Saturday, 29 November 2008

Yes, you can stay raw this winter!

I'm now in my fourth winter of raw in the UK. Whilst it's not the Arctic, it can be pretty cold here for many months of the year. Last year the snow started in October, and it's getting dark at 3 pm.

Many people are fine on raw in the summer, then waver as winter approaches. This article is for you. It's also for those who have had no problems staying raw in the winter but would like a little material on file that could help other raw newbies.

It's easy to think that we 'need' hot food when it's cold. But this isn't true. We simply associate cold weather with hot food, with feelings of comfort. It's mainly nostalgia, but it can certainly hook people back into eating cooked food. There may be a psychological yearning for cooked food, but there's no scientific argument that I've found that says eating hot (or cold) cooked food will have any positive effect on our bodies in the winter. People who still want to eat cooked food will try to tell you it's 'what your body needs'. It's not true. Your body doesn't need damaged food in the winter any more than it needs it in the summer.

I'll tackle this by addressing some of the things I've heard those new to raw say when winter draws in...


Have you noticed no animal in the world needs hot food in cold weather? We don't either.

When we are cold, our bodies need to work extra hard to keep ourselves warm. That takes energy. If we then eat hot, cooked food, not only do our bodies have to exert more energy than usual to cope with cooked food, but they need to work extra hard to cool the internal environment when that hot food goes down our gullets. That means they have less energy available for keeping us warm.

We may well feel a bit warmer shortly after eating cooked food, but Victoria Boutenko explains how exactly that cooked food 'warms' our body, and how the process works to our detriment rather than to our benefit:

'When any impure substances get into our blood through the walls of the intestines, they irritate our adrenals - the endocrine glands located above the kidneys. The adrenals immediately begin to produce ...a variety of hormones. These hormones stimulate our sympathetic nervous system, which is why we feel awake at first. They also force our heart to beat faster and to pump larger amounts of blood through our body, which makes us feel warm. This feeling doesn't last long and we pay a high price for it. After 10-15 minutes our body gets exhausted from performing extra work, the heart requires rest, the nervous system becomes inhibited, and we feel tired, sleepier and even colder than before. However, we remember only the feeling of getting warmer after eating cooked food and repeat such stimulation again and again. This harmful practice wears the body out and by the end of the winter many people feel exhausted and depleted.'


It's not in your imagination. You are very likely feeling colder than the average person now you're raw.

Firstly, remember that women feel the cold more than men, and slim people feel the cold more than fat people. Hence, if you are a woman who has lost weight on raw, you'll not only feel colder than the average, but you'll feel colder than you used to on a cooked diet.

But also, many people, whatever sex, whether they've lost weight or not, do feel colder after switching to raw. In my first summer - admittedly not a great summer weather-wise here in the UK - I was always feeling cold, particularly in my feet and fingertips. Second summer I didn't feel as cold, even though the average temperature was no higher than the year before. Now, I'd say I still feel the cold a little more than the average person,'s definitely getting easier, and my own experience in this respect is echoed by those who have been raw for longer.

Why might we feel cold in the short-term?

David Wolfe, Sunfood Diet Success System: 'The feeling of typically caused by a thickening of the blood during detoxification episodes; this decreases circulation. It is also caused by an increased blood flow to the internal organs - which are finally given a chance to heal - and a corresponding decreased blood flow to the extremities. Life change comes from the inside out. This is also true with the internal structure of the body. The most vital, central organs heal and transform first (the blood focuses there first). The musculature and the outer perimeter of the body are the last to heal.'

This is echoed by Susan Schenk in 'The Live Food Factor': 'This feeling of chill is believed to be part of the healing process, as the body is directing the blood, warmth, oxygen and nutrients inward to heal the most vital organs and tissues first, cleansing and rebuilding the body from the inside out.

Natural Hygienist Robert Rust: 'When a person who was formerly eating haphazardly of cooked and processed foods begins to eat healthfully by eating correct raw foods, they enter into a transition stage in which their body undergoes 'house cleaning' and healing from the damages incurred by the former diet.

One of the symptoms that may be experienced is a cold feeling, due to the lowered blood and lymph circulation that occurs when the body is not excessively stimulated by cooked food...
Even a person who is in a warm, tropical climate will experience cold feelings when transitioning to a raw food diet.'

So, feeling cold on raw isn't evidence that the raw diet 'isn't working'. It's a normal part of the early stages of switching to raw. Celebrate those cold feet and fingers!

The long-term?

