Frequently Asked Questions Here’s an ever growing list of some common questions regarding the raw food diet and health in general. If you have a question feel free to send it to us through our contact form. Remember to write FAQ in the subject line.
Why cook? All the animals on the planet are eating a diet of raw foods, what can we gain by cooking our foods? People will argue mainly two points here. One, cooking makes food “edible” that otherwise wouldn’t be so, thus increasing our range of food options. But this is only in a survival situation where our natural foods are not to be found. Two, it increases the availability of certain nutrients. This overlooks the fact that all the other nutrients are made less available. Plus, who said more of any given nutrient is better? We need our nutrients in the perfect ratio that it comes to us in nature, not more, not less. Raw is more nutritious than cooked. Raw is the way the food comes to us in nature, in perfect balance.
What’s the problem with cooking?
Cooking is a destructive process, not a constructive one. Nutrients are destroyed in various ways by applying fire to our food before we eat it. Certain nutrients are damaged or even completely oxidized by the cooking process. Vitamin C and all the B vitamins for example are easily destroyed by heat.
Unless you are boiling your food, there will of course be a loss of water content. Water is essential to our health and ideally we want to get most of it from the food we eat. Also, we don’t want to become dehydrated as a result of eating dry foods.
Proteins are denatured when exposed to heat, this means they lose their original shape and become enzyme resistant, meaning they are now more difficult, even impossible, to break down into amino acids by our digestive system. As a result, protein fragments called polypeptides now enter into our bloodstream, and our immune system reacts with an inflammatory response as if they were foreign invaders.
Cooking carbohydrates caramelizes the starch and creates neurotoxins like acrylamide, a very toxic chemical that is linked with cancer and disease. Fats are rendered toxic by the application of heat, and even release chemical compounds into the air that are dangerous to inhale.
In conclusion, the toxins created by cooking together with the negative impact heat has on the integrity of the nutrients themselves, makes cooked food something we should avoid.
What do you eat in a typical day?
There is no typical day! It’s a difficult question to answer because it all depends on my activity level, location, time of year, seasons, what I prefer at the moment etc. It’s also important to realize that “one size does not fit all” when it comes to food. We all have different likes and dislikes, different body compositions, activity levels and therefore slightly different needs.
Nevertheless, here’s what I had the other day as an example:
Pre-breakfast: 0.5 liters of water followed a little later by about 0.5 liters of coconut water.
Breakfast: 1.5 kg (edible portion) of Papaya.
Lunch: 0.5 liters of coconut water followed by 8 medium bananas
Dinner: 1.2 kg (edible portion) of Mango followed by a small avocado/or the fat of one young coconut and some cucumber.<
I typically eat some overt fat every day of the year either in the form of Avocado (most common), young coconut meat or Durian. This is not because I think we “need to” nutritionally speaking, as there is indeed fat in every fruit and vegetable, but simply because I enjoy it. I make a point however, of keeping my fat intake below 15 % of total calories and it often comes out at around 10% which would put it within the guidelines of the 80/10/10 diet advocated by Doug Graham.
By experience I’ve found, without a doubt, that when my fat intake goes above 15 % I start noticing problems like sluggish digestion, less energy, need for more sleep and an overall decline in health. The most noticeable effect though, is that I do not feel satisfied and crave something sweet. This is because the fat does not immediately satisfy us and the body then “cries out” for more food. This typically leads to overeating and weight gain. For optimal weight management, eat fruits and vegetables to your heart’s content, and eat overt fats in moderation.
I eat nuts on a few occasions when I get some fresh ones, in the shell, but even then I eat quite small amounts as I find it does not digest very well unless eaten in moderation. The need for nuts is quite small, and seasonally they are only available for part of the year (in a natural setting) so I don’t eat them on a regular basis.
In terms of vegetables, I eat several vegetables which are botanically speaking fruits. Things like cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes etc. If I find good celery I can enjoy that too. In terms of leafy greens I don’t find them particularly appealing and I see them as somewhat of a “survival food” in case one is not able to procure the best quality, tropical fruits. I don’t believe that we have to eat greens for optimal health, but depending on the circumstances we might have to.
The fruits I eat vary a lot too, and I go through so many different species and varieties over time that nutritionally speaking my diet is very balanced. However, my staples are usually coconut water, mangoes, bananas and papayas, different varieties over the seasons of course. At times I might eat lots of Jackfruit, Chempedak, Durian, Rambutans, Mamey sapote, White sapote, Cherimoya and other Custard Apples, Melons, Watermelon, Sapodillas and much more.
Over the course of a year I eat a wide variety of different plant foods, more variety than any standard diet can ever dream of, and I believe variety over the course of the year is an essential part of a healthy life.
Do you use any tools like a blender or a food processor?
Yes I do at times. However, I consider it less than optimal. I enjoy eating my food as is. I enjoy eating with my hands, picking up a new fruit, peeling it, handling it, and finally chewing it! When we process our food before eating it, it becomes something else and is no longer food, in the strictest sense of the word.
When we blend something we oxidize nutrients, we damage the food and it loses some of its integrity. Blending can also “help us” eat something we otherwise wouldn’t like by mixing it with a fruit we like and thus masking the taste of whatever it is we are trying to “sneak into” our bodies, be it a green powder, a bitter herb or some other non-food item. It’s also easy to just gulp down the whole thing without chewing, and chewing is actually an important stage of digestion where the food is mixed with enzymes and the body prepared to deal with it.
If we have to do something to the food to make it palatable, I would question the value of that item as a natural food for humans in the first place.
