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In the raw

I was thinking of food and nakedness (and why not?) when I came up with the title but then realised that the word ‘raw’ conjures up so many things that have nothing to do with what we’re eating.  Written backwards raw becomes ‘war’. I couldn’t help thinking that today of all days (Remembrance Sunday) seems incredibly fitting to be talking about a sense of exposure, painful emotions, honesty and brutal reality no matter which way the letters are arranged.

For most of us, things are tougher now than they were a few years ago (unless you’re a banker). What is happening economically, both here in the UK and globally, isn’t lifting our spirits and it’s a case of head down, ass up, or is that just me? Having said that, we have the Olympics to look forward to, if you managed to get a ticket (I did not, but I’m not bitter, not at all) and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, sixty years on the throne, blimey eh, hasn’t she done well…and a nice little four day holiday weekend, not to be sniffed at I’d say. We’re hanging onto those two minor events in 2012 as if the economy depended upon them, I rather think it might.  Without doubt, what happens within the fiscal economy has a knock on effect to the socio-economics too.  We need something to smile about.

Raw Value

During my last visit to London I attended a raw foods workshop. I picked up a few good tips but I thought the teacher could have done so much more to illustrate what a difference raw foods can make to our real health.  At £150 for five hours I was expecting much more so I wasn’t hugely inspired on this occasion but I certainly have been in the past. Not much to smile about there.

Back in 2008 I did a cleanse at The Farm in San Benito – The Philippines.  Their food is raw vegan.  It was delicious.  I’m not just saying that, it truly was.  I only wish I could have eaten more (last 2 days only). Cleanses tend to miss out the eating part and concentrate on flushing all the toxins and rubbish out.  Lots of coconut based products eg water, oils (coconut) and juices, salts baths and colon flushes. Too much info?  I’ll move on.  Have to tell you though, by the end of it I’d never felt better. Absolute mind clarity, massive energy levels, lean and mean, I was flying!  If you’re in the area, it is definitely worth a visit.

Getting there is a bit of a trek so I thought I’d take a peak to see what’s around in the UK incase anyone fancies a dabble?  Happy to broaden the net if any international buddies are interested!  I’ve been back in the UK for a couple of years now but I’ve never come across a raw food destination.  I found a couple of wonderful looking places, gave them both a call and they sound just the ticket. Nice people. Passionate, friendly and at the end of the conversation when asked ‘Would you like to join us?’ my immediate thought was ‘I’d love to!’.  The ‘Raw Food Retreat’ (Dorset) may win over the spa lover as ‘Split Farthing Hall’ (North Yorkshire) doesn’t offer treatments in a spa environment but they will arrange for you. Although both venues have raw food at their core, their program emphasis is different. The Raw Food Retreat appears more focused on food preparation whereas Split Farthing Hall is more anchored to personal development  in relation to food. Both look well worth a visit,  just make sure you’re going to the right place for whatever your personal goals are. What they don’t do (unfortunately) is a full cleanse program.  I’m a huge fan of a good clean out, nothing better to get you back on top. If you’re the sort of person who needs a kick in the ass to get you started, a structured program would be right up your street. Give me a shout out if you need help ([email protected]) and take a look at the links below;

Well done to Dominic and Lisa Harvey (husband and wife team) from the Raw Food Retreat and Andrea and Claire Maguire (Step mother and daughter team) from Split Farthing Hall – what fabulous venues, I look forward to visiting soon!

The raw food menu

Typically, I would expect these foods to be on a daily menu.  I doubt they’ll be a revelation;  Fruits and vegetables  (particularly green leafy ones), nuts and seeds, grains, beans and legumes, seaweeds, herbs and spices; cumin, tumeric and coriander are big favourites.

The thing about raw food (and what enthuses me to wrap my arms around it) is how much more nutritious most foods are raw, rather than cooked. That said, it’s all about balance. As well as having some advantages, a 100% raw food diet also has it’s concerns (as does everything done to the extreme). Take the best of the best and combine it so that you end up with the pieces that work for you.  I couldn’t manage a 100% raw food diet, but I recognise the advantages of raw as part of my diet and incorporate raw vegetable juices, soups, and a few main dishes and snacks. I’ve never hosted a raw dinner party…yet!

The raw food lifestyle headlines;

  • Raw and living food contains essential food enzymes (said to be the life force of a food) that are destroyed if the food is heated above 47 degrees centigrade
  • Raw and living foods are said to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • Raw foods are low in sodium and sugar;
  • But high in potassium, magnesium, folate, fibre, vitamin A and health promoting antioxidants.
  • Raw food consumption has a favourable acid-alkaline balance. Low acid forming in the body (higher alkaline) therefore an environment that is more conducive to the prevention of illness.

Caution; (based on a 100% raw food diet)

  • Risk of some nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin B12, iron, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids
  • Those with hypoglycemia  or diabetes should seek medical advice due to increased fruit intake and therefore higher sugar.
  • Risk of increased homocysteine (linked to cardiovascular disease) and lower HDL (good) cholesterol due to vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Some people may experience a detoxification reaction when transitioning onto a raw food diet.  Mild headaches, nausea and cravings are common.

So, do I have a little fail safe express formula to get us all feeling perky and svelte in time for Santa? I want to say  ‘Of course I flippin’ do’ but I’d be fibbing and you’d see right through me.  Forgive me for telling you the road you know but just in case, QUICK FIXES DON’T WORK (picture me in the middle of Trafalgar Square with a megaphone) they just don’t.

Here's why

We’re human beings, complex and multi dimensional.  We’ve got a lot on our plates and we know that for things to work well for us, no matter what area of our lives they concern, takes thought, effort and organisation. Coupled to all that is a fair bit of trial and error until we establish what we like best. But most important, is the knowledge that making it all work does not rest on one thing alone but in the balance of the crucial ingredients needed to pull off our plan. The quick fixes advertised, usually linked to losing weight or getting fit, drive me bonkers. Take some time to get the balance right for you, it’s more of a marathon than a sprint.

  • Know what you want to achieve – that may be feeling happier, fitter, lighter
  • Feel a sense of purpose and desire to accomplish – you’re dedicated to making it happen
  • Feel motivated and driven to succeed – you’re raring to go!

When you’re making changes, no matter what they are you need your head to be clear and relaxed.  A confused brain is the worst starting point, take it from me, I am the master of the muddled mind.  If you’re in a jumble, (with whatever) stop trying to move forward. Back up and sort out the tangle.  So often, space and time is all we need.  At the end of the day, life’s kicker is in the basics;

  • What we eat and drink
  • How much we exercise
  • How well we sleep
  • How we relax
  • How we deal with the challenges that come our way

There are a plethora of routes to get us to where we want to be.  The ability to relax and eat a diet rich in nutrients are fantastic cornerstones – build on them.

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About Anni Hood

A sassie Brit from the north east of England, Anni left to explore the world many years ago and has spent recent years globetrotting for both work and pleasure. Somewhere in the melee of culture, inspiration and joie de vivre, she discovered a great passion not only for sport, fitness and activity, but also a zeal for all things healthy.

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