Since going raw a few weeks ago, I’ve found myself looking out for new products that I can use to add variety to my diet.
The diet is very restrictive: Meat, eggs and dairy are essentially out (unless you can find raw milk or raw cheese nearby, or eat a lot of sashimi sushi). Beans and grains are essentially out (unless you’re willing to soak, dry and sprout them; you certainly can’t cook them if you’re on this diet). And even many nuts are out (apparently, even “raw” cashews are typically removed from their shells with the use of high heat, and most almonds are pasteurized). Most table olives are cooked. So is soy milk. So you’re basically left cruising the produce sections and picking out the fruits and vegetables you don’t have to cook. (Bye-bye potatoes.)
Now, there may be some nuts you can eat. Brazil nuts seem to be shelled without the use of high heat, and offered truly raw. Hazelnuts may be fine too (though they happen to irritate my throat). And you can buy sprouted, and certified-raw, sunflower and sesame seeds in natural food stores. So it is possible for you to venture now and then from the produce aisle.
But on the balance, there are very few options. And sometimes, I just don’t feel like living off of bananas, apples, strawberries, grape tomatoes and avocados. Sometimes I want a treat, a change of pace, a “sixth man” to come relieve my weary starting lineup.
And so I’ve been cruising some of the grocery store’s other aisles. And this week I found something new: A product line called “Go Raw/Real Live Food” puts out a variety of treats geared to raw food dieters: their products are certified organic, certified raw, gluten free, nut free. What more could a raw foodist want?
Still, I was skeptical: Go Raw products are shaped like, and often branded as, cookies. They’re little crispy patties of some sorts of food products somehow stuck together. This doesn’t look like my whole foods from the produce section; it looks like processed foods from the aisles where I normally won’t let my body venture.
So I scrutinized the ingredients. The first Go Raw product I sampled, Chocolate Super Cookies, has only four: organic coconut (sounds good!), sprouted organic sesame seeds (tough to complain about that!), organic dates (tell me more!) and organic cacao (something I’d been eating a little of recently myself). No added sugar. No agave nectar. No honey. No heating. How they got these things to stick together, I may never know. But so far as I can tell, it’s just whole, raw foods mixed together.
So I decided to test them on my own body. Adding them to my normal raw-produce diet, along with some other Go Raw products (their chocolate and regular granola; their original and ginger Super Cookies), I subjected them to my weight-loss test for three days. During these days, I ate exclusively raw, shunning even coffee, so that if I gained weight I’d have a pretty good idea it came from the Go Raw products.
The result? In three days of including Go Raw products in my raw-produce diet, I’ve lost one pound. This is a good sign. I was already lighter three days ago than I’ve been since I started monitoring my weight daily back in January, and so further weight loss from this point is more challenging than it would have been when I first started my raw diet three weeks ago. (Over these three weeks, I’ve lost 7.6 pounds in total.) It means that these Go Raw products are likely the real deal. Any time I’ve breached the raw diet in the past by including non-raw foods, I’ve tended to gain weight, flatline, or lose very little weight. This time I lost weight fairly nicely.
But there are a couple things that keep me from giving this product my 100% endorsement at this early stage. No, taste isn’t one of them: these products are delicious. (Add coconuts and dates to cacao and you do have something decently resembling chocolate.) I enjoy these snacks. But the weight loss wasn’t dramatic.
Losing one pound in three days may seem about par for the course, given that I’ve lost 7.6 pounds in 21 days on the raw diet. In fact, even though I’m lighter now, and so further weight loss should be harder to achieve, I’ve lost weight about as quickly eating Go Raw products as I did eating produce alone for the first 18 days.
But those first 18 days weren’t as clean and raw as they may sound. On many days, I had some coffee. (On some days, I had a lot of it.) On several days, I had Hungarian sausage. On one I had cheese and pates. On another, I had beer, French fries, bread and artichoke dip (and gained 2 pounds). So those first 18 days included many unambiguous breaches of the raw food diet; and these past three days didn’t.
So the weight loss is encouraging for Go Raw products, but not definitive. It’s also been only three days, so other factors may have prevailed during this short period in bringing forth this weight loss.
But the other thing that concerns me is its effect on the bowels. Please skip this paragraph if you’re squeamish, but eating solely produce has turned my system into something of a dream machine. It’s still quite good with the Go Raw products thrown in, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not entirely the same. And the small difference I’ve seen is a negative one. Add to that the newfound presence of gas that may trouble the olfactory nerves (an issue I was not experiencing on my all produce diet) and some new questions enter my mind: what is it about Go Raw products that’s changing my system in this way? And can it possibly be a good change?
I really don’t know. Maybe it’s the seeds, which I hadn’t been eating. Maybe it’s the buckwheat groats and other seeds in the granola. Maybe these aren’t as good for us as fruits and vegetables.
But maybe, even if they aren’t as good, they’re still good enough. And if they help me to add variety to my diet, where I was previously resorting to clearly non-raw foods like sausages and cheese, and to keep vegan, then even if they’re not fully as good as fruits and vegetables, they can still be a great “sixth man,” subbing in when they’re needed, without sabotaging the whole project.
Time will tell. In the meantime, if you’re raw, and you’re open to experimentation, give these products a try. If you’re not raw, you can try them anyway: you just might like them, and they’re probably a lot better for you than other cookie or granola alternatives.