All this being said, is a smoothie evil? No, but it’s not ideal! What about food processing something, dehydrating something and making some kind of fancy gourmet dish? Well, if you want to have some fun in the kitchen, just like you used to do “back in the day”, then go ahead, experiment, see what works and what doesn’t, life is full of small compromises. Just remember, for optimal health; eat food with as little processing done to it as possible, in its natural state, raw, whole and as nature intended. This is not only healthier, but far more enjoyable once you get used to it.
What does it mean to be vegan?
A vegan is someone who avoids the use of all animal products. In terms of diet, this means eating a plant based diet free from all forms of meat (yes that includes fish!), eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt and all other dairy products. Still, the term vegan extends to encompass a lifestyle free from animal exploitation, meaning for example no leather products and even as far as to avoid buying food from farms that exploit animals. It’s about an ideal, it’s about doing ones best to avoid creating more suffering.
People do things for different reasons. The most compelling reason to eat vegan in my opinion is that we are vegans by nature. Our anatomy is that of a plant eater and therefore being vegan is the healthiest option for humans.
Other reasons for being vegan is that it is unnecessary to kill and exploit animals in order to live, in fact it is counterproductive. The animal food industry is a gruesome place. There’s suffering beyond our wildest nightmares going on right now! We contribute to that every time we buy an animal product in the stores. I urge you to educate yourself on what’s going on and make up your mind if this is something you want to contribute to or not. Even small scale farming includes the exploitation of free individuals and at the very least a limiting of the animals personal freedom. So, for many people, being vegan is an ethical choice.
The last common reason people are vegan is that it is more sustainable. Producing meat and other animal products is the least efficient way of procuring food for human beings. It requires a lot of energy to first grow the food, feed it to the animals, so we in turn can eat the animals later. It makes much more sense to eat the food directly from the earth. Plant foods are much more sustainable to grow and on a calorie per calorie basis, they yield much more than animal products. The most productive of all foods are fruits. Fruit grow on trees, require less maintenance than vegetables and yield the most amount of calories per square meter.
What about drinking milk?
Milk? Are you a baby? I am sure you are not since you are reading this, in which case you should be intelligent enough to understand that milk is for babies only, and that no other animal drinks milk beyond infancy. In addition to that, I presume you are not a cow or a goat, am I right? No animal consumes the milk of another species. Drinking milk after weaning and eating dairy products, is not a natural practice.
There are numerous problems with drinking milk. In it’s natural form, cow’s milk is too high in fat for adult humans, who thrive on a low fat diet (compared to the standard diet anyway). Too much fat interferes with proper blood sugar regulation, transport, delivery and uptake of oxygen to the cells, it means eating less fiber, less water, less nutrients in general. Too much fat is not a good thing.
Too much protein is another issue that is often overlooked. The World Health Organization says we need between 5-10 % of our calories to come from protein, milk sits at around 20% protein! It’s funny because milk is often recommended for its calcium and therefore for our bones, but high protein foods acidify the body, leading to leaching of calcium from our bones. Essentially, a high protein diet causes you to lose your bones as the calcium is excreted into the toilet every time you pee! What a waste!
That being said, humans can survive on pretty much anything! Milk has been part of our diet for some time and it continues to be for a lot of people. It delivers certain valuable nutrients needed for life, sure, but those nutrients can be obtained just as easily, in fact easier, by just eating fruits and vegetables. If you want to achieve better health and vitality, it’s about time you got weaned!
How many calories to eat?
This depends on many factors and it’s impossible to give a generic answer to this question. It’s like saying “how tall are humans”? There are ways to calculate calorie needs and it’s based mostly on your body composition (weight, body fat etc) together with your activity level. Typically it falls somewhere between 2000 and 3000 kcal daily for most people. Higher activity levels equal higher caloric need. Luckily our bodies have extremely accurate systems in place for determining how much food to eat, and once we get healthy, we can simply eat when hungry until satisfied, and that should be enough.
What’s wrong with garlic and onions?
Garlic, leeks, spring onions, chives and regular red, white and yellow onions all contain mustard oil, which is a toxic compound that’s very irritating to us. Our eyes water as a defense mechanism when they get exposed to the highly volatile oil. It is very irritating to the mucus membranes of our mouth and digestive tract, and this is why you never eat an onion like an apple! Garlic contains allicin as well, which is another irritating substance with antibacterial properties. This is not a good thing! Why would you want to consume antibiotics that kill your intestinal flora – your first line of defense against foreign invaders!
There is a reason the body produces mucus in response to onions, they are toxic. Anything that is immediately disgusting is toxic to the body, this is one of the ways the body avoids poisoning.
People mask the flavor of the onion by mixing it with other foods. Ask yourself, if your body really needs it, why would you have to mask the taste? Your senses are there for a reason. Avoid the onion family for optimal health.
What about juicing?
Juicing is when you remove the fiber from a fruit or vegetable and simply drink (eat) the juice. A juice is not a whole food, and nature produces only whole foods. When we eat fragmented foods we are “playing with fire” because we are messing with the delicate balance and ratios of nutrients as they come to us in nature’s perfect foods.
Can removing nutrients (fiber and oxidation damage) make a food more nutritious? Of course not. The body is designed to chew food before swallowing it, this mixes the food with enzymes. Then, as the food passes through the digestive system, the body should be the one who does the work, not the juicer. Every time we make some organs work less (by removing the fiber for example), other organs must work at a faster rate and this drains the energy of the organism. Sugars enter the bloodstream more rapidly when there’s no fiber, this puts an extra strain on the pancreas for example.
Another problem with juicing is that we typically consume foods that we otherwise would not consume by juicing it together with some apples or something else that mask the unpleasant flavor. If we do not like the taste of a food, we must question its food value. Also, no one would eat a kilo of carrots, but anyone can drink the juice of them.
