There is a constant debate going on out there. Are COOKED FOODS BAD for us? Is it just the types of cooked food? Is RAW FOOD harmful?
This article is meant to be practical, so briefly; why do we want to eat raw foods?
RAW FOODS contain enzymes and vitamins before processing. Much of these can often be destroyed in cooking. It just means that your body has to generally work HARDER to assimilate and utilize these foods. There are exceptions. Cooking can sometimes make unappetizing or indigestible foods edible such as grains, some hard beans, and vegetables (especially roots). Cooking can also transform some tough and chewy meats into comforting protein sources. So how are we to KNOW which to be eating raw? It is a difficult balance, but here are some guidelines.
- Eat RAW when there isn’t a great reason to cook. These are items like fruits, cold-pressed raw oils like olive, sesame, and coconut. This includes some vegetables depending on your digestive situation. These can also include plant fats such as avocados or nuts. Raw Nuts may cause issues for some with sensitive digestive systems. Sweeteners are also great Raw. Healthy things like raw honey, agave, or small amounts of cane sugar. There are usually raw alternatives to processed sweeteners.
- We enter a medium level of concern for some people here. RAW MILK and RAW EGGS are things some people are afraid of. By all means steer clear of bad quality dairy and eggs. Just be aware that pasteurization is the newfangled way of doing things. For thousands of years; people mainly were consuming raw milk. Pasteurization kills the enzymes and other factors leaving the product much harder to digest. Lightly cooked eggs do not pose a problem for most people. RAW EGGS may be easiest for those with upset digestion.
- The next level is tricky even for most advanced “dieters.” Here we enter into the realm of RAW MEATS. Culturally we have become much more acceptable of things such as SUSHI or raw fish being ok here and there. However, when talking about raw farm animals things get a little more dicey. We know that historically people often ate raw meat. Of course this was fresh and of the highest quality. I would definitely advise AGAINST consuming any supermarket quality farm animals raw. The level of disease is already far too high. Pork and chicken feel a little riskier than beef. If you are getting high quality non-gmo meats, you may be ok cooking your meats a bit rarer. So bottom line? Start by getting the highest quality meats you can find. Don’t overcook them as to stress your system. Make sure you consume plenty of raw foods to counterbalance the cooked.
So why do we care to do this? Many many people’s bodies and digestive systems are extremely sluggish because they eat so much poor quality cooked food with little raw, enzyme rich food to balance it out. This leaves people often overweight, low energy, and feeling sluggish. The body simply gets tired of processing the food. It is like eating calories without the batteries. The fuel is there, but it puts a big burden on the system do keep eating that way without enzymes. I might add a special note on PINEAPPLE AND PAPAYA FRUITS here. These tropical fruits both contain high levels of enzmyes specific to digesting proteins. They are great for enzyme therapy and for those trying to overcome chronic fatigue, poor digestion, and other related symptoms.
A good basic guideline is to keep increasing your proportion of raw foods until it begins to feel unhealthy. You can overdo it. I do not believe it necessary to become ultra-strict or a 100% raw foodist. Humans have been healthfully cooking for a long time. Just make sure you balance it with the raw and remember to eat HEALTHY FOODS regardless of whether they are COOKED or RAW!
This is a short article about the importance of maintaining discipline in the often-invisible battles of self-control and knowing how to healthfully be with others. What we are referring to is the LINES that we DRAW when operating our lives. These may be physical lines, mental lines, emotional; even spiritual. PHYSICAL lines are sometimes easier to pay attention to and observe; such as parking spaces to choose. There are literal lines for us to follow. Other times it is not so easy to figure out. Since we are talking within the aspects of health and wellness, what do we mean?
These LINES are often invisible; but they exist nonetheless. They are the lines we place on what types and how much food we eat, how little exercise is too little, how much sleep we need, etc. Most of us make these decisions daily and sometimes go through phases of feeling better or less well depending on our choices. Let’s talk a little about things that can affect where our lines are placed.
RELATIONSHIPS and SOCIAL CONNECTIONS can dramatically affect where we place our lines. It is very easy to cut corners and let our good choices fall down when coming up with others that are making less healthful choices. This can include eating, drinking alcohol, and hobbies that may be too sedentary.
OUR BELEIFS can radically affect where we place our lines. Sometimes we believe that something is “GOOD ENOUGH,” or “NORMAL” and this is enough to let go of our good judgement and let our lines slip down.
What are some examples of lines? Of course we are staying primarily within the framework of physical health and fitness, but here are some examples.
- Types of Foods and amounts of food that you willingly consume
- Types and amounts of exercise that you require
- How much time you take for self-care and stress-relief?
- How much criticism do you take without standing up for yourself?
- How much do you compromise in relationships or “follow the crowd?”
- The things you let yourself spend money on.
These are just some basic questions; but the primary issue of LINE DRAWING extends to most areas of a persons life. Many people have issues figuring out where and how to draw healthy lines. What are some answers?
