The Caloronutrient Seesaw How to succeed permanently on the raw food diet

The Caloronutrient Seesaw
How to succeed permanently on the raw food diet.

Most people take the following route to raw foods: they go vegetarian, then vegan then raw.  Some take the new shortcut; cooked directly to not cooked.  There are, of course, many variations on this theme.  Whichever pathway is followed, the following profound nutritional truths are worthy of consideration.

Protein fat and carbohydrates are the three caloronutrients, that is, they are the only three nutrients that supply us with calories   On today's Standard American Diet, the American public is eating approximately 42% of their total calories consumed in the form of fat, and another 42% are carbohydrates.   Protein intake averages about 16%

The vegetarians have learned to eat different foods, such as legumes and more grains, but the relationship of caloronutrients, 42/42/16, remains essentially unchanged.  This is not surprising as once we become accustomed to a certain caloronutrient ratio, we tend to find that that is what we gravitate towards.  It is what we become used to when we desire to satiate ourselves.

Vegans cut out animal fats from their diets and replace them with vegetable and fruit fats.  They learn about a wider variety of fruits and vegetables, and find grain products that are animal free.  Still, their caloronutrient ratio tends to remain unchanged.  Raw fooders go one step further.  They replace cooked complex carbohydrates with raw simple carbohydrates from fruit.  These simple carbohydrates are more water rich hence have less caloric density.  It takes many more bites to get the same number of calories from fruit's simple carbohydrates as it does from complex ones.  So, if anything, the raw fooder raises the percentage of fats in his diet while reducing the amount of carbohydrates consumed.  Some raw food leaders even recommend the high fat diet as a successful method of raw eating.  It definitely is not.

Nutritionists from every arena agree that we need to lower our fat consumption.  Whether from the mainstream, government, sports, health or sickness organizations, they recommend that fat consumption should be cut from the current 42% and lowered to between 10 to 20%, depending upon from whom you get your advice.  Still, all things considered, the guidelines are relatively clear and concise: we need to consume between 10 to 20% of our calories as fat if we are seeking a healthy outcome.

Why is this so difficult?  It is because we have been led into believing that complex carbohydrates (starches) are the best carbohydrates for us, that in fact they are the ONLY carbohydrates available. This simply is not so.  The problem occurs when we try to eat our complex carbohydrates and find out that they are exceptionally bland.  When we add fat to make them tolerable, we defeat the purpose.  When we add sugar, salt, pepper, spices, artificial and other flavors, the potential health value of our food deteriorates dramatically.

A diet comprised of 30% or more fat has been linked to many different health concerns including, but not limited to: diabetes, candida, chronic fatigue, cancer and heart disease.  We know that excess raw fats are somewhat less harmful than their cooked counterparts, and that plant fats in excess are somewhat less harmful than over consumption of animal fats.  Still, too much fat is too much fat.  It is like being on the highway.   Some folks are in the fast lane, others in the slow lane, but if everyone is on the same highway, they are all headed towards the same destination.  If too much fat is unhealthy for us, it doesn't really matter what kind of fat we are consuming, but the sheer volume of it.  How much fat, then, should we eat?

To obtain sufficient essential fatty acids (called "essential" because we must get them from our foods) we must eat a minimum of three per cent of our total calories as fat.  Allowing for inefficient digestion, poor bioavailability, and even for potential absorption problems, ten per cent fat is more than sufficient to meet all of our needs.  Like sunshine, exercise, and other foods, too much fat poses as many if not more severe problems than not enough.  If a diet composed of approximately ten per cent fat is appropriate, certainly a diet of more than 20% fat is too much fat.

The protein content of most of our foods is relatively low.  Fruits average in the single digits.  Vegetables offer between 20 to 40 percent protein per calorie on average, but they offer very few calories as their water density is so high.  Most nuts and seeds have a protein content that is in the teens or even single digits.  Refined fats such as oils offer no protein.  The same is true for refined sugars.  Even most of the animal products that people consume are only 20 to 40 per cent protein, with the rest of their calories coming from fat.  It is easy to conclude that on almost any diet (other than one that is extremely high in refined sugars and fats whereby the protein content could go down,  or one that relies heavily on refined protein powders in order to raise total protein intake) the protein content will remain in the teens.

What can change and needs to change, according to health experts worldwide, is our fat content.  We are told to eat less fat.  What then, should we eat more of?  The answer is, fruit.  Eating a diet predominated by fruit poses several challenges.

Availability is the first challenge.  This one is relatively easy to conquer if one is willing to eat with the seasons.  In fact, it is exactly because different fruits are available at different times of year that raw fooders get such great nutrition; variety enhances nutritional sufficiency.  Also, shipping has become so well refined that it is easy to get fruit year round these days.

Quality is the next challenge.   To rise to this challenge, it is important that we learn more about fruit than most of us know before looking into the dietary option of fruit eating.  There are many books and teachers on the subject.  It is a good idea to make friends with your greengrocer.  Allow fruits to ripen fully.  Choose fruits that are in season, as these will likely be freshest and of the highest quality.

Psychology is the next challenge.  Most of us do not know anyone who thrives on a diet where fruit predominates, we have no models to follow.  It feels like uncertain ground, thin ice.  Yet fruit eating is the oldest of all of our dietary habits.  Mankind has thrived on fruit throughout our history.  Nutritionally, fruit is supreme.  Eating more fruit simply requires recognizing and remembering that any other diet will not work as well.  After all, we each know that, as most of us have tried almost every diet under the sun.

The final challenge is physical.  It takes practice to transition to consuming more calories from fruit, as eating fruit requires us to consume considerably more volume of food than eating fats.   While a bite of almond butter supplies us with over 100 calories, a bite of most fruits will only supply us with about 5.  So we have to develop the skill of eating more volume (we will take a much deeper look into this concept in my next article, Refining Your Raw Diet).  We have all experienced the dissatisfaction of eating a fruit meal only to find ourselves hungry one hour later.  This is not the fault of the fruit.  Any food eaten in insufficient caloric quantity will soon leave the eat hungry.  The skill is learning to eat sufficient volume from fruit to satisfy oneself until the next meal.

Almost anyone who has tried to eat all raw has, on at least a few occasions, found themselves almost uncontrollably eating of cooked foods again.  What were the cooked foods they ate?  Starches, every time.  Why?  Because carbohydrates are the preferred fuel for every cell of our body, we must get them.  If we don't eat enough from simple carbohydrates, we will be coerced into eating complex carbohydrates.  Anyone who has ever experienced a craving for something sweet at the end of a meal is getting a message from their body to eat more fruit.

Eating more fat will not lead to a healthy raw food program, nor will it satisfy our needs for carbohydrates.  Eating more protein is not even an option.  As we consume more fruit, our fat consumption will automatically go down.  The only healthy way to lower fat intake is to raise fruit intake.

And so we have defined a balanced caloronutrient seesaw.  With protein content acting as a fulcrum, hovering around ten percent of calories consumed, we have carbohydrates at one end of the seesaw and fats at the other.  For the seesaw to balance, nutritionally, carbohydrates must equal approximately 80% of total calories and fats 10%.  If carbohydrate consumption goes down, fat goes up, and health becomes unbalanced.

What does a typical day of eating look like for someone eating 80% simple carbohydrates?

Breakfast:  All the fruit you care for, usually of a relatively juicy nature.

Lunch:  All the fruit you care for, eating sweeter fruits if they are desired.  Consuming celery or lettuce with this meal is optional.

Dinner:  All the acid fruit you care for, followed by a large dinner salad with nuts, seeds, or avocado if desired.

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