most people just don’t know how good fruit can be!
6. Invest in simple kitchen tools. Food texture is such a significant part of our eating experience. It really adds that extra excitement to our meals. Utilizing texture is a must for those transitioning from stimulant-heavy cooked dishes to a simpler raw vegan diet.
There are a two inexpensive and easy-to-use tools that can go a long way. A blender will give you access to smoothies, “ice creams,” soups, dressings, sauces and dips. And a julienne peeler or spiralizer will bring new texture to your salads and allow you to turn foods such as cucumber and zucchini into noodles! Most raw foodies will use both of these tools on a daily basis. Equipment such as food processors, juicers, dehydrators and fancy bowls are fun but secondary.
7. Have go-to alternatives to cooked favorites. Have alternatives to your favorite cooked foods. For example, if you love candy, know that instead you can reach for dates. If you love creamy dishes, know that you can use avocados. If you love sorbet and ice cream, find some smoothie recipes or simply blend frozen bananas. Find more than 100 gourmet-tasting dishes that are made with simple low-fat raw vegan ingredients on my website. My aim is to mimic classic cooked-food flavors and textures using easily digestible fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Satisfy cooked-food cravings without the repercussions of physical illness or emotional guilt.