Totally raw diet has ups and downs

Health nut.

Picky eater.

Weirdo.

I've been called all of it. That's mostly because I am picky. But I'm not a calorie counter, nor do I watch my carbs. I do, however, buy lots of what I eat from Abby's Health and Nutrition, a health food store a few convenient steps from my office. And for the most part, I forsake the food that comes from cans and boxes.

So when I met a couple of locals who live solely off raw food, I saw my chance to successfully avert the standard American diet. I thought I could prove that picky eating is good.

One evening, I watched one of them prepare a raw dinner — a salad. He sliced, diced, chopped and tossed. Romaine, spinach, parsley, cilantro and peppers, almost all of them from his garden.

Doesn't this beat what most of us eat for dinner?

He added the beans he'd sprouted himself. Then he made the dressing. Made the dressing.

Imagine that.

I got this, I thought. I could be a raw foodist, as they're called.

If you eat raw, you're not going to eat anything that's been heated higher than 117 degrees. No meat. No cheese. But less heat, more nutrients. I can dig it.

At first, I dabbled.

I made a raw version of pesto sauce — but I poured it over pasta.

I tried a raw chocolate and coconut bar.

Nothing should look like that before you eat it.

I tried the recommended raw breakfast: juice. I opted for an Apple Pizazz, organic and juiced freshly in front of me at Abby's. It's liquefied apples, beets, carrots, celery and ginger. Since greens are always good, I had them add spinach and kale to the concoction.

It took two hours to down my first 8-ounce cup. After a couple of days, it grew on me.

This raw food thing? I thought. Easy.

But there is only so much beet juice I can take. So after a couple of weeks, I decided to take a break from raw breakfast.

Raw lunch and raw dinner were another thing entirely.

I wished for the willpower to get up early or to stay up late enough to prepare my own meals. Sleep won that argument, so I opted for raw lunches from Abby's. But I couldn't get to the salad bar without walking past the deli.

Who could opt for a plate of greens while smelling turkey chili? Who could choose a cucumber salad over curry chicken salad, in all its yellow splendor?

So after a couple of weeks, I willingly aborted the raw food mission.

Though I still see the merit in eating raw food. It's fresh, it isn't processed and it's nutritious.

But I like my snooze button. And steak. And I'm not ready to sacrifice either — not yet.

I've made sure, since trying to go all the way, to keep eating a little raw food each day. Now, spinach salad is my favorite breakfast. Really.

Curtis Whitwam, one of the local raw foodists I'd met, told me once that "when you give your body what it needs, it knows what to do."

I agree completely.

But I guess my body prefers some occasional meat.

Arleen Spenceley can be reached at (813) 269-5301 or aspenceley@sptimes.com.

Totally raw diet has ups and downs 05/01/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 6, 2008 3:52pm]

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