Some feel that, in the long term, you'll feel less bothered by the cold than you did before raw.

David Wolfe: 'After you persist through the transition and detoxification - through the feeling of coldness - you will discover that your resistance to both cold and hot weather will increase by eating raw foods.'

Jan Dries ('Dries Cancer Diet' (high raw)): 'In the beginning, switching over to the diet can lead to chills, but only until the thermoregulation has adjusted itself.'

Victoria Boutenko 'During your first raw winter you may experience some cold due to the weakened adrenals, so put on an extra sweater, take a hot bath or do some push-ups. If you will continue staying raw, your adrenals will rest and recover, your capillary circulation will improve, your nervous system and your heart will naturally strengthen without any artificial stimulation.

She continues: 'My family is now going through our eleventh raw winter. We do not feel any discomfort from cold. We jump in icy-cold mountain rivers year round for enjoyment. In fact that is how we celebrate Christmas and New Year's Eve. We always sleep outside under the rain or snow. Sergei, my son, goes snowboarding sometimes wearing only shorts. My daughter Valya rarely wears socks. Igor, my husband, loves to take snow baths. We strongly believe that staying on a raw food diet has helped us to feel comfortable in any weather and not to feel the cold.'

Susan Schenk: 'It [feeling of chill] disappears in time, the length of time depending on the individual's health going into raw.'

Robert Rust: 'As the body heals and purifies itself, which may take a few months or years depending on the habits of the person, healthier circulation returns and the person will handle the colder climate, if they are in one, better than they did previously on the cooked diet.'

Dr Gabriel Cousens writes that he felt colder on raw food until the second or third year, after which he would feel comfortably warm in cold weather and could even go out barefoot in frost. He also met some raw fooders in Alaska who reported feeling warmer in winter after being on the raw diet for some time.

So...hang on in there.

(EDIT JULY 09 - now three winters raw...)

Yes, I definitely felt the cold less in the third winter raw than in the first, and, this summer as well I haven't felt 'cold' in the way I did in the first summer. However, I still feel the cold a little more than the average person, and have a feeling this will be long-term. First reason - I am female, and am far slimmer than pre-raw. Second reason - new information for you! Studies of the healthiest raw fooders - athletes - show an average body temperature of 93 F only! A recent study of a group of 300 raw fooders showed an average body temperature of 96 F, at least two degrees lower than the 'norm'. The last time I took my temperature it was 96.2 F (35.7 C)So...raw fooders could be expected to feel the cold marginally more than the average person. It could actually be that the 'norm' of 98 isn't actually healthy. Perhaps those on a standard cooked, processed, omnivorous diet are in a constant state of mild fever as their bodies are trying to eliminate toxins. I'll just put that out there...!

The good news is that, in hot weather, which is nearer to the optimal climate for the human being - the one we all migrated from originally - raw fooders are going to feel far more comfortable than the average! And certainly in a recent spell of hot weather in the UK I was in bliss whilst others were grumbling. I'll not trade the health benefits I've experienced from being raw for feeling a little at odds with the climate on my cold little island.


What do animals do in the winter? Some don't appear to do anything different. They don't heat their food. They look and act much the same whether it's hot or cold, and appear to be able to accommodate temperature differences. Some migrate to warmer climes. Some hibernate. Others? They have, or grow, long shaggy, or furry, coats. So there's an answer if you're stuck in a cold climate in the winter. When it's cold, wear a lot more. Buy a long shaggy coat! We've got so used to centrally-heated houses and workplaces that many of us forgotten that when it's cold we should be piling on the layers!

Here's a suggestion for the toughest amongst you! For the last 30 seconds of a shower, turn off the hot water and switch on the cold. Closes the pores and retains body heat (apparently...never tried it myself...)

Also, here's a positive spin on feeling cold...we all know we should be outside more. Studies of longevity usually conclude that, as well as diet, outdoor living is a major factor contributing to a long and healthy life. For most of us living in UK-type climates, whether raw or not, that's a tall order. But, if switching to a raw diet and feeling colder makes us more aware that we may not be living in our natural habitat, and has us focussed on a long-term plan to move to somewhere warmer, that must be a good thing!


Many people say that hot-as-in-spicy foods such as chili and ginger can have a warming effect. Before you start adding chili to everything, consider the views for and against:


Ayurvedic medicine says spicy foods are 'energetically warm', pushing blood up to the surface of the body, thus raising the metabolic temperature.


The Natural Hygiene school of thought is in direct opposition to the Ayurvedic. Natural Hygiene says spices are at best irritants and at worse toxic.

