First, a confession: I’m a self-professed, health-obsessed foodie, despite my attraction to frozen dairy treats and other diabetes-invoking substances. I waver between hoarding anything with a glaze to eating only raw food, and sadly, the latter is no longer working for me (nor is the former, to be honest).
The raw food diet, at surface-level, seems great: I can eat anything I want as long as it has not been heated above 118 degrees. This stems from the premise that cooking food past that tipping point destroys a large number of nutrients, and renders life-promoting enzymes useless. More importantly to me, however, was that I now might be able to justify purchasing pricey specialty raw snacks from Whole Foods.
Although I did notice less water retention and clearer skin, unfortunately I cannot support this dietary movement. Here’s why:
I Hate Being Cold
It was perpetually sunny the first time I tried raw food, the third quarter of my senior year at UCLA. Having regrettably eaten all of the cookies my internship adviser gifted us during finals week in one sitting, I fell into raw submission. Sure, there’s an adjustment period, but after seven days of feeling chilled, I decided something was not right. A blood test demonstrated I was not receiving enough iron, nor vitamin D, a problem that can be found even in those that are eating healthy. My digestive system was not processing the diet in an efficient manner, and a predisposition to anemia made me a good candidate for someone not to be on the raw food diet.
Some Things Are Better Cooked (Really!)
One of the largest claims behind raw foodies’ supporting science is that cooking vegetables tarnishes their nutritional value. While this is true for some produce, many fruits and vegetables actually become activated in the cooking process. Tomatoes, for example, emit more lycopene (an antioxidant possibly even more potent than vitamin C) when cooked at high temperatures, with the same being true of carrots, spinach, and mushrooms, as well.
Sure, benefits of the raw food diet read like the American Heart Association’s list of must-haves for a healthy heart, but the truth is that these positive qualities come from the lack of foods we have all been taught to enjoy in moderation: high-fat dairy, meat, and calorie-rich carbohydrates. I’ve noticed that implementing common sense in my food selection (I now enjoy cooked meals, thank you) leads to both diversification in my diet while also avoiding trans-fats.