Raw Foods for Health

We all started off as a species hunting in the wild and working out every day, but today that’s not really the case.

Most of us spend our days sitting at a computer of some sort, getting fat purely by not counting the calories that go in versus the ones that go out. It takes hard work and dedication to truly develop yourself into a healthy specimen, and there are multiple ways to get there.

One method is a bit controversial, but it goes back to that caveman that we began as millions of years ago. It’s about getting back to nature and eating food as nature intended — raw. No cooking, no fancy ovens or cookware, just pure, unadulterated food.

In Santa Monica, Calif., one proponent of the raw food lifestyle is Melissa Henig, owner of Melissa’s Famous Raw Cuisine and Rawfoodstylist.com. Her mission is to properly educate the world about organic foods, local farms, plus she sells food as well. “I have a delivery service in Santa Monica, Calif. — the LA area — and I supply people with raw food, packaged and ready to go and also a cleansing service,” Henig says. “I deliver it fresh every morning as fresh pressed raw juices and smoothies.”

Henig’s background dictate where she’d end up, as her parents were against feeding her the processed foods and sugars that most other kids her age were living on. Back then she would drink carrot juice as a snack and deliver it to the neighborhood kids as well, leading her down the path to a health conscious lifestyle. “I felt good about it and I just stuck with it.”

For the rest of us however, making the transition to raw foods is not always an easy one. After all, the average American has eaten tons of processed foods over the course of their lifetime, sometimes without even knowing it. And making that transition can become a little bit rough for those who have sensitive stomachs, or even those who don’t. To help make the transition a bit easier, Henig suggests that you start with a cleanse. “It’s pressing a restart button on your diet and your health. You restart with the cleanse and I live it day in and day out.”

The other major hurdle in the transition to raw is what there is to actually eat. The common misconception is that all you can eat is salads and juices, but really, there are many more options that appeal to a wide variety of palates. Henig explains: “People think they are going to be deprived, but you can eat as much as you want all day long with fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, coconuts and avocados. You can just keep bringing in the raw foods and there’s no room for the processed or refined sugars.” Extending it further, the body is able to compensate for the changes in the diet as well, and keep it running strong. “The good fats in your body nourish your brain and your whole nervous system and we really need that for our bodies to function — our bodies need the fat. So I need to remind people that are eating fruits and vegetables all day to make sure they’re getting coconut oil, and avocado. You find what works.”

That’s really one of the key features of going raw — finding what works for each person. And what works for one might not work for another, it all comes down to personal taste. “A lot of people will do raw until dinner,” Henig says. “So, you know, they’ll have a smoothie for breakfast, some type of salad for lunch and then they’ll have a little bit of a cooked dinner. And that’s totally fine. That’s a great way to have balance.”

Ultimately, it’s about getting educated about what goes into the body. As Henig puts it, “They sell these products in the stores that say ‘natural.’ You know, that word ‘natural’ doesn’t mean anything.” And she’s right. Food manufacturers put the label on products to try to confuse consumers into thinking they’re getting something healthy. But there are no regulations on calling food natural or not, because really, what isn’t natural if you twist the definition a bit?

Another thing to think about is creating a balance so that nothing goes out of whack. People don’t have to go 100 percent raw right out of the gate, they can mix it up a bit as well. “There’s no labels so you can do this or do that,” Henig says. And to paraphrase Tyler Durden, there are no rules in raw food.

To get started, one great resource is Henig’s website, which has loads of different options, whether you just want to purchase food from her direct or just get a few recipes. “There are raw deserts, different smoothies and soups,” Henig says, and that’s just the beginning. One other tip for those starting off with this new diet is to get a good blender or food processor, one that can handle chopping up vegetables and the like. “You can make your soups and smoothies in a blender and then the food processor helps for the different cheesecakes and deserts.”

One thing that converts to the raw food lifestyle have noticed is a heightened sense of taste once they’ve cleansed out their systems. “Cooked food you have to cook it and you cook out all of the oxygen and the flavors and you add all of these spices back in,” says Henig. “But when you are eating raw foods it just pops in your mouth. I mean, you really do taste the flavors and that’s another benefit of it.”

But the best part of it all? Supporting the local farmers and people who actually make the food, and therefore knowing what goes into the body on a personal level. “It’s nice when you can go shopping in farmer’s markets. You become friends with all of your farmers and it is important you want to support the ones who really are not using the chemicals and helping the environment.”

Switching to raw foods isn’t for everyone, and those with health issues should consider talking to their doctor before taking such a radical step. But there are definitely some benefits to the system, ones that can change life dramatically. As Henig puts it, “Everything starts to become cleaner on the inside, and it really shows through on the outside.”