Whole foods are always better than refined foods.
Is it OK to use a dehydrator?
Water is a valuable nutrient. One of the best sources of water is our food. One of the main benefits of eating a natural raw food diet, is that it has all its water content intact and can hydrate us as well as feeding us! To remove the water from food in an effort to concentrate flavors and manipulate textures can be fun to do sometimes to be able to mimic certain foods that we are traditionally familiar with or to impress our friends with a fancy gourmet meal, but it’s not a health practice. Life is full of compromises, and if you want to use a dehydrator I would advise you to use it sparingly and only for special occasions. Dehydrated foods are no longer whole foods. Whole foods are the best. Every time.
What about eating some cooked food?
Cooked food is not ideal for a variety of reasons. Including cooked food in your diet does not improve the diet, it makes it less healthy. So, ideally speaking, foods subjected to heat are best avoided. However, if for any reason you still choose to include some cooked foods in your diet, you can adhere to some basic principles and still stay fairly healthy. This would be to keep it vegan and to stay below 10-15 %of calories from fat for the day.
If we were to give out three medals, gold would go to the fruit (raw), silver would go to the roots and tubers like potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava and yams as well as starchy fruits like plantain and bronze would go to beans and legumes (cooked). Grains are best avoided due to the antinutrients present as well as the nutritional profile being less than ideal for humans.
Still, it’s always a compromise to eat foods for which we are not biologically designed. Fruits are always the best, but in circumstances where it’s difficult to get enough fruit, or you are not willing to put in the effort to get it, the cooked starches are of course your “backup plan”. If the case is, for any reason, that you still choose to consume some of your food cooked, it would be advisable to keep the cooked foods to your last meal of the day, a raw till 4 diet as some people call it, as fruit is best eaten on an empty stomach and cooked food typically takes a bit longer to digest.
Do you have to eat all day?
This is a common misconception because people are only used to eating small quantities of fruit at a time, so they have only experienced a short term satiation. Considering that one banana is approximately 100 calories, you would have to eat quite a few to stay satisfied until your next meal! I typically eat between 7 and 12 bananas at a meal. It all depends on your activity level, body composition and hunger level. So the answer is NO, you don’t have to eat all day. Once you learn to eat enough fruit at the meal, you will stay satiated until your next meal and you don’t have to think about food for a few hours! Fruit has more water and fiber than a standard diet, so it basically takes more bites of fruit to get the same amount of calories. It’s great, on a raw food fruit based diet we get to eat more food than most people, and still stay healthy, happy and maintain our weight.
What about supplements?
Supplements are fragmented nutrients not whole foods. We need to get our nutrients in correct amounts and ratios with all the other elements. When we are taking in single nutrients we are playing with the fine balance of nature. Eating whole foods supply everything the body needs in perfect ratios as long as we are eating our natural foods, raw, fresh, ripe and in sufficient amounts. The whole idea of nutritional supplementation in the first place is built on the notion that we can know exactly how much the body needs of any given nutrient. But this is guesswork at best, based on averages of the population.
Are there times where supplements can be helpful? Of course, if one is experiencing a deficiency of a nutrient and it is adversely affecting ones health, we can use supplements to “buy us time” to correct whatever caused the deficiency in the first place. In other words, if we have a deficiency it’s because we are not supplying the body with all it’s needs and/or exposing it to negative factors. Once we correct the circumstances that caused the problem, the body will return to health, but until we are able to make those changes, supplementation can help us out of a potentially serious situation, temporarily.
How much should I sleep?
You should sleep as much as you need. Your need will vary according to your lifestyle and activity level but typically most humans sleep between 9 and 11 hours when allowed to rest undisturbed in a perfect sleeping environment. We are tropical animals by physiology and in the tropics it’s dark for around 12 hours every night. We are not adapted to move around at night so in a natural environment we would naturally just stay in one place and rest, just like our primate cousins the chimpanzees do when darkness falls. We start producing melatonin when the sun goes down, the sleep hormone that makes us sleepy.
The recipe for sleep is simple. Go to bed at the same time every day, if you’re in the tropics go to bed sometime shortly after sunset. Sleep in a quiet, well-ventilated area, with comfortable temperature and no artificial lighting. Allow yourself to drift away. You may wake up a little bit before sunrise, take that time to relax, meditate, contemplate, cuddle, talk or whatever you want as you wait for first light.
If you’re outside the tropics you have to artificially mimic a tropical rhythm by using blackout blinds in the summer and calculating when you want to get up in the morning. Say you want to rise at 7 in the morning, you want to make sure that you have enough time to sleep before then. For most people, needing between 9 and 10 hours of sleep per night, which would mean falling asleep around 9 in the evening. This would probably mean you need to go to bed around 8.30 or so.
The key is to allow for the most optimal conditions as possible, including the time needed, and then sleep as long as you can and allow yourself to wake up naturally! There’s no sleep restriction in nature!
What’s the best place to travel for fruit?
We obviously haven’t been everywhere, so we can only comment on the places we know! Over the last few years we’ve spent time in The Canary Islands, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia and Costa Rica. They all have their own appeal for different reasons.
Generally speaking, the tropics tends to be the best place for fruit, the subtropics coming in on a close second and the temperate climates only really being good during summer.
Thailand is excellent for fruit availability, prices and Durian. Far North Queensland, Cairns area is great for fruit variety and it’s also pretty good in terms of prices. Costa Rica holds appeal for its amazing natural environment and fairly high quality fruit. Both in Cairns and Costa Rica there’s lots of fruitarians and raw vegans. The Canary Islands is great for part of the year, but not all year round.
I hear good things about Hawaii, California (at the right time of year) and Florida as well.
