I broke my fully raw routine. Now what?

I’ve been eating fully low-fat raw for four weeks now! For the most part, it’s been easy though recently I had some difficulty finding decent produce in Zagreb.

This past Sunday I broke away from raw by having a cooked meal for lunch. I had gluten-free corn pasta with fresh zucchini, carrot, bell pepper, and tomato and a pre-made pasta sauce.

The pasta was tasty but I didn’t feel 100% after eating it. No surprise! I shouldn’t have eaten it because I knew it would make me feel less than optimal.

I feel the best when eating raw fruits, so why did I choose to eat pasta instead?

I gave into my pasta craving because I was stressed and hungry. While I enjoy Zagreb, my living situation is less than ideal and I’m looking forward to leaving. I’ve been walking more in Zagreb but haven’t necessarily been eating more calories because I’ve had bad luck with fruit here. Stress plus hunger always push me to reach for heavier comfort foods. Granted, gluten-free corn pasta is still a clean alternative to fruit because it’s easily digested and low in fat, but I still don’t want to eat it regularly.

Immediately after I started eating the pasta, I started to sweat. The pasta wasn’t overly hot in temperature or spicy at all, so the only explanation for me sweating is that my body was working harder to break it down. My body wasn’t used to eating food like this at all because I’ve been eating mainly fruit for the past month. Fruit doesn’t require much energy for digestion. The body merely assimilates the nutrients found in fruit into our blood stream.

IMG_1486
Pasta is one of my favourite comfort foods and high carb low fat meals when I need a lot of calories. This is a pasta meal from when I lived in Glasgow. I ate this for breakfast that day!

I continued to sweat for hours after eating lunch. I felt bloated, especially around my midsection, and was incredibly thirsty. The next day my eyes felt slightly puffy for most of the day. This all makes sense since the pasta sauce contained 2.5 times the amount of sodium recommended per day (according to my food diary in Cronometer), and typically I eat a minuscule fraction of this each day. (Small amounts of sodium occur naturally in fruits and veggies.) It’s best to avoid any extra salt because salt dehydrates us and causes bloating and water retention.

The pasta completely satisfied me for most of the day. I snacked on a few grapes before bed but other than that, I was full for a long time.

I didn’t have any dip in my energy which surprised me, but I did notice an uncomfortable head feeling for most of the evening. My head felt slightly congested. It wasn’t painful, just annoying because I didn’t experience anything similar the entire month I ate raw.

Yesterday I ate completely raw and today I’m eating raw as well. I finally feel back to normal after the pasta, almost two whole days later.

Fortunately, it was easy for me to notice this difference in how I felt after eating the pasta. Previously, when eating foods like that every day (and usually foods much worse, foods heavier in fat and more processed), I wouldn’t have noticed anything. To me, mental fogginess and bloating would have been the norm.

Now that I’ve been eating cleanly with raw foods for several weeks, I’ve experienced the vitality and energy that comes along with a low-fat simple diet first hand. I felt 200% every day I ate fully raw. It’s remarkable to me that my body responds to any deviation from this way of eating quickly. My body more or less tells me which foods I should eat and which foods I must avoid.

I’m glad I’m able to listen to my body instead of fighting against it.

Think about how you feel with your lifestyle currently. Drinking, smoking, eating fatty or processed foods all take a toll on your body and mental well-being. I can’t adequately describe how incredible it feels to eat only raw fruits and veggies, but I urge you to try it. However, a month might not be sufficient time for you to notice all the benefits of eating this way, so you might need to commit to it for a few months. Depending on the state of your diet currently, your body will need to get used to not eating certain foods, to not drinking or smoking, to not being bombarded with harmful substances on a regular basis. Like coming off any addiction, your body will need time to adjust and heal.

I don’t view my pasta lunch as a case of ‘falling off the wagon’ either. I wanted pasta so I ate it. Nothing bad will happen to me if I eat a clean cooked meal once per month. I could have avoided it by eating more fruit, but that’s easier said than done when dealing with stressful situations. It’s similar to when I quit coffee. I had to re-train myself not to reach for caffeine in times of stress or when I was tired. Now I need to re-train myself to reach for fruit instead of pasta when I’m stressed. This won’t be too difficult for me because I’m nearly there, only eating it once this past month and honestly never craved it before then. I’m still learning how to handle cravings when they do pop up, but it gets easier every time.

The point is to not view situations like this as a negative. If you’re like me, legitimately trying to eat cleanly yet you slip up from time to time, that’s okay. Figure out why you slipped up, learn from it, and move on. Hopefully, this learning experience will help you avoid situations like this in the future. That isn’t to say you should slip up a day into your new lifestyle, and continue to slip up every day simply because it’s “too hard.” You still need to give it a solid try and put forth some effort.

I plan on eating fully raw for the foreseeable future. I won’t beat myself up if I eat a low-fat cooked meal once in a while, but I expect I’ll want cooked food less and less the longer I eat raw.

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