When I started my raw vegan journey in 2015, I followed nobody but talked to my friend Elsa, read a few books, and watched videos on Youtube. I did not bother about macronutrient ratios or micronutrients.
So at the beginning of my raw food journey, I focused on eating many fruits and vegetables that I truly enjoyed without paying much attention to details. Frankly, I felt good. However, the problems started to arise when I attached to rules and norms randomly spoken about by self-proclaimed online experts on raw food nutrition who have been following the diet for only a few months. Don’t get me wrong, sound nutritional advice always has its place, and it is helpful to experiment with different menus and approaches. I encourage everyone to experiment with various raw food approaches and choose the best strategies for their health. However, avoiding getting lost in online rhetoric that convinces us to deny our body language is essential.
Here is one example of a belief that kept me stagnating on my journey for a long time.
EAT UNLIMITED CALORIES. This guidance should help those who need to let go of the potential portion control mindset. Many people come from a diet culture where the norms are portion control, calorie restriction, fearing fruit and carbohydrates. Such a mindset is not helpful and is often detrimental to one’s success with adopting a low-fat whole food plant-based diet. However, on the other side of the calorie restriction spectrum is the fear of not eating enough, which can be problematic for people without a sound nutritional background. Here is why. Overfocusing on calorie consumption without due attention to nutrient aspects of one’s diet can result in overeating, weight gain, nutritional deficiencies, and health challenges.
Calories from carbohydrates are still calories; if you do not need them, you will likely gain weight and not feel your best. One of the common traps that I see people falling in and where I trap myself is eating massive amounts of bananas and dates. There is nothing wrong with eating bananas and dates as long as you enjoy their taste. The problem arises when one force-feeds oneself because one believes the only reason for food cravings is not eating enough calories.
Overeating or losing appetite is our body’s reaction to the condition we provide. When our body is missing essential micro and macronutrients, and we limit food variety in our diet, our body can make us overeat or undereat. Generally, overeating and the loss of appetite are often related to a lack of nutrients in our diet. As a result, we can starve ourselves while eating excess calories and not getting all essential nutrients. Have you ever considered why people who like to eat fast food get overweight?
When someone is overweight yet hungry, it is logical to assume that they are eating the wrong foods in excess. Excess calories are coming in, yet the body is not getting the essential nutrients to work correctly, and it, therefore, remains hungry. Extra calories over a long period are always stored as fat. An excellent example in the raw vegan diet context is doing an extended banana island. Going on bananas only works well for a while, but it is not a long-term sustainable choice. Our body will eventually crave foods other than bananas to maintain health. However, if one is stubborn enough and believes that extended banana island is all one needs to do to detox and heal the body, the body will conclude that there are no other food choices and will likely take the following actions. Initially, it will make one overeat bananas and increase physical activity because bananas are calorie-dense foods that are not high in proteins and minerals. However, suppose one goes long enough without the willingness to include other foods besides bananas. In that case, the body will use up all the stored nutrient reserves and probably make one dislike bananas as bananas do not meet all the body’s nutritional needs. A loss of appetite and weight loss can follow as a result. Therefore, if you feel stuck on your journey and realize that eating unlimited calories from sweet fruit does not make you balanced and satiated, here are a few aspects of your diet that you may want to examine.
- You may be trying to avoid fats because you believe that following a low-fat diet means not eating fats.
- You may believe that eating fruits is sufficient to fulfill your nutritional needs. Covering your needs for minerals and protein from fruits will only take a lot of food and perhaps access calories you do not need, making you gain weight and feel sluggish.
- You may believe that we are frugivores, eating vegetables is not natural, and vegetables slow detox.
- Maybe you repeatedly eat the same few ingredients because you believe eating a broader spectrum of food disagrees with you.
- You may avoid eating low-calorie density fruits because you fear that you may need to eat more, and your taste buds may be less excited about repeatedly eating the same high-calorie density fruits.
- You may believe that you do your diet right and discover alarming facts when you enter your food into a food tracking app such as the cronometer.
Can you find yourself in any of these beliefs?