There’s no real answer to this question, you just have to get out there and explore for yourself! But if you have any specific questions regarding the places I’ve mentioned, feel free to contact us (go to the Contact tab above) and we’ll be happy to answer!
Doesn’t the raw food diet require a lot of time prepping food in the kitchen?
If you’re following the high fat, nut based, gourmet raw food approach where you rely on dehydration and lots of preparation to make meals that look just like their cooked food counterparts then yes, you will spend a tremendous amount of time in the kitchen! What a waste of time – and health! The dry, fatty and unbalanced gourmet raw food diet is not worth your health, your money OR your time! We have evolved to eat a diet of whole foods, not foods that require hours of prep work! Fruits are the ideal food for humans. They take no prep time whatsoever, they are tasty and delicious as they appear in nature, they fit our nutritional needs perfectly, as opposed to nuts and seeds which lack in many nutrients and are too high in fat to be able to eat them in the bulk that we need to. Plus, they don’t contain enough carbohydrate – our bodies’ favorite fuel! Fruit fits the bill perfectly, every time!
How do you eat this way at work?
Well that depends a little bit on the nature of your job, but essentially it’s just a matter of planning a little bit. Most people are able to find what they need in terms of food pretty much anywhere at any time these days. However, it’s not always easy to find ripe fruit unfortunately. A little bit of planning goes a long way! Just make sure you have enough ripe fruit on hand at home, carefully put it in a bag or container of sorts and bring it to work! It’s that easy! You’ll get some looks for sure but that’s just how it is when you’re eating healthy in an unhealthy world! You could also bring an immersion blender and a jar to be able to make a smoothie at work. Just remember that if you prioritize your health, you must put in the effort in bringing your lunch with you no matter what OR compromise on your diet and as a result experience a decline in health. The choice is yours, do your best!
What about frozen fruit?
There are two things to consider here:
- Even though fresh food is always the best, freezing is probably one of the least damaging ways to preserve foodstuffs. Requiring no preservatives, it’s the “cleanest” of all preservation methods. Nutrient losses are minimal, but it’s never going to be as nutritious as its fresh counterpart. Whatever you choose for yourself, frozen food is still considered “raw” and there are no known toxins created by this practice.
For optimal health though, I recommend living in a place where there is fresh, ripe tropical fruits available in abundance in order to avoid relying on freezing foods to extend the “season”.
- The practice of eating food that is still frozen is not a healthful practice. The food we consume should be at “room temperature” where it’s neither too cold or too hot. This is how we would eat in a natural environment. Our mouth, the delicate lining of our osaphagus and our stomach does not do well with excessively hot or cold foods. This is evident by the pain experienced when eating ice cream or hot foods too fast, and the mucus production (protection) that usually follows.
Very cold foods can also kill the bacteria that lives in our guts and thereby interfere our bacterial flora. Our gut flora is an important part of our immune system, as well as playing a role in producing certain nutrients like B12 and K2.
Banana ice cream is very commonly consumed by people on a raw food diet, and although it’s very delicious it’s probably best eaten rarely and then only in small amounts.
Are there “bad sugars” and “good sugars”?
There are different types of sugar, but none of them are inherently “good” or “bad”. At the end of the day sugar is sugar regardless of type. Nevertheless, there is some truth to the matter. Typically, people will agree that table sugar, aka refined sugar, aka added sugar, is bad, while the sugar in fruit is good. This is because the sugar in fruit comes WITH associated nutrients like water, fiber, vitamins, minerals etc. See “What are Empty Calories” for more information on this.
What are empty calories?
A calorie is a unit of measurement, measuring the “energy” latent in a food. We need to eat in order to fuel our bodies and we “get our calories” from three sources, these are called “macronutrients”. We’re talking about Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats. In all whole foods, all the macronutrients are present in various ratios. Together with the macronutrients, there are also plenty of “micronutrients” present. These are your vitamins and minerals. In addition to all this there’s also water and fiber in the food, as well as plenty of other things we don’t even know about! This is whole food nutrition. This could be called “full calories”.
Empty calories on the other hand, are calories WITHOUT their associated nutrients.
Something like refined SUGAR for example is ONLY sugar but no vitamins, minerals, fiber, water etc. This means that while you are getting your fuel in the form of carbohydrate, you are missing out on all the other nutrients and thus become deficient over time.
There are also immediate problems with consuming empty calories like sugar, like blood sugar spikes, since there is no water and fiber there to regulate the uptake. All the bad press you’ve heard about “sugar” has to do with refined sugar, not whole fruits and vegetables and the sugar in them.
OIL is 100% fat and nothing else. When you are consuming oil you are taking in calories without all the other nutrients. Again, you are missing out.
PROTEIN POWDERS are also refined products and thus empty calories.
It’s also very easy to over eat on refined products because they lack the water and fiber to fill us up and satiate us. In addition to not filling us up, refined foods (empty calories) lack the nutritional components that our body needs and thus we continue to be “hungry” even though we’ve technically eaten enough calories. Gaining weight and loosing health is the common outcome of consuming refined products.
We want to consume our nutrients in the perfect ratios that exists in whole foods. Eating refined products where we get LESS NUTRIENTS PER CALORIE is not a good idea. The other end of the spectrum we could call “empty nutrients” which would be supplements. There’s only iron, only calcium, only zinc there but no calories.
The bottom line is this; we don’t want to seperate the individual nutrients in a food to where we’re eating ONLY sugar, ONLY fat or ONLY iron, we want our food to provide us with everything we need in a perfect balance, the type of balance only nature knows how to create.
All animals in nature eat whole foods. Let’s stick to natures norm and eat whole, fresh, ripe, raw food where the balance between the ALL the nutrients is intact.