Here's Mike Benton on cayenne (chili): 'All hot peppers contain a poisonous alkaloid called piperidin and a harmful crystalline substance known as piperin. Hot peppers also have acrid resins and volatile oils which irritate the digestive and urinary tracts. Cayenne pepper also contains an alkaloid called capsicin which irritates the body so severely that circulation is rapidly increased in order to remove it from the system.

That is why hot peppers make you feel 'warm' - the body drastically increases circulation to remove all the harmful pepper alkaloids as expeditiously as possible.'

(Incidentally, raw foodists should be wary of the Ayurvedic approach in general. I've seen ayurvedic medicine used as a justification for statements such as 'some people can't eat raw food' and 'raw food can be dangerous'! Just because something has been practised for thousands of years (as has cooking) doesn't make it right.


It's never necessary to eat freezing cold food. Neither is it good for the body to eat very cold food. It shocks the system and it will cause the body to have to work extra hard to adjust internal temperature just as it would for hot food. David Wolfe: 'cold refrigerated food will cool the body. Perhaps you can adjust your refrigerator to the warmest temperature it will allow.' Alternatively, take food out for half an hour before eating. And there are lots of foods of course that don't have to be refrigerated at all. I always keep fruit, and tomatoes, at room temperature.

Also, some people do find it helps to warm food in the winter; raw soups warmed can be very comforting. Warming food isn't cooking; it's only at around 105-115 F that nutrients start to become destroyed and/or damaged. See if you can get a thermometer, but, failing that, if you want to judge how warm you might allow a raw dish to get, think how warm a swimming pool heated to 105 - 115 F would be. Or...stick your finger under your armpit and bring your arm down quickly. That's a rough guide as to how warm your soup can get on touch.

Anyone with a dehydrator will know that food dehydrated to 110F feels very warm, and relatively stodgy dehydrated foods served warm, whilst not as optimal as non-dehydrated food, can again be a psychological comfort of great help to those in the early stages of raw.

So, do you need cooked food in winter? Sure - like a fish needs a bicycle. Can you stay raw this winter? Yes you can!

Monday, 24 November 2008

The Breakfast Trap

(Caveat - as this article runs contrary to the conventional view that b reakfast is an essential part of any diet, please remember as usual that I'm just a raw foodist. The article represents my personal opinion, and the information/explanations I've used to back my arguments come from my reading of material available in literature and on the internet, my ruminating on the same, and personal experience)

The image shows what many people would describe as a 'healthy breakfast'.Let's say it's a mix of conventional breakfast cereals with cows' milk, and one strawberry. But is it a good way to start the day? Vegans might substitute soy, or nut milk for the cows' milk. Would that be a good way to start the day? Raw foodists might substitute the cooked grains with nuts, with sprouted buckwheat...would that be a good way to start the day? What if the grains and milk were replaced with lots of fruit? Would that be a good way to start the day?

Most of us have had it drummed into us by 'health experts' (and manufacturers of breakfast cereals) that 'breakfast is the most important meal of the day.' We've been told it's essential for fuel, that it 'sets us up for the day ahead'.

Parents are told that if they don't ensure their children start the day with a 'good breakfast' school performance will suffer, the children's energy levels will dip mid-morning, etc - in other no words 'no breakfast, poor parent'.

My contention is that we don't need to eat in the morning for fuel, that children's energy levels may well dip mid-morning, but this will be more to do with the food eaten the previous day, ie the diet overall, than a lack of breakfast, and that eating in the morning is more detrimental to our bodies than beneficial.

This will not be news to those of you who have have been following a 'no-breakfast' policy for some time. However, others may feel unsure, and I hope this article will provide food (or no food) for thought for those who've ever been told 'you must have (or they must have) breakfast!'.

First, the 'religion bit'. Not to everyone's taste, I know, but hopefully of academic interest whatever one's persuasion.

Essene Gospel of Peace:
'Eat only when the sun is highest in the heavens, and again when it is set.'

Ecclesiastes, Old Testament (10:16)
'Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child and thy princes eat in the morning.'
(interestingly, the word is 'eat' in the King James Version, but some modern versions have changed 'eat' to 'feast' - could Kellogg's have had a hand in the editing?)

Now the 'science bit'.

Dr Georgie Z Pitskhelauri, a Russian gerontologist, researching longevity amongst the Abkhasians living around the Caucasus mountains, showed that centenarians, amongst other things, 'do not ordinarily eat before noon.'


