I like it raw.
November 29, 2009 10:46 AM   Subscribe

Any suggestions for a 14-day raw food detox diet? What can I expect to feel like?

I've been in the process of losing weight (via eating better and exercising) and have lost about 20 pounds since early summer. I fell off the health wagon in early November due to work/school stress, started ordering takeout more often, missed the gym for weeks at a time. Throw in a few weekend birthday celebrations and Thanksgiving - all of which involved indulging heavily in fatty foods and quite a bit of alcohol - and I gained about 4 pounds back.

I'd like to get back on board and continue to lose the weight I started losing. (I'm about 10-15 lbs to my goal.) I've started going to the gym again, and lighter eating began the day after Thanksgiving. But I still feel sluggish and generally gross from a month of face-stuffing and boozing.

I've developed, based on various internet articles, a plan for a 2-week raw (or mostly raw) cleanse. It's a variation of the vegan raw food cleanse in that it's not as super strict as some of the ones I've read about online. I plan to eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouts and drink water and herbal teas. (Which is pretty much what I normally drink anyway.) I'm allowing occasional oatmeal with raw honey and fruit, maybe 1 or 2 mornings a week. I'm also thinking of throwing a teaspoon of olive oil per day into the mix, for salad dressing. Maybe some light salt and pepper. No meat, dairy, eggs, pasta, bread, alcohol, candy or processed foods. I am going to allow myself avocado and canned beans, but no tofu.

Anything else I should avoid? Any cool raw recipes I should consider feasting on or advice in general? I've never done this before. What can I expect to feel like? (Some background, I'm a mid-20s female of a healthy weight, and I usually eat everything.)
posted by blackcatcuriouser to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Why not just re-start the healthy habits you were doing before the beginning of this month?

"Detox" is quackery, from all I can tell - your body does a pretty good job of eliminating "toxins" as it is, and changing your diet for 14 days isn't likely to make a big difference in that process.
posted by downing street memo at 10:53 AM on November 29, 2009 [18 favorites]

Provided your liver, et al, are healthy, your body is amazingly good at flushing out actual toxins. There's nothing to "cleanse." You may want to, eg, eat a low-sodium diet because your heart will be better for it, but there's realy no need to treat this as some kind of ordeal; the reason you feel generally gross is because you just ate a ton of gross stuff that's heavy on empty calories, light on nutrients, and full of fats. Get back to lean meats and veggies and you'll feel the pep return pretty fast.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:58 AM on November 29, 2009

I'm really just doing this to eliminate a lot of the stuff I've been eating that has made me/my stomach feel crappy for the past month, and press "restart" so to speak. I'm not all that concerned about toxins. (though I think abstaining from alcohol completely for a little while - perhaps longer than 14 days - will do me a world of good.) I've just read that eating mostly fruits and vegetables results in quite a bit of "release" if you will. I'm also worried about possibly being malnourished/overly hungry or passing out.
posted by blackcatcuriouser at 11:01 AM on November 29, 2009

the BBC did this big study and found that these diets are great as a jump-start; after so much misery to go through the "detox", a regular healthy diet is very easy. However, no significant effect on health. But people did feel empowered, which is good.

If that's what you want to do, more power to you. Just make sure you're getting enough calcium and other nutrients.

I've heard that you should stock up on very soft toilet paper.
posted by Neekee at 11:07 AM on November 29, 2009 [2 favorites]

"Detox" is quackery.

However, I understand why you might feel the need to go super light and fresh for a while. May I suggest eating according to your new plan for a couple of days and then going back to your regular healthy habits? It might be long enough to get you to stop feeling sluggish. I've found that I do this fairly naturally: if I eat lots of heavy food for a couple weeks, I tend to crave soups, fruit, yoghurt, and other light foods for a while.

The problem with sticking to a strict raw food diet for a whole 2 weeks is that your body might react strongly to the diet change. Part of becoming a healthy eater is listening to your body. It might be telling you now that it's craving raw, but don't force yourself to "detox" for 14 days if a couple of days turns out to be enough. If you just focus on returning to your former healthy habits, you'll go back to feeling good and the weight will keep coming off.
posted by snoogles at 11:09 AM on November 29, 2009 [4 favorites]

No matter if you do raw for a few days or a couple of weeks, make sure to listen to your body. Changing to a raw diet, especially if you've been eating fast or processed foods, is a huge change in the amount of fiber you'll be ingesting and you'll want to make sure you're drinking plenty of water. Also, taking a multivitamin is usually a good idea as it's easy to not get enough of some nutrients like iron and calcium on a raw diet. There's no set rules - listen to your body.

Good luck!
posted by garnetgirl at 11:20 AM on November 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you don't feel like a diet is going to provide enough for you to live without constant fear of passing out, then it's a terrible, terrible diet, and your diet looks a little too light to be completely safe. If you want to be sure, ask a dieician somewhere, but NOT a nutritionist. Diatician is a legally protected term, while I could open an office tomorrow, call myself a nutritionist, and sell thousand-dollar sugar pills as vitamin cleansers and no one would be able to stop me.

