I did a raw foods cleanse a couple of years ago—14 weeks on fruits and vegetables only. It was extreme, and by the end I was losing too much weight and spending too much time thinking about eating an egg sandwich, so I’m not suggesting that you should do this too.
At the time, I was highly motivated to optimize my health and improve my mental clarity. I was also wondering if food could heal some ache, pain, or other sign of aging that I had accepted as inevitable.
What I came away with was something rather different.
Raw Food Benefits
If you do a search, there is a lot of information out there about the health benefits of eating raw foods, meaning uncooked fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. They can help boost your immune system, improve your heart health, reduce your risk of chronic diseases, and the list goes on and on.
(** I didn’t go into this cleanse with any notable medical issues, and I’m not reporting on physical improvements. I’m not offering any medical recommendations whatsoever.)
The research shows that cooking food depletes its nutrient and enzyme levels, so eating fresh, raw food gives you maximum nutritional value and vitality.
Studies also focus on the pH value of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds as compared to those of meat, dairy, and processed foods. The former have high pH levels (they’re alkaline). The latter have low pH levels (they’re acidic). The body overall likes to be alkaline, so eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables can help it repair damage caused by overly acidic conditions.
But as with most diets, if you keep searching you’ll find plenty of other research to refute the raw claims. And none of it is that important to my personal experience.
The cleanse I did was 14 weeks of eating raw fruits and vegetables and if needed, the option to add in lightly steamed or sautéed vegetables. It was more challenging than a regular raw foods diet because the cleanse aspect didn’t allow for nuts or seeds.
I basically ate fruit for breakfast, a big salad or fruit for lunch, and a big salad for dinner. No limits on quantities. By the end I had to add in cooked food, so I ate a salad with a baked sweet potato and steamed vegetables for dinner.
This was not my first cleanse. I had done two others before this. They weren’t raw cleanses but they helped me know I could make it through this rather strenuous 14 weeks.
At first I loved eating this way. I felt lighter, brighter, more energized, and I was so happy not to have to cook anything. The salads and fruit bowls filled me up but never to the point that I felt distracted or weighed down by an overfull stomach. I lost just enough pounds that all of my clothes fit better.
Towards the end my experience was not so great. I got hungry. I kept losing weight and was spending an unhealthy amount of time thinking about eating eggs, specifically an egg sandwich with lots of cheese (a favorite of mine).
By the last week, I had read the Yelp reviews for every restaurant in the area that served eggs of any kind.
After the Cleanse
Once it was over and I had satisfied my hungry stomach with an egg sandwich or two, I found that I didn’t want to fully stop eating raw. I had a similar experience with my previous two cleanses. I felt cleaner and healthier, and I wanted to stay that way.
What was different this time was that I noticed a heightened sense of friendliness towards those salads and fruit bowls that I had never felt before. I got a little smile on my face just thinking about them. It felt like love—love for the food and the whole process that brought it to my table.
It seemed like all of that raw food had cleansed some internal filter, but instead of a physical change I got an emotional one.
Did this have something to do with extra nutrients and live plant enzymes coursing through my veins? Maybe. I didn’t have any tests run to give me a medical reason for why I was so lit up about produce.
I don’t eat entirely raw anymore, but I still have what I can best describe as a deep fondness for fresh salads. If I eat cooked food too many nights in a row, I actually start to miss them. It’s as though my body notices something is off and orders lettuce for a reset.
This is not to discount my feelings for fruit. It’s just easier to love than salad, because it’s sweeter and easier to prep.
When I consider the big picture, it seems that there is a beautiful collaborative effort happening between soil, sun, water, and human that results in my having fresh fruits and vegetables to eat. Beyond food cravings, boredom snacking, and plastic-wrapped convenience foods, there is a field full of love that shows up for me as a giant bowl of lettuce, tomato, and cucumber. No cooking required.
I wouldn’t advise anybody to do what I did. The extreme nature of my cleanse likely helped to make the results more obvious, but I think you could start gradually eating more raw foods and find something similar.
Is this a better outcome than discovering a food cure for the aging process? I’m not sure. I’d like the extra love and the fountain of youth, but if I have to choose, I’ll take all the love I can get.
Leave a Reply