- The first principle is to draw FIRM LINES. Have enough self-respect to protect yourself from what is not in your greatest good. If we cannot draw firm lines; we will be subject to “the crowd,” or often societies lines; which we know are not always the best.
- Allow yourself time to grow in most situations. Sometimes drawing new lines is a process. Things like changing our diet, quitting smoking, or forming new boundaries at work will most likely take some time. As long as you honestly see change happening, let it be a healthy process.
- RECOGNIZE when you are being influenced. We have people all around us that influence us. Friends, family, significant others, co-workers, and more. Ideally, these people will support you to be healthy and grow, but often this is not what happens. The ability to say NO is a powerful thing. Also remember, that if a person constantly tries to break your lines KNOWINGLY; you may want to reconsider that relationship. Unfortunately healthy decisions are often attacked for various reasons.
- KEEP NOTES OR A LOG. This is especially helpful for problem habits that we need help staying accountable for. When writing down things such as food or exercise tracking, or journaling about how certain people make us feel; this can help to uncover what is really going on. It provides evidence to us about the effectiveness or weakness of our LINES. It also can point out areas to work on.
I cannot overstate the importance of note-keeping and documentation. As most of these lines are INVISIBLE; it is best to find some way of tracking progress. Having attainable and progressive goals is valuable as well. Make small, healthy changes over time. Of course it is also good to have a backup plan if you fall off the wagon! If you find yourself compromising on your values and habits; just become aware and keep working on the superior habits.
Overall, knowing where and how to draw our lines is something all people have to work with. It is very important to have strong convictions so you do not get sucked into “crowd mentality.” It is also important to keep track of progress, as well as giving yourself time and patience to change hard-stuck habits. Have the wisdom to understand which habits are hurting you the most, and which can hang around a while longer without doing much damage. Do not put up with “haters,” who try to coerce, embarrass, or trick you into breaking your healthy lines. SELF RESPECT is a KEY to drawing great lines. When we respect our self highly, we tend to make respectful choices.
There are so many varieties of dietary advice that it becomes easy to get confused. There are different foodie camps, fad diets, and gossip from people you may know. How do we get through to what is real and works for us?
There are lots of ways to do this including metabolic typing, whole foods, intuition, food tracking, and more. That is for a different article. What I want to bring up here is a very simple concept to think about.
What if we ate food that was at least as healthy and alive as we were? Think about that for a few moments. This is generally the principle that most of the other animals use out there. Somehow, we think we can get away with degrading our food; often to disgusting extents. So if we are talking about healthy eating; we are not talking about meat eaters versus vegetarians. What we are talking about is eating things that raise our own health. Doesn’t it make sense that to increase our health levels, we would need to consume things at least as healthy as ourselves? Of course, we do all kinds of things to make food taste better, last longer, and various other things. I don’t want to spin in circles here, so let me list some of the items that make the list.
In general high quality, fresh, raw foods are going to be at the top of the list.
- PLANT FATS (AVOCADOS, RAW NUTS AND SEEDS)
- COLD-PRESSED OILS ( OLIVE, SESAME, COCONUT)
These are foods that have not been subjected to extreme temperatures, cooking, or processing. They are literally “Alive” when you eat them, (And probably more healthy than we are!)
The next level comes foods that are mildly processed, but are still more or less in their RAW forms.
- RAW SWEETENERS (HONEY, AGAVE, ETC)
We have added things like freezing and refrigeration to help certain food items last longer; such as meats. We are unsure of the effect this has on the quality of the food.
- HIGH QUALITY ANIMAL FOODS
This may need a bit of discussion here. By high quality animals foods, we mean animals that have been properly raised and handled for many generations without tampering, bad feeding practices, GMO’s, etc. It is of the opinion of the author that wild meats are the healthiest choice. Things like buffalo, venison, and wild caught fish. The next level comes healthy farmed meats such as beef and chicken. Again, fresh is best, but very hard to come by sometimes. We know that freezing preserves much of the food quality and actually is less damaging than cooking for many elements. EGGS can be eaten raw or cooked, although overcooking is not recommended. RAW DAIRY can have it’s uses, although it may be best to avoid it’s pasteurized counterpart.
Lightly cooked vegetables are somewhere in here also. Cooking can make them easier to digest and bring out some nutrition. This is especially true with things like potatoes.
Farther down the list we have things like grains and beans. Here we enter into storage and maintenance foods. These foods usually require cooking and are heavily used in processed foods. This is not to say grains are bad in their regular forms. Some gentle cooking can transform them into healthy options. They do not, however, contain the vitality and nutrition of fresh fruits and veggies in most cases.
We could keep going down the list but we only want to discuss the foods worth eating in this article!
OK! So basically we are just explaining a list of the healthiest foods in order of LIFE-FORCE or NUTRITION. This does not mean that is the way that you choose what to eat. Some people need far more animal products than others. Going without meat when you need it is going to lower your health quickly. The idea is that you try to focus on eating foods at the top of the pyramid. All of this, of course, goes back to the principle of eating HIGH QUALITY, WHOLE FOODS! Eat with purpose and eat with your intuition. Use common sense and try a balanced approach to eating.
