Since going raw over a month ago, I’ve been pretty good about avoiding cooked food.
Adding a wider variety of fruits and vegetables to my diet (most recently, lychee and kale) and relying on convenient, relatively high-calorie Go Raw products, I’ve managed these past few weeks to stop getting cravings for animal products and for other foods that can staunch the hunger that can sometimes come from trying to live off low-calorie foods like apples, spinach and pears. This has helped me to live purely raw most days of the week.
But I still haven’t been perfect: I still do a lot of social events, and when I go out to dinner, or lunch, or brunch, or a BBQ, I pretty much do as the Romans do and eat what’s served.
And now that I’m training again for a long-distance run (either a marathon, a half marathon or both this fall), I feel that I have a little more leeway to eat cooked foods. My weight has been dropping (not necessarily a sign of better health, but typically not a sign of worsening health) since I started running again, and I’m guessing that with the added activity my body can absorb more less healthy food and still fare well.
So yesterday, I treated myself an old favorite: Chipotle. And in doing so, I breached not only my prohibition on cooked foods, but my prohibition on animal products. (I’m typically vegan.) I had chicken and cheese in my burrito bol.
How did my body react? Not great. I got that sick-like full feeling that you only get from eating cooked food, felt hungry for the rest of the day and, psychologically, felt badly about my decision. I also gained .8 pound yesterday, not necessarily a great sign for my body.
Of course, as far as cooked food goes, Chipotle really isn’t bad. (It’s actually kind of great, compared to other fast options like McDonald’s or Dunkin’ Donuts.) And one meal won’t destroy your health. But I’m finding more and more that I love the way I feel on raw foods, certainly enjoy being 7-10 pounds lighter (which seems to be the difference a raw diet makes over even a health-conscious cooked diet for me, even without adding exercise), and feel increasing remorse and physical discomfort when I do go cooked.
Running helps to absolve the guilt, but it doesn’t completely eliminate the sickly feeling. So today, I’m back to fully raw. (Until my parents visit tomorrow and we eat diner food.) And I’m newly endowed with a better understanding of how my body reacts to different foods. I’ve created a sort of hierarchy of foods for myself.
In order, the healthiest for me (based on how I feel, and weight gain or loss) seem to be:
(1) Raw fruits and vegetables. (I haven’t tried raw meats, cheeses or other dairy or fish yet, so I can’t weigh in on them.)
(2) Raw grains and seeds. Sure, I haven’t yet demonstrated to myself that these make me feel worse or gain weight, but for some reason I’m more suspicious of these than of raw, fresh fruits and vegetables.
(3) Cooked whole vegetables and fruits. These are fine, but cooking destroys nutrients and, if my recent weight loss is any sign, this may cause you to overeat in order to make up for this fact.
(4) Cooked whole meats. The way we make these today, they seem to radically increase our risk of many cancers, and may cause inflammation that leads to arthritis, asthma, heart disease and other inflammation-driven ailments. Not good.
(5) Refined carbohydrates and sugar. These are at the very bottom of my hierarchy because I blow up when I eat them, and feel terrible. In my opinion no one should eat these, except on rare celebratory occasions or when your neighbor bakes brownies and it’s rude to say no.
Have a different hierarchy for your own body? I’d love to hear it.