How do I stay raw in cold climates?
Human beings are tropical animals, we are adapted to living in the equatorial regions of the Earth where the temperature stays comfortable year round. In our natural environment, the tropics, there’s obviously an abundance of fruit, our natural food, as well. If you want optimal physical health, you need to be in the tropics, eating fresh fruits there.
Life however, is full of compromises of course, and as we move away from our natural habitat, things get more and more difficult for us. So the first thing to realize is that, if you choose to live in a colder climate, it will be harder for you to stay raw.
Fortunately, there’s tropical fruits available year round almost anywhere on the globe thanks to globalization and the export/import of goods worldwide. This is good news for a tropical animal living in Norway for example!
Make sure you source out the best fruit you can find at all times in order to always have food on hand. Follow the seasons and eat whatever looks, smells, feels and taste the best at any given time. Summer is usually easy, autumn still pretty good, but winter and spring can be challenging sometimes. If there’s truly no satisfying fruit around other than bananas, I would consider cooked sweet potatoes, plantains etc possibly even grain like rice and corn. The best choice is always the one you actually WANT to eat. Keeping it raw is certainly healthier, but it’s a personal choice whether or not you can live (happily) a whole winter on just bananas, citrus and dates…Don’t be too hard on yourself, just do your best.
Here are some other tips to keep in mind:
- Rely heavily on bananas, they are always in season and you can make sure you always have ripe ones on hand by doing a little bit of planning! I find them to be ideal for lunch, whereas for breakfast and dinner I want something more juicy.
- Keep your home warm and comfortable so you don’t feel cold. When you’re cold, cooked food seems more appealing. Make sure both you AND your fruit is room temperature.
- Educate yourself on how to know what’s good at the market. Buy high quality stuff only. Nothing makes you fail harder than eating low quality fruit. Not only does it usually lead to undereating, which in turn leads to failure, but who can keep up a diet of boring and/or disgusting food? Think quality, quality, quality! If you are willing to spend more money, it can pay off – but not always. Use your senses and intelligence when buying.
- Focus on the other elements of health, not just the food. Once you start loosing health you also start craving “pick-me-up’s” like coffee, refined products and other stimulants as well as cooked food in general. Get enough sleep, rest and activity and the fruit diet becomes a lot easier!
- Never stay home the whole day during winter – unless you really need the rest of course. Getting out of the house and moving your body is important. If the weather sucks, maybe consider going to a gym! I always enjoy my fruit more after a workout!
- If you need something to “stimulate” you a little bit in the evening because it’s dark and depressing, making a salad (or other things like soups and lettuce wraps) can be something to look forward to during the day, that you can enjoy preparing and ultimately enjoy eating. Be creative and play around in the kitchen to make the most out of the ingredients you’ve got! There are several ways to eat a cucumber!
- Watch youtube videos! Watch documentaries! Read books! Stay inspired and educated about the raw food diet and health in general.
- Connect with others in your area that are doing the same as you!
- A vitamin D supplement might be something to consider. Research and decide for yourself.
- When options are dire, you’ve had your bananas for the day and can’t take any more of them (cavendish bananas tend to have that effect for a lot of people, myself included), there’s nothing else around that is ripe or appealing, you got to go to your second best options which would be things like dried fruit. Personally I can only take a little bit of that before I’ve had enough. If all else fails, a low fat, low protein, low sodium plant based diet of simple “whole” cooked foods will nutritionally be better for you than falling back on eating lots of avocados or nuts and seeds. That being said, a little bit of avocado can go a long way in satisfying your need for comforting foods! But if you find yourself ready for dinner and all you got is avocados, you might want to consider eating something cooked instead, unless it’s a very rare occurrence!
To sum it up – do your best, fruit is always the best option but you aren’t in the tropics and there might be times where a cooked sweet potato is more satisfying than another meal of bananas, focus on eating as much fresh and juicy fruit as possible and a large meal of bananas for lunch.
Remember the other elements of health, stay active, spend time outside, get as much sunlight on your skin and into your eyes as possible, sleep, rest enough….It’s gonna be alright!
One more tip! If you wont consider moving to the tropics permanently, you migh want to think about going there for the winter half of the year or at least for 1 month during mid winter. This could give you something to look forward to as well as an oppurtunity to “fill up” on vital nutrients from fresh tropical fruit, vitamin D and of course plenty of fun in the sun!
How do you afford all that fruit? Isn’t your lifestyle very expensive?
I don’t spend money on soap, shampoo, lotions, creams, mouthwash or any other products like that because they are no longer necessary. Eating a clean diet and cultivating health means I’m cleaner on the inside, which means cleaner on the outside too. Water and sunlight is enough to keep my skin and hair clean! I don’t spend money on alcohol and drugs. I rarely go to restaurants. I don’t own many things, only what I really need/want. I wear minimal amount of clothes for most of the year, and the clothes that I do wear lasts for many years. This lifestyle is not expensive at all! I’m happy to enjoy myself out in nature, in the park, at the library, at home and so I don’t spend much money except for food, accommodation and transport (and most of the time I use my feet and/or bicycle). As you can see it’s about the whole picture, not just the food. But let’s talk about the food too.
Fruit is the cheapest food on the planet…if you’re getting it fresh and local! If you are living close to the source of your food, the cost is minimal and you can live on very little money – the ultimate being growing your own fruit. In the other end of the spectrum, if you’re living far away from the source of your food it can be very expensive. The choice is yours.
But even when I’m in Norway, and the mangoes cost $10 per kg, I still buy them because I value my health. I’m willing to pay what it takes in order to get what I want. Bashar taught me that the definition of abundance is “the ability to do what you need to do when you need to do it”. If I want mangoes, I’ll make it happen! It’s all a question of priorities!
