Guest post by Guylaine Lacerte
I consider the raw vegan diet as the ideal diet based on four tenets of nutrition:
- Whole foods vs. Processed Foods
- Plant Foods vs. Animal Foods
- Raw Foods vs. Cooked Foods
- Fresh Foods vs. Dried Foods
Today, I’ll discuss the first tenet.
1- Whole foods are superior to processed foods.
What is processed food anyway? Processed food is any food that has been altered from its natural state. As soon as it is altered in any way (i.e. no longer fresh and raw), it starts to lose nutrients. The more processed the food, the fewer nutrients it has.
The three most popular processed foods are white sugar and high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated and refined oils, and white flour. The most appealing and addictive foods, such as donuts, cookies, and pastries, are some of the worst processed foods that you can eat. Processed foods can hardly be called “food.” By the time a whole food is cooked, pasteurized, synthesized, extracted, refined, homogenized, and adulterated with additives, it can hardly be called a food anymore. All it provides is empty calories. Processed foods become addictive, and a dependency ensues much like with drugs (although the side effects are milder).
Over time, degenerative diseases can occur. Processed foods are disease-building. Continuing to eat processed foods is like putting your head in the sand and pretending that nothing is happening. Sooner or later, you’ll see the effects on your health. Your body sends signals of discomfort, pain, and illness when not well nourished. We ignore those symptoms and instead go to the doctor for a diagnosis. Most doctor will give you a prescription drug without looking at the nutritional cause. Taking responsibility for your health starts by looking at what you eat and making changes to incorporate more whole foods in your diet.
90% of the typical food budget in America is spent on processed foods. No wonder we find more and more incidences of diabetes, cancer, autism, ADD, cardiovascular diseases, obesity and asthma.
The majority of trans fats in our diet are industrially produced. They are consumed primarily as shortening and margarine or in foods that are baked or fried using these substances, such as cakes, cookies, bread, potato chips, and commercial French fries. Trans fats are produced industrially when hydrogen is added to unsaturated oil (usually vegetable) in a process known as hydrogenation. Hydrogenated fats are not digested and cannot be food for the cells. They cause a myriad of health problems, which ultimately end up in diseases such as heart disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes.
America has become a nation of refined sugar hogs. The average annual consumption of refined sugars in the United States is at least 150 pounds per person. According to the U.S.Department of Commerce, consumption is 16 pounds in Germany, 28 pounds in France, and 30 pounds in Great Britain. Sugar, as now manufactured, yields only heat to the body. Sugar is “purified” fuel that is burned in the tissues without contributing any of the salts, vitamins, or biochemical reactions that are indispensable to health.
Years ago, Dr. Foster conducted a study in which he fed one group of pigeons and dogs with refined sugar and another group with just water. The group fed with white sugar developed symptoms of auto-intoxication and died sooner than those given no food at all. This proves that white sugar is not a food but a poison.
There are two types of foods that you can eat: whole foods or processed foods. Whole foods are real foods, and processed foods are fake foods. While whole foods are unrefined, processed foods are full of stuff that you can’t even name. Processed foods are boxed, packaged, and have often an extended shelf-life. Processed foods are made to be attractive and convenient. Whole foods are inconvenient as they require preparation. You must wash, cut, and prepare vegetables yourself. You cook or sprout whole grains. Today, most people don’t know how to cook or prepare wholesome meals anymore. It’s more convenient and cheaper to go to the fast food restaurant, have a pile of empty calories, feel full, and go home and snack on more junk food in front of the TV. This leaves no energy to think, move, or do something useful with one’s life.
The whole/processed foods spectrum
|RAW WHOLE FOODS||Food in its untouched,
|Apples, berries, lettuce, carrots, walnuts, almonds, sprouts|
|COOKED WHOLE FOODS||Food in its untouched , natural form that is cooked||Steamed potatoes, cooked brown rice, cooked lentils, stir-fry vegetables|
|REFINED FOODS||Food that has been altered from its original form to last longer||Refined flour, refined sugar, refined and hydrogenated oils|
|PROCESSED FOODS||Food that looks nothing like its original form and contains chemicals||Chips, cakes, donuts, soft drinks, French fries, poutine , deli meats, ice cream|
A new study published by the Nature Neuroscience journal reveals that processed junk foods like cakes, puddings, and hamburgers might be addictive like drugs. These foods overload and crash the pleasure centers in the brain, creating effects similar to cocaine or heroine. Just as coca leaves are purified in order to make them more addictive, foods like white bread and corn flour have been processed for addictive features. Processing is the main reason behind the addictive properties of fattening products.
Is it possible to live without addiction? Absolutely, yes. Living with addiction is like living a life in slavery. The pleasure is short, and the consequences are lasting. We don’t live life to the fullest.
Start by consuming lots of raw, alkaline forming fruits and vegetables. These alkaline substances keep the blood and other body fluids in a state of normal alkalinity, which is essential for health. Eaten on a regular basis, these foods will start the natural transition process away from processed foods that cause the body to become acidic.
At first, the body will not naturally crave whole foods, since it is accustomed to processed and refined foods. You have to begin by adding more raw, natural, plant-based foods to your diet . Be kind and patient to yourself. Over time, you will naturally have less interest in more processed foods and will gravitate toward the least processed whole foods.
Many people have made the transition to whole foods. They find that when their body has all of its nutritional needs fulfilled, cravings dramatically decline.
Steps for getting rid of your processed foods addiction:
- Gradually get rid of any sugar, white flour, and fried foods in your fridge, freezer, and pantry.
- Stop buying them. When you go to the grocery store, stay in the bulk and grocery section. Don’t even look elsewhere.
- Always go shopping with a full stomach. You’ll have less temptation.
- Buy plenty of fruits and vegetables along with beans and grains. Stick to the whole foods that you like best.
- Buy a good vegan recipe book to start cooking with whole foods.
- Try to avoid fast food restaurants by driving on back roads.
- Listen to audio CDs while driving for motivation to continue healthful living.
- Enlist the help of a coach if you keep falling off the wagon. A health coach helps you be accountable and empowers you to reach your goals.
- If you’re addicted to processed foods, first admit that you are. There’s no point in pretending.
- Write down all of the reasons why you want to get rid of processed foods and what you want to achieve.
- Plan your meals and allow time to prepare them.
By eliminating the major sources of toxins in your life such as coffee, sugar, alcohol, processed food, fast food, junk food, trans fats, and high fructose corn syrup, your body can renew and rejuvenate itself. Before getting better, you might feel worse due to detox. Hang on, and you’ll be enchanted with the results. Eating whole foods is the start to a healthier life.
In my next newsletter, we’ll look at the second tenet of nutrition:
Plant foods are superior to animal foods.
Guylaine Lacerte is a Certified Raw Food Nutrition Educator, a Certified Coach, a Professional Counsellor and founder of The Raw Food Path. She helps people, mostly women, transforms their life, achieve vibrant health and boundless energy, get the body of their dream, solve emotional issues and limiting beliefs.
Guylaine offers one on one coaching and consultation, raw food classes, and retreats.
959 Sunnyside Rd, Kelowna, BC V1Y 2N7, CANADA