You don't have to go completely raw vegan if you don't want to. Just eat generally healthy like the first two commenters said and you should be fine. It'll all be eliminated from your body in a few days, either way, and the fat just needs a little bit of basic diet and exercise, not a drastic fruit diet. Even if you do think you have to go for this, you'll definitely survive if it's only a couple of weeks.:
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, most of the micronutrients you need to survive are stored up in your system over a long period of time, so you can cheerfully live off oranges for a few weeks if you really have to. But more than that, almost all the research evidence shows that taking tablets full of things like vitamins is either worthless or, in the case of high-dose antioxidant regimes, actively bad for you. Unlike eating a healthy balanced diet for the whole of your life.

source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/befit/story/0,,1379231,00.html

More info on traditional detox:
posted by sandswipe at 11:27 AM on November 29, 2009

I agree that much of "detox" is quackery, and juice/liquid diets are dangerous. However, I do believe that really healthy food and a formal program that restricts caffeine and alcohol can be an eye-opening experience and can isolate unhealthy food triggers and change overall health habits.

I like Alejandro Junger's Clean Program. It's pretty similar to what you're looking for, and it focuses on organic foods -- primarily raw -- and temporary elimination of sugar, caffeine, alcohol, dairy, and gluten, as well as potential allergy triggers such as tomatoes, peanuts, high-mercury fish, etc. No oatmeal, sadly.

I completed a 21-day cycle in August and it did make a difference, so far as energy and mental/emotional clarity. The whites of your eyes actually get whiter, and it's weird for people to comment on that, but they do. I lost 10 pounds living pretty cheerfully on almond milk smoothies and huge green salads. I never felt weak or starved, just sort of... clear. During the day, you can snack extra if you're actually hungry, but there's a 12-hour window each night where you are supposed to metabolize everything.

I completed the version in the book because it seemed a bit more normal to maintain. The first three days were definitely the hardest, with some tremendous headaches while the caffeine filtered out. I missed bananas and strawberries quite a bit. I didn't miss chocolate. There's also an online community, so I was able to pick up recipes and see what others were experiencing. I visited farmers markets for local, organic foods, and I found that it was spiritually nourishing just being around healthy bunches of kale and carrots, dirt still clinging to the roots. I cooked soups from scratch, something I'd stopped bothering to do for myself years ago.

I also watched a lot of food-related documentaries online during this time, one every few days, and this helped keep me focused. On day 22, I celebrated the end with a cheeseburger with the works. It wasn't quite as delicious as it had been three weeks before -- I suspect that was more a result of all the food documentaries than it was of the program. Some months later, I have given up meat altogether. I do, however, still incorporate many of the Clean Program foods into my daily life because they are tasty.
posted by mochapickle at 12:07 PM on November 29, 2009 [7 favorites]

My partner went raw vegan for a while, and I went along with it. It was kind of a fun bonding experience, as well as meal-planning.

If you're going to go raw, sprouting is totally your friend. So is soaking, particularly because as you're going along, you're going to consume a completely ridiculous amount of nuts. Make sure that the nuts you get from the store are actually raw - most of the time, they're toasted in some way. Soak nuts overnight, or at least a few hours. The change in flavor and consistency is remarkable, and it's something I still (as an omnivore) do when I get the chance, because they're so good.
For breakfast, blend soaked almonds with a banana - so good. Add in some sprouted buckwheat. I still love this for breakfast when I get the chance.

One of the big problems I discovered was blood sugar. Veggies, nuts, all great, but I'd have problems with low blood sugar irritability, and then eating fruit which would make me sugar-high then crash and be miserable. Ugh. I started soaking and sprouting more grains (soaked brown rice really helped that problem for me - also, making raw hummus with soaked/sprouted garbanzos).
posted by circle_b at 2:59 PM on November 29, 2009

Didn't Oprah do a similar diet?

Anyway, I did a raw food diet for some time, but I had trouble getting energy. I would suggest adding in seafood and lean meats. Grass-fed bison or wild salmon provide healthy fats and plenty of energy.

But either way, smoothies are your friend, particularly green smoothies. They are much much easier to digest than certain other raw foods *cough* certain raw bars and the food in raw restaurants. That was one mistake I made....eating at a raw restaurantand getting some dehydrated flax seed pizza...I felt like my stomach had been sandpapered!
posted by melissam at 4:54 PM on November 29, 2009

Everything worth saying has already been said, but I will offer this one bit of advice: don't begin any new diet on a day when you have to leave the house. This is especially true when it comes to raw foods or high fiber diets. Your bowels are almost guaranteed to betray you - especially since this is your first cleanse.

Unless you have a very generous bathroom break policy at work, you'd be better off saving the cleansing experiment for a long weekend.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 5:45 PM on November 29, 2009

If you choose to do this, be prepared for...how do I put this lightly? Increase bowel reactions to your increased fiber intake. In the form of very foul stench.
posted by duckierose at 1:48 PM on November 30, 2009

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