That being said, you can still make it pretty cheap by relying heavily on bananas, which are always cheap, and other seasonal fruits that are available in your area. Norway is one of the most expensive places in the world, but I can still make it work on $10 per day if I want to. Sometimes that affords me the best stuff, sometimes not. IF the best quality stuff is more expensive and I want it, I’ll work harder and still make it happen!
Nothing is free in this world. That’s a relief! We must invest energy in order to reap the rewards. Give life your ALL and rest assured ALL of it will be yours!
You recommend eating a low fat diet, but isn’t fat an important nutrient for optimal health?
Absolutely, fat is a very important nutrient for human health. «Low fat» does not mean no fat and it’s only low compared to the standard western diet.
Let’s define what I mean by low. Since the average American or European will eat somewhere between 30 % to 40 % of their calories from fat, anything less than that could be considered “low”. Based on the sources* that I’ve come across, as well as my personal experience, once the fat levels come down to less than 20% that we can start to see the benefits of a truly low fat diet, and ideally we want to hit an average of about 10% of our calories coming from fat. This is how it would naturally be if we ate nothing but fresh, raw, seasonal fruits and tender vegetables. There’s no whole food on the planet without some fat in it.
In actuality, the low fat diet is in fact an optimal fat diet – from a physiological standpoint.
Our bodies can convert carbohydrates and proteins into fat in the body if necessary, but there are still those essential fats that we need to get from our diet. These are the Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s fatty acids. Other important fats can be made from these two inside the body. All fruits contain these, some more than others. There is no reason you would not get enough essential fats on a raw vegan diet – even if you ate no overtly fatty foods like avocados and nuts. As an example, a thousand calories worth of mangoes (one meal) is just shy of containing 1 gram of Omega 3 – which is generally recognized as sufficient for the whole day. As always, there are no contraindications to a fruit based diet!
*The 80/10/10 Diet by Douglas N. Graham, The China Study by T. Colin Campbell PhD
You recommend «mono meals» as the ideal way of eating. What’s the problem with mixing different foods together in a meal?
There are several reasons as to why a mono meal is preferable to a mixed meal. Here’s a list of some of them:
- If we observe nature, we find that all animals eat one food at the time, until they are satisfied. They certainly don’t gather some food here and some food there, in order to put one on top of the other and make a sandwich.
- Digestive requirements are different for different foods. Nuts and seeds for example, higher in fat and protein, require quite different digestive processes than something like a mango. Nuts also tend to digest much slower than fruit, which means that if we mix the two together we might end up with fermentation of the sugar in the fruit as it «waits» on the nuts to exit the stomach and be digested. Food combining is a fairly loose set of rules relating to how some foods go together quite well, while others should never be mixed. Ideally speaking, no mixing at all results in the best digestion.
- Personally, I’ve found mono meals to be the ultimate when it comes to food enjoyment. Sensory focus is much better when only one food is consumed as opposed to when there are several different textures and flavors in a meal competing with each other for my attention. I also find that with many foods available, the mind seem to grasp for more and more stimulation rather than actually enjoy the naturally pleasurable, physiological process of feeding – right here and now.
I’ve always found that if the mangoes are good, I wanna eat mangoes until I’m satisfied – and anything else would simply distract me from enjoying the mangoes fully.
- Satiety is when the body signals, via hormones and other factors, that it’s done eating and no longer wants to engage in feeding or seeking food. This point comes back to the last one about being distracted. When there’s too much distraction going on, it’s hard to actually gauge when to stop eating and many people experience over eating issues. Try it out – eat a meal of delicious mangoes, to the point of utter satisfaction, and then have someone offer you a bite of some other fruit afterwards. Chances are that even though you were perfectly satisfied before, the new fruit triggers an urge to «experience that flavor too» even though you’re not actually hungry. The more stimulating the food the stronger the effect. If I imagine a big pizza at any time of day, even right after a huge mango dinner, I can still imagine eating it. Not because I’m hungry, but because my brain associates the pizza with a chemical reward and thus drives me to eat it. Mono meals just keep things simple and focused on the matter at hand – eating.
Those are some of the reasons mono meals are superior to mixing together foods of different kind. That being said, I want to keep it very clear that it’s still OK to mix foods! There’s a sliding scale of optimal to sub-optimal to plain unhealthy. Mono meals of fruit is definitely the ideal, but as long as you’re staying somewhat within good food combining guidelines (both based on chemistry and your own personal experience), chances are you’ll do just fine. I too play around with my food a little bit now and then, and don’t see any big problems with a bit of mixing here and there, but if you want perfect satisfaction, gustatory enjoyment and healthy digestion – mono meals are the ultimate deal!
Is it OK to eat nothing but one type of fruit for a period of time?
Yes that would be perfectly fine. Not only are fruit as a foodgroup in general the most nutritionally appropriate food for humans, but the body can store many nutrients to make it through times of shortage. Not only that, but seasonal eating is the norm in nature. If you feel like eating nothing but one fruit for a few days, or even a couple of weeks, go ahead!
Most fruits contain all the dietary nutrients needed for human health in perfect ratios, which means that that theoretically speaking, you could live off just one or two fruits for the rest of your life. It does depend on what fruit you choose though. Mangoes for example, are a prime example of a very nutritionally complete fruit. If you choose something like apples on the other hand, they seem to be less nutritionally suitable, and over the long term an apple only diet may cause some deficiencies. Generally speaking, tropical fruits tend to be more appropriate for us, which makes sense since we are tropical animals.
