Sushi was probably one of the first foods most people were familiar with in terms of eating raw. But as more and more people are trying to find a better and healthier way of eating, following a raw food diet is quickly becoming the newest health food movement. The belief is that eating foods in their natural state is the healthiest way to eat them, and if you cook food, you lose enzymes and lessen their nutritional value. An all raw food diet consists of fruits, vegetables, sprouted seeds, whole grains, nuts and beans. Alcohol, sugar and caffeine are big no-no’s as well as all processed foods. (photo credit here)

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Many raw foodies are also vegetarians which means they don’t eat meat, fish or poultry of any kind. On occasion, they will have raw cheese or milk which has its controversy in terms of whether or not it is safe to eat. So why would anyone want to eat a completely raw food diet? For starters, followers of this diet believe that this is the healthiest way to eat as it keeps you lean, increases your energy level and promotes healthy skin.

Of course, there are those who believe that such a diet is too extreme and eating this way can cause health issues like B12 deficiencies leading to anemia and potentially low bone mass from a lack of calcium. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow gave up her raw food diet a few years ago after experiencing extremely low levels of Vitamin D which led to a condition that would ultimately bring on osteoporosis. Another important factor to consider for raw food dieters is that they sometimes don’t get enough fatty acids like omega-3 because many of their food choices do not have enough of this very important nutrient.

Something to consider before adopting a raw food diet is that there’s more work involved when it comes to food prepping and planning. Much of the food needs to be washed, cut, peeled, grated or even soaked for a few hours beforehand. Also, a dehydrator is a raw foodie’s best friend. Unlike cooking, a dehydrator uses a very low level of heat (usually less than 120 degrees) to make things like dried fruit and veggie chips (think kale chips). Dehydrators can cost a lot depending on the quality and size. (photo credit here)

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Finally, many doctors and health professionals recommend that raw food eaters take supplements so they are not deficient in many of the important vitamins the body needs. This includes a B12, omega-3 and calcium supplements. It’s also recommended that raw foodies eat lots of beans and soy products in order to get adequate amounts of protein (although there are several lines of raw protein powders that are now available).

If you have any chronic health condition or if you are already deficient in certain vitamins, you may want to consult your doctor before beginning this type of diet.

In the meantime, you can always try some of the raw food recipes and sprinkle them into your daily eating to see how you like it. Even better—swap out a regular dessert for a raw version. As I have discovered firsthand, many of the desserts are incredibly delicious—always better than the processed stuff. Just be sure you don’t give up your regular diet for a raw diet without a good understanding of the pros and cons. Then you can decide whether or not you want to eat in the raw.