(and I doubt it's because the Abkhasians got up late...)


Eating in the morning is eating too soon.

Harvey and Marilyn Diamond, drawing on Natural Hygiene principles in the classic health manual 'Fit for Life' describe three natural body cycles:

Noon to 8 pm: APPROPRIATION (eating and digestion)
8 pm to 4 am: ASSIMILATION (absorption of nutrients)
4 am to noon: ELIMINATION (of body wastes and food debris)

So, when we wake, our bodies are in the middle of the elimination process. This is a crucial phase, as will be explained in the next section. In fact, bodies that have ingested hard-to-digest food such as meat or nuts the previous evening may still be digesting and absorbing. If we then eat shortly after rising, we are placing a digestive burden on the body that it does not need or want yet, thus depleting energy rather than increasing it.

Essential 'housecleaning' is interrupted.

At some point in the early hours (the Diamonds suggest 4 am)the body will have completed its absorption activities, and will be looking to eliminate toxins and unwanted bulk. This is precious time for the body. It needs to concentrate on eliminating things it doesn't want. If it is not allowed to do this, then those things will accumulate in our bodies. And if we don't give our bodies enough time to clean themselves they will have to divert energy from cleaning to coping with the new digestive onslaught.

I'll explain further by describing what may happen to various types of eater when a hold is put on eating in the morning. As most of you won't fall into a neat little group, do take from this what you feel relevant.

The very poor diet

OK - RawforLife readers are unlikely to be following the worst diets, but...if there are elements of any of these in your diet, to some extent this will apply to you...

People whose diets include any or all of the following - meat, white sugar, processed food, pasteurised cows' dairy, coffee, alcohol, tobacco - may find it quite difficult to get up in the morning. They may feel 'groggy', find it difficult to 'get going', have crusty eyes etc, need an alarm to wake themselves (and when the alarm isn't set, they sleep for a long time. )This is because their bodies need a lot longer to (attempt to) digest, absorb and then eliminate. In other words, when they wake, their bodies have hardly got to grips with house-cleaning.

As the morning proceeds, as well as the general grogginess resulting from interruption of the long period of rest needed to get rid of toxins, withdrawal symptoms may occur as the body's energy is depleted after the excessive house-cleaning needed, just as our energy would dip if we'd spent a long time cleaning a particularly dirty house. Lethargy and dullness result.

So, those on a poor diet may find no eating in the morning very hard. Unless, of course, more drugs, eg coffee or tobacco, are ingested. In these cases there will be a feeling of energy. What this 'energy' actually is is the body going on 'red alert' to cope with the invading toxins again. It's false energy. And the body having desperately tried to eliminate the toxins previously accumulated will then have them topped up.

Those who haven't topped up their bodies with overt drugs may well be feeling 'ravenous' by mid-morning. (See 'gnawing' described in the next section.) And in fact this was how I used to feel on a cooked diet without breakfast. The morning after my typical evening meal of baked, cheesey food, with alcohol, by mid-morning I'd feel 'ill' if I'd eaten nothing. Surprise surprise...

In these circumstances, not eating in the mornings may be more than some can bear, and it's probably best to improve the diet radically overall before first, and initially replace the worst breakfasts, eg fried, toast and coffee, sugary cereal and pasteurised cows' milk, with something better such as muesli and nut/seed milk.

The high-raw diet

I'm talking here of a diet that may be 75-80% raw, but nevertheless cooked food is still eaten regularly, perhaps in the evening.

Just as with the highly toxic diet, the body will have quite a lot of work to do here in the eliminative phase. There may well have been toxins created by, for example, the baking, roasting or grilling of food. The body may have had problems with pasteurised dairy, salt, etc. So, once again, it needs time to do its work.

Those including a little cooked food in their diets may experience a 'gnawing' feeling when the stomach is empty. I did, all my cooked-food life, and continued to do so, occasionally, when 75%raw. Until giving up cooked meals completely, I'd always understood that the 'gnawing' feeling (sometimes accompanied by a little light-headedness/nausea) in my stomach was hunger. I now know it wasn't. There are various theories as to what the 'gnawing' is, and here's one from William Hay, MD: 'every gnawing feeling is evidence that the stomach contains a very uncomfortable amount of acid, the acid debris that follows the previous meal'. This fits in with my own experience as, when 75% raw, I used to feel the gnawing occasionally, and particularly in the morning if I tried to go without breakfast. After moving to 100% raw I never experienced the gnawing again, even when fasting!

