The Raw Deal
A diet solely of raw foods may sound boring, but many people swear it's the healthiest way to eat. And some nutritionists support it, too.
Eighteen years ago, David Klein suffered from ulcerative
colitis (a rare condition with painful inflammation of the colon) so badly that
his doctors wanted to "cut my colon out." Instead, Klein decided to
take matters into his own hands and significantly upped his intake of raw,
"living" foods. He saw such a quick improvement in his symptoms that he
became hooked. Now, the former engineer is a 100% "raw fooder," a
nutrition educator, and the publisher/editor of Living Nutrition
Nutritionist Ralph Roberts, MS, CHN, also became a raw fooder
when his doctor suggested increasing his consumption of fruits and vegetables
to help him manage his hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Like Klein, Roberts
noticed an almost immediate improvement in his symptoms, and now, four years
later, is an enthusiastic supporter of a "living" food diet.
What does the term living food mean? Naturalist David
Jubb, PhD, a behavior/exercise physiologist in New York (who prefers the term
LifeFOOD), explains that a raw, living food eating regimen is made up of fresh,
raw fruits and vegetables, organic (whenever possible), in season, and ripe;
sprouted seeds, nuts, and legumes; and some fermented foods that are properly
combined for easy digestion.
"LifeFOOD is vegetarian and is food that can be found
growing wild in nature," says Jubb. Asparagus, for example, can be
found growing wild; corn, on the other hand, can't. Most starchy
vegetables come under that latter heading as well -- potatoes, turnips, and
beets, for instance. "Let starch go," says Jubb, explaining that as it
breaks down, starch ferments in your body, which does you no good at all.
Proponents of a raw, living food diet aren't "weirdoes or
hippies," says Roberts. In fact, raw food meals are showing up on
restaurant menus nationwide, and the movement is spawning books, clubs, and its
The reason for the increasing popularity of raw foods?
"What you eat has much to do with how you feel," says Roberts. "And
people just want to feel good."
Following a diet of raw, "living" foods can be as
complicated -- or as simple -- as you like. You can fill your kitchen with
juicers, dehydrators, and raw food cookbooks, or you can do what you need with
a cutting board, blender, sharp knife, and mixing bowl.
"The more you follow a raw food diet, the less likely you
are to get involved in [needing] recipes," says Klein. "What could be
easier than just eating a banana for breakfast or putting some greens into a
For his clients who aren't ready to give up on their
traditional diet altogether, Ralph Roberts simply suggests that they try a
modified plan for 21 days. "I don't want to deprive people of something
they really want," he says. "Instead, I suggest that they have their
coffee, or ice cream, or sandwich ... but after they've had their five servings
of fruits or vegetables. By that time, they often don't want anything