Rupinder is the creator of RawRasoi.com and author of her first free e-book, Start Your Day Raw. After healing herself of her childhood asthma, low blood pressure and severe digestive issues on a low-fat raw vegan diet, she now writes health articles and teaches raw vegan recipes to help people heal with fresh and living foods in New Delhi, India.
1. Know your ingredients. Start including rather than negating: The first and evergreen tip to start and stay on raw food is to always be ready and include more and more varieties of fresh fruits and greens. In simple words, expand your choices of fresh ingredients.
When I switched to a raw lifestyle more than two-and-a-half years back, I came to know about many fruits and veggies that I had never tasted before. So when I had to make a recipe, it became a real struggle. For example, mulberries, persimmons and custard apples grow abundantly in India, but as a child, my parents never brought such fruits home. So I felt like a child once again when I had them a few years back. And, believe me, I love each one of them. Each has a different flavour, texture and nutritional value. Same with nuts, seeds and greens.
I have observed the same curiosity among participants in my workshops. They wonder at the variety of ingredients I use. For example, many have never seen a fresh fig. They have seen only the dried fruit. So they take time to understand that they are the same fruit and that only their form is different. Likewise, they don’t know the names of many veggies and greens—especially the exotic or imported ones—and how to eat them. So I posted a special quiz on my website to engage people to learn about the basics in a fun and interactive way.
2. Buy local, seasonal and organic produce. On a raw food diet, we eat food mostly in its natural form, so it is ideal to have fruits and veggies free from pesticides and other chemicals. Visit a farmers’ market or get home delivery of fresh, local, seasonal and organic produce. As a child growing up in a small town in India, I clearly remember my parents going to a market and saying that winter has come, so now cauliflower, radishes, peas, carrots, etc. are in season. How eager I am still today for summer to come to welcome mangos, and my son waits for lychees.
But now, living in the metropolitan city of Delhi, unseasonal fruits are easily available at local grocery stores. This is all possible due to transportation and cold storage facilities. The best examples are the imported fruits, which are not only expensive but low in nutritional value. When you buy local and organic, you also support indigenous farmers. On an organic diet, my body fully understands when a fruit has chemicals in it. It has happened that my tongue and lips will show a burning sensation to show revolt. My body is very comfortable on local, seasonal and organic produce.
3. Take in plenty of sunlight. I feel that I am a sunflower. I love sunlight, especially in winters, when I just want to bask in the sun the whole day. I hate staying indoors. Due to a full-time editing job, in which I sat for long periods, my body was so deprived of this natural health tonic. When I used to work, I used to long to just leave my table and chair and simply run to get lot of sunlight outdoors. Sunlight is not only important for plants to prepare their food in their leaves with chlorophyll but utterly important for the formation and maintenance of healthy bones in the human body.
Sunlight comes out for only a certain number of hours each day, and out of this period, we need only a small part of it every day. But our modern lifestyle has confined people in towers, flats and buildings with air conditioners, coolers and heaters, trying to create artificial environments to give comfort 24/7. We are depriving our bodies of one very vital nutrient, leading to various diseases. Sunscreens create complications rather than give us any benefits. In ancient civilizations, the sun was worshipped for a reason. In the Indian Hindu culture and yoga, there is a complete sequence called “Surya Namaskar” to welcome the sun, and this is completed before starting the other asanas.
4. Stay hydrated. Many people think they should drink a liquid only when thirsty. In fact, our bodies are about 70 percent water. We need to take in plenty of liquids in various forms throughout the day such as water, coconut water, juices, smoothies, soups and salads. I personally like to drink lots of water and juices. Coconut water is my all-time favourite. It is a kind of packaged drink made by God. Simply cut and drink. Juices are the best ways to add nutrition on an everyday basis. The water we get from fruits and veggies is called bio-available water, which is available in that plant, sourced through its roots and provided by rainfall or direct watering. It is highly nutritious, clean and ready to get absorbed by the body. I personally like to provide lots of juices to my family, starting in the morning.
5. Get regular exercise. Along with changing your diet to raw foods, it is important to do some form of physical workout on a regular basis. This will give better and faster results as the body will get assistance to detoxify and reset. I a firm believer in yoga, especially for women rather than heavy and exhausting exercises or doing gym-based workouts, based on my own experience. I love Kundalini yoga and meditation. Yoga brings an internal balance, peace and equilibrium in the body. We are heavily dependent on machines to make our lives comfortable, but this creates discomfort in another way. Constantly working on a computer for hours, traveling long distances or watching TV all day makes our joints cramped. Start moving them slowly with light exercises without overtaxing your limbs. Whatever you do, you should enjoy it.
For more tips from Rupinder, read her article “Ten Lifestyle Changes to Stay Healthy and Fit.”