My suggestion is that if those who are still eating a little cooked food find going without anything in the morning uncomfortable, make the morning meal fruit - as much of it as satisfies. Fruit is relatively easy to digest. (And someone close to me finds green juice helps keep those gnawings at bay!)

The 100% (or pretty close to!) raw food diet

The 100% raw eater will rise early with no need for an alarm, as the body has long finished digestion and absorption and will not beg for more hours of sleep in which to do so.

The only feeling 100% raw fooders are likely to experience not eating in the morning is an empty feeling in the stomach. If you've had a little juice (which is eating), the empty feeling might be accompanied by a little burbling - think of the noise a basin makes sometimes as it drains. Again, we've been conditioned to think of an empty stomach, especially a burbling one, as hunger. It's not. Very few people reading this, if any, will ever have experienced true hunger. If any gurgling, it will soon stop. If only our stomachs could speak we might hear this: 'Mind' says: my stomach's gurgling - I must be hungry! 'Stomach' says: 'no, I'm not. I've only just got rid of the last lot -give us a break!'If the stomach simply feels empty, celebrate that - it's a stomach at rest.


Now, having said all this, have I implemented a no-breakfast policy myself? Answer is 'almost', from time to time. My no-breakfast days have actually included juice, so it would be truthful to say only that I've experimented with 'no solid breakfast'. I've always felt good on those 'no solids' days, but have always reverted back to my 'old ways' after a while. Why? Various reasons, eg greed and/or lack of self-discipline and/or following someone else's 'rules'.

But recently I've been trying 'no solid breakfast' again, and have been feeling so good on it that I want to make it a permanent part of my life.

Here's a diary of my eating yesterday:

6.30 am Juice (carrot and orange)

About two hours after the juice, I had the 'empty stomach' sensation and a bit of gurgling. Ignored it, and after 15 minutes it was gone. Felt a wonderful mixture of energy and calm all morning, and felt fine without food.

12 noon 2 kaki (large persimmon - equivalent to 5-6 'sharon fruit')
1 pm (Lots of) wraps (romaine lettuce, tahini, tomatoes, sprouted pulses).

In the afternoon my tummy felt very calm. Also, although I had looked forward to, and enjoyed my lunch, I didn't fall upon it ravenously. The no-eating in the morning had set up a feeling of self-discipline, that I wasn't going to be at the mercy of those 58+ reasons why we eat when we're not actually hungry!

5 pm 1 kaki
6 pm Sprouted wheat bread, avocado, tomato

In the evening, tummy was still lovely and flat, and I had no desire to continue nibbling. I slept very well.

To some people this might not seem like a lot of food. Good nutritionally, but not a lot in terms of quantity. But I'd felt satisfied all day. The interesting thing is that when I do eat in the morning, it seems to make me want to eat a lot more in the afternoon, and evening as well! It seems to set up a habit, to feed that little demon that tells me to eat, eat, eat, food when the body really doesn't need it.

We've been told that breakfast is essential for'fuel'. Herbert Shelton, Natural Hygienist, says that we really don't need fuel for the day ahead, as we've already got it in the form of stored glycogen from the previous day's eating, added to which the body has just had several hours of rest.

Do we need a blood sugar top-up in the morning for immediate energy needs? During my 'no solids' morning I didn't feel tired at all. The 'drop in blood sugar' that the cereal manufacturers warn us about did not seeem to have occurred. If the previous evening's meal had been a burden for my body it may well have drawn significantly on any sugar in the bloodstream for the energy needed to cope with it. But my meal the previous evening had been light, and raw.

In general, for all the reasons described above, I suggest the lighter we can keep things in the morning, the more our bodies will thank us for it, and, in direct opposition to what most of us have been told all our lives, and what the cereal manufacturers would have us believe, we don't 'need' breakfast and our bodies will feel a lot better without it. Those on unhealthy diets will certainly have a craving for breakfast in the morning, but all that's doing is perpetuating a vicious circle. As with all things, the higher the percentage of raw plant foods in our diets the easier it is to do the right things. It's the virtuous circle.

So...does 'a good breakfast set us up for the day ahead?'

Well, we all know what it means to be 'set up'...



I'm a big fan of Dr Doug Graham, and looking forward to meeting him again at this event. Dr Doug, and his wife Prof. Rozi Graham will both be speaking, there will be lunch, and...all-you-can-eat durian! Please note it's not just for those following the 80/10/10 diet (I don't myself, currently, although do love my fruit!). It would be very exciting to meet some of you there, and you can find out more about it here.