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By: Thomas Keenliside
You've just made one of the most crucial, health-affirming decisions in your life ? you've decided to stop consuming cooked foods. Now the real adventure begins - how to stay on your raw food path. Not only are you swimming upstream, against the currents of your surrounding social life, but you are also hearing diverse and conflicting messages about what you should and shouldn't be eating. You must remain strong and steadfast in your sense of purpose.
The first thing to realize is: eating raw foods should bring you a positive state of personal empowerment and great clarity. Only you need to decide what to put into your body, and soon you will be able to listen to your body tell you what it wants. Don't worry about being 100% raw. The more raw, unprocessed and organically grown foods you eat, the better you will feel. And if you succumb to temptation and eat something ?bad', don't beat yourself up about it. The fact is that after you've been raw for a while, you will have such terrible side effects from ingesting cooked food that you won't need to torture yourself mentally. Just step back onto your path and treat yourself to something nice, your favourite raw treat. Try to surround yourself with other raw-food people. There is a burgeoning community of us here on the lower mainland with regular potlucks and social gatherings. Get out and socialize, share ideas and recipes, offer to help others and don't be afraid to ask for support in return. It's not an easy path to follow, and just as life has its ups and downs, peaks and valleys, so does staying raw.
We are constantly being tempted by the sights and smells around us as cooked food smells so good, especially when those odours are subliminally associated with the comfort foods of our childhood. It's just an illusion though, the hollow facade of so many things that we are expected to consume in a spiritually bankrupt society that is based on conspicuous consumption. Turn off your television, stop being bombarded by those subliminal messages that tell you what to eat, how to look and live your life. Go into a supermarket and observe the way people stare at the packaging of those lifeless foodstuffs that have been processed and packaged for the shelf. They're no longer buying what's inside; they're just consuming the idea, the image on the package. It's scary! This is important to remember that when you find yourself craving something cooked.
Decide on alternative, uncooked treats that you can have to satisfy those cravings. Once you lose the taste for cooked food, you will be amazed at how good raw organic foods taste, how satisfying it feels in your tummy. Things like baby carrots, grapes, cherry tomatoes, radishes, plums, celery sticks and sweet peppers become great snack foods. Don't be afraid to experiment with food. Eating raw is about being creative and celebrating the spontaneity of life. Have fun with your food and explore the endless variety of naturally grown fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. Try shopping locally and seasonally, supporting organic growers and markets. Make up your own dishes, or take cooked food recipes and convert them into raw ones. Sometimes it might not work and you'll end up throwing out your creation, but usually it turns out surprisingly good, which will give you such a positive, satisfying feeling.
Listen to ideas of other raw foodists and try them out if they sound worthwhile, but ultimately it is for you to decide what works best for your body. There are no rules! More and more, raw foodists are succumbing to what is known as ?the guru game,' where an assertive and often self-righteous personality decides what you should be eating. Try to listen impartially to what is being said, and then make your own informed decisions, taking care to observe the effects of different foods on yourself. Always be mindful of the great benefits of what you're doing. You are creating positive thought and intention in a world that is suffocated by negativity. You are helping the environment by eating organically grown foods in their natural state, saving considerable costs of energy that is used to process and cook foods, and eliminating the wasteful packaging that ends up in the garbage that is suffocating our natural world.
Support yourself in this great endeavor by finding a regular spiritual practice like meditation, yoga or Tai Chi, and try to spend as much time as you can out in the natural world amongst the trees and by the ocean, away from the polluting effects of artificiality. It is important that you breathe fresh air and absorb natural sunlight into your skin and eyes; a vital part of any raw food diet. Most importantly, always trust your intuition and let the fruits of creation guide you in living a healthy and conscious existence.