People really like to debate on this topic. In health circles it is an issue that comes up often. Is RAW food healthier than COOKED food?
It really is a big area of questioning, and unfortunately the answers are not clear. We will take an approach of using modern science and facts and also ancient wisdom. Here are some useful clues.
We know that some nutrition can be destroyed or at least damaged by cooking. This especially includes things like vitamins and enzymes. There is a large amount of research suggesting that enzymes are destroyed at around 120 degrees F. We need these enzymes to aid in digestion and other valuable bodily functions. We also do not want to lose our vitamins.
On the other side, certain foods appear to be enhanced by cooking. They become easier to stomach or digest. Cooking can also make foods that are otherwise inedible something that humans can eat. This is especially true with some forms of grains. It can make eating meat more appealing. It also can make some tougher vegetables like root crops (potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, etc) into something more comforting than the raw counterpart. There is also much evidence that cooking actually ENHANCES some nutrition.
So in truth, it is a very confusing subject. There is evidence on both sides of the debate. If you take out cooking; you usually remove the eating of many grains, some beans, some meats, and some vegetables. If you eat too much cooked food, you may wind up with enzyme and vitamin deficiencies, and chronic fatigue.
Ok, so we know it is confusing, what can we do in reality to help develop healthy habits when it comes to eating raw and cooked foods?
Much of the answers will come from personal intuition and experimentation. We have different genetics, live in different areas, and vary in lifestyles. The goal is to find the level of raw-food eating that promotes optimal health. Here are some tips.
- Favor RAW when there is no good reason not to. This applies to most FRUITS, some vegetables, healthy oils like olive or coconut, and dairy. Cooking will usually turn these into LESS VALUABLE products for human consumption.
- Favor RAW if it doesn’t bother you. There are some plant foods that have legitimate reasons NOT to be eaten raw. This includes some nuts, seeds, legumes, rough vegetables etc. Many of these have enzyme inhibitors that can mess up digestion. Some people soak these to help with that. Other vegetables may be too tough for sensitive digestive systems. But again, if it doesn’t bother you; favor RAW. This will keep the nutrition more intact.
- Favor COOKED if you feel grains are a healthy thing for you. Many grains are inedible when RAW. So many cultures have been living healthfully with grains we can’t just classify them as bad. Obviously you want whole grains, in the natural form.
- Meat is where it gets tricky. We need to let go of cultural stigma here. This appears to be a personal thing. Some people cannot stomach raw meat. However, we need to make sure this is not just a mental construct. Cultures that eat things such as SUSHI may benefit in health from fresh, raw fish. Others find cooked meat to be comforting and easier to digest. An important thing is to balance cooked meat with raw foods. Using cold pressed oils and raw veggies can do a lot of good.
AHHH, it is so confusing! Alright, well we understand there is a lot to think about and debate here. Basically, you want to upscale your level of RAW foods until it feels unhealthy. Most people could probably use a higher level of RAW. A small percentage need to allow COOKING to have it’s uses.
This post refers to a broad category of therapies which I usually blanket into the term “Bodywork.” There are many other names, but this is what we will use here. What do we mean by bodywork? A good definition might be manual therapies that effect healthy change in the body, especially in the areas of muscles, joints, circulation, and spine. Here are some common therapies in this field.
-Yoga and Stretching
These are primarily PHYSICAL therapies that attempt to allow your own body to function more optimally. They do this by enhancing circulation, releasing tension, correcting imbalances and so forth. Most of these therapies also have a side-effect of increased mental/emotional wellness and stress relief. In other words, they make you feel better.
Unfortunately, many people do not find the time or space to practice these healthy activities. This may be due to time restraints, busy lives, poor body awareness, lack of motivation, etc. It would appear that many people choose exercise, but forget to do the bodywork. On the other hand, it is no small task to keep the body limber, massaged, and properly adjusted. So the goal here is to do bodywork in a practical way.
My recommendation is to focus on the areas of most importance first. This is more often than not the neck, shoulders, and spine. We get messed up here because of poor posture, lifestyle reasons, and stress that often stores in the shoulders. The reason this is such a problem is because we need a high level of circulation from our body to our head. If there is too much tension you greatly limit that circulation. This is why yoga is such a great activity. When used properly, it can help to bring your neck and spine back into good alignment. A little assistance from a chiropractor or massage therapist complements this.
The other area of focus is the feet. Our feet carry us around, yet we devote very little thought or care to them. Massaging the feet can be a great treatment. There is a therapy called “Reflexology” that focuses on such activities. Often times the feet will be very sore until after a few rubs.
So basically, this article is designed to remind people of the great benefits of bodywork. It is very easy with our busy, modern lives to neglect to do these activities. However, the increased physical wellness, mental/emotional clarity, and relieved stress is enjoyed by people who create space to participate in these ancient therapies.