Simplicity in food choices doesn’t necessarily equate with one sided nutrition. Fruits are for the most part, as established already, nutritionally complete.
Some people promote “mono islands” where you eat nothing but one fruit for a short period. Some even go as far as to call it a fast. There are no inherent physical benefits to eating nothing but one fruit. From the perspective of your body, it’s still getting all the same nutrients. The benefit to these simple diets has more to do with the psychological aspects of eating than the physical ones. By simplifying your diet you can take your mind off the typical “what’s for dinner” mindset and focus your energy elsewhere. Digestion might also improve when eating nothing but a single type of fruit, at least if you’re used to mixing foods together.
Different fruits offer us different flavors, aromas, textures and nutrient composition. This is a good thing! Variety is the spice of life as they say. Therefore I highly recommend that you eat a wide variety of fruits, and vegetables if you want to, over the course of time. But in terms of what to eat today, this week or even this month, it’s fine to let one type fruit predominate your diet. To be perfectly honest, when there’s good mangoes in season – I usually can’t help myself, and I end up eating mangoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. As long as you’re consuming enough total calories, you’re good to go.
Is it necessary to do any sort of detoxification work like the «Master Cleanse» etc. before commencing a fruit based diet?
No it’s not necessary. Most of these “cleanses” are in fact more harmful than they are beneficial. The body cleans itself, and detoxification is always taking place. There is no substance or treatment we can take that will speed up detoxification other than resting and giving the body the opportunity to do its work.
A lot of these so called “cleanses” actually involve ingesting highly irritating and unhealthy ingredients to forcefully purge parts of the body for “toxic waste”. In reality, this newly ingested irritant/toxin is what the body is defending itself against, by trying to eliminate it as fast as possible.
The result is that the body had to stop it’s normal “housekeeping” in order to deal with this immediate threat to the system, and by spending its energy on that it’s now in a state of less vitality, not more! This in turn means that you became more toxic than before the “cleanse”, and the body is left having to clean up your mess. Stick to healthful living if you want health. There is no need to cleanse.
That being said, there is room for rest in a healthful regimen, and during times of rest, healing goes on at a faster rate than when in activity. A fast would be considered the ultimate rest, since the digestive system is now also resting. During a fast, detoxification work is more efficient and thus this would be the closest thing to a cleanse. Still, I see no need to engage in a water fast unless you are very sick or have health issues that are still unresolved after years of healthful living. Try the fruit based diet, along with other hygienic living practices first and your health will likely improve massively.
As you go from a standard diet based around unhealthy foods that are heavy to digest, to a diet based around raw fruit, the digestive and toxic burden on the body is much reduced and so a period of accelerated detoxification (since the incoming burden is reduced the body now has extra energy to spend) is to be expected. Some people refer to this as a “healing crisis” or “detox symptoms”. This is usually not serious at all, but it may be uncomfortable in the beginning. Continue with your healthful habits, including adequate rest, sleep, sunshine etc. and you shall return to health soon enough.
To sum it up, health comes from healthful living, and there’s no need to precede healthy habits by unhealthy activities, like the various “fad cleanses” out there, in order to reach health. Implementing the fruit based diet is as easy as starting today. Just eat fruit 🙂
If humans are natural sweet seeking frugivores, why do people get diabetes?
Contrary to popular belief, the sugar is not what causes diabetes. It’s the fat! Here’s how it happens:
When we eat our blood sugar rises, and this is both good and normal. In response to the rising blood sugar levels, insulin is secreted into the blood. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. The main job of insulin is to “usher” the sugar molecules out of the bloodstream and into the cells where it will be oxidized as fuel. This is done via designated receptor sites. The blood sugar normalizes.
When there’s too much fat in the bloodstream however, insulin has a harder time attaching to the sugar molecules and the receptor sites are less available, hence the blood sugar keeps rising and stays elevated for longer than it should. This is diabetes in a nutshell. When insulin is not working efficiently like this it’s called “insulin resistance”.
When the fat in the diet is reduced to less than 15% of total calories, ideally even lower than that, insulin sensitivity rises and blood sugar is better maintained – just like it’s supposed to be! Since fat takes a long time to digest, a high fat dinner meal will still affect your ability to regulate blood sugar the next day.
There are two types of diabetes though. Type 2 diabetes, aka adult onset diabetes, is basically when the pancreas does produce enough insulin, but due to what I described above it’s not doing its job properly. Type 1 diabetes on the other hand is when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin due to damaged cells within the pancreas itself. The reason for this damage is speculated by some to be related to the consumption of dairy products during early childhood through the process of “molecular mimicry”. Type 1 diabetics have to take insulin shots for the rest of their life, but they will still benefit tremendously from eating a low fat diet, simply because the insulin they take will work much better and it will be easier to maintain a steady blood sugar overall.
As you can see, blaming the sugar for diabetes is almost like a “shooting the messenger” type of scenario, because the disease involves the regulation of blood sugar. The real question we have to ask is why isn’t the body able to regulate blood sugar the way it should? The answer to that is “too much fat in the diet”.
Last but not least, it’s worth mentioning that refined sugar is not recommended for optimal health. We should be eating a whole food diet where the sugar comes from fruit – along with water, fiber and all the other valuable nutrients for our optimal health. That being said, I have heard Dr. McDougall talk about a study where diabetics increased their intake of refined sugar and as a result developed better insulin sensitivity and thus got better! Don’t quote me on that, but chances are that diabetes is solely a case of excess fat, and does not even relate to processed table sugar – contrary to popular belief! Still, there are plenty of other problems with eating refined food, so we’ll do better sticking to the whole food diet instead!
