What is up with low fat hysteria among raw foodists?

If you are eating a Standard American Diet (SAD), with all the fried foods and processed foods containing hydrogenated fats, then, yes, a high fat diet is to be avoided.  If you are, in fact, eating such a diet, then you should consider lowering the fat content of your diet.

Actually, recently, health experts are beginning to notice that, since low-fat diets began to be recommended,  people throughout the world have consistently become even heavier (yes, folks! It is not just an American issue, and we are not even the heaviest; Australia owns that title, and the U.K. and Canada are not far behind.  Obesity is an issue throughout Europe and also in Asian countries.  (These are but the countries which consider fat to be unattractive.  The surveys do not take into account Middle Eastern, African,  or South American countries, nor those of the Indian subcontinent, where obesity has traditionally been considered desirable) .

The problem, in the SAD diet arena, with low fat,  is that foods which are designated as “low fat” generally tend to include more sugar.  (Thus, I advise my clients that “low fat” does not mean “no fat” on you.).

Now, if you are reading this blog, you are probably not following a SAD diet, and you may well be eating few or no processed foods.  You may even know how to read the ingredients listing on the processed foods that you do consider picking up.

One of the things that has ended up making raw food converts quit and go back to either SAD or cooked vegetarian or vegan, is the emphasis on low dietary fat espoused by some self-designated raw food gurus (I am talking about people who have little or no nutritional education, who posit themselves as dietary experts, but who actually simply follow the concept of low fat which has been recommended for the mainstream, who follow the SAD diet).  Those who observe low fat diets of any sort, tend to experience intense cravings which can undercut their desire to adhere to a healthy diet.  Raw foodists, particularly, often begin to experience diet-breaking cravings when attempting to adhere to a low-fat diet.

The human body needs fats to construct the walls of the cells that make up our bodies.   We need to get at least 30% of our dietary intake from good fats to allow our bodies to construct healthy cell walls (and thus be more impervious to disease).

Most raw foodists would have to really work hard to exceed the 30% fat count in our diets.  Most of us primarily  raw vegetables and fruit.  We use a tablespoon or so of extra virgin olive oil to moisten and flavor our recipes.  From time to time, we add in nuts and/or seeds, either munching them as snacks or incorporating them into recipes, whether for crackers, breads, pates, sauces,  or cheezes.   Most of us  do not eat high fat meals (do you actually eat 4 avocadoes every day?)

Yes, we have recipes for nut and seed breads.  Do we make those often enough to eat them every day? (I mean those of us who do not have personal chefs to cook for us, and, of course, those of us who are not graced with time and/or finances to afford to make those items for daily use.)

I can really only speak for myself, although I think that my experience is likely similar to that of many others who follow a raw living food diet.

In 1974, I began to follow a raw living food diet.  It was not a conscious choice; it was simply cheaper  and easier to do what I was doing, which was making a cabbage-based salad with whatever vegetables were cheap, along with kelp powder and olive oil.  What I didn’t eat I refrigerated and added to the next day.  I added to my salad tomatoes, onions, garlic, and avocado when I could afford it (avocado was a new find for me, and also rare in the markets)

In 1975, I found my first raw food cookbook, which suggested some different combinations for vegetables and fruit, and also suggested adding some nuts into recipes. (I did not die from the addition of more fat.)

Fast forward to 1999.  I was still eating pretty much the same way, but I had a blender and a food processor, so I could make my food look different from a salad.  My mom gave me Rose Calabro’s recipe book, Living in the Raw, and I suddenly discovered that other people were eating raw, and that people were making interesting recipes for eating raw food.  I was totally fascinated.   Because of Calabro’s book, I bought a dehydrator and began to make nut and seed crackers.

What I found out about nut and seed crackers (oh my gosh! High fat!) was that four or five of them would fill me up.  What did that tell me?  Not junk food!  I carried crackers with me when I was going to be out for long hours – I could just munch on my crackers and then feel full. (you don’t get that if you just eat a cup of fruit or vegetables)

Many of the popular videos and recipe books do rely heavily on raw nuts and seeds to create the time-consuming recipes.   Furthermore, the recipe books tend to concentrate on macadamia nuts (substitute cashews), and young Thai coconut (if you are on a budget or live away from a large metropolitan area, or believe in eating locally, this one is easy: ignore such recipes – I do, because I want to eat more locally—or else just use them once in a while).

Unless you are going to be eating in raw food restaurants all day long every day, you are probably not going to risk a too-high raw food diet.  If you do primarily eat in raw food restaurants, then you might want to pay attention to the ingredients in the menu choices, in order to up your intake of vegetables and fruit.

If you are on a raw living food diet, and you are feeling cravings for certain foods, try eating more raw nuts and seeds.  Eat them by the handful, process them into pates or cheezes, or grind them and sprinkle them on foods you eating.

Cravings on a raw living food diet are usually occasioned by a need for fats in the diet.  If you are experiencing cravings, add to your diet fats, in the form of avocados, oils, or raw nuts and seeds.

What we do need to continually be aware of, particularly if we are watching our weight, are foods with high carbohydrate content. Many delicious gourmet-style foods are high in carbohydrates (usually sugars). If this is your concern, consult high carbohydrate food lists such as the one on this blog, or those found on various sites across the Internet. (then note which foods are low in carbohydrates and create your meals around those items).