Further research: Great sources for anyone who wish to learn more about diabetes and a low fat diet should check out the work of Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Douglas Graham. Special books to look out for would be “Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes”, “The China Study” and “The 80/10/10 Diet”. For type one diabetics – check out Robby Barbaro’s YouTube channel “Mindful Diabetic”.
How do you know that a banana is ripe?
There are many types of bananas, but the most common variety is the Cavendish. A ripe banana is deep yellow and full of brown/black spots or freckles – not to be confused with bruising and damage. There should be no green on it, and it should be soft to the touch. Peeling a ripe banana should be easy and without the “sticky sound” of starch. When fully ripe, the starch has turned to sugar and the banana should be very sweet.
To learn more about bananas, check out our awesome ebook!
Can you get a potassium overdose by eating too much fruit, especially bananas?
Not from fruit alone. Personally, I have perfect potassium levels on every blood test, despite eating more than 4000 bananas a year, for the last five years.
Hyperkalemia is the medical term for a condition where the potassium levels in the blood are too high. In a healthy individual, excess potassium is excreted through the kidneys. The most common causes of hyperkalemia is chronic kidney disease or acute kidney failure. This is where the kidneys become unable to do their job of filtering the blood properly.
Why are the kidneys unable to do their job though? This is the real question as it relates to hyperkalemia, not potassium intake per se. It’s generally recognized that a diet high protein (like most animal foods are) is the primary cause of kidney disease. A low fat, low protein vegan diet based around fruit is the best possible diet for your health in general and that includes your kidneys.
To sum it up – hyperkalemia is something that results from being sick, in one way or another, not from eating bananas! In order to return to health, the sick individual should cultivate healthy habits – one of which is a diet rich in fresh fruits! So as far as fruit is concerned, it doesn’t cause hyperkalemia, it prevents it!
How much water should we drink when eating a fruit based diet?
Eating fruit is an excellent way to stay hydrated. Fruit provides you with plenty of water (most fruits average 80 % or more of their weight from water), while simultaneously replacing dry, dehydrating foods like bread in your diet. Fruit is also one of the cleanest sources of water, with the tree acting as a natural filter.
Depending on your activity level, lifestyle habits and the climate where you live – you may or may not have to rely much on drinking water in addition to your fruit. The more you sweat – either through exercise or due to heat – the more you will have to drink. It could range from barely anything on a sedentary day in a cool climate, to several liters per day on a hot and active day. Some fruits are more water rich than others, which will also affect your need for drinking water.
Practically, you will probably find yourself drinking some water almost every day, especially if you are living a healthy – and thus active – lifestyle. Drinking according to thirst is the best way. Let your body guide you. When drinking is easy, pleasurable and desired – drink! When water is uninteresting – don’t drink! It’s really as simple as that!
What’s better: Under ripe fruit or over ripe fruit?
Neither! Eating perfectly ripe fruit is of utmost importance if you are to succeed with eating a fruit based diet and stay healthy. The most dire consequence of eating under/over ripe fruit is that you wont enjoy it. This in turn leads you to eat something other than fruit and in the end the diet wont be sustainable for you. Over ripe fruit goes in the bin, while under ripe fruit needs to wait!
If you constantly find yourself with too much ripe fruit on hand – throw away the excess and get on top of the logistics of your fruit rotation – You can learn more about this in The Little Banana Book.
If you’ve only got unripe fruit on hand – eat something else and let the fruit wait, while you learn how to make sure it doesn’t happen again!
How can you be sure that you are getting all the minerals you need from your diet?
First of all, most of the nutritional problems that people are experiencing today are due to excesses not deficiencies. Although you can never be 100% sure that you are getting all the minerals you need from your food, there are several things you can do to maximize the chances of nutritional sufficiency.
Here are a few of the most important ones:
- Eat a diet predominated by fresh fruits, and if you wish – vegetables too. Calorie for calorie, fruits and vegetables are the most nutritious foods for humans. Even on a fruit only diet – there are no shortage of minerals. Remember that fruit trees have roots that go down way deeper than the topsoil, and are thus less affected by erosion!
- Focus on foods that taste good. The flavor of the food is a reflection of its nutritional composition. I`m talking the actual taste of the food itself – not a mixture of foods seasoned with herbs, spices, salt or pepper! Good tasting fruit is likely mineral sufficient.
- Eat sufficient calories. This means not only eat enough to maintain your weight – but actually increase your caloric need by being active rather than sedentary. More activity equals more eating, and more food equals more of all the various nutrients, making it easier to ensure nutritional sufficiency.
- Eat a wide variety of foods. Fruits come and go, in and out of season. The diet should naturally reflect this by varying over the course of a year.
- Eat from different soils. «Spread your bets» by eating foods grown in different soils, from different farms, in different locations. One of the actual benefits of globalization!
- If you can, buy from farms with good farming practices that ensure optimal nutrition.
- If you are to use the current scientific literature as a guide, then even the conventionally grown fruits and vegetables today are sufficient in minerals to meet our minimum requirements. I see no reason to believe otherwise. Something as simple as a mono mango diet even, meets all our nutritional needs.
That being said, our minimum requirements are not necessarily the same as what would be optimal of course, and fresh, ripe tropical fruits grown to perfection are of course the best!
- Do regular blood tests! Why not? It’s a good way to monitor the status of certain nutrients in the body and ensure that serious deficiencies are not looming – which they usually are not for us high carb, fruit eating vegans!
- Listen to your body. If something is missing – you’ll feel it. Address the issue, experiment and find a solution that works. Health is felt.
- Don’t worry. I don’t believe nutrient deficiencies are something we need to worry about as long as we’re eating a diet based around whole plant foods, predominated by fruit, high in carbohydrates, low in fat (at or below 10% of energy) and sufficient in calories.